Guest Blogger: Annabeth Leong

runforyourlove

Are You Feeling It? by Annabeth Leong

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

When I learned about sex growing up, a lot of what I was taught focused on the male experience. I was told that men would say anything to get laid—their hormones would take control and they would claim that it physically hurt to be denied. On the other hand, I saw plenty of magazine covers promising to teach how to please my man.

What was missing from both of these narratives was that neither one suggested that sex might be an experience centered in myself. No one warned me that when I started making out with people I might have trouble holding myself back. I’d heard plenty about how to fight off a horny guy, but nothing about what to do if I was mindlessly horny myself. I also didn’t learn about pleasing myself when with someone else, or about asking someone else to please me. For many, many years, male orgasm marked the ending of sex for me—even if I wasn’t finished yet.

I give this bit of personal history because the heroine in my new erotic romance, Run for Your Love, is in the process of busting through these limiting perceptions. Viola is discovering that there’s another way to have sex—a way that pleases her and expresses and recognizes her own desires. She’s learning that when a guy asks, “Are you feeling it?” she doesn’t have to automatically say that she is.

I plot my stories pretty tightly, but many times the mood of the sex that the characters are having winds up surprising me. In Run for Your Love, Zach and Viola both come off a bit innocent. Together, they’re discovering how sex can be when a real connection is formed. Each of them learns how to seek their own pleasure and share that with each other.

Many times, I find my political or feminist beliefs working their way into my work (though I always hope that adds to the sexy fun rather than detracting from it). My life changed when I learned that my sexuality if my own, and that I choose to share it with my partners. It changed when I learned that when I have sex, I will get turned on myself rather than be a passive recipient, and that it’s okay for me to want to do what feels good to me. I am still in the process of releasing myself from the idea of sex as work—something I do to make the other person come, and that I’ve failed at if I haven’t achieved that goal.

I was thrilled by Zach and Viola’s discoveries with each other. It exhilarated me to write about a woman whose sexuality is flowering. For Viola, it takes the zombie apocalypse to make this happen. She needs extreme situations to break out of the prison she’s been living in. My subconscious may have used that to express how difficult I found it to claim my sex life, but my fervent wish is that this will become much easier for women. I would love for the common sexual narratives to include the perspective of female pleasure—the things that Viola is just uncovering.

Excerpt:

I’d never come with a guy inside me before. Mostly because every guy until Zach seemed to assume the magic of his dick alone would get me there. When the orgasmic spasms started up, I felt him there at the very center of me while my muscles squeezed around him, and it kind of blew my mind. I never thought it would feel so good to have that hard length resisting me, pushing back against the tingling sensations so that they spread out and bounced to new places inside me.

I didn’t even worry about how I looked to him. If he had a problem with that, he would have said something already. I held myself up as best as I could, ignoring the throb of my arm in favor of the throb of my clit. Every part of me that touched any part of him tingled.

When it passed, I realized I’d been staring into Zach’s eyes the whole time, and he lay under me smiling as if he was genuinely happy for me. I realized how long it had been since I’d really moved, and apologized, remembering how much other guys had hated when I forgot to keep thrusting.

“Don’t apologize,” Zach said. He didn’t seem impatient at all. Instead, his voice sounded thick, weighted with lust that, for once, I reciprocated. “I think that was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

His fingers still rested on my most sensitive places, but he’d stopped rubbing without needing to be told they’d be too tender at the moment. I blinked, amazed by how much he seemed to understand.

“What can I do for you?” I asked. I meant it too. The offer came out spontaneously, not because I needed to keep him happy but because I wanted to share his desires the way he’d shared mine. “How do you like it?”

Zach moaned. “I like it with you,” he said. “You make it feel so…sexy.”

“Well, it is sex.”

“You know how it can be awkward.”

I blinked. Maybe I didn’t know that, not quite. I did know how it could be fake. I wondered if everyone’s got something they usually hold back or worry about while they’re in bed with someone else. Not having to do that with Zach exhilarated me, especially now that I suspected the feeling was mutual. A flicker of fear rose up along with that joy, and I pushed it aside. Later, we could worry about what it all meant.

I took both his hands and eased them away from my body, coming to rest on his chest instead. “Show me what you want me to do.”

Blurb:

Shotguns seem to be everyone’s favorite accessory for the zombie apocalypse, but Zach Paul believes he can survive without hurting anyone—not even the zombies. An elite-level runner, he plans to speed away from every danger. Then Zach meets a woman he can’t bring himself to leave behind, and staying beside her tests all his principles.

Viola Ortiz fought free of her controlling boyfriend just before the zombies came, but now she believes her macho ex is the only one who can protect her. She sets out to reunite with him, only to encounter Zach instead. The tall, lean runner is everything her ex is not, and Viola is shocked to find he turns her on as no man has before. Viola’s ex, however, isn’t willing to let go of her, and soon it’s clear that other survivors are as dangerous as the zombies.

Zach and Viola can run, but they must find safety before they lose their humanity in the struggle to protect their lives and growing love.

