Monday, 28 February 2011

Eyecandy Monday

Well, they say a change is as good as a rest. I hope it's true, because that wasn't the most tranquil of holidays I've just got back from. It ended with us running the entire length of Geneva Airport, having barely made it in time thanks to the bloody transfer company. Man, I am not fit enough for that sort of thing.

I will show you pictures of some of the lovely bits (of the holiday, not of Geneva Airport) when I recover from my jitters.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sucker Punch incoming

Bi-planes, dragons, giant mecha samurai, girls with stockings and huge weapons ...
The pitch: "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns."
It looks utterly ridiculous, but man I soooo want to see it!

Friday, 18 February 2011

On the shelf

Look! Mr Ashbless has gone and put a new set of shelves up, so that I can stack all my photo albums properly. Eighty-six numbered voumes so far, plus some odds and sods. There they stand, the record of my life, all the way from when I looked like this, at age ten:

It's a weird experience, looking back. One thing I realise now is that I never was as ugly as I thought I was. I wish I'd known then. Here's me at eighteen:

Underneath that grey tanktop (a grey tanktop for pete's sake! Oh dear god...), I was seething, I tell you. A black hole of hormonal appetites that never passed the event horizon to escape.

By Album 3 (and oh boy, did it feel like longer) I got laid:

Aren't I happy? This was taken the morning after. Haircut has improved.

From then on, for thirty albums, it's mostly LARP photos and grey pictures of castles taken in the drizzle. We must have visited every castle in Britain, looking at that lot. I can be spotted in a number of LARP costumes:

There are a lot of party photos too, because this was before my friends started breeding. You can plot the receding hairlines over the years. Some people appear for volume after volume on almost every page - and then suddenly vanish from the record. Some people appear in Album 3 and are still there in Album 86. And there's so much missing from the pictorial record - the emotional stuff, much of my working life, my writing.

By Album 37 the LARPing is growing thinner and, as my earning potential dries up and Mr Ashbless' picks up, the foreign holidays start to dominate. I become meticulous in recording every activity and every place we visit. It's like I'm banking all these images for the sake of security.

There are surprisingly few pictures of me abroad, because I'm the one behind the camera.
But my writing creeps into visibility at last. I have become Janine:

And here's a photo of me taken last year at the Sonisphere festival, which I sent to Oysters and Chocolate last night for an anthology promo:

So there you go. Eighty-six albums, a life mostly full of good things: a beautiful world and wonder and friendship.
That empty shelf-and-a-half is for the rest of my life. And that really does make me feel peculiar.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Feeling Reckless!

Editor Neil Plakcy has given me official permission, and I'm totally chuffed to be able to announce the forthcoming appearance of my story Reckless in The Handsome Prince: gay erotic romance. Whooohooo!

It's my first full-on M/M sale, which makes me particularly happy. And just look at that cover! Isn't it lovely?

*BIG grins*

Reckless opens with a boar-hunt. It has a medievally/fairytale setting and is all about a young nobleman who is best friend, protector and bodyguard to the prince and heir of the kingdom - and secretly rather more devoted to his Prince Charming  than anybody can be allowed to know:

Water droplets lick the furrows of his ribs under his raised arm, and race to darken the upper edge of his hose. The sight makes my stones grow heavy in their tightening purse of skin. It’s always like this: he’s oblivious and I am in torment. 

The Handsome Prince is due to be published in April. The Amazon blurb for the anthology says:

Neil Plakcy's The Handsome Prince is a mix of traditional and contemporary stories, each with its own unique fairy-tale atmosphere. Sometimes the prince is the one who needs rescuing, as in “Chauffeur Prince” and “Creosote Flats and the Big Spread.” Sometimes the true prince is the other guy—like the tales told in “The Virgin Prince and the Rebel Chief” and “Reckless.” There is humor and charm in these stories, with an underlay of passion and desire. The one thing these stories have in common, along with the original fairy tales, is a happy ending. These stories drip, quite literally, with romance. Whether it’s a HEA—happily ever after—or a HFN—happy for now—when these guys find their princes, hot steamy sex ensues. Here’s to stories (and heroes) that make us swoon!

