Sunday, 28 November 2010


In honour of my brand new sofa (which comes with minutely detailed illustrations showing how to put a cushion cover on a cushion) I bring you - in a fearsome testosterone-laden battle of the singer-songwriters - not one but two songs about IKEA!

In the red corner we have Mitch Benn, BBC troubadour, with his metal anthem:

And in the blue corner we have the awesome sounds of Jonathan "Code Monkey" Coulton:

Let the Flatpack Frenzy commence!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pick a Card...

The editors of Cast the Cards have been on a blog-tour all month, telling people about this sumptuous Tarot-themed erotic romance anthology. I was asked, along with the other authors, to say which Tarot card I feel represents me, and all six responses are now over at Naughty in the Backseat.

I'm not a believer in the Tarot, btw. But I told them:

The tarot card I feel represents me is Strength. In some modern decks it’s known as Lust, and that’s particularly relevant to me.

There are many different artistic interpretations available for this card, but they almost all show a woman and a lion. She may be holding its mouth closed (or opening it to peer inside), riding it or simply relaxing with it. I particularly like it that the imagery is so female-positive.  It reminds me of mythological depictions of the great goddesses like Kubaba, Cybele, and Durga, enthroned or accompanied by lions.

 This is a woman completely at ease with the deep animal instincts of the psyche. She’s not frightened of it in any way, despite its ferocity and power: she is the one in control. She trusts herself.  Representing the higher soul directing and controlling the sexual impulse, in conservative societies this card is often read as emphasizing self-denial. As an erotica writer, I see it as using the sexual instincts and imagination to fuel my creativity. I write stories – powerful, strong, scary, challenging, filthy stories (I hope!) which harness the vitality of my inner lion.
And here are some artistic interpretations of the Strength/Lust card to show you what I mean:

An old version: Fortitude

This (above) is the influential Thoth deck (Crowley's version)

This version is by Luis Royo, one of my fave fantasy artists.

And this one has a greyhound in it! :-)

Cast the Cards can be bought from Storm Moon Press as an e-book or paperback
From Amazon US : Amazon UK : Kindle

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

First Aid

Yesterday I didn't have any builders in, or any delivieries booked, or friends around to visit. Yesterday I ignored the filth and the unpacking and the decorating that all needed dealing with, and I sat down and wrote a bit more of the ever-expanding novella I'm intending as my next sub to Ellora's Cave.

It's the first time in months I've had a day to myself and writing. It felt like coming home. It felt like climbing into a hot shower when you've been cold and wet and aching. I could have cried, it felt so good.

It won't happen again today. Today the electricians are supposed to be turning the power off for 3 hours, and the buildings inspector from the council is booked in for the afternoon. I have to chase up the feckless halfwits from the carpet depot too. And tomorrow I have houseguests arriving ... so I'd better clean up a bit, I suppose.

But I had a whole day! It was beautiful!

 The pic at top, btw, is my Xmas pressie from the lovely Madelynne Ellis. It was full of wonderful things like choccies (which I've, ahem, eaten already). But look what fits perfectly inside it now!

And yes, I know ... but  face it, Western literature was built on solitary drinking.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Eyecandy Monday - and Cleis Press special offer!

Have you noticed how many books Cleis Press have been announcing lately? They've upped their production to 48 titles for 2011. More books! More lovely dirty stories!

To celebrate this they've announced a 20% discount on all books bought through their Cleis website and Viva Editions (non-smut). Click here for details - you need to enter a code when ordering. This offer is good through 31st December, which means you can buy pressies for friends - or spend your Xmas money from Auntie Edna in a way she would not approve of, heh heh.

Buying direct from the publisher, btw, means a lot more money going to them than if you buy through, say, Amazon instead. And more money for Cleis means more erotica anthologies in future for me to sub to!

