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'07 Authors Insider Tips

by Louisa Burton
Formatting Your Manuscript
Scams / Choosing an Agent
Pitching Your Novel...
From The Call to Published...

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
Who Is Telling This Story?
It’s Work, Not A Hobby
Where Ideas Come From

Sexy on the Page
With Shanna Germain
Plotting Erotic Fiction
Seducing Your Muse
Creating Characters...
Description, Action & Dialogue
Fucking on Paper
Ten No-Nos of Erotic Fiction
Climactic Moments: First Draft
Critique Groups
Revising Your Erotic Story
Finding the Perfect Markets...
Just Submit Already
Rejections and Acceptances

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Verb Tense Confusion
Coming Up with Story Ideas
Attend a Writers’ Conference
The Fundamentals of POV
Should I Sign That?
Etiquette for Authors
Erotica is Serious Work
No Body Writes for Free...
Shameless Self Promotions
The Myth of Writer's Block

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
The Time is Write
The Beautiful People
A Book by Any Other...
Synopsis: the Necessary Evil
Erotica or Porn?
Feedback Whine

2007 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
What's it like being a writer?
An Apology to Salespeople

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
About Secrets
The Perfect Fuck
About Choices
The Age of Consent
The Kingmaker
Kids and Sex
The Price of Beauty
The G.O.P.
All Worked Up About Hate
Real Men

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Good Sex: A Physics Lesson
Meet Frankenstein
Thoughts on the Orgasm Gap
The Very Bloody Marys
The Doomsday Erection
Online Threesome Porn

edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Book Review by Ashley Lister

Cross-Dressing edited by Rachel Kramer BusselIt's easy to understand the attraction for cross-dressing. Women's clothes are so much more appealing than men's clothes. Rather than wonder why men would cross-dress, the real question should be: why don't all men dress like women?

I'm not being too frank here, am I? I mean, I'm not confessing to typing this review while I'm sat wearing seamed stockings, eight inch heels and a whalebone corset. I'm not confessing to that at all. But, if I were sat here in such attire, I'm sure everyone would understand why – and it's not just because I have such great legs, or because my ass looks so good in a thong. I'm sure everyone would understand that women's clothes are simply sexy.

To illustrate my point, consider for a moment the fact that there is nothing in the male wardrobe equivalent to stockings. Women wear stockings. Men wear socks.

Personally, I think this is a very inequitable situation.

There are few men who would demand a lady remove her stockings before they enjoyed an intimate adult encounter. The experience of being with a partner while they are wearing stockings is inordinately erotic. The scintillating sensation of silk-clad legs against bare flesh is maddeningly arousing. The simple addition of a pair of stockings can turn a mundane romp between the sheets into a memorable and magical moment.

Whereas, very few women ask a man to leave his socks on.

And I mention all of this just to show that I approached Cross-Dressing with more than a little sympathy for the subject matter. In truth, I approached Cross-Dressing as an aficionado in the culture of gender bending and a life long lover of ladies' lingerie.

Not that Cross-Dressing is only about men dressing as women. Rachel Kramer Bussel has carefully collected stories from a range of authors who are intent on surprising us with the twists and turns they can throw into a narrative. Girly girls dress as big butch boys; macho men transform into flirty females; gay guys bring out their inner woman; lesbian ladies reveal their inner man. There are so many variations and interconnections of the above it would be impossible to list them all.

So I'm not going to.

Ultimately, it could be argued that gender differences are immaterial. Gender is, after all, a social construct. One of the most basic building blocks of that social construct are the different clothes that belong to men and women and those clothes define them as appearing male or female. This is summarised in the thinking that “she wears knickers” and “he wears the trousers.” But, the more you read through this anthology, the more obvious it becomes that those constructs are false and artificial.

The innovative tales of cross-dressing and role subversion in these stories are what makes this anthology such a positive delight. The eclectic content of these stories is perfectly balanced and, whether you're randomly dipping in and out of the stories, or going through them chronologically, each author's distinctive take on the subject matter presents a different, fun and insightful tale on the theme of cross-dressing.

After a thoughtful foreword by Veronica Vera, and an erudite introduction by the inimitable Ms Bussel, the anthology begins properly with Tulsa Brown's Temporary. Temporary is the story of a drag queen and a dishwasher. Powerfully told, as Tulsa Brown's fiction is always powerfully told, Temporary is a story that smudges the thin black line between straight and gay and reminds the reader that arousal can seldom be pigeonholed or compartmentalised.

And then we're into Debra Hyde (metaphorically, obviously – let's not be rude here, not while I'm wearing a frock) with Just Like a Boy. Like Tulsa Brown, like all the authors in this anthology, Debra Hyde is an accomplished writer who knows how to make a narrative develop. Debra writes sex that is sultry, steamy and singularly exciting, and Just Like a Boy explores the phenomena of a woman dressing like a man (well, a boy) with a passionately arousing tale.

And, once again, that blurry line that is drawn between the clearly defined categories of straight and gay becomes even more smudged.

By the time the reader is enjoying Helen Boyd's excellent Halloween, a tale of a cross dressing couple attending a party as a foursome, the line has become so blurry that it's easy to forget what that line was delineating in the first instance.

I'm not trying to suggest that Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthology has been produced to promote a better understanding of the intricacies that underpin our established acceptance of what is straight and what is unstraight. The anthology is a sensational collection of well-written shorts which includes tales from Teresa Noelle Roberts, Alison Tyler, Lisabet Sarai and Rachel herself. With fiction from Stephen Albrow, Simon Sheppard, Andrea Dale, Elspeth Potter and Marcy Sheiner as well as many other talented writers who I've probably offended by not mentioning, Cross-Dressing presents a catalogue of kinky fiction from some of the industry's most respected names. Each author has tackled the subject with an eye for the unusual, a sense for what works, and a finger on the pulse of what is erotic.

But, beneath the fiction, there is a message that shows we can all enjoy a range of erotic stories, regardless of whether the characters are dressed as men or women and regardless of whether they want to be a perfect woman, or whether they want to simply take it like a man. Cross-Dressing is a great anthology on many levels: one of Rachel Kramer Bussel's best. And, considering the high quality of work she always produces, that really is meant as a compliment.

Ashley Lister
November 2007

Cross Dressing edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
(Cleis Press; August 28, 2007; ISBN-10: 1573442887)
Available at:  / Amazon UK

© 2007 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:
Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms.His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753511355), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Websites: /

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'07 Book Reviews


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