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Recap of our Best Women's Erotica reading in Washington, DC

Throwback Thursday seemed like an appropriate time to recap our wonderful Galentine's Day reading last Tuesday, February 13, at Washington, DC bookstore Politics and Prose at The Wharf.

It was a crazy weather day, with mild temperatures and then rain and sleet around five o'clock, two hours before our reading. The Wharf is a very bustling area of DC. That night there was a Mardi Gras parade happening so a lot of people were out and about. We had planned to meet at a restaurant beforehand for an author dinner. That was too crowded so we went across the street from the bookstore for sandwiches. We even got free Mardi Gras beads!

I had a good feeling about the reading when I went into the store a little after five and met a woman who was there early because she thought the reading started at six. She actually knew me from my old life as a cupcake blogger. True confession: I love doing readings, but they are challenging! You never know whether you'll be competing with the weather or other events or just people's TV sets.

We didn't get listed in some of the local publications I was hoping we would. So I just wasn't sure what turnout would be like. But a big shoutout to the blog Free in DC for promoting the reading. Check them out for lots of free stuff to do in our nation's capitol.

When I walked into the store and saw a lovely display of our books at the counter and other fun books on display.

Since I had some extra time, I posted a bit on Instagram stories, which I'll be doing more of so please follow us at bestwomenserotica. Then I met up with Thien-Kim Lam, and we got our sandwiches and chatted. This was the first time we were meeting in person, which is something as an editor I always enjoy. You can learn a lot about an author by reading their work, but nothing beats hearing about it from them in the flesh.

When we headed over to the bookstore, there was already a decent crowd. I recognized some people, while others were strangers. Lynn Townsend was there, and in the audience was Jordan Monroe, contributor to Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2. I was really thrilled to see a contributor to a past volume there. Jordan is also an author and anthology editor in her own right.

Because it was such a busy night, traffic was bad, so Sommer Marsden wound up joining us right before we went on. She had been posting about being nervous about doing her first reading (one Tweet said "You might see me faint"). My hope was that not having too much buildup would set her at ease.

Then we started, with me reading a snippet from opening story "The Birthday Girl" by Abigail Barnette (the pen name of Jenny Trout). It's about a woman who shares a sex tape she made with her female lover with her husband. She's getting her naked body painted in the video. I chose it to open the book because it's super hot and features a bisexual protagonist. I decided to read from it because I think it's a story anyone, versed in erotica or not, can enjoy. Plus it's part of Abigail Barnette's The Boss series (which starts with free book The Boss) so if you like it, you can read more about Sophie and Neil.

Then each author read a little from their work before I asked them about their inspiration. It wound up being a fascinating conversation about everything from writing inspiration to what they want to write about but haven't, pen names and more. You can watch video from the reading on Thien-Kim Lam's Facebook page. You can also hear Thien-Kim's entire oral sex and sex toys story "Body Shots" read by Rose Caraway on her The Kiss Me Quick's Podcast. This story is taken from the BWE of the Year 3 Audible audiobook.

Here's Rachel and Thien-Kim signing books and all of us posing after the reading, once formally, once in a selfie (photos below courtesy of Thien-Kim Lam).

erotica authors signing books rachel kramer bussel thien-kim lam

best women's erotica authors sommer marsden lynn townsend rachel kramer bussel thien-kim lam

best women's erotica reading selfie

I asked the authors to share what they liked best about the reading. Here's what they said.

Thien-Kim Lam:

"The best part of the signing was being able to share my short story to a room of breathing, living people. Instead of reading them out loud to my cat when I edit."

Sommer Marsden:

"Let’s see, what did I like the most about our BWE of the Year 3 reading at Politics and Prose? Oh, so many things! I liked that I managed to stay in my chair (it didn't have a foot bar to rest my feet on and I was constantly rearranging myself like I had to pee!), I liked that I still had a pulse when I was done, I liked that I managed to read my extremely filthy excerpt without messing up, crying, or laughing uncontrollably, but honestly, in all seriousness, I thought it was amazing meeting the folks who came out, and hearing their questions, and chatting at the signing. I also loved meeting the authors I'd only interacted with online. It was not nearly as catastrophic as I envisioned (as in, not at all) and dare I say…I think I’d like to do it again."

Lynn Townsend:

"Friends help you move, real friends delete your browser history if you're in an accident.

I couldn't help but use that line when talking to an attentive and welcoming audience for the Best Women's Erotica event. It's always been one of those things. I try so hard not to be ashamed of what I do -- and I sometimes get resentful that other professions don't get asked 'So, when are you going to do some serious real estate, I mean, you're always doing these fun, meaningless sales...' Nobody does that to anyone but writers, especially romance and erotica writers. 'So, when are you going to be series. When are you going to do something real.'

I really felt, after the reading and the Q&A and talking to readers about their experiences, listening to what they had to say, listening to my fellow writers...

I did something real. I did something meaningful.

But if I die, could someone at least let my FBI agent know, he might get lonely."

I'll close by saying a big thank you to Politics and Prose for booking us and the entire staff at The Wharf store. They were incredibly welcoming and wonderful to work with. You can find books signed by all four of us on their shelves along with tons of other books and fun bookish gifts. You should also check out their website for other readings coming up at their main store and The Wharf as well as video and audio recordings. They even have their own anthology, District Lines, all about DC!


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