Sunday, 30 August 2009

Walking with Dinosaurs

This weekend I'm indulging my inner six-year-old and going to see the Walking with Dinosaurs show. I'm very excited - I always wanted Jurassic Park to be real!

And I promise it will not result in this sort of thing. No way. Dragons yes, dinosaurs no. (Dragons are people, dinosaurs are animals, in case you were wondering.)


Friday, 28 August 2009

Back in Black

Some more photos of the Black Lace Wake have appeared online, including this one of me. So now you can see my mourning dress!

Thanks to Kristina Lloyd for the link.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Hotter than Reality: The Guild

And she's hotter than reality by far - Do you wanna date my Avatar?

There was an item on the news this week mentioning that the No.1 music download on iTunes at the moment is a fundraising song (above) for an online sitcom called The Guild. Which is about gamers - specifically players of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games*. Along with Big Bang Theory suddenly people are making sitcoms about "sits" that I actually recognise - it must be my age!

The Guild was written by Felicia Day who plays the narrating character Codex. There are ten episodes in the first series, each running for only 3-4 minutes, and goodness me - everything's up there on YouTube. Start here with Episode One and prepare to lose an hour of your life...

(My favourite character? Clara, but they are all horribly horribly recognisable. My favourite line? "You?! You've got all the maternal instincts of a woodchipper!" If only I knew Latin I might adopt it as my motto, lol)

*Personally I don't MMORPG but let's just say I have A Number of Friends Who Do, and have had various amounts of exposure to World of Warcraft, WarHammer Online, Lord of the Rings Online and Age of Conan. Second Life doesn't count, it's not the same thing.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Eyecandy Monday

Every picture tells a story...

Pity me, for I am drowning in graphic novels, lol. I went to a book-signing by Adrian Tchaikovsky at the weekend. Big mistake: it was held in a comics store. I bought Chronicles of Wormwood, Sin City No.7, the graphic-novel version of Neverwhere and the new Joker hardback. All in aid of inspiring the urban fantasy in my vampire novel, honest. Heh heh heh.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Go West

I have a lot of respect for TV chef Jamie Oliver*, who has tried to do something useful with his celebrity by publicising the outrageous conditions battery animals are kept in and trying to promote instead the eating of animals that have been farmed humanely.

Anyway, he's just released a trailer for his upcoming TV series, Jamie's American Road Trip, which made me howl with laughter. I can't find the embedding html anywhere, so to see it go check out this post on Urban Bohemian. Love the ass shot, Jamie.

*This does not make me in the least bit fashionable.

Friday, 21 August 2009

My Manly Prize

W00t! The other day I sort-of-accidentally won a competition over on Jeremy Edward's blog, and my manly prize (p92) arrived in the post yesterday. (Why trans-Atlantic airmail is nearly as fast and nearly as cheap as UK inland parcel post is an abiding mystery to me.) I've won A Dictionary of Semenyms by Cecil Goran (NSFW!), an exhaustive, eye-opening and occasionally stomach-turning compilation of over 1300 synonyms for semen derived from erotic literature, lovingly and beautifully produced. (And yes, suddenly everything I say looks like a double entendre.)

I was glued. Yes, glue is a semenym. As are bollock-yogurt and magical unicorn mayonnaise (which made me laugh) and scrip and tallow (which made me think "Ooh, clever, must make a note for future use").

Most of all I was struck by a very basic point about the human mind: the incredible weight of meaning it stacks onto everyday objects. Semen is, materially speaking, a couple of teaspoons of whitish fluid produced with a brief sensation of physical pleasure. Yet we load it with symbolic force - spiritual ("his Holy Offering"), emotional ("great lumps of fear, hurt and pain", "his precious love-offering") and social ("fratload"). It's made to stand for nourishment and vitality, masculinity and male bonding, the shining life-force and desolate mortality. It can represent contempt and rejection or desire and acceptance. It's the pure essence of a man or the distillation of his lowest nature. It's beautiful and revolting.

And this is before we even get into the symbolic burdens carried by the penis, the vagina and by the act of copulation itself!

We are (so far as we can tell) the only animals that do this. We're the only ones who give meaning to the mundane. We're the only ones who tell stories about ourselves. We're the only ones whose lives and actions are shaped (and twisted) by mere ideas. It makes us unique and wonderful - and it makes us terrible beyond even our own ability to describe.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

My heart is in the Highlands

We've had really mixed weather this summer in the UK, and every time it rains the English whinge. (We've got some of the mildest kindest weather anywhere on the planet, but we whine about it constantly.) Now I happen to like summer rain, in a strange way. Every time I open the back door to find clouds and drizzle and a blustery breeze I say to Mr Ashbless: "Ooh - feels like Scotland!" And I want to Go. Oh how I want to go, up to the west coast of the Highlands, through Glencoe and to the islands. It's like homesickness. It's like being in love.

