Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sneak Peek: The Taste of a Soul

I promised hints to come of my story, "The Taste of a Soul," which Mofo Press is publishing in an anthology of religion-related erotica. So here is a good hint—the first few paragraphs:

He was your typical pride demon: leather-gloved fingers caressing the polished wheel of his Chevy Malibu as he drove, designer sunglasses, a weathered-faced smirk. His showpiece mortal posed for us in the passenger seat, giggling her life away as she sucked down one cigarette after another and tried not to drop ashes on her red silk party dress. Her loose, giddy laugh told a story of a soulless body, the high that comes in the wake of lost innocence and a distant conscience.

"Desiree?" he sneered. "That's what you're going by now?"

I took the bait and defended myself, sitting up straighter in the back seat so I could glare into his rear view mirror. "Most of them don't pick up the irony until far too late, if ever. Besides, you're not being very subtle yourself, Lord."

He clearly believed his answering expression to be boyish and charming, not insufferably smug. "I enjoy hearing them call me that. Especially her."

He dropped a hand onto the mortal's thigh, bunching the fabric of her skirt into his fist. "Lord," she breathed, her voice girlish to the point of obscenity. "My Lord."

I rolled my eyes, but the clichés of the scene didn't stop me from watching him work his hand altogether under the dress. She spread her legs to let him. Her lust smelled like sugared mandrake. I lifted an eyebrow and leaned to an angle that gave me a better look at her face.

Watch for more, and in the meantime, you can take a look at what Mofo's put out for you so far.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sneak Peek: To Rescue a Princess

I've mentioned the novella I have coming out from Less Than Three Press, "To Rescue a Princess." I turned in edits a few weeks back, and I thought I'd give you a look at the story.

Sir Elizabeth is the only female knight in the kingdom, and she's had to fight for the right to participate in the competition to win the princess's hand, alongside the other knights. The problem is that Princess Cordelia isn't interested in being "won" by anyone. The scene below comes from their first conversation, after Sir Elizabeth nearly defeated the dragon and "won" the princess—only to be sabotaged by Cordelia.

"Princess. Do I have permission to approach? Another knight is coming. We don't have a lot of time."

"Another knight?" Cordelia's dark skin turned ashy. She leaned out the window and glanced toward the road. The dust cloud had gotten closer. She looked down at the dragon, and then shifted her attention to Beth. "Yes," she said. "Please come up to the windowsill."

If Beth had been less exhausted, she would have taken comfort in discovering that at least Cordelia wasn't cheering for the new arrival. However, the only relief she could feel at this point was in her shoulders, when she finally freed them of the weight of her entire body and suit of armor.

She found a relatively stable position in the window and let her arms fall bonelessly to her sides. It didn't feel as if she could lift them so much as an inch, not even if her life depended on it. That made this conversation all the more important.

"You don't want me to defeat the dragon," Beth said bluntly. The other knight's imminent arrival gave her little time to mince words.

Cordelia had the grace to blush. "You would have," she offered.

Beth returned a weary gaze. "Yes."

"I'm sorry." Cordelia sounded genuine. Now that Beth sat close to her, she couldn't help imagining what it would be like for them to live as spouses. Beth could envision them dividing the labors of ruling, but she wasn't sure what it would be like to share a bed with the woman in front of her. Would she be expected to, given that the traditional means of producing an heir wouldn't be available to her? On the other hand, maybe it would be seen as weakness or a sign of division if she never visited Cordelia's room at night.

She looked at Cordelia's face and imagined herself caressing it. When Lady Jeanne had gotten married, some people had talked about it being unnatural for two women to be together that way. Beth had used Lady Jeanne to make a point with the guard, but she hadn't spent much time picturing the realities. Beth had kissed and been kissed a few times in her life, with and without passion. She wondered how it would feel with Cordelia, wondered if the contact would strike the spark in her body that would fuel her for deeper, more intimate exploration.

She was getting way ahead of herself.

Beth took a deep breath. "Is it personal?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Is it because you don't want to marry a woman? Or you're in love with someone else? Or you think my nose looks weird?"

Cordelia gave Beth an odd, unreadable look. "Is it personal for you?" she asked, her tone sharper than anything she'd used so far.

Beth swallowed. She didn't love Cordelia, and the woman deserved better than to be lied and pretended to. At the same time, she truly was trying to remember that the princess was a person and not a prize, that a spouse was a partner and not a political convenience. "I'd hoped maybe it could be," Beth said honestly.

Cordelia's expression softened, taking on a touch of the affection she'd shown toward the dragon. "Good answer," she said. Her fingers twitched, and for a moment Beth thought Cordelia might reach out to her. Then she turned away abruptly, leaving Beth with little to interpret beyond the smooth, apparently untroubled line of her shoulders and the carefully embroidered filigree that ran down the back of her gown. "It's just what a knight ought to say when sitting on a princess's windowsill."

Surprise coursed through Beth, and the sting of accusation. "You think I'm lying?"

"I think you'd make a good politician. A good ruler. I see why my father recognized you with the title he did." Her voice took on a bitter cast. "I see why he didn't stop you from trying to win my hand."


"It isn't personal." Cordelia's body was tight and controlled, but her tone made it clear that there were thoughts and feelings she couldn't contain. "Of course, it isn't. I can't really afford personal in my position, can I? You understand the world enough to see that."


I'll get you cover and release date information when it's available!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Music Mondays: "Know Your Name" by Mary Lambert

Know Your Name (Official Video) by Mary Lambert on VEVO.

OK, first, I want to find out where they are in this video and go hang out there.

Second, how do I get in on this Street Fighter tournament?

Third, why is everyone in this video so cool? How does Mary Lambert find such awesome friends? (Probably by being super awesome herself...)

Fourth, I like the song, too!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Five Years on Kiva!

I got an email notification this week telling me that I've been on Kiva for five years!

Kiva is a nonprofit organization that aims to help people around the world get small, low-interest loans that help them start businesses, attend school, make needed renovations, etc. You can see explanations on Kiva's website.

I first joined Kiva in conjunction with the publication of my novella, The Six Swans, through Coming Together. All books that Coming Together publishes go toward some sort of charity project. In this case, proceeds from novellas that come out through the Coming Together: Neat line go into Kiva accounts.

You can see my Kiva lender profile here. Over the years I've used royalties from The Six Swans, along with other money I've added to it at times to make 61 loans!

If you'd like to get involved, it's easy to make your own account on Kiva. Or you can pick up The Six Swans, Giselle Renarde's Tangled Roots, or any other book in the Coming Together: Neat line.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Trouble With Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 a couple weeks ago, and since then I've been rolling stuff over in my mind about the Mantis character. My reaction during the movie was discomfort—I felt I was watching a portrayal that played to certain racial stereotypes. As often happens, though, I hesitated and questioned myself a lot, worrying I was being "oversensitive" or reading something into her that wasn't there.

The feeling persisted, though. I thought other people might write about this for me, but I haven't seen a lot along those lines, so I'm going to write about what stood out for me.

To properly discuss this, I'm going to use spoilers whenever necessary, and generally I'm going to talk like you've seen the movie. Be warned.

Here are the ways I felt weird about this character:

1) She "helps Ego sleep."

Let's talk about Ego. If you think about what he does, he is literally an exploitative sex tourist (he travels to one planet after another impregnating people). I can't tell you how many of those types I've met in real life who are obsessed with/fetishize the idea of obtaining (possession word used intentionally to describe this mindset) an Asian wife or mistress, usually because he thinks this woman would be some combination of submissive and exotic.

When I saw Mantis with him, I immediately read her as a woman filling that role, either in a sex worker way or in a mail order bride way. There's a clear power imbalance between them, and she seems cowed by him. The references to how she helps him sleep fit into a sexually suggestive framework, to my mind.

Okay, but isn't Ego the villain?

I wondered if that somehow mitigates this portrayal of Mantis. Can the movie be read as a story of her escaping Ego's clutches and finding her own voice in some way? But I don't think so, and that has everything to do with how Drax treats her.

2) Drax mocks and belittle Mantis and she seems to love it

The interactions between Drax and Mantis are coded as a romantic B-plot (her attractiveness is discussed, she seems to be a part of his moving on from the loss of his wife, and toward the end of the movie he both princess-carries her and compliments her). I found this relationship sinister, though, because it reinforces the image of Mantis as exotic and submissive, playing into the same qualities that Ego the sex tourist seems to see in her.

