Friday, 19 December 2014

In bed with the Huns

I spent last weekend in the Netherlands. NOT doing what you might think! No, I was looking at beds:

These are hunebedden - either "Hun beds" or "giants' beds" (it's not entirely clear which the word derives from, nor is it clear that there was a distinction in popular mythology):

Look! Giants!

Fifty+ of them are found in the woodsy province of Drenthe in the north of the country, and they are in fact Neolithic burial mounds, belonging to the Funnel Beaker People and built around 5000 years ago. The rocks themselves are erratics weighing up to 25,000 kilos, swept down from Scandinavia by glaciers during an ice-age 200,000 years ago.

This is the biggest hunebed: D27

It was excavated in 1685 by a LGBT poet called Titia Bronsgerma, who was famous in her time for writing poems in alternating lines of French and Frisian.

Here's a rather wonderful engraving of her supervising the dig and being presented with treasures, dressed as a Greek goddess. Clearly archaeology was a lot more about having fun, and a lot less about post-holes and carbon-dating, back in the early days.

She of course subsequently wrote a poem ("Loff op 't Hunnebed") about her site, which is, ahem, loosely translated here.

This is what they are assumed to have looked like from inside when complete. Each would have had multiple occupants:

The Dutch are, of course, still obsessed with civil engineering and moving rocks about. They even build statues to rock-humpers:

But they seriously need to learn to lift with the knees

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Game of Boners - first draft

Well, I'm delighted to say that the moment I announced I was going to be doing a workshop at Eroticon 2015, friends sprang into action to encourage me in the mysteries of PowerPoint. In fact one went so far as to provide me with some slides I might use.

You can only imagine my gratitude :-)  All my work is done for me!
Behold, I present to you ...

Thanks Annie! This will not be forgotten!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 8: The Military Mind

After last week's spooky and downbeat story, The Military Mind is a riotous space-opera gang-bang. Set in a future where humankind is resisting alien invasion. Peyton is a trained psychic and new to war. She first has to undergo sexual bonding with the six-man squad of marines she is to work with.

Oh - first you might want to go read the earlier excerpt over at Tamsin Flowers' Supererotica

“Shit, man. Not fair.”

“Don’t be a dick, Hayes.”

“I just like to go first. It’s tighter, you know.”

“That’s because yours is like a cocktail sausage.”

Ignoring all this, Eriksen stepped forward and caught her by the cotton vest still bunched up at the top of her breastbone. There was no sign of pleasure on his face at having been chosen; if anything the blue-ice glare deepened.

“By the numbers, Private,” said Sergeant Jomoa dryly, wandering off a little to light another cigarette.

“Yes, Sarge.” Twisting the cloth until it pulled uncomfortably tight under her arms, he passed his other hand over her exposed breasts, petting and rubbing, petting and rubbing … and then breaking off to tug experimentally at her hard nipples before going back to stroking her. If he’d squeezed her roughly it would have just been a grab, but these caresses heightened her breasts’ sensitivity almost beyond bearing. Peyton couldn’t have hidden her response if she’d tried; the rush of sensation made her close her eyes and bite her lip, though that couldn’t stop the little breathy moans escaping.

“Oh fuck yeah,” murmured Hayes.

Then Eriksen trailed his fingers down her body, right into the soft and hairless split of her sex. Standing on tiptoe, it wasn’t particularly easy to open her legs wide enough for him, but obedience was ingrained. As his fingers slithered around in the copious wet he found and delved into her passage, her pussy tilted instinctively and ground into his palm. She’d never been touched by an actual man down there—but when he held her sex in his hand, it was like she was made to fit him.
It was almost enough to make her protest when he withdrew his fingers. But then he lifted them to his face and inhaled her bouquet, tasting one fingertip and then another.

“Ah, fuck,” said Rialto in the distance. “Real pussy. None of that machine shit.”

