Upcoming stories

My cup overfloweth. Contracts are signed, edits are underway, and I just discovered that I’ll be sharing the tables of contents in two upcoming anthologies with some very excellent people.

Your cup might overflow as well, dear reader, because in each of these anthologies I have two stories.

In MoFo’s third anthology, Religion (originally Sacrilege), my stories are kind of different from each other, but between them cover plenty of my Roman Catholic influences.

“Deliver Us” is about what happens when you get exposed to bondage through B-movies about exorcisms, and your girlfriend is an ex-Catholic who once wanted to be a priest.

(When your boyfriend did become a priest and you want to rescue him from his decision, you get A Last Touch of Grace. Comparing that story in 2016 to these stories in 2017 probably reveals something interesting about my spiritual journey.)

“Annunciation” is a semi-autobiographical novella in flash about growing up queer in the Catholic Church. Novella in flash might be a slight exaggeration, but I’ve recently fallen in love with the form and its cousins after reading Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages for Youeven if I didn’t manage a “true” novella of the appropriate length and independence of the composite flash pieces, it was fun experiment. The format might also be influenced by the 5 + 1 fanfiction genre, in which case we have “Five times I* believed lies the Church told me about gender and sexuality and one time I figured it out,” I guess, or maybe “Five times I really missed the fact that I was queer and the realization(s) that put me right.” Not only was “Annunciation” fascinating to write (I said these stories “covered a lot of my Roman Catholic influences,” but what I learned most is how much is left to uncover), I also got a little angry. In “Deliver Us,” too. That seemed to fit MoFo’s call, which includes “a preference for Catholicism—the eroticism and hypocrisy are built right in.”

The narrator of “Annunciation” first identifies the androgynously-illustrated Gabriel as female, “So to me, the Annunciation was always a matter of two women together in a bedroom. “

It’s not all bitterness, though. I hope “Deliver Us” is fun as well as blasphemous, “Annunciation” is meant to be a celebration of its own glorious mysteries, and in between the sacrilege these pieces come from a genuine sense of reverence for…something. While the heroine of “Deliver” is very much a former Catholic, maybe not entirely by choice, both protagonists of “Annunciation” remain within the Church for as long as the story follows them. Consider them a narrative shout-out to all my fellow heretics.

And the other exciting part–I learned one of my favorite writers and editors, Annabeth Leong, will also be in Religion with her story “The Taste of a Soul“.

A prolific and creative writer, Annabeth was also the copyeditor for the first two New Smut Project anthologies, wrangling about 40 stories from many different countries into a consistent style and offering thorough and insightful feedback to hone and clarify each writer’s voice. Her story in Between the Shores**, “Return to Rope,” is a moving and erotic exploration of betrayal, trauma, and healing that still makes me dizzy to think about.

Also, signal boost: She’s currently putting together the charity anthology Coming Together: Positively Sexy  about characters living and loving while HSV+. The deadline is May 22nd, but if you have a story idea and need just a little more time, get in touch with her at the email address through the link.

Next, I’ll have two pieces in SinCyr Publishing‘s Getting It anthology of Femdom/Domme/Female dominant stories. SinCyr’s mission is to “provide sex-positive, body-positive, and sexually empowered characters and content to readers of erotic fiction” including “topics ranging from sexual healing to sexual empowerment, to body positivity, gender equality, and more.” They currently have several open calls if you want to participate!

“Silver Bracelets” is the story of a women and her boyfriend trying out a new and very pretty toy–among other things, what I really wanted to capture here was the toy-curling squee! factor of trying out and loving a new kink (or a kink you knew you had but hadn’t been able to try in person before).

They shine like heirloom silver and are so pretty she could kiss them. She does kiss them, feeling the smoothness against her mouth, smelling clean metal and tasting a hard, clear clink between her teeth. The sound tastes better than birthday cake. She giggles in giddy, synesthetic bliss.

a white man's hand, in one of a pair of handcuffs, gives the viewer a thumbs-up

I was looking for public domain photos of handcuffs that illustrated my enthusiasm for them, and this was on the first page of results. How could I resist?

