Friday, February 12, 2016

Lovefool

Tonight, I'll be at Sticky Stories in downtown Providence performing "Lovefool," a piece about my first queer relationship and the awkward way I got into it. You can probably still get a ticket if you would like to come!



One of the major themes of my piece is the way I found myself driven to vulgarity to avoid being dismissed as someone who was just kidding about my desire for women. Here's a very short excerpt:

After the show was over, we went back to class, and I declared, “Everyone wanted to fuck her after that.”

“All the guys,” someone corrected me. I think she was trying to throw me a #NoHomo assist, but a) that expression is gross, and b) it definitely didn’t apply to me.

I shook my head. “Everyone. Including me.”

I was being a pig, I know. That was the only way I knew to expression attraction for women. It felt like anything less wouldn’t be acknowledged, would get softened in everybody’s mind until they heard me saying, “Pam is so pretty and sweet. I’d love to play My Little Ponies with her and maybe braid each other’s hair.”

I'm so looking forward to this show!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

At Oh Get A Grip: What I'm Reading

The current topic at Oh Get A Grip is what we're reading. I love talking about that, so I didn't show much restraint.

I posted about the four most recent books I've read: Suki Kim's Without You, There Is No Us; Harper Bliss's French Kissing; Daniel Jose Older's Half Resurrection Blues; and Patricia Highsmith's Carol. That last one is still in progress. I also posted about what I'm hoping to read: stories for my the new book I'm editing, Coming Together: Positively Sexy.

Also, if it's fun for you to see what I've been reading lately, you can check out my Goodreads profile, too. I sometimes fall out of updating it, but I've been paying attention to it so far this year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Announcing: Coming Together: Positively Sexy

I'm editing another book!

It's going to be called Coming Together: Positively Sexy, and it's an anthology of erotica focused on characters living and loving while STI-positive. All proceeds will benefit the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a sexuality education and training organization that works to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation, and advance the field of sexuality.

For so many reasons, I'm thrilled that this project is happening.

I love the CSPH deeply as an organization—it is not an exaggeration to say it has changed my life and given me much-needed sanctuary.

And I think this is a subject that needs to be explored. I have read so much erotica, and I can't recall ever seeing a character who was STI-positive. (If you have run across this, I am really interested to know where. Leave a comment or email me!)

Once I realized this lack, it became incredibly glaring to me. I got into writing erotica because I wanted to speak about the unspoken. There is so much revealed in people's sex lives. I am fascinated by the vulnerability and exposure. And yet, in the years I've been writing erotica, I've become disheartened by what I tend to hide. By typically presenting a fantasyland in which STIs don't exist, I have missed out on a huge part of what I think it is our calling as erotica writers to explore.

I want and have always wanted to write about sex, in all its strangeness and beauty and difficulty. I enjoy fantasies, and I am also interested in realities. By picking up on unspoken "rules," and shying away from portraying STIs, I have turned away from writing about the world I actually know.

I remember being diagnosed with HPV when I was in my early 20s and plunging into a morass of shame and confusion. I honestly didn't really know what HPV was or meant—and it felt like I couldn't get the information I needed, no matter how many questions I asked or how many things I looked up. I had such a poor understanding of STIs that I truly believed for a while that being diagnosed with it meant I would have to be celibate for the rest of my life. It is only in the past few years that I have become able to talk about parts of my history like this in a matter-of-fact way, informed by medically accurate information, not overshadowed by crushing shame and a sense of dirtiness.

I got pretty spotty education about STIs in the first place—and I recognize I was lucky to have avoided the abstinence-only approach that passes for "education" in many American schools. I remember most vividly the scare tactics that were used in my health class—the giant pictures of warts and lesions that made them look like dangerous space anomalies. I remember being told to use condoms, but not being told anything about what one might do if one ended up getting an STI or wanting to sleep with someone who had one.

I have cried with shame while disclosing my sexual history with a new partner. I have cringed at the sight of the capital letters HPV highlighted in pink on a form at the doctor's office.

When I was younger (before my HPV diagnosis), I had partners ask (while trying to convince me not to use a condom), "You're a clean girl, aren't you?" As if that was due diligence for STI prevention. As if there was any way to answer that question well or honestly. As if I hadn't already asked to use a condom.

There are also stories that aren't mine to tell, about people I've known who have lived with shame and judgement when I don't think they should have to.

The point of all this is that I'm a person who has lived and loved after an STI diagnosis, and I know plenty of other people who have, too. And I've never seen myself represented in the genre I have worked in since 2008. I have never represented myself in my own genre.

I say that knowing that HPV is common, an STI that is sometimes dismissed as something "everybody" has. What does it say that I've felt so much shame and hesitation about something so common? What does it say that I've never felt safe writing about it?

I came up with the idea for this book late last year, in the midst of some feelings of burnout. For several years, I had been writing as hard and fast as I could, pouring my soul into my stories and also constantly producing them. There were things going on in the erotica industry that were messing with my livelihood and breaking my heart. I found that a lot of my work seemed to be too weird or too queer or too dark or too something. Untouched had come out, and I never anticipated how naked and exposed that book would make me feel.