Pre-order from Amazon US (out in April) : Pre-order from Amazon UK (out in May)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Eyecandy Monday - happy Valentine's Day

Heh heh heh.
Oh, you want Eyecandy, do you? But everyone's going to have eyecandy on Valentine's Day!
Still, I can hear Madeline approaching to beat me up, so here you are: a particularly lovely heart:

I wrote a story about Valentine's Hearts and asses once...

I hope you all have a Valentine's Day full of love and/or great sex!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

TftD: Tangled...

... Bondage and female-dominance  for beginners?

Incidentally, Mr Ashbless and I both really liked this movie. Funny, character-driven romance, with a great supporting cast, likeable hero and heroine, and a hot villain. Totally recommended, if you haven't seen it yet.

See? I do like romance! And, following my last post,  this is one where the heroine breaks away from her mother-figure - who then stabs the hero and is killed by the heroine's animal familiar. Now that's what I call an interesting family dynamic!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Family Matters


I've been reading a bit of romance recently ... Actually, one of the books I read was the first volume of The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold, which pretends it's a fantasy about slaying demonic baddies but is written and structured entirely as a romance. Anyway, I've discovered there's a recurring theme in romantic fiction that totally squicks me out. FAMILY.

Also romantic

Not Romantic

Now before I go any further, I am aware that this whole rant is going to say a lot more about me than about any of the fiction I might appear to be criticizing. I am prepared to accept that I am twisted WASP saddo with no emotional maturity, and that all you other romance fans are right and I'm wrong. But what the hell. It's my blog and I'll froth if I want to.

And what I can't bloody bear is the sort of romance where the hero and heroine have met and then he spends several chapters demonstrating what an awesome man he is, and how great a potential life-partner, by dint of cheerfully winning the approval of her family, which usually is huge and includes several creepily possessive, macho brothers and a bunch of giggly sisters. I CAN'T STAND IT. It makes my skin crawl.

Oh, I do get that in real life it is practical and agreeable for your husband to socialise happily with your Mom and Pop and your stupid irritating brother and sister. But we're talking fiction here, and in romance I want it to be Hero and Heroine vs the Rest of the World, and to hell what anyone else thinks. I want my hero to be blind to anything but how much he wants his lover. I want my heroine to need no one else but the man who completes her. They should be sticking two fingers up to convention, not kissing its ass!

I mean, like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding ... Her new squeeze spends his whole screen time submitting patiently to the impossible demands of her ridiculous tribe of relatives, because he loves her sooo much ... and I just thought, "Oh, for fuck's sake grow a pair."

And she should grow a pair too, frankly. A heroine who can't cut the apron strings and leave her overbearing mother, or who has a pathological need to tell her sister every intimate detail of her love-life like she's still bloody twelve years old, makes me spit.

In one nameless story I read recently, the hero is sitting in the kitchen, and he gets so turned on by thinking about the heroine that he gets this huge hard-on in front of his his mother and brother. And instead of going off and KILLING HIMSELF like any decent human being would do, he has this sort of, "Ho ho, they've seen it all before" attitude and I wanted to TEAR MY EYEBALLS OUT OF MY HEAD AND WASH THE SOCKETS OUT WITH VINEGAR. How is that erotic? HOW???

Family is not sexy. NOTHING emasculates a hero more effectively than having his blasted mother hove into the text. NOTHING. And you Americans - why does every male protagonist in any long running series eventually have his father (who is inevitably a high-ranking soldier/policeman/hero) stroll into town for a bit of belated bonding with his hitherto estranged offspring? You did it in House and Star Trek:TNG and Lost and B5 and well, just about everything. Well, stop it now! Independence is attractive. Sobbing "Dad, I only ever wanted your approval!" is completely nauseating.

Sorry, Apollo. You'd be quite Alpha without your dad standing there.