All the time Eriksen was watching her face, as if assessing her reaction to being played with. No, she thought—not assessing. Judging. No imprinting was needed to recognise the disapproval that burned in his cold eyes. She had a sudden panicky moment as she thought she’d picked the wrong man entirely.

So it took her by surprise when he swung her around by her shirt and sat her on top of the nearest foot-locker, pushed up her thighs—and then sank down to a crouch between them, burying his face in her open pussy. She lost her balance and tipped back with a cry, her head and shoulders flopping down onto the hard military mattress of the bed behind. The machines—the vids—the doctors—none of them had prepared her for this: the feeling of a man’s hot face between her thighs, the scour of his stubble, the hungry sucking play of his tongue. It was almost too much, just for that first moment, and she cried out and kicked, her legs finding no purchase on the air. But Eriksen grabbed her calves and pushed her legs right up and back, pinning her in place. And after that it wasn’t too much. She only wanted more.

“Shit, man,” Hayes complained. “Hurry up, my balls are blue here. Fuck that romance shit. Do it later.”

“What, after you’ve spunked all over it?” Rialto asked.

“Hey. Maybe he’d like a little gravy on his meat.”

Eriksen emerged for air, leaving Peyton bereft. “She has to come. That’s the point, isn’t it?” He had some sort of European accent.

Brannon grunted. “She’ll come. Look at her. She’s a real pslut.” He said it without rancour. “Just fuck her.”

The thing was, he was right and Peyton knew it, though she’d never been with a man before this day. EFORCE had trained her mind for psliding and her body, with equal thoroughness, for orgasmic response. Once aroused, she could be pushed into climax over and over again—until she was beyond satiation, until she was no longer able to think, until she was weeping with exhaustion between bouts, but burning for another one the moment it began again. It was what she was. How else was she to bond with her squad?

“Don’t take all day, Eriksen,” said Sergeant Jomoa mildly.

With a grunt, Eriksen heaved himself to his feet, though he looked down at Peyton as if she were a piece of meat. Only his massively stiff cock betrayed any emotion. Draping her heels over his shoulders, he muscled up against her pussy, slid one thumb over her clit and slipped his length inside her. He didn’t hurry. He didn’t push deep before he partly retreated, waited a moment and then slid in again just as slowly. It was as if he didn’t want to commit any other part of him than his cock to this enterprise.

But it was enough for Peyton. The slip of his thumbpad over her aching clit, the girth and pressure of his shaft—and then, the slight tightening of his jaw, the grimace of effort around his cold eyes. That was enough to tear the ripcord and let her first orgasm tumble out in a red silk explosion. She arched her back as it billowed through her, and wailed.

“There you go,” said Brannon.

For a few seconds Peyton simply soared on the pleasure. Then she started to hear it, like the sound of a radio gradually being tuned in to a clear station: broken snatches of a voice in her head.


It was Eriksen. She’d been told all about this moment, but the sensation was still eerie: In the moment of orgasm your mind will open to the person you are in congress with, and you will imprint upon him. She could hear his thoughts.

 Amazon UK : Amazon US 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Wife of Usher's Well

The story I excerpted on the previous Blue Monday was directly inspired by Child Ballad 79. And I first came across it sung by Steeleye Span. Love that wailing chorus.

I went through such a massive Steeleye Span phase when I was 18... What a rebel, eh?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Supererotica Advent Calendar!

Like presents? You're in luck, because erotica bloggers are just so sweet and generous :-)

Tamsin Flowers has created a Supererotica Advent Calendar, with a lovely pic and a steamy excerpt from a guest erotica writer every day in December. And today's excerpt is from my short story The Military Mind, which is one of the rudest and least restrained stories in the Fierce Enchantments collection.

Heh heh. Spice up your dark and dreary December!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

When I was 47...

Sometimes I wear a BIGGER hat

I've just suffered my 48th birthday so this year, as every year, I'm totting up a list of all the things I've done for the FIRST TIME EVA. Am I getting old? You decide!

When I was 47, for the very first time...

