Archives: new release

“Annunciation”

Mofo publishing’s latest anthology of literary erotica, Sacrilege, comes out August 17th. This week I’m sharing excerpts from both my stories in it.

“Annunciation” is a Marian devotion, a confession, a denunciation, and a love story about growing up queer in the Catholic Church.

Annunciation

Gabriel

The Nativity is the third Joyful Mystery.

My first crush was on the archangel Gabriel, who I thought was a woman.

I stared at the illustrations in my religion textbook, studying every nuance of the figure, taller than the kneeling Mary (or even when kneeling to Mary) but slender. Details of that long body were masked by a white gown that flowed to bare feet, draped the wrists of gesturing hands. The beardless, fine-featured face was framed by a cascade of golden hair. These details recurred in image after image. Already half-daydreaming, I skimmed text that spoke of “the angel,” and I knew girls named Gabrielle.

So to me, the Annunciation was always a matter of two women together in a bedroom.

Once I was older, I became aware of my error and confused by it, sheepish, in some unexpressed, inexpressible way defiant. When I heard “there is neither Greek nor Jew, servant nor free, woman nor man,” I felt I might be right after all. Later on, I saw Henry Ossawa Tanner’s 1898 painting The Annunciation, which shows the angel as a narrow shaft of golden light that Mary gazes at warily.

Yet it also encouraged me that the Bible passage wasn’t primarily about angels but human beings. I liked the idea of one day no longer having a gender, which I found complicated and burdensome. By that point, I had given up on getting to fall in love with someone who was not gendered male. Despite pushback from my rebellious classmates, who nearly drove our pastor out of homeroom when he came to answer our questions, it was made clear there were two roles only men could take: that of a priest, for all my class argued otherwise, and that of my (married, permanent) lover.

Much, much later I discovered a theory that the archangel Gabriel’s representation in early Byzantine art was based on court eunuchs’ hairless, delicate androgyny. Perhaps, then, angels are persons who have forsaken maleness, though moving from the one gender does not automatically make them female, as I well know.

For now, I do think of myself as a woman. One day, be it in the Kingdom of God or sooner, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Back when I remained certain that Gabriel was a woman, I found confirmation in this belief through one of the altar servers. She too wore a white robe covering her tall body, and her face was framed by coppery hair that looked golden in some lights. Her features were austere, her movements ungainly as she grew into her height. I watched her religiously every Wednesday morning when our parish school went to Mass. She was several grades ahead of me, and the only other times I glimpsed her were for a minute or so each afternoon, around three o’clock, when we gathered in the gym to wait for our buses to arrive.

While I watched for this girl and studied the illustrated Gabriels, something felt tight in my chest, a thin and pleasant constriction. Our sexual education textbooks and our teachers told us that in the confusion of growing up, sometimes these crushes happened. They were natural, a phase we would grow out of. I believed them.

One night—I was a freshman in college, still living at home—I turned in my narrow bed and fell into a dream. In it, you were dressed in a blue robe with a white scarf covering your hair, the costume of Mary from a Nativity pageant. Neither of us had been in a pageant since middle school, but in the dream you were twenty, I nineteen, as we were in life. You stood at the back of the stage, behind the purple velvet curtain, and you kissed Gabriel.

Gabriel was not a man; Gabriel was me. A white gown covered me to my tennis shoes, but the long sleeves fell back as my hands lifted to your waist and shoulder. The kiss was slow and long, silent and lit by a honey-colored light. Your arms tried to go around the angel but were brought up short by my wings. These wings were not made of cardboard and gold ribbon but of feathers and flesh. Your fingers stroked through the fine down, dug in to meet the membrane with all its air-current sensitivity, and when your caress reached through them, the wings flew out and flexed and beat as if to lift us from the floor.

Read Sacrilege now: 

Amazon

Mofo website

“Deliver Us”

Mofo publishing’s latest anthology of literary erotica, Sacrilege, comes out August 17th. This week I’m sharing excerpts from both my stories in it.

“Deliver Us” is a lighthearted and angry look at the kind of sex that will get you sent to hell. Namely, exorcism roleplay, with bondage, warming oils, and getting almost too deeply into character–

Deliver Us

Ryan might have made a mistake in telling her that his first awakening to bondage had come through some C-movie about an exorcism. Watching that lissome teenager writhe, strapped down on the table—though just a kid himself, he’d known something was going on, something even beyond the desperate, weirdly poignant straining for salvation. Years later, he found out exactly what. And years after that, he confessed.

And now he was about to lose his immortal soul over it.

But God, Ann looked good in a Roman collar.

“I thought about being a nun,” she said, running her fingers over it. “But in the end it didn’t work out.”

“No kidding.” He grinned. “When it comes to nuns, I always think about . . . either sweet little old lady campaigners of social justice or else rulers across the knuckles.”

“Seriously. When I was younger, I thought I might have a vocation.”

“You’ve never mentioned that before.”

She shrugged, and he remembered that she didn’t talk much about her Catholicism in general. Or her ex-Catholicism. Which seemed more likely, given her continued playing around with the collar. She brushed away the ends of her brown curls hanging over it.

“Anyway,” she said, “I just thought of it when I put this on. Since they don’t let women become priests. A Sister would be as close as I could get.”

“I think you’ll make a good priest,” he told her.

“Thanks.” The moment of softness passed from her eyes, and she leaned over him. Loomed, really. When he stood, they were the same height, but Ryan always felt as if he shrank five feet when he was tied up. And the improvised vestments seemed to do something for her—she grew in them.

She said, “But after all, there’s lots of things they don’t let good Catholic girls do. Extramarital sex . . . sex not for the purposes of procreation . . . most of everything we’ve ever done.”

“I’ve seduced you into evil. How demonic of me.” He raised his eyebrows, which he’d often been told were at a certain devilish angle.

“Very.” Her grin was far more evil than any expression he could ever devise. It sent chills down his spine, and heat flowed right after them. His old jeans were tight enough that he suspected she could tell. He had picked a pair with an especially weakened waistband in case things got torn once he started writhing.

She bent closer, until the end of the silk scarf she was using as a stole dangled, and whispered, “You’re very wicked.”

She meant it. The way she had fiddled with her costume—solemn, if not reverent, maybe with a bit of wistfulness—spoke louder than their joking, spoke in the same clamoring tone as her silence about her past religion. They played now with something serious. If they did it wrong, they would be running a very big risk.

Ann frowned. “I should smack those knuckles with a ruler.”

“Come on.” He tugged at the straps holding him to the headboard in a weak sort of protest. She laughed at him. She cackled. It wasn’t very devout. And the indignity of the situation left him more turned on than he’d want to admit.

“For God’s sake!”

“I don’t think you’re supposed to beg for mercy just yet, Lucifer.” Her lips pursed on the name, making him think of kisses. And more. “Especially not by that name.”

Read Sacrilege now:

Amazon

Mofo website

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.

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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.

Read an excerpt from my story, “Soft, Rough,” under the cut

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