Friday, 29 October 2010

The Grief of the Bond-Maid - excerpt


New anthology Cast the Cards is out this weekend from Storm Moon Press! Themed around individual cards of the Tarot Deck, each of the six long stories within tells of a LGBT or polyamorous erotic romance. Three have contemporary settings and three are paranormal fantasies. My story, The Grief of the Bond-Maid, is set in the Viking age:

Sjofn is a seidr-witch and a slave to the cruel rune-wizard Vegtamr. He hangs himself as a sacrifice to the god Odin, a ritual that will bring him back in nine days more powerful than ever. Sjofn siezes that chance to escape from the Hanged Man's control once and for all, and enlits the help of a pair of warriors to journey into the magical world and destroy him before he returns to life. But they have secrets of their own, and the journey is deadly dangerous, and time is running out ...

The Grief of the Bond-Maid is a story full of magic, mythology and F/M/M. Here's a little excerpt (and in case you're wondering, Kot is Sjofn's spirit power-animal):



"What was that?" she cried.

"That was the Ginnungagap." Kot shuddered all over. "The void that was, before the creation of the world. It is reaching into him even as he reaches into it."

Sjofn stamped her feet, chilled by the journey and by what she’d seen. Casting about, she looked for the spirits of her two companions, but they were nowhere near the fire. The circle of her footfalls widened to a spiral.

"Where are you going, Sjofn?"

"I’ll just check they're safe," she muttered, walking away uphill, toward the trees, and letting Kot follow at a distance. She found them not far into the dense shadow of the firs, standing face-to-face - and in a moment, the curiosity to which she’d not dared admit met with all the answers it had been seeking. Bjarni had his back to one of the trunks. Both men had loosened their clothes, and each was holding the other’s erect cock in his hand, caressing it from root to crown.

Sjofn felt the blood flare up to burn in her cheeks.

They were almost the same height, Thorkell perhaps a fingerbreadth taller. It meant they met easily mouth-to-mouth, sharing breath that was coming shorter and shallower to both of them, sometimes kissing, but then drawing apart, only to kiss and bite softly once more. Red and dark stubbles rasped together. Scarred lips touched with both hunger and tenderness. Their eyes were hooded, unfocused, as if there was no world beyond their embrace, as if there was nothing but the other man in all the night, known by touch and taste as much as by sight. Sjofn stared. Their hands moved with familiar sureness, and with a firmness that—to her—looked punishing. Two cock-heads nudged together. Two thick shafts were enfolded together by weapon-hardened fingers. There was no speech, just a mutual urging of the flesh that became increasingly fervent, hands blurring as they stoked the flames.

Recalling Vegtamr’s cold and perfunctory impositions upon her, something in Sjofn rose up in rebellion. Was this how it should be - this melting confusion of skin and breath and intent?

Then, Bjarni’s head thunked back against the tree’s bark, his hips shifting as his legs grew taut with strain, his eyes watching Thorkell’s face from under half-lowered lids. His throat worked, but he grunted only once as his sea-spume burst between the other man’s fingers. His own tugging grew ragged, and then suddenly imperious.

Thorkell’s brow knotted into a frown, and his eyes screwed shut. He jerked his head as if in immense effort, and his own seed gushed out in response and overflowed Bjarni’s grasp.

"Yes," he whispered.

For a while they clung together, gasping a little. Their hands mingled the semen, lazy now, rubbing that spend into their hot and swollen flesh.

Sjofn walked away, her legs shaking and her heart pounding hard. She returned to the fire and sat down, brooding into the darkness. When Kot came up and nuzzled under her hand, she pushed him away.

"Why are you angry?" he asked.

"I’m not."

"Oh no, of course you aren’t," he huffed. "You’re just...?"

"Unsettled," she complained. "I know that a witch must be all things: tree and stone, bird and beast, male and female. We’re shapeshifters. But those two are warriors. It’s unmanly."

"From what I saw, they were both very much male," Kot said with the nearest approximation a reindeer might make to a smirk. "Didn’t you think so?"

"I don’t want to think about it."

"Sjofn... you’re jealous."


Cast the Cards can be ordered from Storm-Moon Press as an e-book or very pretty paperback.
It can also be bought from Amazon US  and Amazon UK!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Love never dies - it just forgets things


So at the weekend my mother-in-law turns up with a bunch of flowers and one of her beautiful hand-made cards. "Happy Anniversary!" she says to me.