  • I got a speeding citation, goddamnit. It was the end of a five-hour drive and I got clocked literally one minute from my home, doing 35 in a 30 m.p.h. zone.
  •  I put up Xmas lights outside my house:

A strong sign of old age...
  •  I acquired a tablet. I played Plants vs. zombies all the way through! It's pretty much the only thing I've done with the tablet, I admit, apart from use the lovely lovely sat nav :-)
  • I decided I liked Marmite after all, and that scones taste best with just butter.
  • I grew a beard. Not just one beard either. It's amazing how fast I got used to it.
  • I gave up on IPL. It doesn't work (for me).
  • I recorded a couple of podcasts. Well, other people did the actual recording. I just talked.
  • I set up Amazon Author Pages ... (more stuff to fail to maintain, frankly)
  • I had my back garden covered in plastic lawn. You have no idea how much I love it, now winter is here.

  • I visited the awesomely wonderful Talliston House and crawled under the sideboard there.
  • I bought an eyepencil sharpener. They are not just the same as normal pencil sharpeners, it turns out, and are well worth it if you use eyeliner. Who knew, eh?
  • I watched a pig race.
  • I finally managed to see Deliverance and The Big Lebowski.
  • I paid £8.55 for a glass of wine in a hotel bar. Jeez. I'm still suffering flashbacks.
  • I ate a gin-and-tonic flavoured cupcake!
  • I took up oasis sculpting:
It's not the best medium to make sarcophagi out of, tbh.


Having spent all 2012-3 writing Cover Him with Darkness, Fierce Enchantments and Summer Seduction, which went one by one to three different publishers ... In 2014 I saw them all published within a month of each other. *rolls eyes*

It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 7: At Usher's Well

This story is based on a traditional folk song:

There lived a wife at Usher’s Well,
And a wealthy wife was she;
She had three stout and stalwart sons,
And sent them o’er the sea.
They hadn't been a week from her,

A week but barely one,
When word came to that carlin wife
That her three sons were gone.

But sometimes they come back ... So yes, this is my undead lovers story! Told from the point of view of the maidservant, who has had intimate relations with all three brothers in the past. I took a deep breath and tried to write this in a Scottish voice... "The rain never bluidy stops, it just comes in at different angles. Sometimes falling straight down like God Himself is taking a pish on us, sometimes flung in our faces by fists of wind."

I hope it works!

My Mistress is wrestling with God, and will not give an inch.

I watch her from the floor of her chamber, as I squat over the fireplace trying to get the logs to blaze properly. We’re using birch because it’s the only thing that’ll catch when wet, but it burns through so fast, and with so little heat, that I’m forever traipsing up and down the stairs with the log-basket on my back. She’s wrapped in a fur-lined pelisse to make up for my lack of success. Her face, thinner now after all these weeks of half-starving herself, catches the grey light along her cheek bone.

Oh Lord, but she looks like Finlay from that angle. My heart clenches inside me, a spasm of loss.

Finlay. Sweet Finlay with the curly brown hair and the fluff of beard on his lean cheeks. Finlay who would follow me into the dairy and press me against the shelves and call me his sweet Meg, his pretty Margaret, his windflower and his kitten and his little white dove. Who’d kiss my hands and my lips and hold me close, nuzzling my hair. Who swore he loved me, even when I laughed him off and pushed him away.

Gently. I was gentle with him. I didnae want to hurt his feelings. He said he loved me and would marry me and we would have beautiful bairns together, three of each, and the lassies would look like me and the lads would look like him.

It was all lies of course—no, not lies, but thistledown dreams. He was the smart one, the son who had learned his letters. He was destined for Oxford University far away down south, and so to take Holy Orders. He would never marry anyone. Besides, my Mistress would never countenance any one of her sons marrying a mere serving maid. Marriage is for equals, and I’d never be theirs’.

