Saturday, 22 November 2014

Short story, just for fun. And it's a naughty one...

Most of my blog postings have featured other writers as guests, rather than my own work. So just for a change, here's one of my adults-only short stories.

My main writing interest at the moment is erotic romance. To me, this means a story with characters and a plot which includes at least the strong prospect of an intimate encounter. My ideal would be a story which works to some extent without the naughty bits, but those are rather fun to think about and write!

I enjoy thinking about situations which seem plausible and realistic, and characters who I might just meet. None of the locations or characters are based exclusively on any I know, of course. They're all composites drawn from multiple real and imaginary sources.

Some of my writing has been described as light-hearted and fun, which I found rather flattering. No harm in writing stories people find entertaining and amusing, after all. I find it's easier to do this in short stories. The novel I'm revising at the moment has a lot of darker moments, but having a lot more time to develop a storyline gives me scope for a wider variety of moods.

The Document Conservator

Copyright 2014, Ian D Smith. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

Julia couldn’t stop turning it over in her mind. She woke early after another restless night. At work even earlier than usual, she decided to see what the gardeners had done in the last few days. The gardens drew in more visitors during the summer, the old house more during the winter.

The forecast was promising a hot, sunny August and the sky was cloudless. It promised to be a fabulous day. 

She admired the perfect lawns and the vibrant displays in all the borders, tubs and hanging baskets, the neatly trimmed hedging between the different garden areas. She walked through the gardens to look at the neat lines of trees in the orchard. She still felt a warm glow when she remembered some of her visits to the quieter corners last summer. The sensation of the grass tickling her naked skin while making love was still vivid in her memory.

That was the only thing that kept me going last year, she thought. Should I stick with the memories or hope for more?

“I’ve got to be firm,” she muttered to herself. “It’s only fair. And it’s sensible.”

Back in the old house, she walked the route the visitors were guided along, checking on the posters, displays, signs, barriers and state of cleanliness. And the warm glow she felt was gently boosted when she saw looked into some of the rooms and remembered giggles, excitement and feeling wanted. Pressed against the ancient wood panelling in one room, leaning over the bed in another, his hands on her hips, the feeling of being filled and fulfilled.

“I’ve got to push this away,” she muttered under her breath. “He won’t want me again. Not now.” But I want him to, a little voice said in her head.

She sat down in her office, a small room in the Victorian servant’s wing, booted up her laptop and looked at today’s long to-do list. Keeping a large stately home dating back to the sixteenth century open to the public almost every day of the year took a lot of managing, ten permanent and eight seasonal employees, and thirty or so volunteers.

Eleven permanent ones from today, she reminded herself. Then she felt a few butterflies in her tummy.

“Grow up,” she said under her breath. “It’s not going to happen. My luck doesn’t run like that.”

At ten o’clock, Julia was double-checking the latest spreadsheet of projected visitor numbers her senior managers wanted. She heard a knock on the door and almost jumped in surprise.

She took a deep breath. I can do this. “Come in,” she called out, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt.

He walked in, smiling a little nervously. His hair was neatly cut, a little shorter and he seemed to have lost a little weight.

Suits him, she thought. More butterflies in her tummy.

She stood up and held her hand out. “Martin, so good to see you again. And as our new Document Conservator, rather than on a student placement.”

He shook her hand and smiled at her warmly. His hand was warm and dry. She remembered how it felt when those hands had explored her body. How she'd felt. Alive, wanted, appreciated.

“Delighted to be back,” he said.

“Please, have a seat.”

She sat down and glanced at the sheets of paper on her desk. “Congratulations on your Masters in ancient document conservation. A special award for your dissertation, too. I’m absolutely delighted you’re back here. We really need your skills with the materials in our archives.”

“I used the work I did last summer on that medieval manorial roll for my dissertation. So I’m really excited to be back and in a position to do so much more.”

Stay professional and detached, she urged herself.

“A dissertation which persuaded the national management board to unanimously approve your appointment. You earned this opportunity and I’m really excited about you helping us find out what we have in our collection.”