Mantis does take action to go with the Guardians—specifically, she gives them key information about Ego's true motives and actions. She also delays Ego for a key amount of time during the climactic battle. This does earn her appreciation with the Guardians.

I don't think it earns her enough or the right sort of appreciation, though. The main kudos I recall her getting come from Drax, who grudgingly tells her that she is beautiful after all—on the inside (implication being that she is actually physically ugly). At the theater where I saw the movie, this line drew laughs, but it's an ugly, backhanded compliment. Mantis's "obvious" beauty and Drax's personality quirks are supposed to mitigate how this lands, I think, but in context... they don't.

Pro tip: Insults that say something "obviously" false about someone else... are still insults. (See all the times terrible insults have been justified as humorous for this reason. For example, the debacle around The Onion's disgusting and crude tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis).

Mantis seems to take Drax's insults as deserved and complimentary, and that's not sweet, especially when I'm already seeing her as a possibly traumatized victim of sexual violence from Ego.

3) The way she is cast

Mantis is an empath. I think her casting illustrates the way artistic projects can work with stereotypes or against them.

There's nothing wrong with having a character who's an empath. But when I see the way Mantis is portrayed, I think OF COURSE they chose to make her a woman. OF COURSE they chose to make her an Asian-coded woman. (Actress Pom Klementieff is French, and her mother is Korean). The idea of the empath works entirely with the stereotype of the Asian woman as receptacle for the hopes, dreams, and penises of straight white men. I'm disappointed to see it played that way.

To cast an Asian woman as an empath without falling into this trap, the character, frankly, has to be written better and with more depth. For more automatic stereotype resistance, cast someone else who doesn't "fit" the idea—and don't play that for laughs. Imagine if the Mantis character was played by someone like Idris Elba (again, not for laughs about the "contrast"). The whole thing would feel very different.

(A brilliant example of casting that pushes against stereotypes is Andre Braugher as Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Captain Holt. The show brilliantly toys with stereotypes to force viewers to see Captain Holt as an individual. In particular, it accomplishes this by forcing tension between the stereotypes of a tough, no-nonsense black man and the stereotypes of a gay man. Because the character is both, no stereotype can settle.)

4) Her use of language and the jokes about it

Mantis speaks, to my ear, with an accent that seems to mock the typical sound of English as spoken by Asian people who've learned it as immigrants. She also, inexplicably, seems not to know certain words. I feel she's coded as an immigrant and non-native speaker, which plays into the way her character embraces Asian stereotypes.

For example, listen to the way she responds when Drax tells her she's disgusting. She proudly announces, "I'm disgusting," to Gamora, and the way she says it reminds me of the way Asian people sound when they don't speak English well.

In other words, Drax's abuse feels even meaner because it takes advantage of a character who doesn't seem to speak the language—and the movie plays this for laughs.


Given these things, the movie left a bad taste in my mouth (though I will laugh forever about looking desperately for tape, even in the future).

Here are a couple of links I've found that discuss issues with Mantis, though not quite from the same angle.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Turned Mantis Into the Butt of a Joke
by Charles Paul Hoffman
"Intentional or not, Mantis’ portrayal feels very much like the trope of the wife a soldier brought back to the United States after the Vietnam War."

A Good Chunk of Guardians of the Galaxy Is Devoted to Calling This Character Ugly by Morgan Baila
"Why, in a film promoting a misfits gang full of a diverse range of characters, with varying levels of skill, intelligence, and attractiveness, is this female character being singled out for her looks? It's a cheap and lazy plot line, and it almost ruined the movie for me."

Friday, May 26, 2017

#ChechenRainbow Update

Dale Cameron Lowry sent out an update about the Readers and Writers for LGBT Chechens Auction, which I posted about several weeks ago. The online auction raised $2,709! If you're interested in a breakdown of where the money went and how organizations are using it, you can see that information here.

But even if you missed the auction, there's still a chance to help. Some authors and publishers are still donating book proceeds to the Russian LGBT Network and Rainbow Railroad (most of these offers end by May 31st, so now's a good time to make your purchases if you're interested!) Follow this link to see a list.

I'm going to particularly call your attention to Ultimate Wired Hard, published by Circlet Press. This book is huge! Forty-three stories for less than $6. It's an amazing deal even before you consider that all the proceeds are going to charity. If you're interested in making sure the largest possible donation gets made, buy the book from Circlet's website—the charities will get a bigger cut.

I'm amazed and inspired by the work going into this effort, and I invite you to support this project, if you're able.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cover Reveal: Journey to the Center of Desire

Begging, my friends: It pays.

Behold the cover to Journey to the Center of Desire, edited by Jen Blackmore, coming soon from Circlet Press. After spotting SUBTLE CLUES (translation: a background on the editor's blog) suggesting this cover is a thing that exists in this world, I excitedly begged to get copies of those pictures, too, and the Aetherist herself kindly obliged.

It's cool, yeah?

My story is called "Journey to the Disappearing Sea." It's about a dude who doesn't realize how irrelevant he is. No, wait, that's not quite right. It's narrated by Axel, the hero (and whiny center) of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. In the original, Axel loves to talk about "his little Gräuben," so I decided to talk about her a whole lot more. In short, I decided to make her the much cooler star of her own adventure.

Was I fantasizing? Well... yes. But hopefully I'll make you fantasize, too.

I'll share more details (like a release date!) when I can get them. And I might also post a few paragraphs to whet your appetite...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coming Soon: A Beastly Affair

Hey friends! I don't think I remembered to tell you that I signed a contract for a story in Jen Blackmore's Beastly Affair, a Beauty and the Beast-themed erotic anthology coming soon from Circlet Press.

I had a really great time writing my story, "Bête Noire." It's set in the Weird West, with a beast who's a former debutante, and a gun-toting, revenge-seeking Beauty.

When I finished the story and looked it over, I saw it had... drifted quite a bit from the fairy tale as told by Disney. That's what you want when writing, of course, because you need to make a story your own. I'm always fascinated by the process, though. To me, each step feels clear and logical, as if I'm just making minor adjustments. Then I hear myself describing the story to someone, and I realize it's radically different, and radical.

Like, why the Weird West? I'm not sure, but it made perfect sense to me at the time. I think I was looking for a time and place in which I thought a curse-giver could be passing through, and I didn't want to do the vague medieval England setting that one falls into so easily.

The key to my version of the story, though, came from research I did into the origins of the fairy tale. One old version of the story holds that the witch curses the Beast in a fit of rage after being sexually denied. It seemed to me like a person who would do that wouldn't only do it once, so I immediately envisioned a wandering sexual harasser, leaving behind a trail of Beast-cursed people. From there, it wasn't hard to imagine Beauty and a Beast teaming up to pursue the curse-giver.

I wanted the story to address the trauma the Beast has gone through. I put into it a lot of the feelings I've had myself in the wake of harassment—in particular, an urge to embrace the idea of ugliness because sometimes I see that as an antidote to vulnerability. I've also often observed that in the wake of trauma, my friends want revenge, and the things I want are much murkier and more complex.

Along with all that psychological and mythological stuff, though, Beauty and the Beast are into blood play, and the scenes I wrote for that are HOT—if I judge by my own reaction to them, anyway. ;)

I'm really looking forward to this book. I love Jen Blackmore's anthologies, both because her concepts are awesome and because she attracts great writers (I'm always honored to be in their company).

If you want to be in her next book, she has a call out right now for Golden Age Erotica (there's a link from here).

And if you want to see what I'm talking about, may I recommend Whispers in Darkness, her excellent anthology of Lovecraftian erotica?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Karate Kid Holds Up Surprisingly Well

Sometimes I get drunk and watch old action movies for fun, and I recently decided to do that with The Karate Kid. Usually, it's a hilarious exercise because the movies don't hold up all that well (ahem, Top Gun).

Karate Kid, though, was real AF, and in many ways felt more progressive than movies I see today.

For one thing, the feminism is real. Elisabeth Shue's character, Ali, is not your typical airhead love interest (it so depresses me that I have to write this). For one thing, she's always out doing stuff with her friends. She clearly has an interior life and a social life, and isn't just waiting around for Daniel. She also isn't shy about telling him that she likes him and telling him what she wants and expects. When a guy grabs her in a way she doesn't like, she punches him. Daniel doesn't see that and assumes she was cheating on him, and one of her friends sets him straight, telling him that she shouldn't have to explain something like that to him—he ought to trust that she's a good person.