That hadnae stopped Finlay’s older brother Rory tumbling me of course—and taking my maidenhead, in fact. Rory was a big, straightforward fellow with a boisterous, ever-eager cock. He rummaged his way through every wench of beddable age in the household, but I doubt that anyone resented him for it, for he was always generous with his coins, and an easygoing master who often intervened with his mother to make sure there were extra portions at dinner for the servants, or to turn away her wrath at some domestic transgressor. Unlike my Mistress, Rory never complained that I was late lighting his fire in the morning, or slow serving at the table. He would only wink and smile at me and pat my rump, and when he came upon me in private he’d pull up my skirts and bend me over a press and slip me his length, strong and easy. On feast days he’d dance me on his broad lap until his prick was as hard as a pole and I was red and flustered, and then he’d touch me secretly under my skirts until I was running as wet and slick as a crock of butter left too close to the oven, and ready to do anything he wanted. That was how he had me, the first time.

Henry Matthew Brock, 1934

‘Are you a woman, yet, Meg?’ he’d murmured in my ear as he dandled me. He could have shouted it and no one would have heard over the ruckus.

‘No, Master Rory,’ I’d said, blushing, feeling my blood soar and my skin flame and my bones loosen.

‘Are you ready for me to make you one?’ His fingertips had stroked my purse until it gaped, begging for him to steal what lay within.

I’d moaned then, and shuddered on his lap.

‘Och, this medlar is ripe, I think,’ he’d said. His other arm was around me, his other hand stroking and squeezing my maiden breasts through my bodice. I was losing all sense; nothing in all the world mattered as much as that devastating tease between my thighs.

‘Aye,’ I’d whimpered. And as that wicked fingertip had circled the plump little pip of my medlar, I’d said ‘Aye!’ again and shut my eyes and pressed my face to his neck as I’d slithered helplessly over into paradise—right there in front of the whole household, his brothers and his mother and all the guests. I didnae cry out, but I heard the catch of Rory’s breath and then his long exhalation. I dinnae ken if anyone paid any attention. Well—I know that my Mistress saw, because she shot me a narrow-eyed glare as Rory eased me from his lap, patted my rear, and pushed me out of the hall in front of him.

It was the Midsummer feast. Rory led me out into the unmown hayfield and laid me down in the long grass, lifting my skirts. His length looked smooth as wood in the moonlight. He wet his thumb in my juices and placed it over my pip, and he kept that there, pressing and stirring, as he laid his cock to my gates and broke them down.

He was heavy, and the smell of wine and crushed grass made my head spin. I wondered why anyone did anything else but this all their lives.

My poor Mistress at the window there disnae look like Rory, and never has. I suppose he takes after his father, who was dead before I came to this place. Certainly he’s her favoured son.

Was her favoured son. It’s hard sometimes to remember that he’s dead, she denies it so adamantly. They’re all dead, drowned in the deep.

 Amazon UK : Amazon US 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Under the Bare Light Bulb

Sometimes, as an author, you just have to take your life into your hands. Like following parodist Sheri Savill down into her basement because she wants "to ask a few questions about your book"

 Sheri Savill: Ashbless! Comma! Janine! You are now under the hellish glare of the bare light bulb! I am over-caffeinated! But enough about me! How do you feel? Are you warm? Too warm, I hope?

The bad news is that this resulted in unwise confessions, retinal burns, an impromptu exorcism and a picture of my desk that probably the world (and certainly my mother) should never see. The good news is that the scars will afford me bragging rights at BDSM parties for the rest of my life :-D

Sheri is out there looking for more victims by the way. Not just erotica authors, either ...
Seriously, her Bare Bulb interviews are unique and hilarious. GO READ THEM ALL.  Blog tours will never seem the same after this :-)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Fairy Trail?

Something weird is happening near where I live.

There's a strip of woodland where I sometimes walk the dogs ... and these strange little things have recently appeared dotted along the path it...

There are only about 9" high each, so they barely qualify as sculpture, but they are very securely concreted into the ground. They appear to be made of ceramic.

A guerrilla art project?

Pagan rite?


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Eroticon 2015 - or "OMG someone teach me Powerpoint NOW"

I'm delighted to be able to announce that I'm going to be speaking at Eroticon 2015!