Please don’t say anything else about last summer, she thought. She took a deep breath, swallowed, and dived in.

“Martin, last summer I was under a lot of emotional pressure. What happened between us, well, I think we should leave it in the past.”

There was a brief pause and she felt her face warm as she blushed. Oh shit, should I have said that? Do I even mean it? I’ve let my day-dream affect my judgement.

“I thought you might say that,” he said quietly. “But please don’t push me away, I won’t forget you or what we shared. It meant a lot to me.”

“But I was going through a painful divorce, I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you.”

He looked her directly in the eye and she felt her hope blossoming. “Julia, you didn’t. I was a mature student, remember, not some teenager. You’re not that much older than me.”

There was a knock at the door and her new assistant Josie carried in a tray of coffee and some biscuits.

Julia noticed Josie smile shyly at Martin. She fancies him, she realised. Why do I feel jealous?

Josie left, closing the door. Martin stood up and passed Julia a cup of coffe. She looked at him. Tall, handsome, fucking gorgeous, she thought.

She briefly struggled to remember where they were in the conversation. “You’re sure I didn’t?”

“Absolutely,” he said, keeping his eyes on hers. “I wanted you just as much as you did me. I had my pick of jobs with fascinating and beautiful documents. But I’m here for you as much as anything else.”

She stood up and walked to the window, looking out so he couldn’t see her face. So she couldn't see him. “I was going through a dreadful time last summer. I don’t know why I did it. Completely out of character.”

She heard him stand up. The butterflies in her tummy started an aerobatic display.

“Julia, I knew you were having a bad time,” he said quietly. “That’s why I didn’t keep in touch, just like you asked. Even though it hurt like hell. You needed time to get through it, I knew that.”

Does he really still want me?

Martin moved closer to her. “I kept my fingers crossed that we could find something special again. All I’m asking is for a chance to see.”

She swallowed. “Something special?”

He sound like he was almost within reach. “Maybe a future we can share?”

She turned around and reached out for him. His shirt soaked her tears as he stroked her hair. This is what I want, she thought. Him, my beautiful, gentle, amazing Martin. She lifted her face to his and they kissed.

They held each other closer and kissed deeply. She felt his erection swell and press against her tummy. Oh, his lovely cock again.

“I’ve only got a small flat,” she murmured into their kiss. “Far too small for two.”

“How about overnight stays?”

She smiled. “Maybe we can manage that.”

“I’ll look for a place that’s big enough, just in case,” he said. “I’m in a bed-and-breakfast at the moment.”

“We could have a few walks around the gardens after closing,” she murmured. “Like last summer.”

“Or use all the fancy bedrooms,” he whispered.

“We used them all last year.”

He grinned. “So? Use ’em again.”

She felt a wave of euphoria and made an impulsive decision. She walked over to her door and quietly locked it. Tucked away in a small pocket in her handbag was a condom, one left there from the previous summer. “On the basis that the future starts now, I think we should maybe make use of my desk.”

He grinned and raised an eyebrow. “It won’t be very comfortable.”

“We’ll be quick. It’s your first day at work, I’m only seeing you briefly as part of your induction.” She reached out and stroked his erection though his trousers. “I’ve not had anything since you left last summer. There’s no way I can wait until this evening now.”

Martin held her waist and lifted her onto the desk. She unfastened his trousers, then leaned back so he could pull her panties down.

“I’m so bloody wet, Martin. Get in me, for God’s sake. A quickie now, all night later.”

He rolled the condom onto his erect shaft, then stood between her spread thighs. “You’re the boss, Julia.”

She sighed happily as he slid into her. “And don’t you forget it, you big, sexy hunk. Now fuck me.”

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hosting a visit by British writer Terri Nixon

My guest today is the British writer Terri Nixon, who has published five books in different genres.

She's in the process of writing two quite different series, The Dust of Ancients, which is mythic fiction, the other, Oaklands Manor, is historical drama set in the early 20th century. She's also published a collection of horror stories, Nightrise. Covers, blurbs and links are further down this posting.