"Huh?" I say. "Is it my wedding anniversary? Oh yes ... October does ring a bell. Faintly."

I turn to Mr Ashbless. He didn't know it was our anniversary either. After some discussion, we go back to my mother-in-law.

"Um. We were wondering ... How long have we been married then?"

By now she's looking disgusted with both of us. "Seven years. You've been married seven years."

My wedding date is just not something I remember. Don't get me wrong - I remember  the date when me and the now Mr Ashbless got together for the first time: 7th May 1988. (Yes, that long.) It just took us so long to actually tie the knot that, well...

Anyway we put the flowers in a vase and five minutes later someone knocked it over - broken glass and water everywhere. Who says romance is dead, eh? Heh heh.
:-)


The picture comes from this glorious website of compulsively awful book-covers. Who could resist straplines like She was that kind of girl ... it was that kind of party ... the combination was murder, hey?

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Icarus



The Lament for Icarus, Herbert Charles Draper, 1898

This sumptuous Victorian painting illustrates the Greek legend of Icarus. He was the son of inventor Daedalus and together with his father was imprisoned by King Minos. In order to escape, they collected feathers which they stuck together with wax into the form of wings, which they used to fly from the palace roof. But Icarus, being a dumb youth, got over-excited and flew too close to the sun - despite his father's cries of warning - and when the wax melted in the heat, Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

The myth has always been popular with artists - it is of course used as a metaphor for human recklessness and hubris. Draper's picture shows his corpse being mourned by the sea nymphs, which gave him a chance to paint some female nudes (strikingly pale) contrasting with a bronzed supine hero. All rather beautiful.

Here's Lord Leighton's version (1869):


And a more modern vision:


WHAT AM I THINKING OF? I almost forgot my favourite Icarus picture of all!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Impulse Buy




Heh heh: look what they are selling in my local supermarket. I only popped in for a bag of salad! 
:-)

(£6.99 from Tescos. And no, I don't go horse-riding.)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It Gets Better: Spirit Day



In September teenage suicide hit the international news. Six boys and young men in different places across the US killed themselves that month after enduring bullying from their peers, who saw them as targets because they were - or were perceived to be - gay. The most notorious case was that of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who found that his sexual activity had been secretly webcammed by dorm-mates and streamed live online: he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.


Asher Brown shot himself in the head. He was 13 years old. 

This is just sickening. Bullying is human nature at its worst. It is the powerful picking on the powerless. It is the many picking on the few. It is the Average Joe picking on those who do not conform to the majorative norm. And we have all seen where that leads.

There have been a number of responses to all this coming to light. One is the It Gets Better project, created by Dan Savage, who posted the initial video above on YouTube. It took off like a rocket. If you go there right now you'll find a video message from Hillary Clinton at the top of the queue.

Dan said he started it because:


Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
(There has been a lot of reaction to It Gets Better, some of it negative, but there is a fair and generous overview here.)



The It Gets Better pledge
Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."




Another response to the suicides: Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan  started a campaign on Tumblr and Facebook. Today people (particularly students) are wearing purple in honour of the teenagers who died, and to promise support for those who are still abused, harrassed and outcast by mainstream society:

Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP
Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Cody J. Barker and Billy Lucas

Monday, 18 October 2010

Eyecandy Monday


My building work goes on ... and on. This is what my kitchen currently looks like:



Basically it consists of a cold tap halfway up a wall. And a saw, obviously ... for those difficult root vegetables. Which I have to eat raw.

Eek! This what they've done to my lawn:


Things I have learned during this building project:

  1. A strong appreciation for direct economics. This project pays for an average of three skilled men (and an oppressed teenager) to be employed every day. The construction trade is precarious in a way totally alien to my cosy white-collar world. If they don't work (like, if the weather's too wet to lay bricks) they don't get paid. We had three weeks of snow last winter, and the building firm I'm using had to lay off its whole workforce. Feckin' scary.
  2. Men at work never stop talking.
  3. I love it. I totally love it. This one sort of surprised me - every person I know who's had an extension done has warned that it's really stressful. I must have a good team - by  the end of every day I can see changes and despite the mess and noise and inconvenience I just find it really exciting.
 Look - new toilet!  Squeeee!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Sweet!