And just in case you are some sort of wealthy Ashbless completist, my stories appear in the following Cleis collections:

"I" is for Indecent
Playing With Fire: taboo erotica
Frenzy: 60 stories of sudden sex
Best Women's Erotica 2009
Sweet Love: erotic fantasies for couples
Fairy Tale Lust
Best Women's Erotica 2011
Best Bondage Erotica 2011
Carnal Machines: steampunk erotica  (pre-order only)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Escape to the pub

Yesterday I got away from the house to spend the day with Charlotte Stein and Madelynne Ellis in my favourite pub - the Via in Manchester. I think it did me a lot of good. I was at a low ebb, due to a lot of little things that I don't really have any right to gripe about, but I felt a lot better after spending a day drinking coffee and eating cake and talking. Hooray for friends!

Friday, 19 November 2010

DVD review: Black Death

Even dedicated Sean Bean fans might have missed Black Death at the movies, seeing as how it was on release for approximately one night, in a cupboard under the stairs in Outer Mongolia.

Which is a pity, because it's a nice little horror film in the mold of The Wicker Man (original version): atmospheric, thought-provoking, and haunting. Oh yes, and grim. If you thought The Name of the Rose was just too upbeat, then this is the medieval thriller for you.


Set in England in 1348 during the height of the Black Death, the story kicks off with the arrival at a monastery of a knight, Ulric (Sean Bean) who has been sent by the bishop on a mission to investigate a rumoured village in the marsh. Supposedly it is not only plague-free, but is kept that way by black magic. Ulric is a fanatic for Christ and means to hunt out the godless and see them punished. He has a motley crew of mercenaries and  pious bastards in tow and a mobile torture chamber on an ox cart. All he needs is a guide into the marsh. A young monk, Osmund, volunteers to take them but has ulterior motives of his own - he has an illicit girlfriend who has promised to wait for him out there by the martyrs' cross, and he takes Ulric's arrival as a sign/excuse he should be abandoning his monastic vows.

So they set off through a landscape stitched up of death, despair and impotent rage. The question on everyone's lips is Why has the pestilence happened? Is it's God's punishment on sinners or an attack by Satan on true believers? The time-honoured response of the frightened and ignorant (which in this setting means everyone) is to turn to violence and religious fanaticism in search of a way out. There are a couple of scenes (flagellants and a witch-lynching) where unfortunately you have to grit your teeth and try not to think of Monty Python, but on the whole this low-budget film brings off a reasonable feel for the times. The scenery is beautiful but creepy and the colours stripped out, as if there's something missing from the world.

Eventually - not without losses - the unheroic party get to the village in the marsh, which is peaceful and pretty and where the church has clearly been left to fall into decay. These people are godless. There's no particular indication that they've taken up any alternative religion, pagan or Satanic - they just seem to have rejected Christianity. And, incidentally, discovered shampoo and laundry soap. Of course, when push comes to shove (and it does, rapidly and bloodily) the heathens are just as superstitious, duplicitous and sadistic as the Christians. They are lead by the beautiful Langiva (and yes, having a woman speak for the village really puts Ulric's hackles up), who makes herself out to be a powerful necromancer and appears to raise Osmund's dead lover from the grave in order to seduce him to her side.

One strength of this film for me is the way that the characters do not behave like 21st-century people stuck in a medieval setting. Their mental world is complex, bewildering, and full of unknowable darkness. The voiceover passages at the beginning and end of the film are actually out of character, but provide a necessary bridge between the paradigm of the modern secular viewer and what would otherwise be a film about people too alien to empathise with.

Black Death is a 15 cert movie in the UK, which means that the violence and torture is frequent but not lingering (to my relief). There is no supernatural threat or CGI monster. The horror comes from the sense of abandonment, the feeling that you are trapped in a moral marsh with the ground sinking away beneath your feet. The POV character is the novice monk Osmund, who is frightened of violence and wants the soldiers to leave the villagers in peace: the director's masterstroke is to show by the end how this young, love-struck, sympathetic character eventually becomes worse than all the others. The ending is what really makes this film.