When Mr Ashbless and I went on our very first cottage holiday together, back in 1992 or so, it was to Scotland - in fact it was to that tiny white blob of a house in the picture at the top there (I took the photo in 2007 when we returned to Ardnamurchan). We've been back to the country every couple of years since. I've only written one short story set there though. Maybe I should do more.

Scotland was where I first saw a wild heron, and deer jumping a six-foot fence. Where I picked garnets up on the sea-shore. Where I ran down a tropical-white beach in the pissing rain on my own, because even the dogs wouldn't get out of the car. Where the lobster came out to look at us and I decided I wasn't eating animals anymore. Where, in 1992, I decided I didn't want to be dead after all.

In fact, here's almost the precise spot I decided it was worth being alive:

The Scotland of my mind of course is not a realistic place: it's an idealised, permanent-late-summer vacation Scotland. If I had to live there year round I think the long nights would kill me. But that doesn't stop me wanting it, desperately.

I want cloud shadows chasing across open hillsides and sodden little tufts of bog cotton bowing in the wind. I want sheep bleating outside my bedroom window. I want pink-ringed jellyfish swaying in Caribbean-clear waters. I want the smell of the sea and peatwater. I want sea-lochs so calm it looks like you could walk across them. I want, above all, the huge open silences. And the sense of my smallness.

While I pine, Shanna Germain has been posting photos from her recent roadtrip with Nikki Magennis, here. And making me pine even more.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Eyecandy Monday

This week I've written a short story inspired partly by those sort of artsy erotic pictures you find on Acesso Restrito and Chimere Erotique. You know: the black-and-white ones with skin texture.

I've finished it and added my address and page numbers and that gubbins, and will probably give it another couple of read-throughs today before sending it off. Which means I'm at the moment of panic. Is it really good enough? Is the ending weak? Is it too cliched? Is it too slow? Is it too porny and not literary enough? Is there too much background and not enough raunch? Aaaargh!

This of course is as nothing to the panic and dread I will feel after I've sent it in, when it becomes Too Late to Change Anything.

So what about you? Do you feel the same insecurity and if so how do you cope? How can you get an objective look at your own work? Is a Beta Reader the answer?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

News (in Briefs)

Thank you to everyone who wished Mr Ashbless well when he lost his job. The Good News is - he's got a new one! It pays much better! It's going to involve lots of travel to exciting new places*!

The Not So Good news is that it looks like he won't be living at home anymore. I guess I'm going to have a lot of alone time to get on with writing, in future.

*headbutts desk*

So ... how many games of Spider do you think I can fit in during an evening?

* Like New York, which is in my opinion way TOO exciting.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Black Lace Wake

Dear Friends of the Departed...

Last week a Wake was held for Black Lace (1993-2009) and Nexus (1988-2009), in the heart of London's glamorous West End. Okay, so it wasn't glamorous - we were in the upstairs room of a pub - but it was fun and it was wonderful to see some old (and new) faces, though for probably the last time.

Of course, having authors scattered across the world, only a small percentage could attend. Cleo Cordell and Bitchy Jones were there. So were Ashling Morgan and Penny Birch.

Below, L to R: Karen S Smith, Olivia Knight, editor Adam Nevill, Primula Bond, Kristina Lloyd, Mathilde Madden. They're all wondering how I can cope with my new camera, seeing as how I am a card-carrying luddite.

Here's Simon Lee-Price, one of our assistant editors. He had a wee rant about the publishing biz which, alas, I cannot repeat:

Here's Kerri Sharp, the original Black Lace Editor and the woman to whom I owe my writing career, giving the eulogy:

Adam looks shocked!

Want to hear a funny story? I only found this out myself on that night: A young female relative of a certain multi-millionaire not totally unconnected with the Virgin brand (who owned Black Lace at the time) was seconded to Black Lace for work experience. She was given a fiction manuscript to read. She quit the job in horror on her first day, saying she was being "asked to read things she wasn't comfortable with." The book? My novella Bear Skin in Enchanted. Yes, I drove someone out of a job!

Kerri and Adam nearly wet themselves laughing...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Fairy Tale Ending

Still playing catch-up...

Wahay! I'm now a Harlequin author!

Well, only an itty bitty one. I've got a short story in Alison Tyler's upcoming anthology of erotic fairy tales, Alison's Wonderland, to be published by Harlequin Spice in July 2010. Note, this is not the fairy-tale anthology I subbed to last week, but a different one, subbed back in December. I can't tell you how glad I am fairy tales are back in vogue! My story Gold, On Snow, is a black-as-coal and red-as-blood take on Snow White. Alison was actually a bit worried that one passage in my tale was going to be a bit too, um, Grimm and gory for Harlequin, but luckily they "loved it."

