Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jane's Fantasy, Your Fantasy



Today is the official release date for Begging for It: Erotic Fantasies for Women, which includes my story, “Jane’s Fantasy, Your Fantasy.”

Here's a piece of it:

"Are you ready for your purification, initiate?"

You've forgotten your line. Instead, with an inarticulate sound, you step into her arms.

She envelops you. Her palms are damp from the bath water. Pressing against you, her nipples are warm and tight, and the clamps cold and hard. She touches you methodically, fingertips brushing your forehead, lips, throat, navel, and inner thighs. You agreed to these ritualistic touches because you wanted to make her happy, but they have begun to take on significance even if you don't know exactly what they mean. The beginnings of arousal take root in the depths of your pelvis.

"Tonight, in this place, you will claim the pleasures of the body. You will do so on your own terms, but know that I will be beside you." Jane intones the words with the dramatic voice of a movie villain. You cough to cover an involuntary nervous laugh. She frowns, but goes on. "The first step is to leave behind all that is old so that your body may become new. We will wash away the past."

She says this with a type of gentleness you've never been comfortable with because it makes you wish that you could cry. You've been open with Jane and Rob as you have with no other lovers, and for a moment you regret how much you told them about the things that have happened in your life and the ways that your body and desires have made you feel afraid and ashamed. That, after all, is how you got into this situation. Jane told you both about her fantasy of being taken as if for the first time, and when you reacted to it, she and Rob decided it would be better to design the scene for you.

You look away from her, searching for something bland to focus on, but she has transformed the bathroom too thoroughly and you can't escape her intentions.

The story is constructed in a somewhat experimental way. I wrote about some of the choices I made here.

Here’s the official blurb for the collection:

What would you give — or give up — to fulfill your most cherished sex fantasy? In this Cleis Press collection, erotica editor Rachel Kramer Bussel brings us femme fatales and shy women, women on a mission and women opening up to new worlds of discovery: women who know what they want and are not afraid to beg for it! Let yourself go with these 21 tantalizing tales of tortuous longing and release.

You can order the book here. I hope you do!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

When Stigma Stops Writing

I recently wrote a post for Delilah Night about the challenges presented by the book I'm currently taking submissions for, the charity anthology Coming Together: Postively Sexy.

What I didn’t realize was that this book is demanding a different kind of editing skill: convincing and encouraging nervous writers to try their hands at stories that feel risky to them. I have had many conversations with writers who say they don’t know anything about STIs and can’t write about them, only to tell me in the next breath that they’ve had or currently have an STI. I’ve had conversations with writers who say they can’t picture how a story could include mention of an STI and still be sexy. I’ve had conversations with writers who say they are far too worried about the possibility of getting something wrong. I’ve talked to writers who say they mostly submit stories they’ve already written, and they’ve never written a story that includes a character with an STI.

To me, this all speaks to the stigma around STIs, the very stigma that I’m hoping this book can question. I want to make a book that opens up a little space inside a dominant culture that often seems intent on shaming people, a book that offers up a vision that an STI doesn’t have to be the end of a person’s sex life, that it doesn’t have to be a big deal at all. I’m hoping to get some stories from writers who already know that because they’ve lived that experience, and I’m also hoping to get some stories from writers who are learning it through the writing they’re doing now.

You can read the rest of the post here, at Delilah's blog.

You can read the full call for submissions, with all the details, here.

Also, check out Delilah's post about the anthology she's editing, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe.

And, writers, let's do some good by being bad. :) (An old tagline for the charity erotica publisher, Coming Together).

(Also, the deadline for Positively Sexy has been extended to Oct 1st!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What I've Been Reading

I'm way overdue for an appearance on Goodreads, but in the meantime, if you'd like some book recommendations from me, head on over to my most recent post at Oh Get a Grip. There, I go into some recent picks in erotica, social science, and weird literary fiction.

And you'll find out which book prompted me to write this sentence:

This is the sort of book that makes me want to buy extra copies and carry them around in my purse so that the next time I run into someone who wants to talk to me about how evolutionary psychology explains why women prefer to be “traditionally feminine” and do all the housework, I can just shove the book into their hands and make a quick escape.