I "met" her through Facebook and read her book The Dust of Ancients, which I really enjoyed. I found it to be an intriguing, imaginative and fast-paced story with an entertaining cast of characters. And it's set not far from where I live, in the South-West of England. Yes, Terri and I are near-neighbours.

IS - Where did the original idea for the story and characters in the Lynher Mill Chronicles come from?

TN - Having grown up on Bodmin Moor (between the ages of 9 and 19) I've always felt a strong connection with the area. I used to go for long, long walks – often all day – and, when I realised I wanted to write, I knew that one day I would tap into that fascination. It took a while, but this series has been bubbling around since the early 2000s. It seemed obvious, and natural that the story should be a hybrid mix of traditional folklore and modern-day, and the characters just grew from that.
IS - What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

TN - When I’ve finished the third book in this series, and the third in my other, very different Oaklands Manor series, has been edited, I will be returning to an Edwardian ghost story set in Helston, 1910. The working title for this one is Penhaligon’s Attic and it’s already well under way.

IS - How do you develop you ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

TN - I don’t really sit and develop characters; if they don’t appear or evolve naturally I have to think twice about whether they’re important. If I decide they are, I’ll devote a bit of time to working on some dialogue to see whether they start coming through more clearly. Usually that does the trick! Likewise I don’t consciously write any of myself into them, but inevitably some of my own thoughts and views will make themselves heard. Such as my love for roast potatoes, rain, and rock music!

IS - Is there anything you remember which prompted you to start writing?

TN - Not any one particular thing, no. I have my very first writing book from infant school, in which there is a poem about how much I like rhubarb. Definitely a work of fiction! (bleugh!)

IS - Tell us about the genre you write in. Why does this particularly appeal and how did you get into it?

TN - This series is Mythic Fiction. However I didn’t know that until I’d finished book one and was trying to figure out how to pitch it; I’d simply written what I wanted to read. Then I hit a bit of a brick wall: it’s not fantasy, it’s not even urban fantasy … I was flummoxed, and then I found this definition on the Fantasy Faction blog: “Mythic Fiction includes contemporary works that rely heavily upon mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and the tradition of oral storytelling” Bingo! A label, at last!

IS - Do you write in other genres as well? Why? Do you write differently in these?

TN - I also write 20th century historical drama/sagas. These grew out of a need to write something loosely based on my maternal grandmother’s life in service, although the finished books have no relation to the initial intent. (see my answer to your next question!) Naturally the voice in these is different, by necessity of the era, but also they tumbled out in the first person, which threw me! The three books are told by three different women, and the voice is slightly different in each because of their situation/background.

I also have a contemporary thriller currently with my agent, with the vague intention of self-publishing through the Amazon "White Glove" programme.

IS - Do your stories ever seen veer off in an unexpected direction? Have you ever had a character just “do their own thing?” Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters? Or anything else odd happen?

TN - Many, many times! One (major) character in Dust of Ancients hadn’t even been considered, I thought I knew exactly who the ‘baddie’ was, but then Richard just walked up to his car, and found someone leaning on it. I literally had no idea who he was. And another time, my female MC kicked something in the grass when she was walking away and I’d thought the scene was already over. Then I had to figure out what it was. No arguments, yet, but lots of instances of me growling at them and asking them what the hell they’re playing at!

IS - What’s your writer’s routine? Do you write whenever or at certain times? Where do you like to write? Are you a plotter or do you just write and see where it goes?

TN - I work full-time, and since I’m a morning-starter when I do write, the evenings aren’t much good for me creatively; I don’t get home until almost 6pm. So weekends and days off are a case of: plug in, sit down, and get on with it! I write at every opportunity, and I’ll use the evenings for social networking, and promo work.

I don’t like to shut myself away though, so I use the front room, and the laptop sits on a card table I can move around and out of the way easily.