There is no God in this world. The Devil is everyone.

A week after watching it, I'm still finding it creeping into my thoughts. That's what a good horror film should be like.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Monday, 15 November 2010

Eyecandy Monday

Carpetbeater ... no, never tried one of those ... I imagine it would be loud.

Anyway, this instructional scene of domestic hygiene [REDACTED] is to celebrate the announcement of the lineup of forthcoming anthology Carnal Machines: steampunk erotica, edited by D.L.King and out from Cleis in May next year. My story, The Servant Question, is not in fact BDSM themed - but is about the trials of finding and managing one's household servants. It is a bit of a romp. And there is a carpetbeater in it...

I'm so happy to be in this collection! It has the most beautiful cover!

(I think steampunk is just the sexiest visual style ever. And the guys get to look as crazy as the girls.) 

The full line-up goes:

Human Powered by Teresa Noelle Roberts
The Servant Question by Janine Ashbless
Slight of Hand by Renee Michaels
Mutiny on the Danika Blue by Poe Von Page
Deviant Devices by Kannan Feng
The Perfect Girl by Jay Lawrence
Dr. Mullaley's Cure by Delilah Devlin
Her Own Devices by Lisabet Sarai
Lair of the Red Countess by Kathleen Bradean
Infernal Machine by Elias A. St. James
Doctor Watson Makes a House Call by Essemoh Teepee
The Treatment by D. L. King
Lucifer Einstein and the Curious Case of the Carnal Contraption by Tracey Shellito
The Succubus by Elizabeth Schechter

Pre-order from Amazon US : Pre-order from Amazon UK

And check this steampunk cutey out!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Calendar Boys

See this video? Following the publication of my rowing story In Appreciation of their Cox, my editor at Ellora's Cave couldn't resist pointing out to everyone that Mills and Boon are selling a 2011 charity calendar themed around the Leander Rowing Club. Heh heh. Some impressive abs there!

But hold on - what if my heart is set on the Dieux du Stade calendar for 2011? Will I have to have both, on opposite walls? Will the space in between become a sort of microwave hotspot for muscular male inspiration? Will it make my head explode?

Of course, the calendar I really want everyone to get is this one:

You can buy it here. All proceeds go to lazy greyhounds in need of love and a good home.

And these are my two rescued lazydogs, hogging the bed as usual:


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Best Women's Erotica 2011 - out now

Sneaksy Cleis Press! There they were saying that Best Women's Erotica 2011 was due out in December - but it's shipping NOW from Amazon US!

My story is called Abigail's Ice Cream and is one of two ice-cream themed tales bookending the collection. It is - for me - sweet and gentle and a bit thoughtful. It's also another one of my M/F/M stories - I seem to have a few of them out this year. Anyone would think I was obsessed or something... *dirty snigger*

As usual this annual collection is edited by Violet Blue. and here's what she had to say about me in her foreword:

"Closing the curtain is a legendary name I swooned over in my first forays into erotica: Janine Ashbless showed me that erotica can be literature, and in "Abigail's Ice Cream" we get another helping of the sublime, slippery dessert we started out with. As you sink into the world of a gourmet ice-cream maker, you'll also get a taste of the possibilities presented to a single woman running her own business - dishing up treats at a festival alongside hunky paramedics who tease and play with both sweets and the sweet life."


That pause was because I fainted...
Thank you Violet! I'm not sure I deserve it (legendary name...?), but thank you!

Here's an excerpt, to get you wanting chocolate-and-chili ice cream:

“How did it go?” asks Matt.
“I sold every last scoop.”
“So ... what’s your favourite flavour?” Trev wonders.
“These two,” I answer honestly. “That’s why I brought both; I can’t choose between them.” Then I catch his lifted eyebrows and blush. Matt, chuckling, offers me the chocolate cone.
“Want a lick?”