When Daniel gets a new car, he rushes to show it to Ali—and wants her to drive it. I noticed myself cringing because I was so sure she would crash it and become the butt of a joke about women not being able to drive. (And what does that say about how I've been socialized?) Instead, he helps her figure out the controls (just as he had to do a few minutes before), and they drive off happily.

Also, let's talk about Daniel's mom. Lucille LaRusso is a single mother figuring it out under difficult circumstances. What's striking here, though, is that you never see her lamenting that she's alone or doesn't have a partner. You see a woman who's excited to make her own way and discover a new career. She's frustrated and struggling in some ways, but she's also forming herself in a way that you can tell is thrilling for her. She wants to be in California, and she wants to explore her job opportunities. Daniel's unhappy about it, in a teenage way, and she expresses sympathy but is also clear that she's a person and she deserves this. She's awesome, and different from the way I often see single mothers portrayed now. (She does have one of the most unintentionally funny scenes in the movie, though, when she declares to Daniel, "I could never make this much money in computers!" That, too, is telling, though—it's an artifact of the time when computers were considered women's work and were consequently devalued. Hmmm...)

I often feel like there's this idea that society gets more progressive over time, but it's all too rare now to see a love interest character who's as much her own person as Ali is. This really gives the lie to the idea that feminism has been accomplished. I feel like U.S. society has gone backwards since this movie was made, in many ways.

What I really want to talk about, though, is the drunk Mr. Miyagi scene. I remembered it from childhood, and I remembered that his wife had died and he was wrecked over it.

It was a memorable scene, and there are a lot of clips on YouTube of him singing the Japanese Blues. What I didn't remember, however, is exactly how cruel and damning his story is. If you look carefully at the newspaper clips that Daniel is reading, you'll see that Mr. Miyagi fought for the U.S. during World War II and was decorated for his bravery. At the very same time, his pregnant wife was in an internment camp, where she died while giving birth—probably unnecessarily because it seems like she doesn't get proper medical treatment. (I couldn't find a clip of this whole part, but the movie can be rented and streamed on Amazon).

A lot of people on YouTube seem amused by his drunken antics, but I sobbed through this scene. It seems like the truth about the imprisonment of Japanese people in the U.S. has only been coming out recently, but here's a very popular movie from the early 80s facing it head on.

I'm not going to say this is a perfect movie, but it's a very good movie and it held up way better than I thought it would.

I thought I would be annoyed at Mr. Miyagi's mysterious oriental-ness, but he's a real character, with a past and an arc. You see him in the movie learning to face down racism and get out and make his own life despite his grief. He and Daniel adopt each other, and that helps them both. I'm a sucker for a powerful father figure relationship, and for chosen family stories, and that's what this movie is.

Oh, and that crane scene that's often mocked these days? Watch it again in its full context. I dare you not to cry.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Mondays: "Needed Me" by Rihanna

Warning: This video contains graphic scenes of violence and exploitation

This song is so beautiful, and the video for it is so ugly, but I think these things match and go together. The beauty of the song very much exists in the context of ugliness, and that's what the video is showing. To me, this expresses the power and soothing beauty that can come in the aftermath of horror, and it's something that's felt healing to me lately.

Rihanna is very sexy in this, but she's sexy in that way that isn't for anyone but herself, in my opinion. She feels turned very inward here, and I appreciate that, and I like it when I feel that way, too.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Deadline for Coming Together: Positively Sexy Is Tomorrow!

Hi friends! A quick reminder that the deadline for Coming Together: Positively Sexy is tomorrow! More details are here.

As I've been saying, please don't hesitate to email me if you're just finding out about this and need more time. I want all the submissions I can get! You can reach me at annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com.

I'm looking forward to reading your story, and to sharing more news about the book as we go forward!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When Talking About Street Harassment Leaves Me Feeling Bruised

I went to a discussion this week on street harassment. While the event was well run, it turned out to be pretty difficult for me, and I wanted to write a little about why.

I showed up expecting a group that was well versed in the issue of street harassment. I thought many people there would have a lot of experience on the receiving end. Instead, I found that I was initially the only person who experienced frequent street harassment (later, one other person showed up who had similar experiences). Despite having a careful and thoughtful facilitator, this placed me and that other person in a weird position. It felt like I needed to frequently step in to explain what my experiences of street harassment are really like. It also felt like many of the people present had a lot of trouble having empathy for me and that other person. Instead, they seemed to center their own difficulties (i.e. "But how do I approach people on the street if people might think I'm a harasser?").

There are a few things that I wish were taken for granted in discussions of street harassment:

1) Strangers don't have a right to my attention.
Saying that someone is just flirting or just wants to get to know me doesn't explain why they feel free to force me to participate in that. I don't want to flirt. I don't want to get to know you on the street. I'm very bothered that other people's desire to have my attention is placed above my need to make choices about how I use my own limited resources.

2) Obscene comments and threatening gestures are really not a way to "get to know" someone.

The "he was just trying to get to know you" idea seems very weak when I think about the actual stories involved. Despite the fact that this idea comes up very persistently, I can't believe that someone who follows me down the street in his car is "just trying to get to know me." I can't believe that anyone thinks that screaming, "Oooh, titties!" at the sight of me is a good opening to "getting to know" me. I am flabbergasted that this defense is brought up frequently (including in this week's discussion).

3) Interactions that may not seem threatening to a member of a privileged group can be very threatening to a member of a minority group.
A man may not mind having a woman scream that she likes his ass (or maybe he would, that's fine, too). But that screaming woman is unlikely to present the type of threat to his safety that a man screaming the same thing could present to a woman's. A white person may feel perfectly safe while interacting with police. That doesn't mean a black person will feel the same way in that interaction. A straight person might find questions about his girlfriend innocuous. A queer person might find the same questions threatening. A cis person might not feel anything in particular about being misgendered (though often cis people seem to have a lot of feelings about this!). That doesn't mean it's okay to do that to a trans or nonbinary person. This is a really important principle that people need to understand in order to have effective conversations with people from groups they don't belong to.

So with that in mind, I'll tell a story of the interaction that disturbed me most in the discussion. I was explaining why I've grown wary of people on the street, no matter how they approach me. I described the way that many interactions start out seeming innocent and escalate into harassment. I gave an example:

A guy came up to me once and asked for directions to the nearest department store. We were close to one, so this didn't seem strange and I told him how to get there.

Him: Do they sell women's clothing there?

Me: Yes.

Him: Do they sell bras?

Me: (getting uneasy) Yes.

Him: What size bra do you wear?

(I hurry away.)

I didn't get into this at the discussion, but this really had a lingering effect on me. There was something about the look on the guy's face when he asked me what size bra I wear that shook me deep down. He had this gross and victorious smile. It made me feel like the whole point of the interaction was that he wanted to ask me a question about my breasts. I felt like he'd gotten what he wanted from me and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I felt stupid for letting him talk to me in the first place. I felt afraid that he would follow me.

Someone at the discussion later brought up the idea that this guy was "just trying to flirt" with me. Maybe not well ("well" defined as, in a way I liked). The clear implication, to my mind, was that there was no real harm in this behavior. It's hard for me to remember the precise moment of this interaction, because my face went hot and I sort of froze up. This person was looking at me, and I found I couldn't look them in the eye anymore. I remember the person saying something like, "He was just flirting, don't you think?" And I couldn't return the gaze, and this person pursued me. "No? You don't think so?"

I felt stuck because I didn't want to lash out in a way that would get me further dismissed. I said something like, "If you think asking someone's bra size within four seconds of meeting them is flirting, then I don't..." And I trailed off because I don't know how to help you if you think that.

More importantly, being questioned like that hurts me. I didn't know how to defend myself for a long time because I was very caught up in worrying about the other person's intentions. I'd sit frozen through an entire horrible interaction because I just wasn't sure when I was allowed to call it. It's very important for my own well being to reject that sort of questioning. No. You don't have a right to my attention, strange man. No, there is no excuse for asking my bra size on the street. There just isn't.

I also hadn't described the man when I told the story. At the time this happened, I was in my mid-20s. The man who approached me was easily several decades older than me. That situation is predatory. It's not innocent or fun. But the age doesn't matter that much, because the point is that when I'm walking down the street, I want to be left alone.