As for the plotter/pantser question, I usually say: I’m a happy pantser with a twist of obsessive plotter. I will plot, and think, and consider all angles, but then when I have a direction to go in I make a start and see where it takes me. It’s fun!

IS - Can you give five things off your “bucket list”, whether ones you’ve done or want to do?

TN - Find an agent - done!
Get a book published - done!
Do a parachute jump - done!
Spend Christmas in New York
Retire to a little cottage on Bodmin Moor … with full wi-fi and unlimited Sky Box Office!

IS - Any individual male and female figure you particularly admire, dead or alive, and why?

TN - Lady Dorothie Feilding. Her letters home from the Western Front, where she spent time with the Monroe Corps, were life-changing. Such courage, and the fear hidden so well beneath her lively sense of humour and determination to help others.

IS - What’s your passion in life?

TN - Sorry to be boring, but … writing!  (aside from family, and particularly my two amazing sons, of course!)

IS - If you could pick a past life, what time period would appeal to you and why? Would you be male or female? Rich or poor?

TN - I think I’d like to visit the “roaring twenties.” And who’d want to be anything but a well-to-do female at a time like that? A real time of change and emancipation, just beginning; the possibilities would have been so exciting.

IS - What would you tell anyone who asked you for advice about writing a novel?

TN - Just sit down and do it. Don’t spend hours on-line learning about how to do it; all you’ll find will be people saying how hard it is, and telling you what you should NEVER do. Confidence-killers. And don’t get hung up on whether it sounds right, or the grammar is “correct”; that will come later, if it matters. Don’t sweat over chapter length, point of view, story arc or character development, just get the story down. And when you’ve done it, accept that you’ve done something wonderful, even if it’s pants. Pants can be fixed.

IS - Thanks so much for dropping by and chatting, Terri. Good luck with all your books.

The Dust of Ancients.

When folklore and the modern world collide, who’s to say which one is the myth?

Lynher Mill: a quiet Cornish village, site of both atrocities and heroism in day gone by. Today’s inhabitants raise monuments and visitor-centres in awed memory of those far-off days, grateful they live in an era of peace and plenty.

But the granite-strewn moorland is bristling with secrets and treachery; below ground, beautiful, ancient beings plot against one another to fulfil a curse delivered by their dying king. And so, while mortals walk the land and dream of long-ago battles, the Moorlanders arm themselves with fierce courage and hardened hearts, for the real fight is about to begin.

The Dust of Ancients - Book One in the Lynher Mill Chronicles.

A curse uttered in the extremity of terror and death can reverberate for centuries. When the means to bring that curse to fruition are suddenly within reach, the innocents must look to their past to protect their future ... and their past wants no part of it.  
  Richard Lucas has been plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams since the death of his wife eleven years ago, and, desperate to get his life back on track, he is persuaded by his best friend Dean to take a sabbatical. But when he arrives in Dean’s home village of Lynher Mill he discovers that, not only is Dean not who he seems, but that he himself is bound more tightly to the Cornish moorlands than he could have imagined. And far more deeply than he would ever want to be.
  As the events that began to shape his life over three thousand years ago continue their steady, unstoppable march towards a terrifying conclusion, Richard discovers the truth about his connection to the moor, and eventually has to do battle with his own history just to survive. Those who love him struggle with conflicting loyalties and come to realise that, if the land itself is to endure, they must make some devastating decisions.

Universal Amazon Link:

The Lightning and the Blade - Book Two in the Lynher Mill Chronicles.

Manipulating the greatest of nature’s forces is a deadly game for the unwary and the unskilled. Manipulating the hearts and minds of ancient and powerful enemies can prove deadlier still, and the effects echo across a land that is poised for battle, and just waiting for a reason.
Trouble is stirring along a Cornish coastline notorious for both shipwrecks and smuggling. With elementals playing their wicked weather-games, and a mortal woman rapidly sliding into self-destruction, supply meets demand and the stakes are raised to terrifying and tragic heights. 
  Meanwhile, an uneasy peace has settled over the village of Lynher Mill, and a royal marriage promises to unite the moorland elementals and their old enemies on the coast. But the bride’s brother has his own reasons for sabotaging the union; his dark and secret work depends upon it. He digs deep enough to uncover long-buried hatreds and ensures those ugly truths come to light, and before long the two races embark on a collision course that threatens to destroy them both, and the mortals who stray into their path.

