Friday, October 28, 2016

The return of "The Mark and the Caul"

Once upon a time, I wrote a story for a lesbian fairy tale anthology. It was called "The Mark and the Caul," and after I wrote it, it spent a long time in the darkness and confusion of the labyrinthine halls of publishing. In fact, it was lost for so long that I wasn't sure it would ever see the light of day again, for so long that even I, the person who wrote it, couldn't really remember its contours or shapes or faces or names. Still, though the story wandered, it knew deep down that it was still loved, and still worth reading. And so it continued to trudge, led by the brave editor Sacchi Green.

Then one day, rumors of its reemergence began to spread. A brilliant cover was spotted, for a book called Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms, the pages of which were said to contain the long-lost mark and the rarely seen caul.



What's more, this image was accompanied by whispers of fellow travelers for my little story, including works by Salome Wilde, Emily Byrne, Michael M. Jones, and Allison Wonderland.

A date was set for its rebirth: May 9th, according to the oracles at Amazon. If you would know the story of "The Mark and the Caul," you can preorder it here and now.

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Encounter with Story of the Eye

The current topic at Oh Get a Grip is Obscenity. While the current election provides plenty of opportunities for discussion, I am exhausted and ill from that stuff. I looked elsewhere, specifically toward a very obscene book that changed my life for the better, Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye.

Here's an excerpt from my post:

Story of the Eye was what showed me I did have limits. There are and were mechanisms inside myself that would stop me naturally from going forward with certain sorts of sexual depravity. For example: I don’t actually want to hurt anyone else (non-consensually). What’s more, I discovered limits in my mind (thoughts that make me uncomfortable rather than turning me on). While they go farther than the limits of my behavior, they still represent a horizon.

I should warn you that I talk about some disturbing things in my post, including sexual violence, nonconsent, and an abusive relationship. However, Story of the Eye did me a lot of good, and I try in the post to explain why. If you're ready for the material, please give my post a read here.

And watch for my pieces at Oh Get a Grip once every two weeks. I really bare my soul over there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Love of the Game

It's out today!


I'm so proud to be working with Sexy Little Pages, and here's their latest anthology, Love of the Game: Sports Stories to Make You Sweat, which includes my menage story "Fast Pitcher."

I love baseball, and I've spent a lot of time watching it and reading about it. A few years back I was reading a book about minor league players that I'm not going to name because it really irritated me. Large portions of the book were devoted to meditations on why female fans, especially devoted ones, were fans at all. After all, if they were too old to be hot to the players, what were they doing watching the games? What had been their interest in the first place? Was it just about thinking players were hot?

The author pointed out that being a female fan is different by nature from being a male fan, because a male fan is always wondering if he could have played professionally and having feelings about that, but obviously because a woman can't play she has a simpler experience.

I ended up not being able to finish the book because this stuff got so frustrating for me. It was like the author didn't realize that sexism is the reason women can't play professionally, not some sort of law of nature. It was like the author had never asked a woman why she likes baseball. I'm sure there are plenty of women who have complicated feelings about the desire to play professionally. I wasn't a good softball player as a kid, but did I fantasize about being better? Hell, yeah. And do I watch the game because I think the players are hot? Honestly, no. I watch baseball because I love the building tension of it.

So going to write sports erotic romance immediately raised questions for me. In erotica, there's often a simple path you can take. ("Baseball players are hot!"). It can be fun to take that path sometimes. My personality tends not to allow me to—I am a complicated thinker, for better and for worse.

So my story in Love of the Game engages with that stuff that came up while I was reading that book about the minor leagues. It's set among minor league players hoping to make a big break, and there's a woman there, who's just about given up hope of being recognized, and my hope is that this story feels hot, but that the anger behind it doesn't get missed.

In the end, it's got a happy ending, and it's a fantasy of progress, but even that is bittersweet for me because the break the woman gets is smaller than it ought to be, because that's the way our world is sometimes.

I'm always so grateful for publishers of erotica who recognize how important our form can be. How it's good to explore sexuality while also looking at the ways it connects to hopes and dreams, the way the world is structured, all that deep stuff about who we are. That's the erotica I find worthwhile to write and read, and I'm so happy it finds a home.

So, please check out Love of the Game, and anything else Sexy Little Pages publishes.

