Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!


On Christmas Eve Kat challenged me to write an ode to Quorn frankfurters. Here it is - and well down to my usual standards, I think:

Quorn -
Never born,
Neither sown,
But grown
In a vat of slime.
Still - you taste fine.

:-)

I wish you all a happy new year, and a thousand good things for 2011. May it be better than 2010 for all of us!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

2010 in the rearview mirror


(My favourite pic from 2010. Although there was serious competition.)

We're in the dying days of 2010 so I'm going to do my usual review of the best.

Best movie? Well, it was over-all a much better year for films than 2009, primarily because Sci-Fi and Fantasy appear to be back in fashion. Out of the 30 movies I watched, in order (based on personal enjoyment, not quality):





Most keenly followed blog of the year: Pharyngula



Best book I read all year: Ordeal by Hunger by George R Stewart - and yes, it's a weird choice, and yes it was first published in 1936. But I sat on the landing floor all night and bit all my nails off because I couldn't stop reading, not even to get up and go somewhere more comfy. If it wasn't a true account I would not be able to believe it. 

Best music?



2010 was, for me, the year of Mumford and Sons. I played their album Sigh No More over and over and over again. When I packed everything away in the attic for 5 months, this was one of 2 albums I kept out. It gives me strength.

Best TV show? Well for sheer surprise value it's a choice between Sherlock and the new Doctor Who (both from the same writers. Geek takeover!). When they announced that Matt Smith had been cast as the new Doctor, I thought "Young, white, male - well whoop: aren't they playing it safe and dull?" Then I saw him in action.



He had me at "Fezzes are cool."



So, hello 2011! What have you got in store?

Monday, 27 December 2010

Eyecandy Monday



Hold your jaws - they are about to drop off.

I picked this version to show you because although there are other videos of these two brothers out there, in most of them they wear bodystockings. And I can't help but feel that tiny briefs and gold paint add something to the astonishing spectacle.

Oh, and please don't download Chrome.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

El Caganer


(Heh heh. This is the coolest Xmas card I've ever been sent!)

If you've read my short story collections you'll know I'm keen on folklore and like to turn it to erotic use in fiction. And Xmas is of course brimming with motifs ripe for naughtiness: mistletoe, stockings, candles, carol-singing in the dark...

But (and thanks to Mr Ashbless for this particular gem) I now know that I have met my match with the Caganer, a Catalonian Christmas tradition that is, I'm afraid, well beyond the reach of the velvet hand of erotica. The little figure of a man having a dump is considered a vital party of any nativity scene. Why? Nobody knows.

But those potty-obesessed Catalonians don't stop there. Another Christmas tradition is the Poop Log, which is a lump of wood (with or without cheery face) which you "feed" every day from December 8th until Christmas Day, which you hit it with sticks in order to get it to crap out sweeties.


You sing while hitting it:

Poop Log,
Poop nougat,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
If you don't poop well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Poop Log!


Um ...
Real life is so much stranger than fiction!

How was your Xmas day then? Did it involve ritual violence to wooden objects? Nougat? Alcohol poisoning?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Xmas everyone!



(This is the fairy that goes at the top of my Xmas tree every year. Look - no one ever said it has to be a nice fairy, did they?)

Here's wishing you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season. May you keep warm, eat good food, and be with those you love!

Doxology poem wot I wrote while decorating the tree yesterday:

Praise the tree and praise the wood
Praise the earth on which they stood.

Praise the branch and praise the leaf
Praise the firm strong bole beneath.

Praise the roots that grow unseen
Praise the fir - the ever green.


And now I'm off to defrost my quorn frankfurters for the chestnut stuffing...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

For godless people



Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch a  performance of Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People (sometimes known as Nerdstock), which is an annual humanist jamboree/benefit (for the Rationalist Association) based mostly around comedy and science. "It’s not about having a go at religion" says Robin Ince, the founder "– it’s a proper celebration; of the Big Bang, of evolution theory and of comedy."

Okay, so there was a bit of having a go at religion. Also at dumb-ass thinking and Gillian McKeith people who use pseudo-science to squeeze money out of the undereducated.

The lineup changes a bit over the week's sellout run, but on the night we went we saw, among others, the following free-thinking geek-totty:


Dr Ben Goldacre, whose blog Bad Science is a must.

Simon Singh, astro-physicist, who did something fairly surprising with a gherkin.