In “Fantasies,” a woman asks her submissive a question during their scene that sends them into an exploration of desires they’ve had trouble voicing (including the desire to say “No”).

 She released her mouth’s tension with a soft pop. “I think I’d mess up the statistics. The ones they quote on every side of the feminist debates. Or maybe lots of women feel the way I do but don’t know how to articulate it.”

I’m thrilled to share this table of contents with my beta-swap partner Betina Cipher, a femdom author and blogger who’s been giving me constructive feedback and sharing her own work since this January (my increase in new output since the beginning of this year owes something to her). She let me preview her story and it’s a beautiful illustration of kink and healing.

 

*Let’s say “I” is the narrator of “Annunciation” rather than I, T.C. myself. It’s only a semi-autobiographical story, after all. I was just surprised when I found how much real experience I was building on.

**Putting together your first anthologies can be a disorienting experience, and my co-editor Alex Freeman and I realized to our chagrin that we’d forgotten to explain the origin of this title when we wrote the introduction. The quote is from Kahlil Gibran: “Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” This beautiful quote seemed appropriate to introduce a collection centered around consent and negotiation.

Embodied Hauntings–“The Bitterness of Flesh”

Continuing on my themes from the last week’s posts–hauntings, and also recent releases that didn’t get proper blog posts because my website was down at the time they came out.

“Would you like to see Cleo?”

This time the blush flamed to the surface of her skin, and the chill dove deeper, towards her heart. “I… Can I?”

Robert Fitzwilliam held out his hand. “There’s a statue of her down the hall.”

A statue. Of course. Had she been expecting a ghost? She pressed her palm to his again, felt long fingers close around it, followed the draw of his arm. The thick carpet drank in their footsteps.

“The Bitterness of Flesh” came out in Ever Dream of Mean anthology from Fantasia Divinity Magazine. It was inspired by two things: the Year’s Best Food Writing anthologies from Holly Hughes, and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Of course, I was reading those at the same time, which is one of the best ways to cross wires for creative sparks.

Plot-wise, the story is not about a chef: I’m more interested in eating scrumptious delicacies than preparing them, so the Food Writing inspired me to notice and incorporate sensual details–and also an heirloom apple orchard. Honestly, I’m surprised there isn’t more writing out there combining culinary and erotic appetites, although Gael Green’s Insatiable and Ashley Warlick’s The Arrangement are both on my bookshelves (I hadn’t realized M.F.K. Fisher had a love triangle under her belt along with all those European meals!).

The core of the story is about a second wife, and also, of course, about the first one. I adore Gothic novels, but the atmosphere of “Bitterness” is a little lighter than most Gothics–more bittersweet than venomous. Its partial inspiration, Rebecca, is a book about jealousy and fear, love and obsession. And when the heroine gets that obsessed with Rebecca (aided not least by the tour Mrs. Danvers gives of the shrine made from Rebecca’s bedroom), it becomes almost–with more or less “almost” about it–sexual.

Du Maurier herself was bisexual, and Danvers is usually read as inclined that way towards her late mistress (with unsettling and beautiful results), but at least one other fan picked up on the seeming connection between the two Mrs. de Winters–Sally Beauman, in Rebecca’s Talehas a startling kiss that might be enabled by time travel or a reverse haunting, or just a very, very strong metaphor:

I kissed her on the cheek, like an accomplice, and then on the mouth, like a lover… She gave a sigh and vanished into the air.

I sigh, I cry, I consider my choice to read an dubiously-authorized sequel justified.

I’m a fan of fanfiction, published or otherwise, for its way to reinvent and invert and bring up the subtext of the original work. But in this case, I wanted a clean slate, a palette on which to take certain elements–the sensuality, the second wife, a sense of time folding back from the force of an obsession that creates its own haunting–and remix them into something new. I wanted a heroine who, rather than deny the attraction of her predecessor and lose herself to jealousy, embraced that attraction. I wanted a genuine sense of loss in both the widowed husband and the woman who will never meet the one in whose footsteps she follows. I wanted a lingering presence that was benign, even seductive, whether or not it was real.