You can read the whole thing here.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Deadline Extended: Coming Together: Positively Sexy

I've extended the deadline for Coming Together: Positively Sexy until October 1st! If you were thinking of writing a story for this, I hope this gives you the time you need.

Here's the full information about the call.

As always, please feel free to get in touch with questions.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Guest Post: First Time Editor


I invited Delilah Night to post here about her upcoming anthology, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe, which just opened for submissions, and will benefit Project Linus. I love Coming Together projects in general, I'm excited about Delilah's book in particular, and I'm also excited to see a writer taking on the editing mantle for the first time. I asked Delilah to write about what drew her to edit an anthology, and she's responded with a moving personal story, as well as some great insights into both the writing and editing processes.

Without further ado, here she is:


by Delilah Night

Hi Annabeth, thank you for hosting me!

I am editing my first anthology, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe, this year with a projected publication date of December 1. It’s scary to make the leap from contributor to editor, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.

Alison Tyler organized Summer Loving, with proceeds going to fellow author Sommer Marsden’s family as they dealt with a medical crisis in 2014. It was the first time I’d heard of a charity erotica anthology. A few months later, I saw my first Coming Together call—Coming Together is a charity press, and each anthology benefits a charity picked by the editor. I am proud to have contributed to four of the Coming Together anthologies—For the Holidays, Among the Stars, Strange Shifters, and Keeping Warm.

I grew up quite poor. We needed welfare to help keep food in our home, and to help clothe me. There were times when teachers paid for me to go on field trips so that I wouldn’t miss out. I sacrificed a lot to go to college and grad school to get a master’s degree in teaching. I thought I had my career planned out when I had my daughter, Turtle (obviously not her real name).

To make a very long story short, Turtle nearly died from a bacterial infection at a week old. Then she had a stroke. It remains the worst thing that has ever happened to me/our family. In the middle of that darkness, our nurse gave us a hand-made hat and blanket from Project Linus. Receiving that gift from a stranger was like a ray of light in the darkest point in our lives.

We are a success story. Thanks to an amazing team of doctors, nurses, early intervention staff, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other specialists, plus a heaping dose of luck, Turtle is now a healthy, happy seven year old.

I want to give back, and I’ve decided that Coming Together is one of the ways to do so. As an erotica author, it is a unique opportunity to give back by writing (and editing).

As a novice editor, my biggest fears are that I will let everyone down—my contributors, Coming Together, and Project Linus. However, I’m lucky to have several close friends who have edited anthologies for various presses to serve as mentors and advisors.

Going into the anthology, my plan is to put together an anthology of the best stories and poetry that come my way. One of my favorite anthologies is Rose Caraway’s The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica. The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica skips from genre to genre with the grand unifying theme of being the best examples of erotica that Rose could put together. I want Under the Mistletoe to emulate that example.

I hope to put together an anthology with the unifying theme of winter. Not every story should be about Christmas—there’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve, and random days in December as well. I don’t want every couple to be heterosexual. I don’t want every pairing to be two people. I don’t want every couple to be white. Variety—and above all, quality— is what will grab my attention.

On an organizational level, I’ve set out my calendar of when the deadline is, when replies will happen, and so forth. Ensuring that I stick to that calendar will require discipline. As an author, I’ve worked with great editors and bad editors, and one of the biggest differences is that the best editors are hyper organized and I want to live up to that standard.

But, just as you can’t actually anticipate what having a child is like until you have one, I expect that there will be a number of bumps along the road. My goal is to handle them professionally such that my contributors are never inconvenienced.

I expect that my second anthology will be better than my first and that my fifth will be better than my second, and so forth. But just as I remain proud of my first story, I hope that I will always be proud of this anthology.

That said, any advice you can provide is welcome, Annabeth.

Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe
Submission Call


Deadline is September 1, 2016

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow because we’ll be heating up this sexy December anthology.

