Thursday, September 13, 2007

Works in Progress

Deannna Ashford

Our smuts slots have brought you, dear readers, excerpts from our latest novels just before or around about the dates of their release and judging by your comments you appear to like these tasty tit-bits. However we writers don’t want to think that we laze around in our beds half the morning drinking coffee and eating chocolates, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although we must admit that on occasions we ladies do indulge ourselves a little. Nevertheless, we write because that is what we really want to do. As the writers among you will know writing is a compulsion that takes one over at times.

We therefore decided that you might enjoy occasional little peeps at our work in progress and consequently this new post was born. From now on at fairly regular intervals we will be whetting your appetites with short excerpts from our work in progress - whether it be our next book, a novella or a short story.

To start this off this month’s offering consists of excerpts from the work in progress of Janine Ashbless and Portia Da Costa and the two extracts couldn’t be more different.

We start off with The House of Dust, by Janine, which is going to appear along with novellas by Portia and Olivia in Black Lace’s “Magic& Desire" collection in 2008.

Setting the scene - This story is set in ancient Mesapotamia. The main character is Ishara, priestess of the love/sex/fertility goddess Inanna and ritual wife of the king. When the story starts the king is dying - poisoned by his brother. Ishara eventually descends into the Land of the Dead to try to bring her lover back. The excerpt here is a flashback to happier times.

There on the balcony Tamuz found me in prayer, my hands raised to the heavens. Softly he dismissed the company and came up behind me. I faltered in my words as he slipped his hands about my upper body, cupping my breasts as he pressed up against me.

‘Don’t stop,’ he murmured, kissing my neck. Such informality was permitted during the time of the Great Marriage, so I carried on praying while he rolled my nipples to points of exquisite frustration between his fingers and bit softly at my ears, tugging at the clusters of golden balls strung from my pierced lobes. I made it to the last verse in a stumbling rush, my spine arched so as to press my shoulders and my buttocks back against the hard wall of his body. I could feel little bolts of lightning chasing across my breasts and down to the wellspring of my sex, as if great Enlil himself were playing with my nipples. When Tamuz laid a firm hand upon my navel and slid it down to cup my pubic mound I gasped out loud. I wanted so much for him to set me face down over that low wall and root me there high above the flat roofs of Uruk, now touched with faintest pink from the approaching sunrise, so that I might encompass the whole of my realm with my eyes as he filled me, so that Utu the shining sun might blind me with his glory as I was made incandescent from behind and within. But Tamuz turned me instead and sat me upon the edge of the wall, lifting my skirts over my knees to reveal my smooth thighs and sliding his hands up their inner surfaces, all the way to the mound of my delta. I put my arms around his neck and drew him closer, my legs encompassing his. Gently, with the tips of his fingers, he stroked my purse until he broke the fragile seal of flesh and let the moisture within seep out.

‘Daughter of the Moon,’ he whispered, his eyes shining; ‘we’ve hardly met and yet I have wounded you sorely.’

‘You did,’ I breathed. ‘The pain is unbearable. My whole body cries out.’

‘Forgive me. I thought you might be healed by now.’ He circled the pomegranate-pip of my clitoris expertly, making me shudder. I dug my nails into his skin.

‘This is a wound that can’t be healed. You hurt me too deeply and now I must live with it forever.’

‘Can I make reparation?’

‘You might, if you are brave.’

His fingers were slippery now to the root, moving slickly in and upon my sex, stirring me beyond endurance. ‘And how shall I do that?’

‘You must staunch the wound,’ I said, parting the layers of his long kilt to reveal the length of his prick, the skin already taut and glistening; ‘with the weapon that made it.’ I took hold, and Tamuz’s expression made it clear I had his undivided attention. ‘It’s an ancient magic,’ I confided, my eyes wide and serious. ‘Only by wounding me again can you ease me of my pain.’

‘Then,’ he said, his voice hoarse, ‘I see you’re skilled in the magical art.’

My hand was working his copper to harder bronze. ‘Oh yes, my King.’

‘And it is my duty to help you.’ With infinite care, both of us breathing shallow and quick, he nudged into me, sheathing perhaps two-thirds of his length. The wall held me at just the right height for him.

‘Don’t let me fall,’ I whispered.