One aspect of Rebecca that sets it apart from many lesser Gothics, for me, is the lack of supernatural elements–the haunting of Manderley is all psychological. In the “Bitterness of Flesh,” I left some room for ambiguity, but above all I consider it a materialist ghost story.

After all, what could be more material than desire?

She looked at Robert and knew both of them tasted the same flavor and sensation, the same mellifluousness and aching lightness. Sharing it seemed almost like kissing him.

Only then did the idea of kissing him enter her mind. The thought was also sweet and achingly light.

Robert’s first wife, Cleo, has left her mark in every room of the gracious manor home she designed. When Jillian comes to the house, these are what she has to know Cleo by. These are a lot of questions I still have in my own life: What can you tell about the departed from what they leave behind? When is it right to let go? Once you accept objects as part of a person’s afterlife, can you ever let go?

In the morning, Jillian traced the sheets, and traced velvet and silk, and wondered who had woven the fabric that made Cleo’s gowns. She thought she recognized the sense of style behind their design. She imagined the hands—not long and slender like Robert’s, but broader, yet equally warm—measuring the cloth, and the keen, wide eyes judging its color. Selecting a piece that shimmered from pewter to turquoise, and then jade, and finally a ghostlike, shining gilt.

“They’re beautiful,” she told Rob.

“They could be resized to fit you,” he offered. The fine red marks from the ribbons hadn’t yet faded on his wrists and upper arms.

But she thought he looked relieved when she said, “I have plenty of clothes already, and they can fit somewhere else. Let’s leave these be.”

And what if, through the things they left behind, you find yourself falling in love?

All that said, this is probably one of the more perverted stories I’ve ever told. I don’t mean that judgmentally–just, maybe, as an enticement.

Her hair stood on end; goose bumps tingled beneath her silk robe. That was all she wore, besides a necklace from Robert. Links of silver joined pearls with stones as red and large as pomegranate seeds. Jillian went to the closet and flung open its doors. One hand rose to roll the gems against her collarbone as she stood looking.

Sundresses, evening dresses, dressing gowns, even ball gowns—a treasury of them. Garments rustled as her touch slipped through them, over them. She felt collars, hemlines, the drape of sleeves, even as she made her selection standing only in  necklace and negligée.

Then just the necklace.

Then nothing.

Pearls clattered on the polished wood of the tabletop beside the bed. Silk whispered in the folds over her arm. It licked her flesh like a thirsty thing.

Ever Dream of Me is available on Amazon in both a paperback and Kindle version.

“She knew what he’d brought”: Updates 4/19/17

The paperback of MoFo Pub’s Wanderlust anthology is now available from Amazon. That gorgeous cover will look great on your shelves (something about photography and hot pink lettering does things to me, okay?) and even better open in your lap. While you read it. Which you’ll thank yourself for.

This is the one featuring my story “Soft, Rough.”

But the MoFo goodness doesn’t stop there. “My Body is a Haunted House”–an f/f story that takes its title from C.S. Lewis, yes really–will be one of the stories in Hotel, the second volume of the Mofo Pubs Presents series. The ebook is currently available for preorder before its June 25th release.

If reading these stories gets your imagination going, MoFo has two current calls for submissions: Religion, closing April 30, and Haunted, closing August 5. Speaking, I guess, of C.S. Lewis and haunted houses (okay, I modified his quote–originally in A Grief  Observed, he compared his body to an empty house. The larger point stands. The larger point being that grief is a bodily experience as much as an emotional one, and also I hold nothing sacred).

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Author Interviews

I just realized how much I have to catch up on, posting-wise, from those long and dreary months I spent without a website. And there’s a whole sob story about what else was going on that getting the new website up wasn’t a priority for me, but who needs to hear that? Sob stories aren’t that sexy.

Well, they can be.

You're trembling, and aside from those delicious, involuntary shudders, you don't move. from T.C. Mill,

Eroticism and grief, loss, and tragedy are kind of a thing for me. Hauntings–supernatural or psychological–appear again and again. I’m struck by the kind of intimacy you can or can’t have with the past, what forever eludes your touch. There’s also the intensity, the whole-body experience of each emotion, idea, and sensation. It’s why Shakespeare’s tragedies are so beautiful. It’s also why grieving people may suddenly find themselves powerful. The grief story that resonates most strongly with me is: “I just went and stood there, sort of trying out my anger against theirs, I guess. And mine won.”