When I began writing, I believed I had things to say that were important, things that only I could say. Increasingly, though, I found myself abandoning stories, questioning whether they mattered at all.

I took a step back and began to ask myself if I had anything still to say, if I thought I still could do things in this field that needed to be done. After a period of soul searching, the idea for this book came to me. I couldn't convince myself that the world cared about or needed a lot of things I could choose to work on—this, though, was different. I believe that Coming Together: Positively Sexy could make a real difference to its readers, to its writers, and to me, as editor.

Any time my will as an artist has flagged, the answer has always been to go harder, go deeper, expose more. That is all that feels true to me, the only thing I have in the end.

I need and want this book to exist. But I can't make it happen on my own. I need more perspectives than the one I've got. I need a lot of different stories. Maybe what I need is your voice.

You can find the full call for submissions here.

If you have any questions, please email me at positivelybook@outlook.com.

(Also, many thanks to Melanie at the CSPH, who helped me come up with the name for this book!)

MakerSex cover and TOC

I am so pleased to announce that MakerSex: Erotic Stories of Hackers, Geeks, and DIY Projects will be out in March! (Exact date TBA). This was my first editing project for Circlet Press, and I'm so excited to share it with you.

Here is the (absolutely gorgeous!) cover:


And the table of contents:

Introduction by Annabeth Leong

The Not So Wholesome Origins of Cuddle-Bot by Lillian Marguerite

Making Love by Renata Piper

Shiny New Toy by Moxie Marcus

The Junkyard by TS Porter

Lightning Then, and Motion by Eric Del Carlo

The Forge by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

Look for more news about this soon! :) If you use tumblr, you can watch for much more news about the book here. If you're interested in reviewing the book on Amazon or Goodreads, please drop me a line at annabeth dot circlet at outlook dot com.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Annabeth Leong Goes All the Places

Guys! You have so many chances to see me this month!


On Friday, February 12th, I will be at AS220 in downtown Providence performing a piece called "Lovefool." It's about my first girlfriend, contains Spice Girls references, and is super vulgar (partly because a point I'm making is that people often seem to want to turn attraction between women into something sweet and harmless). Sticky Stories is a really awesome event, and you should come for so many reasons, not just me. Also, you should come to find out what I mean when I say, "I want to braid her hair."

You can buy tickets here.

***

If you miss Sticky Stories, though, never fear. You have two chances to catch me at the Fetish Fair Fleamarket in Warwick on February 13th, the very next day!

I'll be reading from some of my kinky work at the authors readings at 10:45 a.m. in room 623 and 8 p.m. in Barrington.

Expect to hear from Challenge Accepted, Heated Leather Lover, The Passenger, or maybe something else surprising! Also expect to shiver with delight at the sight of Laura Antoniou and Cecilia Tan in the flesh and reading to you.

You can get tickets to the Flea here. You can learn more about the event here.


***

On February 26th, from 7-9:30 p.m., I'll be in New York City at Bluestockings Books, a radical bookstore and activist center focused on feminism, queer studies, and a lot of other cool topics. I think it is a sign that my life is going in the right direction that I've been invited here. I'll be reading there from "Give and Take" alongside other authors from the 20th anniversary edition of Best Lesbian Erotica. Come count which of us have alternative lifestyle haircuts, and discover which stories turn you on to an uncomfortable degree in a public space! Also, this event is free!

More information about the event is here.


***

On March 26th, from 2-4 pm, I will be reading at my beloved Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It will, of course, be awesome to hear stories from the 20th anniversary edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, but you should come for the world's largest collection of antique vibrators, and the extensive library of books on sexuality, and the oddly cuddly stuffed representation of the herpes virus. Also free lube samples. If that description doesn't make you mark your calendar, I don't know what will.

The address is:
The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health
The Grant Building, Unit 1/Box 11
250 Main Street, Pawtucket RI 02860

This event is too new to have an official listing yet, but it's happening, baby. And if you want to know more about the CSPH, you can visit their website here.

***

That's it for now, but there's a possibility I'll be appearing at a certain clean, well-lighted purveyor of sex toys in Brookline, MA, sometime in May. I'll keep you posted.

Here Again Temporarily

I know it's been a long time since I posted here. I've returned, though, at least temporarily, because my new website was hacked recently, in a way that I'm having trouble fixing. :(

That is a huge bummer, because it's a very beautiful website. And if you went to look at it with your naked eye, you'd still see a very beautiful website. However, hackers have injected some gross racially charged pornographic references into the file structure, which shows up when search engines go to my website, or when something grabs a preview of it.

(I found out about the hack while communicating with someone who uses hotmail. If you have seen a preview like this, I promise you that I absolutely do not endorse the gross racially charged porn that is unfortunately associated with my name at the moment.)

Anyway, this means that I'll be blogging here for the next little while. My books and links are out of date. But I keep my Amazon author profile fairly accurate and updated. Check it out! And thanks for sticking with me.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Charlotte Howard Answers My Questions



Over at annabetherotica.com, I've interviewed Charlotte Howard, author of The Black Door. I asked Charlotte about women expressing anger, motherhood and sexuality, and many other things. You can read the interview here.