His arm tightened about my waist. ‘Never.’

* * *

The second excerpt is from Gothic Heat with is a sequel to Portia Da Costa’s popular novel Gothic Blue.

Setting the scene - Possessed by the discarnate spirit of the evil sorceress, Isidora, Paula Beckett has come to remote Sedgewick Priory with her lover Rafe Hathaway, in search of her friends, Belinda and Jonathan, who may be able to help find a solution to her predicament.

‘I thought this was a priory?’ Rafe rubbed rain out of his eyes, and peered at the structure, ‘It looks more like a baronial castle than a religious institution… Love the kitsch Gothic style…’ He pointed towards the dark, elaborate building that seemed to sit and sneer at them from amongst seven circles of hellishly overgrown formal garden. ‘Shit, it’s even got a Rapunzel tower!’

‘It doesn’t look as if it wants visitors, does it?’ Paula followed Rafe’s pointing fingertip to the peculiar tower, perched atop one corner of the rambling, black windowed priory. She’d never seen a less welcoming place in her life, and a tumbling festering structure that might have been a chapel, set to one side, didn’t help matters. Flickers from the lightning seemed to suggest blue wraiths drifting in and out of its broken down stones.

‘It doesn’t look as if anyone’s been here in centuries.’ Rafe blinked more water out of his eyes as it began to teem even more ferociously from the sky, ‘Are you sure your friends are here?’

‘No, not exactly sure… But I can’t think of anywhere else… They’ve disappeared from their workplace and their flat… and I can’t raise them on their mobiles…’

Indeed, it was just a hunch that Belinda and Jonathan had come back here. That, and an inkling she suspected she was getting from Isidora.

Within the chill from her sodden clothing, a deeper, older chill gripped her innards, making her sway.

Is this all a trick, you bitch? she demanded silently of her ‘guest’. Is there something here you want?

A lightning bolt crashed somewhere right over her head, and she shrieked with fear, tripping as eldritch laughter filled her head.

But instead of hitting the sharp, wet gravel, Paula experienced a moment of total disorientation as she seemed to fly up into the air. Grabbing wildly for purchase, she realised that Rafe had whisked her up off her feet and was holding her cradled in his arms, leather jacket and all.

‘I’m all right! Put me down!’ She wriggled, but his gentle hold didn’t yield.

‘No you’re not. You’ve hardly been sleeping and you’re worn out.’ Adjusting his grip on her, Rafe started off down the path that led to the house, carrying her effortlessly, ‘We need to get in there…’ He nodded towards the dark, unprepossessing building, with its glaring blank windows that glittered blackly. ‘Even if it is a ruin, at least it’ll give us some shelter until this lot dies down.’

‘I’m not sure… I’ve got a bad feeling about this place.’ God, how clichéd did that sound? Like something out of a low budget horror movie, complete with stock footage haunted mansion. ‘What… what if there’s something even worse than Isidora in there?’ Her arms tightened around Rafe’s neck as black, formless fears floated through her imagination, and she imagined that low voice saying, there isn’t anything worse than me, you little ninny.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from the ghosts and ghoulies.’ Rafe sounded almost cheerful, as if being half drowned by a rainstorm amused him rather than pissed him off. ‘I’m a big guy… I can handle myself.’

‘Oh, I’m sure everything will be just fine,’ Paula shot back at him.

Inside though, she felt a slow, honeyed thrill. There was something primal about being carried in a big man’s arms, and the heat of Rafe’s body was both reassuring and exciting. He was strong, she had no doubt about it, and her desire, which had been dowsed by the relentless rain, came storming back. A swift, raw scenario unfolded behind her eyes as her body rocked to the rhythm of his long stride. She saw him kicking down the door of the crumbling Priory, laying her down right there in the entrance hall or whatever… then ripping off her jeans and her panties and thrusting straight into her.

Well that's all for now but don't worry there will be a couple of tasty excerpts from two more ladies of Lust Bites in a few weeks.



Janine Ashbless said...

"Magic & Desire" is due out in May 2008 (UK) according to Amazon. No cover photo yet, but you can pre-order.

I'd better get my manuscript in then, eh? Or, like, I could hold out for ransom...

Portia Da Costa said...