Book three in the series, The Unquiet Kingdom, is scheduled for release in June 2015.

Maid of Oaklands Manor - Book One in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy

  It's 1912. And a chance meeting between scullery maid Lizzy Parker and heiress Evie Creswell leads to more than an enduring friendship and a new job for Lizzy... It draws her into a world of privilege and intrigue and delivers her into the loving arms of a killer. 
  Meeting the handsome but mysterious Jack Carlisle, Lizzie begins to fall for him despite rumours he had been involved in the death of Evie's father. And as she becomes further embroiled in the dangerous life Carlisle lives, she must decide if he can be trusted with the life of a close friend, and, ultimately, if he is worth the risk to her own.

Universal Amazon Link:

A Rose in Flanders Field - Book Two in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy.

  It's 1917. Driving an ambulance through the mud in Flanders, aristocrat Evie Creswell is a long way from home. At Oaklands Manor all she had been expected to do was to look pretty and make a good marriage. But with the arrival of World War One everything changed…

  And Evie, to the horror of her family, does not choose a husband from her blue-blooded set; instead she weds artist Will Davies, who works as a butcher’s apprentice. Soon she is struggling nightly to transport the wounded to hospital, avoiding the shells and gas attacks – her privileged home life, and her family’s disappointment at her marriage, a lifetime away.
  And while Evie drives an ambulance in Belgium, Will is in the trenches in France. He withdraws from her, the trauma of his experience taking hold. Evie has the courage to deal with her war work, but it breaks her heart to think she is losing Will’s love. Can their marriage survive this terrible war? That is, if they both get out alive… 

Universal Amazon Link:

Book three in the Oaklands Manor trilogy, Daughter of Dark River Farm, will be published by Carina at a date to be announced.

A collection of short horror stories by T Nixon.

That thing you thought you saw from the corner of your eye; the capering shadow that drew your attention while your mind screamed at you to turn away … it’s here. It’s waiting for you, and it’s very, very patient.

So sit tight for a while. Prepare yourself for the unknowable, and learn, through these few short stories, the truth about "it can’t happen to me ..."

Warning: several of these stories contain graphic horror descriptions.

Universal Amazon Link:

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Delighted to have Janine Ashbless as guest today

Today's blog post features author Janine Ashbless, who has embarked on a blog tour to promote her new book, Cover Him In Darkness. I've read and enjoyed a lot of her short stories, and am delighted to have her as my guest today.

Janine is a successful writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure. For her, “fantasy” is swords ‘n’ sandals, contemporary paranormal, fairytales and stories based on mythology and folklore. She likes to write about magic and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.

Her books have been in print since 2000, and her novels and single-author collections now run into double figures. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others.

She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love.

Madeline Moore has described Janine's work as "hardcore and literate", and Portia Da Costa says it is "vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love".

Links to Janine's website, blog, facebook page, and author pages on goodreads, and

If You Loved an Angel... How Far Would You Fall with Him?

What happens when the daughter of the village priest falls in love with an archangel banished from heaven? Milja’s heart is struck when she catches a glimpse of the preternaturally beautiful prisoner her father keeps captive beneath his church’s altar. Torn between tradition, loyalty and her growing obsession with the fallen angel, will Milja risk losing her family, and her eternal soul, for the love of this divine being? Janine Ashbless will transport you to a world where good and evil battle for true love.

Buying links:

IS: Janine, welcome. Can you tell me where the original idea for this story and characters came from?

JA: All my stories start with a visual image. In the case of Cover Him with Darkness: a prisoner bound in a stone cell, watched by a young woman who longs to free him but fears what he might do.