Eroticon is a truly wonderful convention where erotica authors and sex-bloggers get together for two days to work on how to "write sex right". It is the biggest and best dedicated convention of the kind either side of the Atlantic, I believe, and has been running for three years already. There are workshops on all aspects of writing fiction and non-fiction, from inspiration through techy online stuff to marketing to legalities. There's a lot of meeting wonderful people and eating biscuits and drinking coffee. It's really friendly and really useful. And it's open to anyone, professional or amateur, interested in writing about sex.

As for me, I will be running a writing workshop (and here I'm going to apologise for the pun):

"A Game of Boners: writing fantasy and fairy tale in erotica"

Because that's what I know about, after all :-)
There may be Powerpoint slides. And/or cookies.

Eroticon 2015 will take place in the city of Bristol, UK, on 1st and 2nd August

Monday, 1 December 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 6: Knight Takes Queen

The erotica book that inspired my own career was a Black Lace collection of Arthurian stories. So in Knight Takes Queen it could be said I'm returning to my roots! This is a straight up tale of Camelot in all its High Chivalry. With spanking and covert m/m urges, that is :-)

Arthur’s cock was semi-erect as he stretched out beside her, but Guinevere knew by now this wasn’t from eagerness, but from him working himself hard before entering her chamber. If it were not taken care of quickly, the shine would go off the helmet he had buffed so assiduously.

“Would you like me to …?” she suggested.


Going down on elbows and knees at his side, she took his length in her mouth. She wished it were Lancelot’s cock—that always responded to such administrations with brutish enthusiasm.
Thinking about Lancelot always helped her slurp and suck with vigour. She remembered again their tryst in the chapel, and it brought a bloom of warmth to her lower belly. She pictured his great proud weapon presented in her face, the way it strained and leered at her as if it had a will of its own. She remembered the way he plopped her on the holy altar and stuck his cock in, as if it were no more than a bar table in a squalid inn somewhere, and she no more than a farthing whore not even worth the time to take to his bed. The blasphemy made her flush all over. She would like to be his favourite whore—no, not a whore, for that would mean she would have to spread her legs for other men, and she wouldn’t like that, would she? His doxy then; some lower-class girl he’d take to his bed for as long as it amused him, as other knights did. If she were not Queen, she would be able to sleep with him every night. She could sit on his knee in the Great Hall and serve him wine and eat from his trencher, and he’d grope her tits and slap her ass in front of all the other men and give her a shove in the direction of the courtyard, following her out with a swagger as they laughed and urged him on.

“What do you think about when you do that?” asked Arthur.

Emma Florence Harrison: The Last Hour

Guinevere surfaced abruptly, shocked. Arthur never spoke to her while they were in congress. “Your pleasure, lord,” she answered.

“Is it the thought of my pleasure that does this,” he said, placing his one finger in the open split of her sex and running it over her clit. “Or something else?”

She was sopping wet, and the touch on her clit, however accidental, was like the ember that ignites the phoenix fire. “Sir Lancelot,” she said, caught off guard. Her eyes rounded in sudden horror. She peered up toward Arthur, trying to judge his expression. “I mean,” she stammered, “his tale of the rescue of that maiden from the great wyrm. I would like to be a maiden, my lord, bound like that to a stake. I would like you to ride up on your charger, all in your armour, and fight the beast for my sake, and rescue me from dire peril.”

Abruptly, Arthur sat up. Guinevere caught a glimpse of his cock and realised, confused, that it was no longer couchant but rampant, before he turned her with a jerk of his head and a grasp of her hips into her usual position for sex: on hands and knees. He was behind her in a moment, kneeling up, boring his stiff length into a hole that was only too wet and willing to receive it. He felt, to her, bigger than he’d ever been before. The thrust of his shaft was pure pleasure. She realised she was so aroused that if only she were allowed to reach between her own legs and play with the pearl that nested in the oyster there, she would easily be able to climax.