Buy Links:

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-runforyourlove-1315996-340.html?referrer=6bdb1f9160564c0525b41f36e51861a0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00FS6MX6K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00FS6MX6K&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FS6MX6K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00FS6MX6K&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20

Breathless Press: http://www.breathlesspress.com/index.php?main_page=product_free_shipping_info&cPath=13&products_id=493&zenid=6f219fb8a467b51c18d4d8e998caa03a

Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written romance and erotica of many flavors — dark, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her titles for Breathless Press include the contemporary werewolf erotic romances Not His Territory and Not the Leader of the Pack, and Run for Your Love, a romance set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong

Buy One, Get One Free Offer:

Did you miss Annabeth’s previous titles with Breathless Press? Not to worry. E-mail proof of purchase of Run for Your Love, such as an Amazon receipt, to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com and let her know your e-book format of choice. Annabeth will buy a copy of her werewolf novella, Not His Territory, for anyone who sends this information before November 12, 2013.

Halloween special!

If you send your proof of purchase on Halloween, I’ll throw in a couple extra spooky surprises!WMS_blogtour

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I Might Have a Nice Ass, But You’re Still an Asshole.

This is an article I wrote for Hollaback Philly, a non-profit dedicated to ending street harassment. They’ve posted it on their blog, which I really hope you go and check out. Hollaback is in many other cities as well.

***

I distinctly remember walking down the sidewalk with my friends at the age of thirteen, getting honks and lewd comments hurled at us. I repeat: WE WERE THIRTEEN. Imagining ourselves cool and grownup, we would give offending drivers the finger and gleefully yell “Perv!” as loud as we could. After the shock of the first time or two, I considered it old hat in the nonchalant way that kids who don’t know better have. Maybe it had happened to me earlier even than thirteen, because I developed very early — but if it did, it was too traumatizing for me to not block out of my memory.

I’m in my early thirties now, and not much in the way of street harassment has changed. I’ve heard everything from “Nice ass,” and “Show me your tits,” to the relatively milder “You’re looking good today,” and “Hey baby.” I’ve heard it all, and I don’t care what the words are, I hate them all. I no longer have the blase attitude of laughing and yelling back, because no matter what I do, I’ll be called a bitch, or maybe worse. I hate that I have to fear speaking up, fear threats of violent confrontation, fear for my safety for the grave crime of being a woman in public. “What, I give you a compliment and you don’t even look at me? Bitch.” “You act like I’m not here? Bitch.” “I was being nice. Bitch.” Bitch. Bitch. Bitch.

Street harassment is not about compliments. It’s certainly not about being nice. It’s about intimidation and dehumanization, about objectification and making the recipient feel powerless and scared while the perpetrator feels powerful and aggressive. It’s about keeping its targets firmly in a place of submission and fear, and perpetrators (in my personal experience, they have invariably been men, of all races) in a place of power.

I’m a survivor of abuse. It happened early and often up through my early to mid 20’s, and I’ve spent years coming to terms with it and learning that healing is a journey, not a destination. For me, part of being a survivor and not a victim, part of continually healing, is speaking up — of ensuring that through my words and actions that neither I nor others are silent victims ever again. But even this is a journey, not a destination. It’s exhausting at times, terrifying, daunting; but also exhilarating, empowering, and deeply fulfilling.

Street harassment almost always catches you unaware. I am usually biking, concentrating on navigating Philly traffic and deep in my own thoughts. “Nice ass,” along with a jeering face staring back at me from a car as they drive ahead of me, violently tears me out of the present and can take me all the way back to my abuse — despite the years of therapeutic work I’ve done for myself. It doesn’t matter whether a flashback lasts for seconds, minutes, hours — or even if I’d never been abused at all, and there was nothing to which to flash back. Street harassment makes my heart pound, makes my stomach churn, and it makes me absolutely seeing-red livid. It doesn’t matter whether I’m wearing a potato sack or a ball gown, or even, as in the case of Philly Naked Bike Ride, nothing at all. You have no right to talk to me like that. Harassment is illegal in the workplace, at school, at home — pretty much anywhere that’s indoors. So why is it that when we’re outside, it’s like the Wild West? It’s violent, it’s wrong, and it needs to stop.

I am deeply passionate about fighting injustice with my words, which, paired with my intelligence, are the mightiest weapons I possess. I use words to reclaim myself, to reclaim my body and my soul. I write romance, and I write erotica, and I love that I am able to make a living at it. I write other genres too, and plan to eventually publish those as well. I love my queer sexuality, and I love that I am free inside myself to be able to claim it without shame or self-reprisal. I love that I can use words and verbal images in any way I like to reclaim my soul from my broken past, and to create my own future.

Despite what the children’s chant says, words can hurt you — but it fails to mention that they can also heal you. That’s why the growing Hollaback movement is so damn brilliant. It fights words with words, voices with voices, and shows the silent ones that it’s okay to speak up, that they are not alone. It empowers the victimized and gives them a constructive outlet for their fear and rage. Hollaback is a brilliant concept, one that I hope will soon create positive change in policies, laws, and cultures.

Not all words are created equal, and we all know it. You have a voice. Use it for positive change.