IS: Is this part of a series? If so, how does it fit in, and what can we look forward to?

JA: Cover Him is the first of a trilogy. Now that Azazel is free, he has decided to release all the other fallen angels. The loyal angels will want to stop him, of course! Egan will not leave Milja uncontested with her demon lover and neither will a mysterious woman who has her own designs on Azazel. The Catholic Church will make its move. There will be twists and betrayals and undead saints and blasphemous revelations and death, as well as lots of hot and dirty sex.

IS: Sounds intriguing and entertaining. Definitely a novel which will be on my kindle before too much longer. Is there anything you remember which prompted you to start writing fiction?

JA: Interestingly, it was making friends with people who wrote short stories for fun. In particular, we all took on the challenge to write a short story for reading out at Hallowe’en. The feedback was crucial in encouraging me to do it again, and again, so although I say “I write to please myself,” I think that having some sort of audience too is absolutely vital.
IS: Can you tell me about the genre you write in? Why does this particularly appeal and how did you get into it?

JA: I write erotica, but I sometimes make forays into erotic romance. Of course these overlap, but they are distinct genres due to publishing/marketing culture. I think sex is incredibly important, that it changes lives and gives us meaning, and it interests me more than almost any other aspect of human behaviour.

IS: Do you write in other genres as well? Why? Do you write differently in these?

JA: Yes, I write supernatural horror (under another name). It’s the genre I started out in, in fact. But erotica is more fun, and I suspect I just haven’t got enough real fear in my soul to focus for long on horror.

IS: Quite a few writers I know say their stories seem to have their own ideas, something I've had happen too. Have you ever had one take off in an unexpected direction, or had a character just “do their own thing?”

JA: Yes, and though it takes me by surprise, it always makes sense once I think about it. I’m a big believer in subconscious creation. In my novel Heart of Flame, a character unexpectedly gave up a crucial magical possession and I was like, “What? Are you crazy? That’s too much to sacrifice!” But she was quite right, it was the best solution to the situation she was in. It just left me trying to sort out the consequences…

IS: Moving away from writing, can you give five things off your “bucket list”?

JA: Firstly, go to Burning Man. It features in Cover Him with Darkness but I admit to working entirely off internet research. I'd also love to visit the Meenakshi temple in South India. And go white water rafting! I think it'd be great to move into a retirement commune with my role-playing friends. And finally, try something hallucinogenic. Once. Just to see if my subconscious is as weird as I think it is! It's illegal, so it'll probably never happen, frankly, because I am a good girl, but… 

IS: If you could go anywhere in the world, but had to drop everything and go right now, where would you go? What pulls you there?

JA: I’d go south to see someone very special to me.

IS: Any individual male and female figure you particularly admire, dead or alive, and why?

JA: I don’t believe in putting people on pedestals and making idols of them. Everyone is fallible and you have to accept that. But I admire people who do things against incredible odds, particularly women who go against cultural expectations of passivity and helplessness. Harriet Tubman is a great example.

IS: What’s your passion in life?

JA: Creating fictional worlds. I write, and I run live action role-play adventures.

IS: If you could pick a past life, what time period would appeal to you and why? Would you be male or female? Rich or poor?

JA: I’d so be male. It’s the side of my psyche that can’t emerge now except in fiction. And I’d be a hard-ass warrior of some sort ... maybe a Knight Hospitaller or something. Dammit, that sounds awful, but I have this unhealthy attraction to both spiritual ecstasy and physical violence, things that I utterly reject in my real life! Blimey, I should never have started this interview…

IS: Bearing in mind that NaNoWriMo starts today, what would you tell anyone who asked you for advice about writing a novel?

JA: Prioritise it. No good novel is ever written in your spare time when you feel in the mood and there’s nothing good on TV. That means giving up other stuff – stuff that you really want to do. Just grit your teeth and choose writing.

IS: Janine, many thanks for visiting. I do hope Cover Him With Darkness is popular and entertains a lot of readers.