And you know you agree with me. Who is sexier, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? One has a family who have to die before he finds the balls to leave home, while the other is a free-wheeling independent spirit and totally cool. With a big hairy gay buddy.

So here I put my demands on the table. This is what I want from my romance characters:

Hero: Ideally, his family past is a mysterious blank, almost as if he's been spawned, fully adult, from the Hero Vats. If not, his mother is dead. End of. It all happened many years ago, and he should never think about her and definitely not be looking for a mother-substitute in his lover. He can have a father, but must never have personal contact with the man. It's pretty acceptable if his father was some jerk who impregnated his mother and ran off, never to be seen again, his mother died and he was brought up by his Gran. Or in an orphanage. No female relatives of any other kind. He may have one (1) brother, provided that the brother is Evil.

Indiana Jones: stopped being cool when he acquired an annoying Dad.
Heroine: Orphans strongly preferred. She may have a family, but if so that family must be Bad. Either they abuse her, or they just despise her, and part of her growth process as her relationship with the Hero unfolds is that she finds she has a value and a strength they never suspected, but it is too late for them to say sorry and now she is free of them. Any Heroine who goes to her mother for advice about her lover must be taken out back and shot immediately. Any Heroine who walks away from her lover because of family obligations (mother is having a crisis and calls her away etc) should be shot, burned until crispy and then fed to stray cats.

There you go. Perfectly reasonable, I'm sure you'll agree.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

On sale now: Nice Girls, Naughty Sex


Taking both writers and editors a bit by surprise, Nice girls, Naughty Sex is suddenly now available in the flesh (or the paper), Stateside.  I haven't got a copy yet, but I'm sure it's full of nice girls ... er ... being naughty - well, it has to be, because Jeremy is in it too with his story Eastern Daylight Time, and he is the go-to guy for nice 'n' naughty.

The full line-up of stories and authors is here. This anthology has 4 sections: Vanilla, Dirty Martini (kinky stuff), Licorice Whips (BDSM), and Oysters (lesbian/bi). It's edited by the glorious Jordan LaRousse and Samantha Sade, who own and edit Oysters and Chocolate.

Argh. I am having food cravings...

Before I go raid the cupboard, I'd better remind you  that my story is called Good Doggy. And here's an excerpt:

'I watch that Dog Whisperer show,' I confided, putting the photo frame carefully back in place. 'You know. That Cesar Millan guy.'

'Uhuh?' He lifted his hand to stroke the nape of my neck and I luxuriated in the shiver that rippled down my spine.

'I've got a bit of a thing for him. I know he's, like, a bit old and stuff, but there's just something about him. The way he just gets all those crazy dogs to do exactly what he wants, so calmly. It's like magic.'

'You want to be one of his doggies?' Craig suggested, teasingly. We were both smiling, but at his words something stirred inside me. I looked up at him from under my lashes.

'I'd be a good doggy.'

'Really?' He tickled me under the chin. 'You wouldn't chase the neighbours' cats? I wouldn't have to smack you with a rolled-up newspaper?'

The implied threat made my sex clench and flutter unexpectedly.

'Sometimes, maybe,' I admitted. 'I suppose I'd be bound to be naughty occasionally. But I'd try to be good.'

Craig put a hand on my waist to draw me to him. He'd forgotten to take off his jacket when we came in; his scarf was still draped about his neck. I nuzzled up to his shoulder, still watching his face, and took the scarf between my teeth. As I started to tug his eyebrows rose, but I grinned slyly and pulled the cloth free, retreating and shaking my head from side to side.

'Bad girl,' he said, a grin creeping to his lips. 'Drop it Beth!' He reached for the scarf and I dodged, skipping behind the coffee table. Craig lunged after me and I yipped through the fabric - well, I tried to yip: it came out more as a squeal - and gave him the slip. Round and round the table he chased me, until at last, inevitably, he caught the flying end of the scarf. For a moment we tugged it back and forth between us, him gripping with his hand and me with my teeth. I growled and rolled my eyes. 'Bad doggy!' he snapped, then bundled me bodily onto the sofa, pinning me beneath him. I let go of the scarf at last, laughing and gasping for breath. Craig buried his face in my throat, mouthing me. 'Oh god Beth,' he groaned: 'you're a bad bad girl.'