Or as the narrator of “Phone Call, 3 a.m.” puts it:

Grief and fear are rare aphrodisiacs. Deep mourning isn’t, and depression certainly isn’t. Anxiety makes you clammy and numb inside or makes you let loose recklessly. In my experience merely anxious sex has always felt somehow cheap. But grief unlocks something. Maybe it strikes so deep that it gives us permission to feel. It excuses us. Or makes us so desperate that we’ll have anything in place of the loss.

Anyway, what I was getting to when I started this post is that I forgot to share here when my author interview went up on Best Women’s Erotica of the Year’s Tumblr page. On the other hand, waiting until now to post about it means I can share the complete set of author interviews from all 21 contributors; you’ll find them under the tag for Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2. They’re all fascinating, and I think you’ll love the chance to hear about the inspirations for these stories, read each author’s favorite lines, and find out what’s coming next!

If you’re interested in being part of the series yourself, the call for Volume 4 is up, seeking themes of “outsiders and risk.”

 

New Release–Wanderlust: a Literary Erotica Anthology

“Turn-ons include well-placed commas, devastating allusions, ten-dollar words, social commentary, moral ambiguity, alliteration.” As soon as I read the description on the website of MoFo Pubs, I knew this was somewhere I wanted to submit (fiction, that is).

The best turn-ons, the kind that weave the strongest spell, are those that engage your brain as well as your body, that serve up sensuality with flair. Such is what I try to deliver. I don’t see “literary erotica” as an oxymoron. For all the beliefs, emotions, sensations, anxieties, and rites of passage surrounding sex, it’s a strong contender for the most literary of topics. It certainly beats out taxes, though not necessarily death…

…and it may tie with travel. Discovering new places, or leaving the old ones behind; a hunger for different sights or sounds or tastes; short transactions or deeper exchanges with strangers you might never see again. And then there’s the logistics: carrying your baggage or finding somewhere to put it or forgetting it entirely, hoping your transportation doesn’t come to a halting crash, considering the sense of relief you might feel it it does–there’s a lot going on and going into your average case of Wanderlust.

I’m very excited to be part of this anthology for my first publication of 2017.

Wanderlust—a strong longing for or an impulse toward wandering.

The stories in this anthology explore the ramifications of wanderlust—with an emphasis on lust. Twelve tales of those who cannot stay still—whether by choice, curse, or circumstance. Men and women gripped by the impulse to wander, travel, explore the world—and explorations of the sexual encounters they have along the way.

The ebook is out in the Kindle store, iBooks, and Kobo, and a paperback version will become available through Amazon in April. Amazon will even provide an option to bundle the ebook with the paperback as a free add-on.

The first advance review of Wanderlust is 4.5 Stars from Samantha at the Book Owlery. She found “Soft, Rough” by yours truly “a  very, very nice shock”* and has great things to say about the rest of the stories as well, describing rich veins of both the literary and the erotic.

Before closing off, I’m excited to hint at further appearances in future anthologies from MoFo. And if you’re a writer who also enjoys alliteration, allusions, and the frisson of a well-placed comma, not to mention another of those most literary topics, you might check out their open call for submissions featuring Religion and/or Sacrilege.  It closes April 30th.

From “Soft, Rough”:

She napped away the rest of the afternoon on the couch and flew awake, hands hiked to claw, when the doorbell rang.

She unlocked the huge oak slab and pulled it back. Looked out at him. “It’s you.”

“It’s me. Your hair’s grown out.”

It had, enough that the tight curl was evident and hid the way her ears stuck out. Now if she woke in the night, she’d look in the dressing table mirror to the left of the bed and find a round-headed shape staring back at her. A shape she’d only belatedly recognize as herself. Probably a metaphor for her whole existence.

But he always recognized her right away, and more, he knew exactly what had changed. With a smile, she let him in.