Wowsah, The House of Dust sounds fabulous, Janine! I'm looking forward to that one very much. That's gonna be a fascinating anthology because my own story in that one, ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, is completely different! I think readers will enjoy the contrast. :)

And guess what? I suddenly realised that I've posted an excerpt from GOTHIC HEAT that doesn't actually have any sex in it!!! There is plenty of shagging and other stuff in the book, but it's just as much about the paranormal story as it is about the eroticism. In fact, at a pinch, if I had to take out the sex, the plot could just about stand alone as a paranormal romance... just about. ;)

Many thanks to Deanna for putting together these 'work in progress' showcases.

Deanna Ashford said...

It was a pleasure Portia and Janine. There is a method behind my new post, it means I get to read excerpts of your great stories before anyone else.

Keep up the good works ladies and feel free to consume as much chocolate as you like this morning, or all day if you wish. Have some for me as well, I can't have any as I'm back on one of my near-endless diets.

Portia Da Costa said...

No chocolate as yet, Deanna, but I have consumed a large slice of deluxe swiss roll... I'm not on a diet, although I probably *need* to be on one!

Janine Ashbless said...

Yes, thanks Deanna!

I'm looking forward to this anthology a lot. But it's a bit scary being up against two other Black Lace authors. "Against" isn't the right word, is it ... I mean being compared to two others so directly. Hopefully we've picked such different takes on the subject we'll all shine!

On diet too. :-(
At least it's working.

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Deanna, your excerpt reminds me of Elizabeth Haitch's Book "Initiation", which I believe is intended as non-fiction. It follows the repeated lives of an Egyptian priestess whose initiation is compromised by a sexual relationship. Subsequent lives reveal the impact of that relationship and how it continues and evolves. It's not written primarily with an erotic or romantic slant, but I can see you're mucking around in that ancient era and consciousness and with the priestly class, no less, so I thought you might be interested.

t'Sade said...

Oh, very lovely.

Janine Ashbless said...

Deanna, your excerpt...
See, everyone gets us mixed up, Deanna.

I should change my name to Desiere Flambeau or something.

But yes, it does sound like an interesting book Karl.

Deanna Ashford said...

Does that mean I will get the credit for all your writing Janine and Portia, whoopee!

Seriously next time I'll put 'collated by' before my name to try and make it clearer that I have not written either of those wonderful extracts.

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Sorry 'bout that Janine. How inattentive of me.

Jeremy Edwards said...

I should change my name to Desiere Flambeau or something.

Derrière Flambeau? Actually—no kidding— that ties in with my favorite sentence from your excerpt, which I was going to mention even before you almost said "Derrière Flambeau":

so that Utu the shining sun might blind me with his glory as I was made incandescent from behind and within


And Portia . . . what expertly-crafted tension! And though it's not a full-fledged sex scene, I certainly took note of the ripping-off-jeans-and-panties moment in the protag's train of thought.

Janine Ashbless said...

"Initiation" sounds like some of Dion Fortune's work. Or "The Way of Wyrd". Semi-fic.

I did used to be interested in esoteric magical practices/beliefs, but came in the end to the conclusion that they were too dull and too much hard work. And I just couldn't believe.

I did a couple of years of shamanic training though. That was fascinating and fruitful. But I still don't believe it.

Ally said...

That was so nice, I have the warm fuzzies already. I love pre-history, old history and lore in books. They sweep me away.

Ooo are you bringing Isidora back, wicked! Big sigh... Oh how I miss Andre. 8-(

Madeline Moore said...

This Works in Progress post is a terrific idea, and the two excerpts kicking off the post are wicked.

Janine, once again I'm tempted by your piece to try my hand at this sort of writing. I love stuff like 'My hand was working his copper to harder bronze.' which has that 'ancient language' ring to it. Doubtless, and probably happily, this inspiration to delve into worlds long ago and never were, will pass, as I think it's best to leave such writing in the hands of talented writers like you.

Portia - What fun to be back at the castle again. I bet we do see we? I'm looking forward to this sequel, I really enjoyed 'Gothic Blue' and read it only a little while ago, so all the shenanigans are fresh in my head.

Congrats to both writers, and to Deanna for doing such a bang up job of introducing and *collating* this new post.