Isn't that nice? I got it through the post on Thursday. Now that's how to treat your authors - they are poor skittish things, easily disheartened. Make them feel good!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Out today! - In Appreciation of Their Cox


How many men can you fall for at once? One? Two? How about a whole rowing eight? That's Jo's dilemma: she's the coxswain for a top university rowing crew. She loves her team. She would do anything for them. She fantasises about each one of the men, secretly. But she's never got intimate with any of them, because that would mess up the team dynamic.

Then the day comes when she has to leave. And Jo and her guys find a way of saying Goodbye that none of them will ever forget...

Yes, In Appreciation of Their Cox, my first e-story from Ellora's Cave, is out TODAY! At 10K it's a short novella and it costs a mere $2.49 to download in one of a variety of formats. It's a joyous, positive and utterly filthy read, I promise. Go on, go on, go on...
:-)

And here's an extract:



“What now?” asks Darren, hands in pockets. “Pubs are shut, but we could hit a club.”

“I’ve got the key to my college bar,” Fergus offers.

It’s always useful to have a friend on a bar committee. We set off, Ed and Fergus each taking one of my arms as we walk, and I feel a bit like Dorothy flanked by a golden-blond upper class scarecrow and a dark Scottish tin man.

I’m not saying which college we end up in, but if you’ve been there you’ll know it—it’s got the smallest, cutest, stone-flagged cellar-bar. Fergus bolts the door once he’s sneaked us inside and then serves us from the impressive array of whiskies. It’s Ed—who else?—who decides that this is the time for each of us to make a speech and a toast. Oh dear. Most of them choose to be humorous, and I laugh along, but there’s an undercurrent of imminent loss and I can feel a lump in my throat. This is far too much like goodbye already.

Zeke makes the penultimate speech and, being American, can say things that would make the rest of us horribly self-conscious, but we’re all in agreement as he expresses them. Then it’s my turn. Jon and Nils pick me up and sit me on the bar and I look round at eight expectant faces, feeling like my chest’s going to burst.

“Well,” I start at last. “What’s there left to say? I’ve got to agree with Zeke. Of course I need a few drinks before I can say it out loud, but… I love you guys.” I swallow hard. It is true, in every sense. Individually I like each one of them—and some I like very much—but as a group, as my crew, I’m head over heels in love with them. “It’s going to break my freakin’ heart to leave you.” My voice crumbles and as I look down, clearing my throat, Ed pats my thigh and Jon squeezes my hand. I laugh to cover my discomfort, coming out almost without thinking with the giggled line, “If you knew what I wanted to do to you guys…”

There’s a shift in the room, a holding of breath as they refocus. Maybe I have had too much to drink after all. The urge to confess is way too strong.

“If we knew…?” prompts Murray, tipping his chair back.

I snigger into the back of my hand. “You’d be shocked.” I can feel their eyes fixed on me.

“I bet I wouldn’t be.”

“Well, obviously not you, Murray. Nothing could possibly shock you.” Now I can feel my cheeks glowing.

“Do go on, Coxey. I think we’re all interested in hearing more.” There are grins and nods and mutters of encouragement.

“Um.” I giggle again. This is ridiculous, really. In the boat I’m all mouth, garrulous and articulate. Now I’m as tongue-tied as a fresher at her first tutorial. “You know…”

“Uh?”

“Mmm,” I squeak despairingly, rolling my eyes, letting my shame speak for itself.

“Seriously?” asks Fergus, with a crooked grin. He’s got a face as ugly-cute as a baby calf’s.

“Hell, Jo,” smirks Jon, scratching his throat.

“Hey,” says Nils, “the door is locked. We have all night.”

The turning of fantasy to concrete possibility makes my heart thump and evokes a warm gush inside me that seeps to my panties. I look around the room, making myself meet their gazes. I see a lot of grins and lifted eyebrows but there’s something in their eyes that says it’s not being taken just as a joke.

“You’re not serious, are you, Coxey?” asks Murray.

I bite my lip.

“You really want to, Jo?” Bradley asks.

I focus on Darren. His jaw is twisted to the side, his eyes round. This might be too much for him at his age. Hell, is it not too much for me? “Um,” I say, helpfully. “It’s a…” The words clog in my throat. “It’d have to be all of you, you know. That’d be the point.”

There’s a silence. I look down into my whisky. I can feel my clit swollen, my knickers sodden. I want to wriggle where I sit but I don’t dare.

“Well, nobody’s walking out,” Murray observes.