But she couldn’t do that. It would betray a lack of innocence, a sophistication of technique, that she couldn’t possibly admit to.

So Guinevere dug her fingernails into the sheet and remembered the first time she and Lancelot had sinned together—the single memory that was sure to inflame her more than any other. She had been several years into her lukewarm marriage when Lancelot joined the Round Table, journeying to Camelot from his domain over the sea. That fateful day, she had been sitting with him in the rose garden, in a small pavilion among the blooms, and they’d been playing chess—a game he’d taught the Court and which had swept the nobility. A ferocious downpour had sent her ladies-in-waiting running for cover, terrified for their silken dresses, but the two of them had remained in their precarious shelter, cut off from the castle by a curtain of pouring rain.

Guinevere had already been aware of her strong attraction to the man who had claimed the honour of being Queen’s Champion, having bested every other Knight of the Table at the jousting lists. She’d been both absorbed by the chess game and giddy with pleasure. It hadn’t mattered to her that he’d been much the stronger player. In fact she liked that. They’d played three games, wagering small sums of gold to sharpen the interest, and she’d only won the first time because he let her. His fingertips had brushed hers on a number of occasions and she had been hard-put not to giggle.
Then he’d announced, “Knight takes Queen. Mate.” He’d looked her in the face, and at that moment they had both known. Heat had flashed through her body like a lightning strike. She’d reached out to lay her king over in surrender, but her hand had shaken so wildly she did not dare touch the board. He’d seen that too. Suddenly, without a word, she was aware of the danger she was in.

She’d sprung to her feet and backed off, knocking over her stool like a child in a panic. He’d followed, instantly, closing on her as she backed up against a wooden pillar. Rain struck the back of her neck but she’d barely felt it. He’d loomed over her, his eyes holding hers, his intention implacable. But his voice had been pitched soft.

“I win again,” he’d said. “You owe me a forfeit, my queen.”

She’d nodded, running the tip of her tongue across her lip in a frantic effort to wet it so she might speak. She could feel her voice all bundled up into a croaky snarl in her breast.

“Lift your skirts. Show me.”

Maybe he’d meant only as far as the knees—that would have been shameful enough, but it hadn’t occurred to Guinevere until later that there might have been some escape. She’d bunched up the floor-length front of her dress, hand over hand, revealing the secret path of her thighs, all the way to her sex. He’d glanced down briefly, no change of expression visible on his face, then pinned her gaze again.

“Open them.”

She’d obeyed. She hadn’t questioned the necessity. His face was so close to hers that she’d been sure he was going to kiss her. But he’d put his hand down between her slightly parted thighs, and cupped the dark gold nest of her sex in his palm, running his fingertips into her cleft. He’d found her as wet as if she’d been caught in the cloudburst.

She’d nearly died of the pleasure and the terror of that touch.

All he’d done was stroke her. Stroke her soft and needy sex, caress her clit with one moistened, expert fingertip, back and forth, utterly patient, while his face hovered over hers watching every nuance of expression. She’d arched her shoulders against the wet post and gasped and quivered and shaken, completely in his power, until she spent with a gush and a helpless cry and a sudden rush of tears. It was the first time a man had ever brought her to climax.

And he hadn’t kissed her. Not that time.

But from that moment on, she’d known she was his to do with whatever he desired.

 Amazon UK : Amazon US 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

"An intense, engaging, grandly imagined, intelligent, entertainingly well-paced and very—very—sexy story; erotic romance writ large."

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898): The Days of Creation
It's the last week of my month-long blog-tour for Cover Him with Darkness, and I'm dizzy with both delight and exhaustion. It's had a great reception with many wonderful reviews from magazines and bloggers. Thank you everyone who has shared a link or bought a book or uploaded a post or review!

Erotica for the Big Brain gets a special Ashbless thank you (and the headline quote) for enthusiastically reviewing not just Cover Him, but Fierce Enchantments at the same time!