I shrug one shoulder and nod, tipping my lips to the creamy chocolate his tongue has already swirled over. Goddamn, we’re flirting. How did this happen? What the hell do they see in me? I’m not ugly, okay - but I’m an artsy middle-aged lady who makes outrageous ice cream and wears clothes two decades old and her hair in a style and colour that’s too young for her. I’m not like them; not the sort of person who can press into a drunken crowd or a freezing pond to rescue someone from certain death, not the sort of person who can address a total stranger as ‘love.’
The chilli heat burns on my tongue. My cheeks are already flushed. Matt grins at me, an easy wickedness dancing in his hazel eyes, as I lick my lips. I’m not trying to be provocative, honestly: you have to lick your lips if you are eating ice cream. “That’s hot stuff,” he teases.
“This is better,” says Trev on my left. “Try some of this, Abi.” It would be rude not to, so I turn to the golden ice cream he offers. This one is melting faster: it’s dribbling down the cone and threatening to slide off. I catch a big gobbet on my tongue, aware that they find my action vastly entertaining, and still not quite believing it. “Bloody hell,” says Trev happily.
“You like the taste of his cream better than mine?” Matt complains and I giggle. Then a cold drip hits my skin and I realise the honey ice cream is dribbling out of the tip of the cone and is marking the front of my dress.
“Ack!” I yelp, half laughing, looking down. There’s a drip on the inner curve of my left breast. I’m not wearing a bra and this dress has rather a deep V-neck. The white trail winds down toward the cleft.
“Oh,” says Trev, looking too. “Oh ... that’s...’
"Hold on,” orders Matt. He drops his own ice cream back into the rack and then swiftly kneels before me. His fingertips graze my thighs. “Keep still,” he commands. I feel Trev’s free hand settle on the small of my back and my spine arches, thrusting my cleavage out a little more. Delicately – and it surprises me that this hearty, vital man is so careful – Matt leans forward until his lips are brushing my upper breast. I feel his breath on my skin: my own stops in my throat. I feel the tip of his tongue as he gently licks me clean.
My heart is pounding. The world seems to lurch. I stare over his head, wild eyed. We’re tucked away here, shielded by the first aid tent. Sunlight glints on the dark leaves of the hedgerow and the discarded cans in the long grass. His lips are on my breast in a lingering kiss, causing my nipples to respond greedily, hardening to points. And Trev’s hand slides up and down my spine, slow and firm.
Then Matt sits back. “Trev’s right,” he says softly, his eyes narrowing with hidden laughter. “That’s bloody good.”
Despite the warmth of the day, my nipples are standing up hard against the soft cotton. My sex is full of melting honey.
“Let’s go inside, Abi,” Trev murmurs in my ear. “Come on.”

Other authors showcased in this book include Alison Tyler, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Sommer Marsden. So you are guaranteed plenty of filthy bang for your buck!

Buy at Amazon USPre-order from Amazon UK (out Jan 2011, theoretically)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Eyecandy Monday

I'm delighted to be able to say that after a veeeeeeery long wait, I am allowed to officially reveal my inclusion in the forthcoming Harlequin Spice anthology With this Ring, I Thee Bed, edited by the unstoppable Alison Tyler. It's an anthology of wedding-themed erotica, and my story Forsaking All Others, inspired by my love of arty erotic photography like the example above, is very dirty indeed. (Let's just say that the heroine of Forsaking All Others, well, doesn't. And there is detailed photographic proof.)

With This Ring is due out in May 2011. The cover doesn't seem to be up on Amazon yet, but this is it here:

I think it's a delicious cover, particularly as it matches Alison Tyler's previous Spice collection Alison's Wonderland. Yay Alison - getting your own signature style!

I don't know the rest of the line-up yet, but I'm sure it'll be revealed soon :-) 

Sunday, 7 November 2010

I'm proud of the BBC

"It's not just lousy weather that holds us together..."