That was it, my get-out clause. I’d expected someone to cut and run. Bradley maybe. Or Ed. I sneak a sideways look at Ed. He’s gnawing his lip, but he nods at me very slightly. “Oh,” I say. “Well. Um.” I think I’m starting to hyperventilate, because I’m feeling lightheaded. “I’ve not really got any idea where to start.”

Murray gets up from his table. “Let’s start with a game then,” he says, coming over and holding out his hands to me. Nils takes my drink, and I slip both hands into Murray’s and let him help me down from the bar. I’m not sure my legs could hold me up unaided now. I’m churning inside with heat and arousal and trepidation. He leads me into the middle of the room to stand on the only rug. “Ed, can I borrow your tie?”

Ed of course wore a tie to dinner. He likes to observe the niceties, even if the tie is hanging like a noose around his open collar at the moment. He strips it off and hands it to Murray. I wonder if I’m going to be tied up when he circles behind me, but what he does in fact is blindfold me with a couple of turns.

“Okay?” he whispers. The effect of his disembodied voice and his warm whisky-scented breath on my ear is to make shivers run all across my skin.

I nod.

He tightens the knot. Lifting my chin, he surprises me with a soft kiss. Then he addresses the others. “Come on then, gentlemen.”



Available from Ellora's Cave
And if you like it, please write me a review on the website!

(If you've never downloaded an e-book before, it's easy from EC. I mean, I managed it straight away and if I can get it right anyone can.)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime



Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted - One moment -
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

Oh man. I took my shot. I'll never have a better chance at breaking into the big market. Ever.

And no song says it better.

Excuse me while I cower in a corner wearing the glazed look of a rabbit in the headlamps...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Eyecandy Monday


She's beautiful. She looks so confident.

I really need some of that confidence this week...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Merlin mumbles






Two beardy reasons I'm still watching BBC teen drama Merlin: villainous king Cenred (above) and heroic Gwaine (below). 

I fancy Gwen too, come to that.



There's also always the prospect of rah totty Arthur wandering around in a transparent shirt abusing his jug-eared servant Merlin ... but damn, he's so young. I feel embarrassed!


And of course there's Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon. In fact, turn the sound off, so you can just admire the lovely visuals and forget the gaping plot holes and clunky characterisation, and it's a  pretty good series.

Friday, 8 October 2010

iSmut!




Hey - did you know, I'm available on iTunes? To be precise, if you go to www.apple.com/itunes/ and type in Cruel Enchantment, the whole unabridged collection of filthy short stories comes up as an audiobook download in the right hand column. For £8.95 you can hear every one of my crazed words read out (it lasts almost 9 hours!) by Gracie Lockhart who has, as a friend said, "a delicious RP accent." I do hope she had throat sweets to hand!

I only found this out because Richard sent me the most fabulous e-mail:

I’ve just listened to Cruel Enchantment on Itunes audiobooks – it was just dazzlingly brilliant. I loved every story and was completely spellbound. This is by far the best erotic fiction I have come across. The narrator was excellent. It’s rare to find intelligent erotic literature that is expertly descriptive and evokes the imagination through appropriate and often surprising similes. Your stories are a journey, not just an obvious and predictable destination.

Cruel Enchantment is also available as an audio download for $7.49 from Audible


Huge thanks to Richard, and I'm only sorry there aren't more of my works available in this medium. Though I have to tell you guys that I can't really recommend listening to erotica whilst, say, driving ... Well, let's just say - it wouldn't improve my driving standards.
;-)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Taxing Times


It's that time of year again ... in fact it's past that time of year, since I normally set aside a weekend in June for this. Above, you will see my highly sophisticated system for filling in my tax return. It is taking place on the very last clear patch of floor left in my house, and is being overseen by a shiny-eyed dog - whom I promise is a fully-trained accountant.

2009-10 was actually a bloody awful year, financially, for me as a writer. Selling a slew of short stories did not make up for two (two!) novels failing to get published - despite both being originally comissioned by the editors in question.
I blame George Bush, of course.

Anyway, enough excuses. Deadlines loom. Today - despite singing builders, scary banging noises and intermittent power failures,  I have to get some serious writing done.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Eyecandy Monday



On Saturday night I dreamed that I was having an affair with comedian Stephen Fry. I was just about to be shagged up the ass ... when the alarm went off and I woke up. Damn it!

What do you mean, he's not eyecandy?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

My what a big nose ring


Sookie was attacked by a minotaur in True Blood this week, and it reminded me that it's been ages since I posted a minotaur pic here.
:-)