I said as much to the group. There are places where you can talk to me, where I go because I'm open to social interaction. For example, discussion groups, or mixer type events. I want people to come up to me if and only if there's a social setting inviting such a thing. I don't feel a lot of sympathy for you if you complain that this makes it hard for you to get a date on the street. I'm not on the street looking for dates. I'm there to go to the store or to meet a friend or to go to work or get exercise or whatever.

I'm interested (and disturbed) by how ready people are to assume good faith on the part of the harasser, and, in combination with that, to assume that I'm just confused when I report my feelings of hurt and fear.

Over and over, I kept hearing people talk about the situation of the harasser who's maybe socially inept but really just wants to form connections. The thing that bothered me when I woke up the next day is that this narrative persisted despite the fact that me and the other frequently harassed person told no stories of this nature. We talked about being followed, cursed at, having dirty words whispered to us. How do you hear that and then lament how people are "just trying to connect"?

I'm chilled by this. Really chilled. And sort of in despair about it.

Why is it so easy for people to empathize with harassers and so difficult for them to empathize with those who are harassed? Why does no one seem to know any harassers personally, but on the other hand they seem so quick to defend them?

Things I wish I'd done better in retrospect:

1) Asked for ground rules about cross talk
The discussion facilitator was very careful about trying to create a safe space. I wished I'd asked for ground rules in the opening about having my experiences questioned in certain ways. I wasn't sure how to frame that, and I kept silent when I shouldn't have.

2) Discussed race
My experiences of harassment are closely tied to race. I hinted around this, but I was much too delicate about it. In particular, I should have mentioned that I was harassed very frequently while out with a dark-skinned Colombian girlfriend, and almost never while dating a tall white woman. My skin tone can change a lot due to all sorts of factors, but I definitely get harassed more when I am browner.

Conversely, I have been harassed by men of all ethnicities. However, at one point someone suggested a street harassment law. I said that idea worried me because it might be applied unfairly. I should have come out and said that I was worried it would be applied only to dark-skinned men.

3) Challenged hurtful narratives more directly and pointed out contradictions more clearly

I wish I'd been able to describe more clearly some of the things I've said in this post. I wish I'd asked people why they were so invested in defending harassers and minimizing my experience. I wish I'd been a bit sharper with what I said.

One of the things that's still bothering me about this, though, is how much work this winds up being for me. I woke up early this morning, on edge, going over everything I'd said, processing my experiences all over again, critiquing the ways I'd expressed myself or hadn't. I might feel better if I knew a lot of people stayed in the discussion that way, but I have a sinking suspicion that this labor was loaded more onto me and the other person who'd experienced a lot of harassment.

I'm upset when I think about all the work that can come with receiving a certain sort of hurt. Not only do I have to deal with the hurt, I have to deal with all these repercussions of it, other people's feelings about it, and on and on forever. I'm angry about other people's ability to walk away from it, and the casual way they can knock me over (metaphorically) and then put it behind them while I'm still trying to get back up.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Mark and the Caul: A Sexy Part

There's a cool thing that happens when it takes a story a very long time to get published. By the time it's out, I get to read it fresh, as surprised as the reader might be. So I checked out my story "The Mark and the Caul," which recently came out in Sacchi Green's Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales, and I got to remember some of the things I enjoyed about writing this story.

The princess, Lucinda, has been told all her life that she's disfigured, and it takes her a while to trust her lover, Sam, with her body. I always find tentative explorations hot, and I also really enjoyed writing about how Lucinda and Sam navigate Lucinda's insecurities. Here's one of their early sex scenes:

"May I touch you?" Lucinda asked.

"You may do with me as you please."

Lucinda stepped close. At first, despite her question, she touched only with eyes, her fingers too timid to bridge the gap between them. When she lifted a hand at last, she flitted it around Sam's body like a butterfly too skittish to alight. Feeling ridiculous, she brought a fingertip to rest on the blunt tip of Sam's broad nose.

They both froze, and then Sam laughed, and the sound freed Lucinda to gather her wife into her arms more boldly. She learned the shapes of Sam's shoulder blades, the curve of her spine, and the solidity of her hips. She tucked Sam's muscular buttocks into the palms of her hands, but the powerful response in her body alarmed her and she retreated to Sam's elbows. Lucinda, however, could not resist stroking upward from there, outlining her wife's upper arms, which were strong and thick from helping the miller.

This supposedly less intimate territory still made Lucinda's stomach flutter. She rested the side of her face between Sam's breasts, barely trusting her legs to hold her up. Wrapping one arm around Sam's back, Lucinda allowed her other hand to wander to the hollow of Sam's throat, over the point of one taut breast, along the side of her rib cage, and finally, between her legs.

"Moon above and river below," Sam cursed.

Lucinda smiled at the reaction and petted the damp hair that grew over Sam's pubis. She knew the pleasure her own body yielded when she explored this place. "There is a river below indeed. I feel the signs of its presence, though I have not found it yet."

Sam widened her stance. "You seem clever enough to track it."

"You will not be able to remain standing under the force of its waters once I make them flow," Lucinda said. She led her wife to her bed and helped her in. Then she rubbed the top of one of Sam's thighs, as if she were a great mill horse in need of steadying. Slowly, Lucinda parted her wife's lower lips, revealing the extent of her wetness.

"Ah," Sam sighed. "You've found it."

"I've found the path that leads there." Lucinda began a thorough examination of the territory, at first simply stroking and discovering, then later responding to the hiss of Sam's breath and the catches in her throat. She trapped sensitive flesh between her first two fingers, squeezing lightly, tugging, and rolling.

Sam gave a full-throated cry, and her firm body became rigid and hard beneath Lucinda's touch. Pleasure shattered off her and pounded through the room, rolling from Sam's body in waves that Lucinda could feel at her temples. Sam gasped, and finally caught her breath. "My mother told me the pleasures of the marriage bed were not for women," she said at last. "I've never known her to be wrong before, and yet I can imagine nothing sweeter than what you have done to me."

Lucinda stretched out beside Sam, still in her clothes. She slipped her hand beneath her veil so she could inhale Sam's scent, and shivered all over at the spice of it. "It heartens me to hear this from you. I was always told that it would hurt."

Sam clutched Lucinda fiercely. "I swear I'll never hurt you."

"I know you won't."

"Will you let me please you, too?"

Lucinda drew a deep breath. "Soon," she promised. "But not yet."

Sam nodded and held her, and the two women whispered secrets to each other.

If you'd like to read the rest, you can pick up the book here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Excerpt from Dear Kim

This time at Oh Get a Grip, we're talking about The Uncanny. I took the opportunity to share an excerpt from "Dear Kim," which is one of the stories I'm proudest of having written. At The Grip, you can read about some of the truth behind "Dear Kim," and then read a bit of the story. If you like what you see, I've got links at the end which will lead you to a free audio version of the story, and to Like a Chill Down Your Spine, the book it was published in.

Here's a taste of the post:

So while the uncanny part is invented (I never saw these ghosts or experienced them that way), so much of the story seems absolutely true to me when I think about it.

I have a friend who says (I’m paraphrasing) that writing speculative fiction is a way of making your metaphors very literal, and I think that’s true for me here. I am haunted, emotionally, by the friends I’ve had who inspired Kim. I am haunted, emotionally, by unacknowledged feelings and regret. And in “Dear Kim,” I turned that haunting into an uncanny truth rather than a psychological one.


You can read the whole post here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Calls for Submissions: Circlet Press

My friends at Circlet Press have posted two interesting new calls for submissions!

First up is Mollie Wolfe's call for erotic stories about sexual and nonverbal healing, due June 15th. This has the makings of a very powerful anthology, and I'm going to be thinking a lot about what would make a good story for it. Several stories I've read in the past on this theme come to mind as among the most moving erotic stories I've read. I'm thinking specifically about some of the work in Xan West's Show Yourself to Me anthology, and also several stories by Janine Ashbless and Shanna Germain.

On the rollicking good time front, we have Jen Blackmore's call for Golden Age Erotica, which she describes as "erotic Indiana Jones!" Jen Blackmore is a master of coming up with themes that get me excited, then following through with great anthologies. I can't wait to write for this one, and I can't wait to read it. Deadline is July 1st.