This video is for the Brits, mostly, I'm afraid. Singer-songwriter Mitch Benn is asking people to show support for the much-criticised BBC.

Which is, if you're unfamiliar with this country, an unashamedly socialist institution - well, in that everyone who owns a TV has to pay an annual licence fee which goes to finance public broadcasting. The BBC makes, with our money, a whole slew of programmes. Some of them are populist (and then people complain that "They could just as easily be made by a commercial station - why is my money paying for it?"). Some of them are for minority audiences or are fairly highbrow (and then people complain that "I don't want to watch this - why is my money paying for it?"). Those in government are convinced that the BBC board of governors has an agenda to undermine their authority and bring the administration down. People outside government (including some of their own journalists) are convinced that the BBC board are a bunch of arse-licking toadies who do just what the government tell them to. Lefties are convinced it's hopelessly pro-establishment. Right-wingers are convinced it's a nest of Marxists.

In the middle of all this complaining* it goes on providing "comfort and inspiration for the nation," as Mitch Benn says. I'm glad that so many of the programmes that shaped my childhood and my imaginative life got a mention in this wonderful song!

What's this strange feeling stirring in me as I listen? Is it? ... could it be? ... pride in my country?
(Don't worry, it'll be gone again soon enough.)

*We're British: complaining is our national pastime. I can't spend an hour with my father-in-law without hearing a "I don't want to complain, but..." speech.
And see? I'm complaining that we complain all the time!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Cute hobbit : hot dwarves

Warning: fangirl raving imminent.

The first time I saw the first Fellowship of the Ring trailer in a cinema, it took me totally by surprise. I really liked the book, but given that every other fantasy movie ever made has been located somewhere toward the "embarrassing rubbish" end of the spectrum, I didn't have any great expectations. Then I saw the trailer. I flushed hot. I went so hot I ended up taking several layers of clothing off. I started to shake. I sat through the first half-hour of the film - I can't even remember which one - shaking uncontrollably.
It was love at first sight. It was like a believer finally seeing proof of God.

I don't expect you to understand ... unless you do.

So I've been given new reason to live delighted over the last couple of weeks by news of the new Hobbit movie. First the studio finally gave it the green light and revealed that Peter Jackson would be directing (Yay!). Then they sorted out their industrial dispute and confirmed that it was definitely being made in New Zealand (Double Yay!!!). Then, they started announcing the official cast - which will be extensive, given that there are 12 dwarves* and a hobbit in the protagonist party. They're mostly Brits so far.

So here's the guy playing Bilbo Baggins:

Perfect, perfect casting. Martin Freeman played the nice guy in the original UK version of The Office. He's brilliant at sweet and funny. Safe money was on him getting the role.

Then it started to get a bit, um ... left field. This is the guy playing Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves:

Um. Um. I'm not complaining - Richard Armitage is hot and is also a genuine fantasy fan, so good on him. Go geeks! Go geeks in leather!
But ... he's not my idea of what a dwarf looks like. I'll be fascinated to see what they do with prosthetics and beards.

Then it got shocking. I screamed out loud. Well, squealed, really. Kili is being played by Aidan Turner:

Yes, the very image of hot Irish heaven. The man who convinced me vampires could be interesting.
Dwarvish, though? I don't think so. Elvish, more like. Let's have another picture of him while I wipe my keyboard:


Oh yes, and Kili's twin brother, Fili, is to be played by Rob Kazinsky, whom I understand is a pretty popular actor too, though in programmes I don't watch:

I can see the Dwarvish race is getting a bit of a face-lift.

Full details and all the breaking cast news can be found at The One Ring, of course - possibly the best-organised and most powerful fansite on the net.

I can't wait to see who Jackson picks to play Bard the Bowman...

* "Dwarves" is how Tolkien spells it. Though not, I found out, how Harlequin Spice does.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Nice Girls, Naughty Sex

Hello girls!