Buy at Amazon US : Pre-order at Amazon UK

And, btw, this is what happens if you go searching for Doggy and Jumping Out of a Cake pictures:

Monday, 7 February 2011

Eyecandy Monday

I have a cold,
I'm feeling bad,
My brain is full
Of Sludge and Sad.

This pic is nice:
His bedside manner
Makes up for my
Inability to think of a rhyme.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

TftD: the Future is here

Click to expand - it is, I understand, a picture from a 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics. It's hilarious ... and a salutary lesson.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Naughty Nereids

The Waterbaby: Herbert James Draper (1863-1920)

When I did my Mermaids post a couple of weeks ago, I found I had a whole bunch of pictures left over, of sea-nymphs without any fishy characteristics. Although frequently (mis)titled "Sirens" or "Naiads" (because artists didn't bother doing their blasted research first) they are technically Nereids - sea-spirits in the form of beautiful shapely maidens. I suspect the shapely maiden bit was probably the important point as far as the purchasers were concerned. Anyway, here they are for your delectation. Some more Drapers to start with:

The Sea Maiden
Looks like the start of a story to me...

Flying Fish

The Siren: Sir Edward Poynter (1836-1919)

Nice lyre. But repeat after me, Sir Edward: sirens are part-bird.
Though I much prefer his attempt at mythological portraiture to this sort of thing:

Sea Nymphs: Albert Laurens (1870-1934)

This above is an example of erotic painting where the artist demonstrates no respect for, or interest in, the putative mythology at all, and I don't actually like it much. There's nothing eerie or otherworldly about these women. It's the equivilent of photoshopping a nude picture onto a fake background. There's nothing wrong with nudey pictures, but that isn't mythological art.

The Naiads: Gioacchino Pagliei (1852-1896)

Much better. Even if naiads are actually nymphs of wells, springs and fresh water ... and shouldn't be playing with sea-gulls. Hey-ho.

Perseus and the Sea Nymphs: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

Burne-Jones' sea-nymphs are uncharacteristically modest. But I like the fact they stand around in a puddle.

Kiss of the Siren: Gustav Wertheimer (1847-1904)

Huzzah - back to scary nudes!

The Fisherman and the Siren: Knut Ekwall (1843-1912)

Naiads of the Sea: Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

And finally we're back to Edward Poynter for a picture that epitomises dirty-yet-ultra-respectable Victorian mythological art:

Cave of the Storm Nymphs

This is the picture with everything: overtly erotic nudes, mythological depth, beautifully rendered scenery, and a dramatic narrative. Love that shipwreck!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

On the Edgware Road

This was me at the weekend, having a go at re-living our various Middle Eastern holidays, right in the middle of London.

  • First we ate an enormous dinner at a Lebanese restaurant, finishing with complimentary fruit and baklava.
  • We tracked down a sweet shop selling salap ice cream - made with orchid root and rumoured to be an aphrodisiac, it is weirdly stretchy and elastic! In Arabic it's known as bouza bi haleeb and here's a picture of it being made. I won't be eating it again, sadly, as it turns out the orchids are endangered by too much ice-cream fanaticism. We bought a plate of baklava too.
  • We then stopped at a cafe to smoke a shisha waterpipe (apple flavour). Because of UK smoking laws you have to sit at pavement tables outside. Unfortunately it is 0 degrees Centigrade right now in London at midnight, hence my ski-jacket and purple muppet gloves, which slightly ruin the illusion. Gallons of mint tea (with complimentary baklava) helped warm us too.
Oh, were we full.

Mr Ashbless took a picture of our dinner wine-bottle. According to the label "in mouth it has power and length," which by the second bottle struck me as hilariously funny, I'm afraid....