Richard Wiseman, psychologist and amateur magician, author of the mind-boggling Quirkology





Chris Addison - sweary, hyperactive and very funny

Robin Ince (compere, right) - I've seen him on tour earlier this year and he is one of my favourite stand-ups, although so in my liberal-left-green comic-geek 40-something book-loving comfort zone that it's a bit sad really.

Mitch Benn  - the BBC song guy! Yay! He was great!


Baba Brinkman, rapper:



It was just the best evening out. I want to go next year! Although, if I did believe in God, it would give me someone to blame for the fact that my boiler stopped working last night...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Eyecandy Monday - blissed out


This wasn't the post I was planning.

My family were supposed to be turning up today for a week, but Dad just rang and cancelled because they're trapped at home by snow. So I'm not in the hurry I expected to be. I was out with the dogs at the crack of dawn, walking over the snowbound fields under pale blue skies, with a bastardised Tim Minchin lyric spinning round in my head.

It's my life 
And it's fine 
It's where I spend the vast majority of my time
It's not perfect
But it's mine.

I've spent a week with friends I love dearly: mostly writing: walking in snow, seeing the dogs dance with joy. I have no words for how beautiful the world looks from here.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Game of Thrones



Oh my goodness HBO, you are teasing us!

Game of Thrones: in production, out sometime next year I guess. Starring Sean Bean.  I love HBO!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Movie review: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Well thank goodness, Ben Barnes is at last old enough that I don't feel bad about fancying him.



Oh - you think a movie review should contain a little more than that? Okay; picky picky....

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third in the Narnia series of movies, and unfortunately the first one that I've been disappointed with. Prince Caspian (film 2, introducing Barnes' character) was by far the worst of the books, but made what I thought was an absolutely blistering fantasy/kids' movie: dark, complex, full of character development and laden with themes of despair and genocide. The writers and director put in a ton of work to make it more than its source material and I loved it to bits.

Dawn Treader, conversely, is one of the best books in the series but is basically a travel story where they sail from interesting magical island to interesting magical island: it's episodic and fluffy. The movie makers have tried to rework it into a film with an actual story-arc and plot, with some success, and they've certainly dumped some of the wince-making original material (Cousin Eustace is characterised as a repulsive brat in the book because he is a vegetarian and an anti-monarchist, for example). However, the plot they've given it is a cheap "collect the seven plot tokens and cash them in for an ending" type, the Big Bad doesn't make any sort of sense (the Dark Island sends out tacky green mist to kidnap sailors. Not consume them or kill them, just kidnap them and keep them. Um ... Why? If this is a metaphor for the world being enslaved by nightmares and fear, it could be conveyed with more clarity.) Plus the direction seems just a tiny bit half-hearted. Like there are noticeable continuity errors (Eustace zaps from being barefoot to wearing shoes, and back) and errors of scale. Three of what I considered the most memorable scenes from the book (Lucy creeping, terrified,through the wizard's house: Eustace trapped in a cave with a dragon and then being transformed: Aslan changing Eustace back to his proper form by tearing off his skin) just didn't happen in the movie.


Basically, it's a nice harmless fantasy movie, but it's got no depth and is a bit short on atmosphere. I think they scared too many Family/American Christian moviegoers off with Prince Caspian and they've been trying to back-pedal with the new movie. It might even work, but I'm disappointed.

I will say that it looks beautiful however, and the sea serpent rocks.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Madelynne's Advent Calendar: a gift from me



The delectable Tim Minchin, as if you couldn't tell.

Are you looking forward to Xmas too? Madelynne Ellis is looking forward to it so much that every day this month she has been posting an Advent Treat on her blog - excerpts, free reads, giveaways and eyecandy - all much less fattening than a piece of cheap chocolate (unless you follow some of the mouthwatering recipes, nomnom).

And today her advent calendar treat is an excerpt from my current Work in Progress: The King's Viper.  Woooo! I've never actually posted an excerpt from an unfinished work before, and it makes me a bit nervous, but that's probably just superstition...

Anyway, please do go over to her blog and enjoy! (I hope!)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Eyecandy Monday



And this week I am downing tools, abandoning paintbrushes, swearing off DIY warehouses (oh the pain of withdrawal!), ignoring the huge pile of dirt which is my home ... and spending the week writing. I aim to get the first draft of The King's Viper finished before Xmas. I'm not putting money on it, mind, but I am aiming.

