Monday, 29 June 2009

Eyecandy Monday

By special request, a woman today. And since the weather has turned warm... [click to expand, then imagine brushing off the sand]

BTW ... I have got the Letter of the Week slot in 2000AD comic! Fangirl goes "Squeeee!"

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Teaser of the Narghile

It's our old friend Jean-Leon Gerome back with us today. This picture is also titled The Pipe Lighter and doesn't have any particular story, it's just a nice piece of Orientalism and a fine ass painting. I hope he didn't get his model to pose like that for too long, because it looks a little uncomfortable.

The narghile (sheesha in Egypt) or waterpipe does take a bit of effort to get lit, but it's worth it. He he ... after all that nude puffing, here's one being smoked in a restaurant in Damascus. Apologies for the bad Hat Hair.

My mother said: "Is that opium?!"

No, it's strawberry-flavoured tobacco. Although it's still not very good for you, but I only smoke a water-pipe about once a year. I am still working on the Gandalf-style smoke rings.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

News (in briefs)

Well, in boxer briefs anyway - my prefered style of male underwear.

Woohoo - Scarlet: the magazine that turns women on is talking to me about featuring some of my work. Nothing cast in concrete yet, but they're currently scheduling an excerpt from Wildwood for the August issue and a brand-new story for the September one. Fingers crossed!

The Whohub website contacted me a while back to ask for an interview. Whohub is "a directory of interviews with professionals in the fields of communication, arts, humanities, technology, marketing, and any other activity with a creative flair " and my interview is now up: if you go on over you can find out a number of things I've not talked about anywhere else, including the theme for Red Grow the Roses. And you can do your own interview!

Talking of Red Grow the Roses, wordcount is up to 40K (that's halfway even if I push the wordcount to the max), yipee! My last chapter involved some entertaining research on Victorian fashion.

[click to enlarge]

Finally, big BIG thanks to everyone who has recently put up a review of one of my books on Amazon or elsewhere. I am really grateful, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the review copies. Particular thanks to the unsolicited Elfreader of Dallas!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Eyecandy Monday

A slight change of pace for today's Eyecanday Monday, while I go into raptures about Takeshi Kaneshiro. No, I'm not mysteriously channelling Madelynne Ellis - though of course she got there long before me. What happened was that last week I went to see Red Cliff, the new John Woo movie, and I was much taken by the character of Zhuge Liang. Red Cliff is a terrific war movie (based on historic events) which we all enjoyed greatly and I totally recommend - if you're the sort of person who thought The Two Towers was pretty cool but really needed more battle scenes, then Red Cliff is the movie for you - but in the middle of all those macho warriors was the pivotal character of Zhuge Liang, who isn't a fighter but a strategist, Taoist geek and legendary smartarse. When he pulled off the "borrowing arrows" move I thought it so clever I fell in lurv.

Here, btw, is the same character (complete with crane-feather fan) as envisaged in comic form, from a computer game. He's pretty damn famous in China and Japan. And phwoar!

Anyway, it turns out the actor, Takeshi Kaneshiro, was actually one I noticed a while back when in the dawn of time I posted this picture from House of Flying Daggers to Lust Bites.

And in Asia he's a mega-star. Here he is looking young and purty:

Here he is looking Matrix:

Dig those lips!
And here he is with long hair again. I am happy. I will even forgive the moustache.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Krod Mandoon

Well, I hope everyone with access to the BBC or Comedy Central has given Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire a shot. It is very silly. It's also a measure of how mainstream fantasy has become since Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood etc that a parody of the fantasy genre now appears in a primetime evening slot, sneaking in geeky references to Magic:the Gathering rules. Of course having Matt Lucas play the villain overlord Dongalor didn't hurt any.

Krod Mandoon is the leader of a band of resistance fighters which consists of a dumb ogre, a warlock who isn't actually capable of magic, a pagan warior woman who shags anything that moves and The Campest Man In The World. We are not talking subtlety here.

Krod Mandoon himself is heroic but a bit of a doofus.

He's in love with Aneka, but can't cope with her freewheeling attitude to sex. See her rather impressive Raccoon Festival dance here on YouTube.

And the whole show is littered with the most godawful smutty jokes:

"I must return to Uncle Zanus."

"The prophecy was passed to me orally ... and anally."

Okay so it's not exactly highbrow, but what the heck. It's fun. And I did the personality test on the official website and it turns out that I am Dongalor:

Lovably sociopathic, vain, volatile, and easily distracted, your penchant for cruelty is rivaled only your ambition to seize the emperor's crown.