I am looking for your best winter stories. Are your characters cuddled up inside while a blizzard rages, or are they snowbirds spending Christmas Day on the beach in the tropics? Who belongs on Santa’s Naughty List? Is your billionaire a Scrooge? Is this the year they come out to their family? Do they have a special someone to kiss when the ball drops?

While the theme is winter, you may also add in your favorite December holiday, but this is not mandatory. I’m looking for compelling stories with compelling characters and a rich plot as well as beautiful poetry.

Guidelines

* Your story should be set between December 1 and December 31 whether explicitly or implicitly.

* All orientations, ethnicities, pairings, and interpretations of “winter” are encouraged.

* All sub-genres and time periods welcome (contemporary, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, steampunk, you name it).

* All heat levels from sweet and romantic to down and dirty—as long as it is plot driven.

* HEA/HFN preferred, but not required.

* Stories up to 7,500 words

* Poetry is welcomed and encouraged

* No underage, no scat, no non-consent, no incest

Coming Together is a charity organization. You retain all rights to your stories, and previously published stories and poetry are welcomed (as long as you hold the rights).

Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, and double spaced with one inch margins. No extra lines between paragraphs. Set indentations to .5 – do not use tabs or spaces to indent. Use .docx, .doc .rtf formats only.

Only submit your final, best version of the story to delilahnight@gmail.com with the subject line “Under the Mistletoe insert your title insert your name”

Do not send multiple versions of the same story. Up to two stories/three poems will be considered from each author. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable and be clear which one is which), mailing address, and up to 250 word bio. Do not paste your story into the body of your message.

You will be notified as to the status of your story by no later than October 1, 2016.

Coming Together is a non-profit organization, and all Coming Together authors and editors have generously donated their talents to various causes. Compensation for inclusion in this work is a PDF contributor copy of the finished product and your name on Santa’s Nice List (or Naughty, if that’s your preference). You retain all rights to your story. All proceeds go to Project Linus, which provides home-made blankets and hats to children in crisis.

Questions? Email me at delilahnight@gmail.com

(My thanks again to Delilah for sharing this with us here. I'm not sure I'm at the stage of editing experience where I have a lot of advice to give. What does stand out to me is that I was surprised at how it felt to select stories. I loved them as a fan. I've had editors say things like that to me when they selected my work, but I didn't realize how it really feels to get to put together a book full of stories you truly believe in and love to read. I hope you enjoy that!

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I'm also currently taking submissions for a Coming Together book. The details are here, and I've written a guest post for Delilah's blog. Watch for it!)


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On Asking for What You Want When You Don’t Know What That Is


This week, I signed a contract for Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, volume two, which is a huge honor. My story is called “On Some Maps, But Not on Others,” and it’s full of a bunch of stuff I find hot and interesting and difficult.


More than anything else, it’s an attempt to articulate what it feels like to be inarticulate about something to do with sex and gender, to want things you can’t put words to, to want things when you don’t understand why you want them, to play a game of hot and cold with yourself, trying to figure out who you even are.

I’m going to show you what I mean with a couple of tiny excerpts:

"Let's keep this nice and hard for me," my girlfriend whispered. She pulled out a thinner rope this time, but if anything this one looked crueler than the first. Working deftly, she wound it around the base of Alex's cock, the flesh reddening as she did. By the time she finished, the head of his cock was purple. Alex's eyes were closed, and his lips moved as if he was praying.

Something pulsed inside me, somewhere very deep. I wasn't sure what the feeling was, but I knew I was dripping wet. I tried asking myself what I wanted or what I wished I could do. Did I want to hurt like that? Did I want to do the hurting? Did I want exactly what I had—to be able to watch? I was somewhere in this scene, but I couldn't figure out exactly how.
And here:

Gender still scares me, but now I think about it all the time. I don't know what to call myself, don't know what I am. The boundaries of my body shift and change. My cock is an island charted by sailors before Google Earth came along, appearing on some maps but not on others. My cunt is sometimes a depth, but sometimes a height. My breasts rise and fall. They curve into hills, then flatten into plains. I don't understand what gender has to do with any of this anatomy. Sometimes my cunt feels tough and masculine, ready to take any sort of abuse. Sometimes I put on my softpack and watch it tremble, so delicate in shape and color, and it feels like nothing could be girlier. Other times it seems self-evident that if I put on my cock I am playing at being a boy. Mostly, it all feels queer, in a way I'd never have had the guts to explore when I was younger.