"I hesitate to draw the obvious comparison here. Ashbless’ tale of ancient texts and ruthless churchmen at first seems of a piece with some Dan Brown thriller, though Ashbless is a much better writer—certainly far more intelligent and imaginative than the purveyor of The Da Vinci Code. A more apt comparison might be early Anne Rice; in scale and pacing this novel is pleasingly reminiscent of books like Queen of the Damned, without the tiresome existential inner monologues or cloying narrative excess."

Omni Lust reiterates a common complaint - I'm ruining readers' sleep patterns:

"Janine Ashbless does an amazing job combining innocence and darkness in this story. Cover Him With Darkness is the perfect combination of romance, erotica, suspense, and action. It had me up all night reading. The extra coffee needed in the mornings was well worth it."
Buffy's Ramblings thinks I'm just not cheerful and romantic enough. Guilty as charged, Buffy :-)
"The prose is beautiful. I thought the book was very well written. I love the mystery of who the prisoner is before it’s revealed and the lore surrounding it. The story is very compelling and unpredictable... While this is considered a romance, it’s not terribly romantic."

 F dot Leonora on the other hand, loves that!
"It exceeded everything I could have wanted. Reading the novel was like being consumed. I am not exaggerating, there were times I lifted my head from it and I was gasping for air. It is that intense."
She also, btw, asked me specifically about my Mr Hero Egan - check it out if you were wondering what the hell he was up to.

Sex in Words, in contrast, wanted to ask me questions about eroticizing angels and possible reader backlash. Eeek!

And Lily Harlem posted the "Ten Things I Learned Writing Cover Him with Darkness."

Finally, if you fancy a longish excerpt, there's one over at Bookingly Yours.

And now I must sleep!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Phenology - November

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves go whirling past.

Well, I've really got to apologise for November here, folks. Whilst other places in the world were suffering 8ft of snow, flash floods, and hailstones the size of golfballs this month, here in Land of Mud we got mostly this:

Option 1: dank

And this:

Option 2: dull

It's actually been unseasonably mild in my opinion (I was expecting to capture the first frost of winter, but no - we've not even had that). Just dreary. The daylight is fading by 3pm and we're not even near the solstice! 

But the one good thing about November is that on that rare day when it's not cloudy for once, and the light comes in low and gold from a dying sun ... everything shines like a jewel. 

The grey squirrels come out in packs, stuffing their little faces:

The hawthorn berries on the leafless bushes look like Xmas decorations:

And the warm earth breathes Hammer-Horror-style ground mist into the chill air:

The zombies are coming! Run!!
It almost makes the rest of the month worthwhile :-)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Scapegoat

William Holman Hunt: The Scapegoat (1854)
Today's pre-Raphaelite painting is more cruel than kinky, but it does link to fallen angels, and Cover Him with Darkness. 

A scapegoat is someone who gets the blame for everyone else's misdeeds. The word comes from Leviticus 16 where the ritual for the Israelite Day of Atonement is set down:

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

We owe the word itself to William Tyndale's 1530 translation from the Latin Vulgate. Scapegoat means "escape-goat" - the one that is sent away, as opposed to the one that is sacrificed for a sin-offering.

But modern translations direct from the Hebrew don't use the "scapegoat" word at all. They say say something like this:
and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel
Azazel is identified in extra-Biblical Jewish tradition as one of the fallen angels. (And he's identified by me as the (anti-)hero of Cover Him with Darkness.)

Of course, the association of goats and fallen angels turns up repeatedly...

Goats are symbols of iniquity (remember how Jesus in parable divides the righteous sheep from the wicked goats) and in particular - because of the way billy-goats go for it with enthusiasm - of lust. Lust, for example, is a prime attribute of the goatish pagan nature-god Pan, who is arguably one of the root sources of the way we picture the Devil:

He's got wood ... statue of Pan and Daphnis from Pompeii

It just gets worse ... statue from Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum
I think I can pretty much guarantee, though, that my version of Azazel will not be caught in flagrante with any goats. It just doesn't go down well in Romance circles... :-)