Nice Girls, Naughty Sex is now up on Amazon with a bright and unambiguous pulp-style cover (and I'm just imagining what Erotica Cover Watch would have made of this one...). Edited by Jordan LaRousse and Samantha Sade of Oysters and Chocolate, this anthology, like the erotica on their website, "ranges from sweet to spicy. Divided into four distinct “flavors”—Vanilla, Dirty Martini, Licorice Whips, and Oysters—Nice Girls, Naughty Sex covers a wide range of sexualities and preferences. The Vanilla section (the “traditionalist” flavor) offers stories of straight sex between one man and one woman; Dirty Martini (sex with a twist) stories include stranger sex, fetishes, threesomes, foursomes, and more; Licorice Whips explores the bittersweet dance of domination and submission; and Oysters features bisexual and lesbian stories."

Here's the official line-up, 20 sexy stories in all:

A Technicality, by Sommer Marsden
Behind Bars, by Sarannah DeWylde  
Siestas and Spanish Leather Boots, by Rosalia Zizzo
Name Your Price, by A.M. Hartnett 
Looking for Wintergreen, by Trish DeVene 

Dirty Martini:
At a Standstill, by Heidi Champa  
A Welcome Threat, by Venerato Petronius    
Dirty Cop Doesn’t Mean What It Used To, by Emily Croy
For His Pleasure, by Sienna Conroy 

Licorice Whips:
Good Doggy, by Janine Ashbless 
Evelyn, by Julian Augustus Finisterre
Corset, by Kay Jaybee
A Lesson for Claire, by Kestra Gravier 
Serving Ms Paden, by Talia Kelley

Phoenix, by Valerie Lewis
An Open Letter, by Aimee Herman
Dragon Lady, by Kristina Wright
Honeymoon Suite by Donna George Storey
Eastern Daylight Time, by Jeremy Edwards

And yes, I did write about a nice girl who has naughty sex. Though in fact she ends up being a complete bitch ...

“Smells nice,” I said.
            He cast me an odd look; there was warmth in his eyes, but speculation, too. Turning with the two bowls of pasta, he set one on the breakfast bar. I made to sit down.
            “No, he said. “This one's yours.” Then he put the other bowl on the kitchen floor.
            I stared at him.
            “Doggies don't eat at the table, do they?” he asked. His gaze pointed me at the linoleum. “That's for you. Be a good girl.”
            His voice was low, his expression firm. "Calm assertive energy" is what Cesar Millan would have called it. My legs suddenly felt weak. I'd never played this game before, not even with boyfriends I knew intimately – and here I was with a man I was only just getting to know.
            But between my wobbly legs, oh, I was hot enough to melt. Without a word I sank to my knees.

Nice Girls, Naughty Sex is published in February 2011.
Pre-order at Amazon US : Amazon UK

Monday, 1 November 2010

Eyecandy Monday

The first official review of In Appreciation of Their Cox has appeared, and RomFan Reviews gives it 5 out of 5!

Every woman should take up a position as Coxwain just for the chance to watch as eight gorgeous, hard–muscled men row to her tune, but Joanna gets her ultimate dream come true in a fond farewell that makes you wonder…hmmm.

The British truly know how to row and prove it as eight men stroke Joanna’s heart’s desire, all at the same time. Wow, it’s a bit hot in here after reading this tale. Over the years, Joanna, as Cox, sits in the stern of a row boat facing her men and shouting at the top of her lungs to guide them to victory in races.

With her heart aching at the thought of leaving the University to move on with her life, Joanna shares more than she imagines in a final celebration with her guys when she ends up telling them her fantasy: to have them all! None of them argue and set out to make her dream become reality. The experience will leave you breathless as creative desires are fulfilled one after another.

Lucky girl! This story deserves a 5/5. Wonder if it’s possible to have a baker’s dozen? Hmmmm.

Buy In Appreciation of Their Cox at Ellora's Cave