This narrator isn’t me, and the story isn’t autobiography. I go through stuff like both of the scenes above, though, and a part of me is still surprised I was brave enough about them to enter that territory in this story. I remember a time when I learned to gather my courage to ask for what I knew I wanted sexually, and I am still proud of learning to speak for myself that way. But I’ve been in a different place the last couple years, and it feels more uncomfortable to me. Lately, I’ve been an undiscovered country even to myself. I don’t understand how I work anymore. I don’t understand the things I want. A lot of the things I think about confuse me more the more I think about them.

What this story reminds me of, though, is that this is valuable, interesting territory. It’s dangerous, but it’s “live.” It’s hot. It’s full of revelations. Sex and gender aren’t at all what I used to think they were, but that’s as exciting as it is scary.

So I’m really happy that I’ll get a chance to share this story with you. I am here for all the readers and writers who want to live at the edge of the horizon. I am so here for all of us.

It’s early yet—I don’t think this book will be out for a while—but it’s not too early to preorder. You can do that here.

(The image above belongs to Normn B. Leventhal, and is used under a Creative Commons license.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Privacy of Fantasy


My story, “Jane’s Fantasy, Your Fantasy,” will be out in a few weeks in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Begging for It: Erotic Fantasies for Women.

I find the title a little ironic, because my intention with the story was for the protagonist’s gender to be open. I very consciously and carefully constructed the story in such a way that it would not have to conflict with any reader’s gender identity, though it will probably fit best with someone who feels a bit fluid or identifies as genderqueer.

Here's a short sample:

You feel intermingled with Jane, knowing that this could easily have been her standing where you are now, a curl of anxiety in the pit of her stomach, a chill from the air settling into her skin. Since the three of you got together, you have been entranced by the fluidity of the boundaries between you. Sometimes in bed it's as if Jane's cunt is your own, but the same goes for Rob's cock. Often you close your eyes and allow yourself to float between the two, as if your body is an ocean wrapping around their two definite and opposite forms.

I wrote it in second person, an unusual choice for me, because I wanted to use certain effects of that point of view.

First, second person allowed me to avoid gender when referring to the protagonist. I didn’t have to jar anyone with pronouns I didn’t want to use.

But why not use first person?

There’s a pitfall to second person where it can feel as if the author is accusing the reader of things (i.e. author writes: “You’ve never liked cookies,” and reader thinks, “What the fuck are you talking about? I love cookies.”) The flipside of that, though, is that, for me, second person can read as a variation on first person, and a more private one at that.

If I’m talking to someone else about myself, I’ll say I, as in, “I went to the store yesterday,” or, “I think that’s nonsense.”

If I’m talking to myself about myself, though, I’ll say you, as in, “What did you say you wanted to get from this room?” or, “All right, you can do this.”

Since I address myself as you, the second person can read as that very intimate voice of the self reflecting on the self. It has a half-whispered quality to me, a sense of privacy that goes beyond that of a diary entry.

That’s the feeling I wanted for this story.

“Jane’s Fantasy, Your Fantasy” is about an erotic healing experience, a ritual almost magical in nature. It’s about regaining control of the body, and that’s related to why I wanted the story to feel it could match any body, any gender identity, and why I wanted the narration to feel so intensely private.

I’m excited to share it with readers, and to read for myself the rest of what’s in the book.

Here’s the official blurb for the collection:

What would you give — or give up — to fulfill your most cherished sex fantasy? In this Cleis Press collection, erotica editor Rachel Kramer Bussel brings us femme fatales and shy women, women on a mission and women opening up to new worlds of discovery: women who know what they want and are not afraid to beg for it! Let yourself go with these 21 tantalizing tales of tortuous longing and release.

You can preorder it now, and it’s currently scheduled for release on July 12th.