Also, don't forget my submission call (not for Circlet), for stories about HSV+ characters for the charity anthology Positively Sexy. You can find more information about that here. The deadline is Monday, May 22nd, but if you're just learning about this now and have a great idea, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We can work something out!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From Sexy Little Pages: Love and Lust in Space

Hi friends! I've been lucky enough to be included in several anthologies published by Sexy Little Pages, and I wanted to explore some of the other books from their line. So I asked editor Jennifer Denys to send me some info about Love and Lust in Space, a science fiction erotica anthology she edited. She very kindly responded with details on every story in the anthology. I see some names I know and love (Ashe Barker, Jordan Monroe, and Dee Maselle, among others), and plenty I look forward to getting to know! Check it out below! :D


They say your screams can’t be heard in space… Unless you have a partner or two! Eleven authors take you on a trip where any pairings are acceptable, locations vary from spaceships to strange and futuristic worlds, and interesting and exciting objects can be used in sex play.

If randy astronauts, virtual reality lovers, sex in near-death situations, a commitment phobe human and her alien lover, and reproduction in space experiments don’t do anything for you, you are clearly not human!

So try the stories in the alien worlds half of the anthology, instead. Here you’ll find alien Doms, a mysterious gladiator saving a stricken princess, an exotic dancer, a paid assassin on the run, an illegal sonic dilda’tor, and a pleasure booth. Space has never been so exciting!

Futuristic Earth

Naughty Nauts by H K Carlton (MFM): It's Jessa's job to observe Astronauts Hatch and Scott aboard the ISS. As the mission lengthens both ‘nauts begin to exhibit strange quirks, including suggestive behavior towards her. Jessa has no delusions. In what world would such formidable men give a curvy girl a go, let alone fulfill the delicious promises made over a wall of monitors.

Sanctum by Dee Maselle (MF): Fighting to reshape postwar Earth's data flows, virtual reality talents Krishav Santos and Marra find themselves trapped as rival network acquisitors - knackers. "We can be enemy knackers having fun while we wait," Marra decides, and she's right. After steamy VR fetish sex and united cybercombat, Santos wants Marra's talents in reality.

Re-entry by Ian D Smith (MF): Astronauts, Paul and Helen, could easily die when their prototype space capsule malfunctions in orbit. Their only hope for survival for involves a risky spell with no radio contact. Total isolation is a time for honesty about their feelings for each other. With no guarantee of living until the next day, this last chance may be all they have.

One Night by Rose Wulf (MF): Ivy doesn’t believe in love. But she believes in lust – like the lust that draws her focus to a sexy alien across the bar. He’s set to leave Earth the next morning, so Ivy figures she’s in for just a single night of erotic bliss when he walks her way. What she gets is so much more...

Filling the Void by Jordan Monroe (MFM): Josie Rodriguez is the subject for a special mission. She is the female participant of a study to determine if humans can naturally reproduce in outer space. Her male partner for the study is also the captain of the mission, which takes place on board the International Space Station. She isn’t opposed to having other lab partners, so to speak…

Alien Worlds

The Audition, by Ashe Barker (MF with multiple partners/aliens): When she accidentally opens a wormhole whilst working for NASA Lucy tumbles through to find herself in a parallel dimension with no way back. Ever. In this new and terrifying world she has to choose a Dominant mate from the group of males all more than happy to audition for the role.

The Gladiator’s Princess by Morgan King (MF): When life’s turning out just as you expected it to, when you’re about to be bred publically, as the climatic conclusion to a gladiatorial, orgy inspiring, conquest what Princess Kenara needs is a hunky alien to take her hostage. If Destin can also help with the pesky problem of her heat being triggered even better…

Alien Attraction by Dylan McEwan (MM): Five hundred years after the destruction of Earth, Aiden is a human slave on the planet Vordel, forced into the humiliating and tedious life of a sex performer in a seedy bordello. When he falls for the beautiful Vordellian aristocrat, Kyander, it seems like a hopeless dream, as relationships between the two species are strictly taboo.

Across the Stars by Ella Grey (MF): Kai knew he couldn't hide forever, but he never thought his old employers would send Lyria to track him down. Lyria wants her freedom and if that means she needs to capture and return the man who stole her heart, then so be it.

The Sonic Dilda'tor by Jennifer Denys (MF): Skarlet is a very sensuous woman, but is married to Braemel, whose people only have sex once every five years and she is desperate to save her marriage. She accidentally comes across a Sonic Dilda’tor and immediately knew it would help them. Unfortunately, it is banned on that planet …

Epilogue – after Futuristic Earth

The Pleasure Booth by Beverly Langland (MF and MFM scenes): Altairian scientists have uncovered an ancient Human artefact - the Pleasure Booth. Kazan, a feminist, xenologist and leader of a secret society, is the first Altairian female to try the booth, though strictly forbidden. She feels the journey essential for her thesis on Human sexuality and for the liberation of Altairian females. What she discovers is both puzzling and revolutionary.

Buy link (this takes you to the correct Amazon for your country):

Monday, May 15, 2017

Music Mondays: Dhivara from Baahubali: The Beginning

If you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that at least 50% of what is fueling my body and soul right now is this amazing movie, Baahubali. It's a grand, hero's journey style epic with a sense of joyfulness at its core that's exactly what I need right now.

The video above is from one of the key scenes in the first movie, Baahubali: The Beginning. Not only do I love the scene, the music perfectly matches the mountain-climbing task. I've been listening to this song or watching this video pretty much anytime something feels hard, and it makes me feel like I can get through. Thought I'd share.

Oh, and bonus: the people in this video are very beautiful.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Less Than One Week to Help Xan West

Friends, I know I've been talking a lot about this—on Twitter, here, in my newsletter—but the reason for that is that I care. Xan West (AKA Corey Alexander) means a great deal to me, as both an author and a person, and our help is needed.

I know these are tough times. I feel like every day there is some urgent demand for my attention, my energy, my (limited) funds, my power, my love. I often feel exhausted by it all, and there are some things I don't feel able to get to. So I completely understand if you're tapped out or tired. I am, too.

This, though... So much right now is big and overwhelming. I often feel tiny. I'm often not sure if I can help or how to try. In times like that, it helps me to bring my focus to a smaller scale, and maybe that's another part of why I'm here. Xan West is one person, and I know I have the power to offer direct benefit in this case, with money, with energy, with attention.

But ultimately, it's not about me. It's about helping Xan live in safety. And one part of why I know this matters (other than the worth of every single person, no matter what), is that Xan's being and work have so often sustained me, and I know I'm not the only person for whom this is true. Xan's writing has given me joy and healing. Xan's presence is kind, thoughtful, and encouraging. Xan gets on Twitter and shares coping strategies right when so many of us need them. I want Xan to receive just as generously as Xan gives.

There's less than a week left on this YouCaring campaign, and I'd like to offer you three ways to help:

1) Give directly.

2) Buy a copy of Xan's book, Show Yourself to Me.

(Until the campaign is successful, Xan's publisher, Go Deeper, is giving Xan 100% of the proceeds from this book that are purchased from the Go Deeper website. You will find the website here.)

Honestly, if you haven't read Show Yourself to Me yet, I'm a little jealous. It's so revelatory and exhilarating.

3) Spread the word.

Share links to the campaign I embedded above. Share links to the page for Show Yourself to Me. Share links to Xan's Twitter feed. Everything matters.

<3 <3 <3

Thank you so much for reading this.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Announcing: The Taste of a Soul

I just signed a contract for a new short story, "The Taste of a Soul," which will be published in a forthcoming anthology of religion-related erotica by Mofo Press.

If you'd like a hint of what's to come, you can see the description of the submission call here.

Among other things, it says:

For this anthology, we are looking for erotic stories that explore the concept of religion. No other parameters apply other than that every story needs to be literary, erotic, and push the boundaries between the sacred and the profane.

We have a preference for Catholicism—the eroticism and hypocrisy are built right in—but stories involving other major world religions are fair game. We also have a soft spot for erotic explorations of world mythologies.

My story is about demons, inspired by Lana Del Rey.

This is a song I listened to lots while working on the story:

I'll give you more details when I've got them, and maybe a few sneak peeks along the way. :)

While you wait for this one, take a look at Mofo Press's Wanderlust anthology, which includes, among other things, a story by T.C. Mill, who is amazing.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Reading News in the New Age

I can't be the only one who's had a hard time focusing this week. Here's what I said on Twitter, and I'm not sure how much more intelligently I can add to it right now.

It's really overwhelming lately to stay alert, and to do anything, and I think this is the second time I've said that this week. Still, I'm trying.

Today there's a protest in downtown Providence, where people will demand an independent investigation in the wake of the Comey firing. I don't know if I have it in me to go, but I want to.