Sex sex sex. That's all I'm going to be thinking about  :-)

See - I haven't even noticed that wallpaper in the background of the picture above...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bye bye builders!


My building work is done! Done! After four and a half months, the last joiner and electrician have left the house! And my bathroom looks ... absolutely nothing like the one pictured.

Come on - even my taste isn't that bad.

Although it is pretty bad. I have just enough taste to know not to trust myself. My impulse currently runs to black 'n' chrome.  In fact Mr Ashbless says my taste in home decor runs to 1970s-batchelor-shagpad. I accept his point. I only restrained myself from buying the totally cool black fake-suede curtains because I could picture his look of derision...

Anyway:  new things that this experience has taught me:
  1. The last stage, when they are nearly (but somehow never completely) finished, is by far the most frustrating and wearing.
  2. I HATE gloss paint. It says "dry in 16 hours" on the tin, but actually it takes a week. How are you supposed to keep a skirtingboard clean and untouched for a WEEK? Actually, how are you supposed to do it for 4 hours, even? It's just a stupid stupid idea.
  3. Varnish is dry in one hour :-)
  4. I will never buy from Carpetright again.
  5. The reason salmon flies are so elaborate is not because they are better at luring salmon like that, but because ghillies used to use fly-manufacture as a means of advertising themselves to rich sports fishermen. (Yes, it has nothing to do with building. The council buildings inspector just happens to be a very enthusiastic fly-tier, that's all. And I thought my hobbies were odd...)
See? We live, we learn.
;-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

I'm at the dentist...



And it's surprisingly difficult to find a sexy dentist picture online. Shouldn't it be a big BDSM trope, don't you think? I mean ... the ritual, the strange smells, the bright lights in your eyes, the fear, the submission to authority...

Or do we not trust dentists enough to consider them as tops?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Ingénue - excerpt


Best Bondage Erotica 2011 is on sale now!

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, the anthology contains 20 sizzling stories of restraint and BDSM. My contribution is a story called The Ingénue. It's a bit of an oddball for this collection - for a start it's a historical, set in decadent fin-de-siècle France. And the dynamic between the two protagonists is not straightforward. There's a man, who's tied up and helpless on a cross in a rich woman's garden. There's a young woman who is shocked and appalled and excited by this discovery, and who finds in herself an undreamed-of appetite for inflicting pain. But to describe him as submissive and her as dominant...? No, not quite.

Anyway, here's an excerpt:


“Come closer,” he repeated, lowering his voice. “Let me see my inquisitor.”
    

She shuffled forward from cover, reluctantly. His dark half-smile was discomforting. Everything about him made her feel wrong within herself, as if her skin no longer fit.
    

“That’s better.” He did not bother to hide his scrutiny of her, from the pale blue hair ribbon to the matching toes of her satin boots – and all the territory in between. Judging her, no doubt, she thought. Such a well dressed young lady as she was must rouse the particular derision of a political radical. She found herself annoyed at the thought: annoyed that he should be finding her so amusing. Everyone always looked down upon her: the orphaned niece; the naive girl; the pretty, inconsequential young woman. But he had no right, she thought; not tied up as he was, so pathetically helpless, so undignified in his déshabillé. What had he to feel superior about, with his bare feet planted in the rose bed among crumbs of horse-manure?
    

She drew up her chin and met his gaze.
    

“You’re pretty,” he observed. “Small, yet you look strong. Your lovers must be fighting one another for your favor.”
   

Blood flared in her cheeks but she set her jaw. “What are you suggesting, monsieur? I have no suitors yet; I have been most gently raised.”
    

“You must be cruel to them, Zephine.”
    

“What?” she said, forgetting her manners in her surprise.
    

“Cruel. So that they will love you. Spurn them; mock them; hurt them. They will worship you.”
    

“That’s a terrible thing to say!”
    

“It is human nature.” The man drew his upper lip through his teeth. “We love those that beat and break us. Men love the lamia, women love the brute. When you fall in love, little Zephine, it will be with a man who ignores you most of the time, whose eyes turn constantly to other women, and who, when he makes carnal use of you, will do so roughly and with savage appetite, not sparing your tender body as he takes animal possession of it.”
    

His crude words sent a wave of heat through her skin. “You’re quite wrong! I am determined that I will marry a kindly man.”
    

“I don’t doubt it. Yet afterwards you will fall in love with one who will take your tranquil heart and cast it in the flames of Hell. As I said, it is human nature.”
    