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Jeremy!

Don't worry there's plenty of jeans and pantie-less action throughout the book... I don't think you'll be too disappointed on that score! ;)

Portia Da Costa said...

Yes, Ally, Isidora is back with a vengeance. The crafty bitch managed to avoid the fate she deserved.

It's funny, about the same time our editor asked me to write a Gothic Blue sequel, someone reviewed the book and said she'd really love to read more Isidora... which gave me an obvious angle for the book.

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Madeline...

Andre does make a brief appearance in Gothic Heat, but he's not a main character. He's gone to a better place, remember?

I'm hoping that Andre fans will take to Rafe just as much... he's a complicated hero with a twisted past, but he still has many charms. :)

Melissa Heywood said...

Phew! 2 of my favourite style of storys, historical and paranormal!

Makes me wonder what a girl has to do when she lets her imagination flow reading those little snippets!

Kate Pearce said...

Two great excerpts from two great authors! I loved them both.

Portia, I totally envy your ability to paint a scene in such beautiful language.

Janine 'My hand was working his copper to harder bronze.' this was my favorite line in yours too!

thanks ladies, keep 'em coming! (and you can take that anyway you want :)

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Melissa! Hi Kate! Glad you liked my 'bit'... :)

I love Sedgewick Priory. It's my Manderley. Only it doesn't get burnt down.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Lovely excerpts from you both, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished articles.

I'm sure my works-in-progress don't read nearly so well.

Portia Da Costa said...

Thanks, Madelynne. :)

And I'll bet they do!

Janine Ashbless said...

*bags are packed*

Right, I'm off on holiday - er, I mean, doing some serious research for my upcoming fiction. I hope to spot some of these.

(I'm particularly amused by the expression of the guy sat next to the queen)

See you in a week. Have fun!

Alison Tyler said...

Happy vacation, Janine,
Thanks to you (and Wendy) for leaving us with sexy Friday excerpts before taking off!


Anonymous said...

HI Deanna! I got my templar book that I won on here yesterday!!! Thank you sooo much and thank you for signing it! I can't wait to read it! Have a great day! Hugs and love!

Anne Tourney said...

My weekend's been chaotic as I pack up my apartment to move, and I've been looking forward to savouring these excerpts since Friday.

Wow, Janine, you weren't kidding when you described the impact of religion on your fiction! Where do I meet an evangelist from this church?

I wanted so much for him to set me face down over that low wall and root me there high above the flat roofs of Uruk, now touched with faintest pink from the approaching sunrise, so that I might encompass the whole of my realm with my eyes as he filled me, so that Utu the shining sun might blind me with his glory as I was made incandescent from behind and within.

Holy crap -- that's beautiful writing, and such a hot scene. And to think that's just business as usual during the sacred season of the Great Marriage :). If this church weren't in ancient Mesopotamia, I'd be making a huge donation.

And I'm so happy to see a sequel to Gothic Blue, one of my favorite Black Lace novels. That novel made such an impact on me, both as a reader and a writer. It was so different from anything I'd read, so deliciously spooky and sexy . . . and this was long before the current paranormal trend. I'll never forget Belinda, how her curiosity and innocence blended so well into that murky gothic atmosphere.

And even though there's no actual "shagging" in this excerpt, this passage got me going:

A swift, raw scenario unfolded behind her eyes as her body rocked to the rhythm of his long stride. She saw him kicking down the door of the crumbling Priory, laying her down right there in the entrance hall or whatever… then ripping off her jeans and her panties and thrusting straight into her.

Thank you, Janine and Wendy!

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Anne

Glad you enjoyed my non-shagging excerpt! It's been very, very strange doing a sequel to Gothic Blue after a gap of at least ten years. Especially given the fact that in terms of the 'Gothic' world, only five weeks have passed!

My writing style has changed very much in the intervening years, and I'm desperately worried that lovers of Gothic Blue will be disappointed to discover that Gothic Heat is quite a different kind of book with a different 'tone' and approach. It's probably more like a contemporary erotic romance, but one in which supernatural stuff just kind of happens and is dealt with in a pretty down to earth and practical way.

And of course I'm scared stiff that readers will be pissed off because Andre only appears in it briefly in a dream sequence...