[And can I say a quick thing here? I went to the Women's March in Providence, and people there talked about people "getting off the couch" and coming to protest, and I really didn't like hearing it put that way. "Get off the couch" plays into that thing of calling other people lazy, and it's too popular and rather cruel. There are lots of reasons it can be hard to show up to a protest. For me personally, social anxiety and depression are major factors. So if I'm not there, it's not fair to assume that's because I'm "on the couch." I can think of plenty of other non-lazy reasons for people to not have a history of in-person protest activity.

I'm aware that it can really make a difference to show up in person, so I try to push myself. But it is something I have to really push myself to do. And I have to say that being in a shout-y crowd can be really tough for me. I went with a hesitant partner to a community town hall held by RI Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. There wasn't enough room inside for the crowd, and the crowd got angry. My partner was distressed by the atmosphere and begged me to leave. I felt really torn, because I thought it was important to stay, but I also didn't want to ignore my partner's needs (and need for soothing).

I don't mean to say that people shouldn't be angry, because truly outrageous things are going on. I'm just saying that I wish I heard a bit more understanding about reasons other than laziness that might make people reluctant to go to protests.

All that said, I'm really going to try to go today.]

Anyway, the other thing I did this week, which was much easier for my bookish personality, was read Timothy Snyder's amazing book, On Tyranny. I want to buy copies and just sort of leave them around the city. It took only a few hours to read, but it was profound, scary, and somehow also inspiring. After reading it, I have no doubt that our democracy is in danger, and I also feel a bit more informed about what particularly to watch out for, and ways I can make myself ready to stand up against it. I'm planning to review this soon on Goodreads, and it's also a book I plan to read again.

I highly recommend it, especially if you're feeling overwhelmed by the constant flow of terrifying news. The book helped me sharpen my thinking a bit, and I needed that.

Anyway, I'm going to keep trying to be stalwart, vigorous, courageous, and powerful. I hope you can be, too!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

From Pleasure Pie: It's My Pleasure

Have I talked about Pleasure Pie here before? They're an awesome sex positive organization based in Boston. They put on incredible events (I've been to their sex letter writing workshop, their sex positive activism workshop, and a couple of their discussions), and they also put out a great collection of zines and stickers.

I'm proud to say that my work is in one of their recent products, the "It's My Pleasure" Masturbation Zine.

Nicole from Pleasure Pie invited me to read from my piece at the recent launch party, and I was shocked by how different that felt from reading the work I normally publish. Something about the style of the zine and of Pleasure Pie opened me up to writing in a way that feels more raw and vulnerable than usual. My work often makes me feel a little vulnerable, but this was like handing over a nerve ending.

Here's the description of the zine:

This is a collaborative zine about masturbation! It consists of short, personal writings that describe the specifics of how different people masturbate (from a first-person perspective), and what their relationships to masturbation are like. Submissions include people from a variety of gender identities, sexual orientations, races, and ages.

This zine is 26 pages long and measures 4.25" x 5.5". It is printed in black and white ink, with a collage background, and a hand illustrated cover.

My piece is about an experience of change I've been having over the last few years. Masturbation has always been very important to me, and a huge part of my life. I used to feel a lot of shame about it, but erotica reading and writing helped me to embrace myself as I am and to stop feeling bad. At that point, I thought, great, this problem is solved. However, as with many things in life, I did not at that point get to live happily ever after. As questions piled up for me about my sexual orientation, and what I do and don't want to do sexually, I found that they affected my experience of masturbation. My piece in the zine is about my mixed feelings about that change. There are ways I'm honestly happy and excited about the need for more exploration, and there are ways that my emotions around this include a lot of grief and confusion.

All the pieces in the zine are incredibly moving and honest, though, so I'm in amazing company. I really admire Pleasure Pie's project here—one part of the goal was to demystify this often secret and shame-filled practice and talk about how a variety of people experience it. I think this is a really powerful thing to do, and it makes me love Pleasure Pie even more than I already did.

The launch event was a wonderful party, where, aside from listening to readings, I really enjoyed the masturbation-themed coloring activity (you can play along at home by getting the pages from Pleasure Pie's Etsy shop).

The It's My Pleasure Masturbation Zine is also available from Pleasure Pie's Etsy. Pleasure Pie sells it on a sliding scale between $4 and $8—please pay what you can.

If you do check out the Etsy, take a look at other zines if you have a chance. I'm particularly interested in "That's Okay," which Pleasure Pie describes like this:

A very sweet little zine about consent told through the story of a knight who rescues a princess. The knight goes through hardship to get to her, but she refuses to live happily ever after with him. He respects her decision, no questions asked. If only more fairy tales ended this way!

A student wrote this zine at a zine making station that I had at a college in Boston, and I loved it so much that I asked if I could publish it. He said yes, and a wonderful Pleasure Pie volunteer illustrated it to look like an old video game. Now you can buy the finished product that resulted from their collaboration!

DETAILS: This zine measures 2.75" x 4.25" and is printed on standard white computer paper, using color ink.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Auction: Readers and Writers for LGBT Chechens #ChechenRainbow

One of the things that's hard about right now is that there are so many things competing for our attention. It feels relentless. I want to give money to too many good causes, and I want to do more than I'm capable of doing to stop the various sorts of villainy that are going on in the world right now. That said, I feel like it's important to pay attention as much as possible, and to do as much as possible. And some of the ways I can help involve things I enjoy doing, like reading fun books.

So today I'm going to tell you about an effort to help people in Chechnya. As Amnesty International puts it, "Men believed to be gay are being abducted, tortured or even killed in Chechnya as part of a coordinated campaign with impunity." You can download their full report on this issue here.

A group of authors and publishers have gotten together to help raise money for the Russian LGBT Network, ILGA-Europe, and Rainbow Railroad, three organizations that are working with people in Chechnya (you can read more about this effort here). That last link includes a list of ways to help.

Today, though, I'm going to focus on the auction these authors and publishers are running (to raise money for the three organizations I mentioned above).

My friend Lisabet Sarai got in touch to let me know she's offering 2 signed copies of her book Quarantine. You can bid on the book here, if you're so inclined.

I see other friends helping, too. For example, Cecilia Tan is offering an awesome ebook bundle here (that bundle includes her Magic University series, the Prince's Boy, and the Velderet, so it's really an incredible deal).

If you'd like to look at everything on auction, you can do that here.

Bidding ends at 12 pm CDT on May 13th.

Auction winners donate directly to the charities and claim items by sending their donation receipts, so you know for sure that the money will reach the necessary causes.

If you've got the bandwidth to help, or even just want to read a good book, please consider helping with this effort.

<3 <3 <3

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Out Now: Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales

Hey friends, guess what? This book is out!

Here's the description:

In this sexy, erotic anthology of twisted fairy tales, the damsels are the ones doing the rescuing! Full of ancient, adapted tales that were changed to include female/female pairings and also some brand new stories of feminine heroics and sexual dominance, this collection of stories will leave readers under a spell of lesbian love!

It includes my story, "The Mark and the Caul."

Also, check out this great review! (Thanks, Ameliah Faith!) The reviewer calls attention to my story by name, and also gives shout outs to writers I love, including Emily Byrne, Michael M. Jones, Salome Wilde, and Sacchi Green herself.

You can get Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms at Amazon, your favorite indie bookstore, or wherever else it pleases you to do so!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Music Mondays: Right Now by Haim

Haim where have you been why did it take you so long to bring your glorious hair back into my life how do you play the drums so well when will you let me buy your new album I have so many questions.

But in any case, you're right, "That's how you fucking do it."

Welcome back!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Call for Submissions: My Charity Anthology, due May 22

Hi friends,

I've had this pinned to my Twitter account for a while now, but I could still use more submissions, so I wanted to boost a bit more.

I first posted this call last year, and then refined the anthology topic in response to the submissions I received and am looking for a few more stories. Please consider writing something for me. If you'd like to discuss your idea or need more time, please feel free to email me at annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com. <3 <3 <3 I'm posting the call in full below, but you can also find it on the publisher's website here.


Coming Together: Positively Sexy is a collection of erotica focused on characters living and loving while HSV+, edited by Annabeth Leong. Proceeds 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.


Update: In the first submission window for Coming Together: Positively Sexy, many submissions focused on characters living and loving while positive for HSV (herpes). So I've decided to embrace that focus and reopen the call in order to fill out a book all about these characters. I'd particularly love to get more stories including queer men or nonbinary characters, but any story exploring and celebrating the sexuality of characters with herpes is welcome.