“We yearn to be unhappy, you think?” she scoffed.
   

“If you like. Rather, we yearn to be mastered.”
 

Her voice was a little unsteady now. “That’s a strange thing for an anarchist to say, isn’t it? I thought your kind claimed that we all strive to be free?”
    

“Am I an anarchist, then?”
    

“Are you not? You’ve just damned all of civilisation.”
    

 A slight lowering of his eyelids admitted she had a point. “I am a man,” he answered, “who recognises the dark beast within himself. And lest it make me the lickspittle slave of a society whose rotten soul I see only too clearly...I let the beast feed here.”
   

“Here?”
    

“In this garden. At the pleasure of Madame de Villiers.”
    

Zephine could not answer. She stood with her lower lip thrust out, glaring.
    

“Come closer,” he said for the third time, his voice dropping again, soft and dark as soot. “Touch me.”
   

“Why?”
    

“Because you want to.”
    

The anger twisted in her entrails once more. “You presume a great deal.”
   

“Have you ever touched a man’s bare flesh before?” There was a glitter in his eye. “I thought not. So naturally you wish to know what it is like.”
    

She wanted to slap him for his rudeness.
    

“After all,” he added, jerking his wrists to demonstrate his constraint; “it’s not as if I can hurt you.”



Buy at Amazon US : Pre-order at Amazon UK (out January)
And it gets a great review over at Erotica Revealed!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Eyecandy Monday - birthday post

Look what I unwrapped!

Ahem, no. But I have had another birthday, and as usual I've compiled a wee list of things I managed to do for the first time in the last year. Daren't fall into a rut at my age!

When I was 43, I:


  • Had a White Xmas - yes, my first!
  • Had my hair cut by a man.
  • Got Gokked by a friend - makeover, haircut, eyebrow threading (OW!!). It didn't stick though. I have gone back to being unkempt.
  • Went to Rome, and to San Francisco. I walked in a redwood forest!
  • Did my first ever public erotica reading, at the World Horror Convention.
  • Ate lunch at the Fat Duck.
  • Went out in a strappy dress without a bra. Yes, first time in my adult life.
  • Danced all evening in high heels. Yes, ditto.


  • Saw Rammstein, live - twice!
  • Invited to my house a friend from the internet who I'd never spoken to IRL (in exactly that way you're supposed not to) and it turned out she wasn't a six-foot axe-murderer with a beard (Yay!). She did make us - and I'm not exaggerating here - a bucket full of cookies. Which we ate in two days.
  • With small blips (see above) kept my weight down to 9 stone. That's er, 126lbs. I like my body.
  • Sold 9 short stories and got 4 rejections. 
  • Started publishing with Ellora's Cave
  • And I endured a house extension - beginning to end. Well, endish. (Oh, I am so middle-aged. Pass me my slippers.)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Lucy in Narnia



Poor Jo! She came over to visit me for a couple of days and now she is TRAPPED - in a land where it is forever winter and never Christmas! No flights out until the weekend, and now life goes on outside while she grows older in here...

I couldn't find a street lamp in a forest, but this is my garden bench:


I've never seen weather like this here. Never. We've had 8 inches of snow. In November. And I realise that that is feeble by the standards of continental Europe or the US of course, but it is astounding here.

And beautiful!


But now they're saying fuel is running out at the petrol stations. And the White Witch is coming to get us...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hey Santa!


Well! Violet Blue has published her annual list of the Year's Top Hot Sex Books, and in the fiction anthology list I've got stories in the first three books she recommends!

In Fairy Tale Lust you can find Sleep Tight. Amazon US : Amazon UK : Kindle
In Best Women's Erotica 2011 you can find Abigail's Ice Cream. Amazon US : Amazon UK : Kindle
In Best Bondage Erotica 2011 you can find The Ingénue . Amazon US : Amazon UK

(And I'll tell you all about The Ingénue next week!)



In the meantime, Coffee Time Romance has given Cast the Cards a 4-cups rating ("outstanding great read") and says of the book ( which includes my story The Grief of the Bond-Maid): "This book is like a night of amazing love making. The seduction is slow and sweet. The climax is toe-curling. Then, you slide into the after-glow. Emotions run the gamut, and the reader is left emotionally spent but wholly satisfied."


Phew!  Thank you CTR!

Amazon US : Amazon UK : Kindle

Sunday, 28 November 2010

IKEA!


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