Below, I'll give you some info about the book, and a look at my story.


Blurb:
Love of the Game will knock you out with a one, two, punch of super sexy. From rugby players who can’t leave their passion on the pitch to Paralympians with everything to prove, these athletes are certainly playing for keeps. Warm yourself up with stories of:

• Football: Where both college stars and former NFL hopefuls are ready to go long

• MMA Fights: Where participants get rough and tumble inside the ring and out

• Baseball: Where the boys of summer can score by making it big or completely striking out

• Swimming: Where diving into bed with teammates or rivals is taboo, but oh so tempting

And so much more. Whatever sport you’re a fan of, Love of the Game is certain to make you sweat.

Excerpt:


FAST PITCHER
By Annabeth Leong

Margie didn't know which way to go now that everyone was staring at her, so she headed in the direction of the nearest friendly face. He leaned in to speak only for her hearing.
"Stick around after the game," Pete said. "I want to see if I can score off you."

Baseball language always sounded so dirty, and Margie's cheeks heated even though she knew what he meant. She cleared her throat and tried to make her expression innocent and blank.

"I'd love to."

*****

Phillips had stayed late too, eschewing the team's after party in order to participate in Margie's tête-à-tête with Pete Muñoz. She knew she needed a catcher, but part of her wished it could have been just the two of them.

She braced herself for more nonsense from Phillips as she stepped onto the field, but her pitch earlier that evening seemed to have made him a convert.

"I've got two bills down that you strike Muñoz out. He's lucky this isn't official, or you'd be messing up his precious over-.300 batting average," he said.

"Nah, man. Margie's good, but she's about to give it up to me. I think she's going to let me take her deep." Muñoz spat in the dirt at his feet, then squinted out at the empty park.

Margie squared her shoulders. She recognized Muñoz's trash talk for what it was — challenging, not sexist. He was chirping at her the way he would have with any hot pitcher. Telling her that she wouldn't be able to keep him from hitting long and hard, far out into the outfield or maybe even over the fences. When he hefted his bat, however, he glanced at her with meaning in his eyes. Margie's mouth went dry. It wasn't just the language that seemed sexual. Muñoz obviously planned to take her deep off the field even if he didn't manage the feat on the diamond.

***

You can find the book here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

See Me at Women's Week

This week I'll be at two events at Women's Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Thursday at 4 pm you can find me reading alongside Sacchi Green and Anna Watson at AMP Gallery.

Friday at 3 pm I'll be at Womencrafts with Sacchi Green, Anna Watson, Priscilla Scott Rhoades, and Elaine Burnes.

If you've never heard of Women's Week, check out the incredible full schedule here.


There are going to be so many awesome literary events. I'm pretty excited to attend, aside from the appearances. Let's talk about the appearances, though. These are in support of Sacchi's amazing anthology, Me and My Boi. That book is really special to me, and the last promotional event I went to for it proved to be a really touching experience. If you're able to make it out to this, I think you'll be glad you did. And if not, check out Me and My Boi. It's full of deeply moving explorations of gender and queerness, and it's super, super hot at the same time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

My Run-ins with the Modesty Police

Over at The Grip this week, I posted a really personal piece about my experiences during the years when I felt uncomfortable wearing a bra. This is something I've tried to express in writing before, but I've always given up in the past. The Grip has an uncanny ability to draw out personal confessions from me.

Our subject was detractors, and this was the thing I've done in my life that earned me the most negative attention from others, including strangers at department stores. Here's one category of detractors I identified:

A) The modesty police: These people seemed to believe that I was forgoing a bra in order to (pick one or more) steal their boyfriends, invite people to look at my breasts, attract men generally, or engage in other forms of sluttiness. Somehow, these people believed this despite the fact that the thing I wore most commonly over my breasts was a XXL black T-shirt, which I chose specifically for its shapelessness. This is a paradox I’ve never been able to sort out. Having now gone through a femme period, I can attest that wearing a low-cut blouse and demi pushup bra, the combination of which bares me nearly down to the nipple, wins me nothing but social approval. On the other hand, my anguish over this garment I couldn’t bear to put on, a fact I attempted to hide with the giant T-shirt, somehow made people think I was out to find a boyfriend.