Details from the original call are below:

Ever notice that sex ed classes tend to focus on how to prevent STIs, but don't say much about living with them and having a sex life after an STI diagnosis? Erotica, on the other hand, is often written as if STIs don't exist at all.

For this anthology, I'm looking for short erotica and erotic romance about characters who have STIs.

I would like to see a range of experiences represented. Give me characters just opening themselves up to sexuality post-diagnosis, characters for whom disclosure and safer sex practices are a routine side note to whatever sexual fun they're getting up to, and everything in between. Stories must be fictional.

It's a major priority for me to include stories about people of a variety of orientations, body types, races, genders, etc. I'm very interested in stories that engage with stigmas around STIs, but I'm absolutely not interested in stories that perpetuate those stigmas. I'm interested in the realities of sexuality, and it is fine for characters to have backgrounds that include unsafe behavior/murky consent/etc. In the present of your story, however, I want to see characters who are responsible with themselves and their partners. Please use medically accurate information where relevant. Please don't be preachy or shaming.

All sexualities and gender expressions are welcome. Kink is welcome. Realistic contemporary settings only, please.


Stories between 3,000 and 7,500 words are preferred. I will consider shorter stories or stories as long as 10,000 words if I find them truly exceptional.

Coming Together contracts non-exclusive rights to publish, so previously published work is fine, as long as you own the rights to the work you submit. Stories over 5,000 words may be released individually through Coming Together as well, with the sales proceeds benefiting the CSPH.

Please use RTF, DOC, or DOCX format when submitting a manuscript. Include your legal name, pen name, and a working email address at the top of the document. Do not paste your story into the body of your message.

Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, and one-inch margins. Double-space paragraphs and set indentations to .3 – Do not use tabs or spaces to indent.

Please do not submit poetry or memoir.

Direct all submissions to and CC

Include “Coming Together Positively Sexy Submission” in the header of your e-mail. In your e-mail message, include a two-line blurb for your story (to help with promotion if your story is accepted), and a short biography, no more than 150 words, including your website/blog/social media links if applicable. Please also indicate if your story has been previously published.
Feel free to query if your submission is not acknowledged within 72 hours.

Coming Together is a non-profit organization, and all CT 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 the satisfaction of knowing you are helping an amazing organization that is working to reduce sexual shame.

Signs that you've read the guidelines make me <3 you. Thanks so much for being interested in this anthology. ABOUT THE EDITOR:

Annabeth Leong is frequently confused about her sexuality, but enjoys searching for answers. Her work appears in dozens of anthologies, including recent editions of the annual series Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Erotic Romance, and Heiresses of Russ: Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. She is the author of the novel Untouched and the short story collection Liquid Longing, and is the editor of Circlet Press's MakerSex: Erotic Stories of Geeks, Hackers, and DIY Culture. She can be found online at, and on Twitter @AnnabethLeong

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Review of Knife’s Edge: Kinky Lesbian Erotica by Emily Byrne

Byrne is capable of blending a dizzying number of kink fantasy elements into powerfully hot stories with a strong sense of character.

Emily Byrne’s kinky lesbian erotica collection opens hot and strong with “Reunion at St. Mary’s,” an absolutely scorching story that combines a dizzying number of fantasy elements in a group sex scene that keeps me gasping for pages on end. (Nuns, spanking, and the girls’ hockey team are somehow just the beginning of this fantasy.) I’ve read the story before, but that doesn’t diminish its power in the least. This particular fantasy could heat me up for many nights on end without abatement.

So while reading it, my main question was where Byrne could possibly go from there. I worried that this book couldn’t maintain this sort of pace, and wouldn’t be able to fulfill the promise of that first story. I was afraid the next eleven stories would seem pale in comparison to this particular filthy, kinky gem.

Byrne, however, is very wise with pacing and variety throughout the book. After “Reunion at St. Mary’s,” she showcases other strengths of her writing. “Arachne” in particular relies on gorgeous language, strong characterization, and a particularly creative mythological retelling to hold its own after the unrelenting heat of “Reunion.” Another story, “The Hands of a Princess,” appeals through humor and a strong plot—while still being quite kinky in its own right.

But, wonder of wonders, Byrne has more delicious group sex scenes up her sleeve. Knife’s Edge doles these out just when the reader has cooled off from the last one. As a result, they hit every time, and Byrne’s particular facility with this sort of scene makes each one feel fresh and sexy in its own way.

Knife’s Edge reads well from beginning to end, but for the reader who wants to know which group sex stories deserve special attention, check out “El Tigre” and “Cowgirls and Science” after you finish “Reunion.”

Part of what held my attention throughout Knife’s Edge was that, between the hot sex scenes, there’s a lot of intriguing character and worldbuilding. More stories than I expected have speculative elements. I particularly enjoyed the lesbian vampires of “El Tigre,” which were a fresh take on a heavily played trope, and the warrior women of “The Hands of a Princess.” (Note to Emily Byrne: I could read a whole book set in that world. In particular, I’d love to know what Eriel gets up to in her spare time… Just saying.)

The back half of Knife’s Edge consists of stories set in the contemporary world. Instead of building new worlds and settings, Byrne opts for deep explorations of the psychology behind her main characters. Particular standouts include “D is for Denial” and “Polar Vortex.” “D is for Denial” explores the sexiness of the buildup between two characters and the power rush of not giving a love interest what they clearly want—while also speaking in a moving way about the fears that can drive a game like that as well. “Polar Vortex” is a poignant scene between two lovers who seem on the verge of a split, and raises the question of whether a powerful moment of trust and intimacy can turn a relationship around.

I tensed up while reading a couple of stories—”Planet 10” and “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid.” In both cases, the story is very concerned with a fetish in a way that I felt had the potential to be dehumanizing. For example, in “Planet 10,” the main character really wants to have sex with a member of a particular alien race, which for me resonated uncomfortably with my lived experience of lovers fetishizing elements of my racial heritage. Byrne, however, seems aware of the situation. In both stories, the object of desire asks at one point why the main character is interested in her specifically, and the main character is forced to recognize the insult implicit in this sort of nonspecific desire. “Planet 10” ultimately gives a science fictional explanation for why sex would happen anyway (and extracts a high price from the main character). “Lovely Rita” handles this with a complementary fetish. By the end of both stories, I was mollified, though I couldn’t really relax enough to be turned on.

Knife’s Edge contains a few weaker entries. While I was very excited about the setting and circumstances of “On the Spanish Main” (boats!), the character development in that story felt thin. “An Incident in Whitechapel” is historically rich, very sexy, and full of fascinating psychology and obsession, but in the end felt a bit obscure to me (basically, I couldn’t understand the conclusion). However, I wouldn’t let a bit of unrealized potential deny me a book full of sexy, fascinating goodness.

Overall, this book is a powerhouse, packed with heat and plenty to keep you entertained—and also some moments of deep feeling and insight.

You can pick up Knife's Edge at the publisher's website here, on Amazon, and elsewhere.

Vital stats:

Title: Knife's Edge: Kinky Lesbian Erotica

Author: Emily L. Byrne

Publisher: Queen of Swords Press

Release Date: April 12, 2017

Number of Stories: 12

Page Count: 147

Price: $2.99

(I won a copy of Knife's Edge in a giveaway.)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Atomic Blonde: My Jaw Drops But I Have Questions

Charlize Theron is a fucking badass, and her character is clearly bisexual, so my first impression is, what's not to like?

On the other hand, though, I'm scared of some things. After the scene in the trailer with the women making out, the first cut is to men reacting. There is nothing that turns me off faster than that. In my personal life, I've worked so hard to get free of that shit, to be able to love the women I love without experiencing Men Reacting in my head, to be out with a date at a bar without tensing up at the possibility of Men Reacting. Sure, Men Reacting can be a little bit fun when they're going to get ignored (see: Carol, and the wonderful line, delivered by Therese, "I haven't thought about him all day."). However, I don't quite trust that this is what's going on in Atomic Blonde.

A bisexual woman does not have to end up with a woman to be queer, but I do think her relationships with women need to be treated with equal respect as her relationships with men. So, I'm scared that James McAvoy's character will Matter, but hot French woman will in the end Not Matter. This fear is compounded by the way the movie is billed—Charlize Theron and James McAvoy get the starring spots.

Does it not look a bit like hot French woman is about to be strangled, or that the trailer is foreshadowing her death? Color me paranoid, but this is a sore spot for me (ahem, way too many television shows).