It's a fair cop.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Word Games

When I did that post about TED a couple of weeks back, wordmeister Jeremy Edwards wrote to me recommending the talk above: Erin McKean on Lexicography. (Lexi-what? The art of compiling dictionaries.) She's one of the youngest dictionary-editors in the business and an extraordinarily vivacious and charming speaker. And her attitude is that the dictionary's job isn't to be a traffic cop but a fisherman. She wants us to use words in new and exciting ways - to create new ones where necessary, to make nouns out of verbs, to give them new contexts and connotations. To love words and make them real. "I find an undictionaried word in almost every book I read" she says - and thinks this is a good thing.

Challenging stuff. As a writer I'm proud of my ability to use words to convey meaning and atmosphere and story. I think my vocabulary is relatively broad. I am one of those people who sneer when they spot apostrophes out of place on shop hoardings, and I want to slap people who don't know the difference between "their" and "they're" - I mean, how difficult is that? Modern youth diction sends me into a middle-aged frenzy of despair at the future of the human race: "At the bottom end of the linguistic scale, kids are all, ‘like, innit, bruv, you know what I’m sayin...’ to the point where they are clearly not saying anything, and have reclaimed the condition of grunting primates that we took a million years to evolve from," as Giles Coren says (and if you want to read a truly hilarious writer's rant pop over and read his leaked letter to a copyeditor about the removal of the word "a" from one of his articles!). Okay, I am neither as rude nor as articulate as Giles Coren (nor would I EVER be confident enough to assert that my work doesn't need copy-editing), but I do want to use correct English if at all possible.

Yet sometimes you have to mess things up a bit. For example "susurration" is a perfectly good noun meaning "a sound of whispering or rustling" - so why isn't there a verb to go with it? Grass should be able to susurrate. Nipples should be able to pebble in reaction to cold air (yes, that's one I've used in the past).

The thing is, if you use English in novel ways you look like a poet. If you use it incorrectly you look like an idiot. Where the dividing line lies between those two ... now there's the rub. But Erin's talk has given me new heart to try and be more original and daring in future.

Anyone got any unorthodox English they want to admit to using?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Eyecandy Monday

Oh - look at the shiny shiny!! Oh oh oh!!!

And on a less incoherent note ... Coffee Time Romance has a tasty review of the Black Lace Liaisons anthology up and gave it a 4-Cup rating. Here's what they had to say about my story, Roadside Rescue:

The first story is written so well, I wanted to dive right into the story...

Sarah is on her way to meet her lover, Mervyn, in Fort William, Scotland when her car breaks down. When Gavin arrives to tow her car, Sarah is surprised to find herself aching to connect with the driver. But with one lover waiting in another town, will she take the chance on a man who oozes sensuality?

Ms. Ashbless has written a very hot and sexy story. The way Sarah struggles, not only with her attraction to Gavin, but with her complicated relationship with Mervyn is very realistic and makes for a better story. Every sexual encounter in this story was steamy and the props used made this tale a unique and exciting read. If you have ever had a fantasy involving a mechanic, this is the story for you.

Thank you CTR! Every story in the book gets an individual review, which is something I really appreciate as a contributor. You can see the whole review here.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Not Really a Movie Review - Wolverine

Okay, so I FINALLY got round to seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine this week, about 8 billion years later than everyone else. Bear in mind that I like the X-Men but can't abide the Wolverine character because he's 1) indestructable and 2) basically a bully.

To my shock - and shame - I really enjoyed it. I sat through the opening sequence thinking "This is great! But any second now I'm going to get bored and irritated." Only I didn't ... all the way to "Weapon 11" anyway.

Maybe I was just in the right mood. Maybe it's because they actually managed to portray Wolverine as a sympathetic character for once.

And certainly Gambit helped:

Though to be honest I fancy the cartoon version of Gambit a lot more:

Now that is the mark of a geek!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Happy Birthday Alison!

Slappy - er, Happy - birthday greeting to The Trollop With A Laptop, Alison Tyler!

As well as being a fellow ex-Lustie she's also been the editor of 3 anthologies so far* which have included my stories: I is for Indecent, Frenzy and Playing With Fire. She's having a rough old year so I want to take the opportunity to thank her for being a great and generous editor.

Best Birthday Wishes, Alison!


* and maybe a fourth soon: we are awaiting publisher's confirmation

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Magazine Review - Filament #1

Thanks to this article on Erotica Cover Watch, I subscribed to the first issue of Filament, a new British magazine subtitled "the thinking woman's crumpet". It aims at readers who are NOT interested solely in fashion, makeup and sleb gossip, but want intelligent articles on a range of subjects, along with pictures of attractive men. It's published every 3 months and costs £7 an issue. Ambitious, idealistic and determined to cater for women who aren't normally paid any attention by the media, it struck me as exactly the sort of thing I wanted to see and ought to be supporting.