If you'd like to read more, you can find the piece here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Workshop Cancelled

Just a quick note to say that there wasn't enough enrollment to justify running tomorrow's writing workshop at the CSPH. I'm disappointed not to be teaching it, but I'm open to teaching other workshops in the future. If you were thinking of signing up or would want to sign up for a writing workshop in the future, please drop me a line (annabeth.leong@gmail.com) about what you'd like to see me teach. It would be great to be able to document what people are interested in so I can come up with better ideas for next time. :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

That Reading Over the Weekend Moved Me to Tears

This weekend, I was in New York City at Bluestockings reading from Me and My Boi: Queer Erotic Stories, as I know I said ahead of time. I have to talk about the event in retrospect, though, because it was really impressive, hit me with more raw sexual energy and emotion than I would ever have expected, and made me feel like Me and My Boi is one of those important books that deserves every effort I can make to highlight it.

I was reading with Aimee Herman, Gigi Frost, Dena Hankins, Anna Watson, and Sacchi Green. I found myself near tears at times, squirming with arousal at others, and sometimes both at once. It feels like I should have known that a book about the erotic power of female masculinity would stir up so much, but still it blindsided me.

Moments I remember:

Aimee Herman, who read like your favorite adventurous, hard-drinking friend taking you out to bend your ear, creating this mess of feverish, omnidirectional queer desire more powerful than the strongest whiskey. Coyly, just like that friend would do, Aimee pretended to skip the good part, namely the details of the rough bathroom fuck with a packing stranger known only as Q that the story had been building up to, then grinned at the audience as we all reeled from the tease. (Those details did not, in the end, get skipped.)

Tearing up as Gigi Frost described the almost unbearable intimacy of a masculine woman revealing her chest to her lover.

Having it dawn on me, as Dena Hankins read from her story set on a boat, that I’ve never really recognized my own clothing (often sporty, these days) described so accurately, made so sexy in the process. The lines a sports bra leaves, the struggle with wrestling it away from an ample chest—it felt so real, and it stunned me that I’d never thought to write it, couldn’t recall having ever read it written that way before.

Anna Watson, whose work always floors me with its sheer emotional power, embodying the voice of her story’s stern femme top, whose orders bring about a transformation—from “funny little woman” to newly minted, sexual, being-herself-at-last boi.

Sacchi Green, relishing as always the role of the crone who can make a room full of youngsters get more turned on than we’d like to admit, reading from a story that plays with ideas of beauty and ugliness until both turn into need.

And for my own story, I hope people got something out of the moments I was up at the front of the room. The biggest moment for me was earlier, when I was practicing, and I heard it all as a letter from pieces of myself I’d been suppressing. My story, “Not Just Hair,” which I wrote some years ago now, set off an eruption in my life. I’m divided by the weekend I wrote it—before, when I could still lie myself about some things, and afterward, when I didn’t know the truth but had no choice but to look for it.

All this to say, this book is really special. So many of us seemed to have changed ourselves in the course of writing for it, or to have exposed something deep and buried.

I have one quarrel with the way the evening was presented. Sacchi seemed to want to apologize for us a bit, feeling that the readers for the night didn’t present as masculine as she might have wished. It would have been cool to read alongside an unabashed butch, certainly, but I object to any implications that the perspectives presented were all femme. I think we know enough now in the world to see that so many things take place on a spectrum, and so much can be going on beneath the surface of how a person dresses at the moment.

While some stories seemed to have been written and read from the perspective of a femme appreciating a butch, mine wasn’t. Mine was written from a place of confusion and change, yearning for the courage to be things I wasn’t raised to be. Reading the story now, I’m humbled by how frightened I still am of the parts of myself that appear in it. I don’t know where I’m going, but there’s something going on for me with gender. It’s clear from what I write, but it’s hard for me to say anything about it out loud, or to say it in relation to me instead of in relation to characters.

So I wish Sacchi hadn’t assumed things about presentation. I don’t want to speak for anyone besides myself, so I won’t say anything about what I think the other writers might have meant. As a listener, though, I heard that ambiguity, that complexity, that confusion about what gender even is and what it means to enact it with each other as queers who get to/have to find our own way.

And I’m so convinced this book is important. And I can promise you it’s sexy. I hope lots of people check it out.