The full lineup for Alison's Wonderland (it's going to be huge!) is:

The Red Shoes (Redux) by Nikki Magennis
Fool’s Gold by Shanna Germain
The Three Billys by Sommer Marsden
David by Kristina Lloyd
Managers and Mermen by Donna George Storey
The Clean-Shaven Type by N.T. Morley
The Midas F*ck by Erica DeQuaya
Sleeping with Beauty by Allison Wonderland
Unveiling His Muse by Portia Da Costa
Always Break the Spines by Lana Fox
An Uphill Battle by Benjamin Eliot
Moonset by A.D.R Forte
Mastering Their Dungeons by Bryn Haniver
A Taste for Treasure by T.C. Calligari
The Broken Fiddle by Andrea Dale
The Cougar of Cobble Hill by Sophia Valenti
Wolff’s Tavern by Bella Dean
Slutty Cinderella by Jacqueline Applebee
Kiss It by Saskia Walker
Let Down Your Libido by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Dancing Shoes by Tsaurah Litzky
Gold, On Snow by Janine Ashbless
After the Happily Every After by Heidi Champa
Cupid Has Signed Off by Thomas S. Roche
The Walking Wheel by Georgia E. Jones
Rings on My Fingers by Alison Tyler
The Princess by Elspeth Potter

This is just so great. I can't wait!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Eyecandy Monday

I love hair. You know that, don't you. This is not the only picture by this photographer (or indeed the only picture of this model) that I have burned my eyes out leching over.

I'm afraid that this week I'll be mostly play catch-up on news etc. For starters, if you follow the blogs in my list on the right you've probably come across this one, but just in case...

Last week Nikki Magennis sent me a link to this review of Frenzy by Champagne and Benzadrine, because it contains a very positive mention of my story in the anthology:

Particular tales, like 'Pirate Treasure' by Janine Ashbless, stand head and shoulders above the rest as electric examples of exceptional erotica.

Unfortunately the review then went on to be astonishingly vicious about Nikki's own beautiful little story. Nikki was naturally hurt and a lot of people (including me) were upset. Alison Tyler called C&B out for his(?) hypocrisy on her blog. With this rather amazing result: Trollop with a Laptop: We interrupt this Fetish Friday...

So there you go. There may be a smigeon of hope for the human race afer all.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sexy Little Numbers - out now!

We're not dead yet!

Sexy Little Numbers, the latest - but not the last - anthology from Black Lace is out now in the UK and will be out in September in the US. It's an open-theme anthology so the topics are diverse. (Well, obviously they're all about sex. You'd be disppointed if it was concerned with the joys of mathematics. Unless you're Portia Da Costa and have a thing for that bloke in Numb3rs.) Among contributions from erotica authors both well known and new you'll find stories by

Kristina Lloyd
Charlotte Stein
Justine Elyot
Portia Da Costa
EllaRegina (twice)
Madelynne Ellis
Jamaica Layne
Kristina Wright

and me. My short story is called Michelangelo's Men and is told by a woman who just loves to watch gay men having sex. So much so that she lures her naive straight boyfriend into the arms of her flatmate. Bad girl...

Later in the week, when I'm back home and have sorted the chaos out (hah!) I'll post an excerpt. In the meantime you can admire the excellent if rather Pink cover. It's got a bloke on it! (And a "Vol.1" for comedy value.)

Buy at Amazon UK : Pre-order at Amazon US

Friday, 7 August 2009

St Eulalia by J W Waterhouse

Today's kinky Victorian art is Saint Eulalia (painted 1885) by John William Waterhouse, possibly my favourite (late) Pre-Raphaelite. In fact I think this is the first Victorian painting I looked at all those years ago and thought, "Hey - hold on. There's something pervy going on here, isn't there?" because it's fairly clear that the corpse of the virgin martyr is intended to be an object of admiration and desire for the viewer. Great Waterhousian red hair though, and in every way a fantastic painting.

I saw the painting in the flesh yeaterday because I'm back down in London and they are currently holding a Waterhouse exhibiton at the Royal Academy. Over 40 paintings, almost all of them famous. It's just awesome - go see it if you have the chance! Circe and sirens, nymphs and knights (and nipples) and the Lady of Shallot ... and everyone has really great hair.

Why am I back Down South? Because tonight is the Black Lace Wake. I shall be wearing mourning, I think.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Toot! Toot!

That noise is me blowing my own trumpet. You didn't know I was supple enough to Blow My Own, did you? Look - there on my wall over my computer desk is the lovely certificate those fab people at Jade: the international art and literature magazine sent me.

The text, since you're not likely to be able to read it unless you have the keen sight of the Elves, goes:

The winner of this year's award for Erotic Writer of the Year is presented to a female author who has had great success with her work and who has consistently been at the forefront of erotic fiction here in the UK - for both men and women. Having reviewed many erotic and adult novels over the course of the last year, there was little doubt that Janine Ashbless's work towers high above the rest. Our only hope is that she continues to do what she does best and delights us with her seductive, sensual tales for many years to come.

Mark Marsay - Editor

Isn't that nice of them? In a depressing summer it's so good to get some validation. I am chuffed to bits!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Eyecandy Monday

This song has been going round and round in my head for a week now so I thought I'd pass the earworm on. Definitive proof that musical numbers can be hot as hell.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Geek chart

[click image to enlarge]

I'm in here more than once, LOL. No, not as a Piers Anthony fan.
Heh heh. Poor furries.