Now I've got my hands on the first issue and I feel sort of bad reviewing it - because it is so obviously a work in progress. Don't just take my word for it: here's part of the editorial from p74:
"It's challenging trying to get the kind of material you know your audience wants, especially when you're inventing a new style of photography and media for women. Nothing went exactly according to plan, and while we're proud of what we've achieved, it's not necessarily a representation of where we're going." This is followed by a list of changes/new features to be brought in in future, including "Naughtier photography".

Ah, yes. Sadly, the one aspect of the magazine that is supposed to be its big draw - the eyecandy - is its biggest let-down. There are four photo-sets. Two are well-shot portfolios of pretty young men (examples in this post). Two are out-of-focus portfolios of blokes I wouldn't even notice if I passed them on the street. There's no cock. There's no nudity. All the models retain their trousers and one doesn't even get his shirt off. If these are the "erotic pictures for the female gaze" we've been promised, I can't help feeling cheated.

On the flip side, the range of written material was a great deal better than I was expecting. Best by a long shot was an article on the witchcraft trials which went back to the source material to deconstruct the myth that it was all about helpless women being victimised by mysogynistic men, to present a rather more complex picture. Yes, the huge majority of those murdered were women - but so were their accusers. The article brings out how much of the witchcraft persecutions (at least in Britain) was rooted in social competition between women in a system that allowed them no other route to status. Absolutely fascinating, and wouldn't look out of place in History Today.

Other interesting topics covered include an dissection of the soft-core-porn-is-harmless/hard-core-porn-is-harmful polarisation that society lazily assumes (I love me a bit of ethical philosophy!), an article on the social bumps of bringing up a child if you are an atheist, and a swathe of stuff on playing musical instruments. There are a bunch of more typical articles too: advice columns, a look at pubic hair fashion and what women are really doing with their muffs (as opposed to what is seen in the fashion mags and in porn), interviews with women in techie/geek jobs, book reviews (SF! This magazine really is aimed at geeks!), poetry and two pieces of erotic fiction (one of them m/m though extremely softcore). It's an eclectic, surprising mix. I liked it, though I did think there was a lot of blank page-space with some articles being ridiculously brief, and the interview with Muslim comedian Shazia Mirza was a wasted opportunity, consisting as it did of only of 7 questions.

So, I am going to buy the next issue of Filament because I think it has great potential. But dear grief guys - get your photography sorted out, please.

You can subscribe to Filament at their website - it is not sold in the shops. You will need either a Paypal account or plastic (and they really want you to take the Paypal route). Subscription is for one magazine, without obligation.

UPDATE: You can now find the response to this review from Filament's Editor in the comments attached to this post.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Eyecandy Monday

So despite getting all snarly last week about sportsmen, I did manage to finish my sporting story (well over the word limit, so I'll have to think about what happens now) and I thought I'd post a suitably jock picture to celebrate. Isn't he something else? Not that my story is about hockey, you understand. No, I now know way more than I ever anticipated knowing about a completely different team sport. But the pictures aren't so nice!

This picture [REDACTED] came to me from someone else's blog - probably Heidi or Winter... though I can't remember 'cos I is useless, but they both do regular Mancandy Mondays so check 'em put. And don't forget the original Mancandy Mondays at Erotica Cover Watch - who are this week featuring a horse.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Goths in Hot Weather

Ever had to suffer for your fashion? Spare a thought, now it's summer, for the Goths. Yesterday a friend sent me a link to this fantastic blog: Goths in Hot Weather. It's all about pictures of Goths - bless their cobwebbed cotton socks - staunchly wearing totally inappropriate clothing on the beach, by the pool, in the sauna... All pictures rated for both Gothiness and Sweatiness.

I am very pro-Goth and honestly some of the costume is fantastic and you can only admire them. In between fits of hysterical laughter.

I'm now hooked.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Last Sunday we visited Cragside House. I first went there when I was 8, and fell in love with it. Built by Lord Armstrong, a Victorian engineering genius and arms magnate, it's a mad mock-Tudor schloss set in the most enormous rock-garden - 1700 acres of lakes, forest, winding paths and rhododendrons which are in bloom in late May and early June. What a beautiful day we had!

Cragside is my dream home. When I rule the world I shall prise it from the grip of the National Trust and live there, but in the meantime here are some pictures of the azaleas and rhododendrons in flower.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Eyecandy Monday

I do not have the Female Shoe Gene. I have never worn high heels. I hate shoe shopping and confine it to once every two years when I buy a new pair of walking sandals and some black flats (two pairs of the latter just so I don't have to go shopping next year). I don't actually know what a kitten heel is. My interest in women's bodies ends at the ankles.

But there is an exception. For some reason I do rather like women (other women) in long red boots. And this is an unusual picture because the boots don't have heels. I also like her face, which is not Hollywood-pretty but quite broad and snub-nosed.

And I want to bite her ass.