I picked option 2 out of the 2 red band trailers, even though I think option 1 has more makeouts? However, option 2 had a mix of Personal Jesus and BLKKK SKKKN HEAD and I am here for that. However, can we talk about the music for a minute?

So, I love both those songs, and they sound and look super cool in the trailer. But I DO feel weird about a song that is so racially charged playing while a white woman kills people. I mean, Kanye even sort of addresses that in his lyrics:

"They see a black man with a white woman at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong," he says.

It's also super weird to see her punching people to the line, "If I knew what I knew in the past, I would have been blacked out on your ass." She is not "blacked out."

This stuff with the song makes me feel a little weird about the movie, too. These people obviously know how to make something look cool. But the way they're using BLKKK SKKKN HEAD feels clumsy and oblivious. If they're clumsy and oblivious about racial stuff, I'm guessing they're likely to be clumsy and oblivious about queer stuff, too.

So I'm torn, because I like the idea of female-led action movies, and I am probably going to watch this. But I worry I will also be really irritated by it.

People on Autostraddle are struggling with similar questions, especially in the comments.

[And an aside about the song itself: I love it because to me it sounds like what Trent Reznor wishes he could do. It's the driving lyrical force of rap, combined with what made my teenage heart love Nine Inch Nails so very, very much. HOWEVER, it does contain a few lines that really annoy me. Kanye West is a genius, but does he have no editor? "I keep it 300, like the Romans. 300 bitches, where the Trojans?" Aaaargh. Maybe I am a nerd, but every time I hear that, I want to be like, Kanye, my friend, 300 is a reference to the Spartans, who were NOT Romans. Please keep your ancient cultures consistent. Anyway, that was neither here nor there, but I can never hear that line without wanting to rant about it, so...]

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Me, On Safewords and Edges

Right now at Oh Get a Grip, our topic is edges. I wrote about my experience of using safewords in BDSM, and the realization that finding the "right time" to use one isn't nearly as precise as it sounds.

An edge sounds like a line, a clear point. You’re on the cliff, or you’re falling off it. You’re in Florida, or you’ve crossed into Georgia.

But in my experience, borders are not nearly that clear. I think my edges in BDSM work more like beaches than guard rails. At what point are you on the sand or in the water? There’s a transition process. There’s water that seems shallow until the tide suddenly comes in. There are stretches of beach where you can walk a long way out “into the water” but somehow never get more than calf deep.

So, I don’t want to be in the water to the point that I drown or am otherwise harmed, obviously, but I do want to be in the water. It’s not necessarily easy to figure out how much water is too much water. Knee deep? Waist deep? Chest deep? Do I want to dip my head under for a few seconds?

And an ocean doesn’t just sit still and wait for me to figure that out. Neither does a BDSM situation.

If you'd like to read the rest, you can find it here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

From a Friend: Damned If You Do

I like where Lisabet Sarai's work has been going lately. She's always written intensely emotional BDSM, and her writing has always been filled with raw sexual honesty. Lately, though, I feel like there's a new spark in her stories, that she's going deeper into what interests her psychologically. In many cases, those things really hit home to me as a writer, and this newest book sounds like no exception. Lisabet provided me with a wealth of info about Damned If You Do, her new contemporary BDSM retelling of Faust. (By the way, this is genius! What with contracts being part of the mythology, this seems like a very natural fit with the BDSM romance genre.)

If you're like, yes, cool, but Lisabet's work is an auto-buy for me, so I already know I want it, you can find the book here. Otherwise, you'll get another chance when you read to the end. There are links there, too, and information about the contest Lisabet is running!

Here's what Lisabet has to say:

Of Frustration and Temptation

Being an author is not for sissies. You pour your heart and soul into your stories. You spend hours of your scarce time and more money than you can afford on marketing. With each new release, you hope you’ll finally grab the attention of the book-buying crowd, that you’ll get the readership and the remuneration you deserve.

If that doesn’t happen (and given the number of people publishing books these days, odds are that it won’t), you’re stuck with the bitter knowledge that all your passion and effort were for nothing. This can be deeply demoralizing, even if you’re not trying to make your living as an author. If you depend on your writing to pay your bills, you’ve got financial anxiety added to your frustration.

I know this frustration only too well. My books receive consistent five star reviews, but somehow I’ve never been a commercial success. Thus, Damned If You Do is a rather personal story.

What would I do if I could magically turn my books into best sellers? How much would that be worth to me? That’s the question my romance author heroine faces when a mysterious stranger shows up waving a contract and promising her fame and fortune, sensual pleasure and the fulfillment of her most secret desires.

All he asks in return is her soul.

Crazy. Dangerous, maybe. But so, so tempting!

Here's a description of the story:

Wendy Dennison is tired of being a starving author. The royalties from her critically acclaimed romance novels barely pay her bills. Her devoted agent Daniel Rochester may be smart and sexy, but he can't get her the sales she needs. Then a charismatic stranger appears at her coffee shop table, promising her fame and commercial success, as well as the chance to live out her dreams of erotic submission. But at what cost?

Nothing you can't afford to lose, my dear.

Seduced by the enigmatic Mister B, she signs his infernal contract. He becomes both her Master and her coach, managing her suddenly flourishing career as well as encouraging her lusts. Under her mentor’s nefarious influence, she surrenders to temptation and has sex with Daniel. The casual encounter turns serious when she discovers her mild mannered agent has a dominant side. As the clock ticks down to her blockbuster release and Mister B prepares to claim her soul, Wendy must choose either celebrity and wealth, or obscurity and true love.

Here's a taste of it:
The limo deposited her in front of her little house and floated away. A bit weary from the lengthy ordeal at the salon, Wendy almost tripped over the figure sitting on her front steps.

“Dan! What are you doing here?”

Her agent looked rumpled and haggard. He didn’t even bother to stand, though his eyes were hungry as he surveyed her.

“You don’t answer my calls. You ignore my emails. I figured the only way I could get through to you was to show up at your door.”

“Emails? I haven’t heard from you in months! I figured you were mad at me…”

“Every day, Wendy. I’ve sent you a message every single day. I’ve called again and again. That damned personal assistant of yours answers every time.” He rose to his feet finally, looking around with a scowl. “Where is the bastard, anyway?”

“I—um—I’m not sure. I think he’s doing some errands.” She rummaged in her bag for her key. “Come inside. We’ll talk.”

“No. You come with me.” He grabbed her sleeve, pulling her down the walkway toward a gray Taurus with a Steelers Rent-a-Car decal parked across the street. “You’ve got to get away from that guy. He’s dangerous.”

“Dangerous? What are you talking about? He’s been great for my career.”

Dan grabbed her shoulders and shook her, hard. “Wake up, Wendy! He’s got you under some kind of spell. You’ve become a totally different person.”

She tore herself free. “Yeah, I have. Instead of being a loser, I’m finally a successful author.”

“You’ve cut yourself off from everyone. I got an email from Jenna the other day. You do remember Jenna, right? Your old friend Jenna Martin? She was worried. Said she hadn’t been able to get in touch for weeks.”

Jenna. How odd. Wendy hadn’t even thought about her, not since that afternoon in the coffee shop when her crit partner sent the link about Sapphire Sands. The afternoon Mister B had come into her life. In the old days, they communicated nearly every day.

“I’ve been busy. Busy writing.”

“Is that all you’ve been doing? That slimy character Bent loves to suggest you two have been involved in other activities…”

She tried to take his arm. He shook her off. “Please, Dan, calm down. I’m fine. I’ve finally found my writing groove. Everything is going great.” She flashed him what she hoped was a charming smile. “I’m going to be on the Breakfast in America show later this week.”

“I wondered why you were all gussied up.” His bitter tone made her wince.

“You should be happy for me. After all, I’m making plenty of money for you, too!”

“Forget about money for once. What about feelings?” He grabbed her with both hands, pulled her close and held her tight against his body.

Here's where you can buy the book:

Buy Links (Ebook and Print)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble




(Other booksellers coming soon.)

And Lisabet is giving away some prizes!

I will be giving away three $10 bookstore gift certificates during my release blitz, and three free ebook copies of my BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. I will also give a $5 GC to a randomly selected host. The blitz ends June 1st.

To enter, readers must:

Sign up for my VIP email list:


Leave a comment with their email address on my release day announcement page:

About Lisabet:

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website, along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance, she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.