Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Romancing the Convention

From your intrepid reporter, Kate Pearce

If you don't know who this guy is, you obviously aren't a Romantic Times aficionado. It's FABIO, the most famous romance cover model ever with the divine Michelle Buonfiglio from Lifetime TV's romance blog. Strangely enough, five minutes before the book fair at the convention ended on Saturday, the whole ballroom went black. I suspect Fabio had just arrived and that all power and female hormones had been sucked out of the room by his ego.

Vampire doms get up close and personal

What can I say about a conference that includes cover models, readers, booksellers, reviewers and authors all crammed into one Pittsburgh hotel which was supposed to be renovated and yet resembled a bomb site?

For those of you who don't know much about it, the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with style and the usual amount of drama. Professional it isn't, fun it definitely is. As your intrepid reporter, I forced myself to get up close and personal with a few fine sets of abs and pecs but unfortunately I don't have any pictures(that I'm prepared to show you). I'll leave others to shine instead :)

Well there is this one-I did cleavage this year, my friend Mari did shiny...

Just in case you want to go, there are workshops aimed at readers, aspiring writers and booksellers. Of course if you go to a workshop hoping for anything too in depth you're likely to be disappointed as the questions tend to be quite general. One woman in a workshop I went to about the emergence of erotic romance lines asked the Harlequin Spice editor if she could name all the Harlequin lines and their heat levels for her...that took up quite a while...

The other big draws are the publishers book giveaways and the goody room where you get free books!! What's not to like? You also get free books at most of the luncheons and dinners so bring an extra suitcase or two. I actually restrained myself due to packing issues and I still came back with 15 new books distributed amongst my belongings!

Fabulous author Samantha Kane lets it all hang out with an EC cover model.

If you like dressing up-this convention is definitely for you. Every evening a big party is hosted by either a publisher or authors. Ellora's Cave hosted their "Golden Age of Hollywood" party the first night. All their authors (such as me) get to be escorted across the stage by an EC Caveman. To be honest, I was so busy clinging onto that nice muscled arm and focusing on not falling flat on my face that the glory of the occasion kind of passed me by and I can't even remember which caveman was my escort.

Two of the contest winners at the Faerie Ball

The Faerie ball is another big night, complete with a faerie court and a costume contest. Somehow that night, I suspect copious amounts of alcohol made me forget stuff, I managed to lose my wings and my little black cardigan, and they didn't turn up the next day either. Not as soul-destroying as the RWA year I lost my Issey Miyake spiky cardigan (wail) but I digress...

Luckily for you all, I have good friends who wore great costumes to the vampire ball. Floggers, leather, gun-shot wounds and vampire teeth were much in evidence. I did hear there was some serious spanking in the bar later, but I missed that-I always do...

Here is our old friend Barry Eisler being hit on by some dom vampires and a zombie ho. He looks a little scared don't ya think?

Some people go to grope the cover models and for the classic MR ROMANCE contest on Saturday night. Some of the guys seem to like being groped and grope back. Some of them probably hate it. I heard plenty of stories about both types of behavior and it seemed about even. For the record, I was groped but didn't grope anyone-I have a 19 yr old son and most of the guys looked a leetle too young for my taste! There were of course, scandals that broke out and are running through blog world as I speak, so I'm not going to spread them here...I'm far too knackered.

I met a reader who had come all the way from Australia to buy romance novels, including mine, I met people who wanted me to sign my books and knew all about me and my characters. I also met a reader who cried when she realized who I was, (in a good way, honestly) which was a bit scary for me being a traditional emotional Brit. And I had a laugh and a few (ahem) drinks with some of the only people in the world who really understand me-other writers. It's nice to crawl out of your office and actually meet the people who read your books. I'd thoroughly recommend it!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Phantasmagoria US release

The long awaited sequel to A GENTLEMAN'S WAGER.

I adore this cover. I suppose I got lucky with it. The colours and composition of the image actually seem to hint at what you'll find inside - a rather dark story, actually. Phantasmagoria was not an easy book to write, and for an erotic romance, perhaps it's not an easy book to read. Hopefully, it is a story that will leave a lasting impression.

Hey, we writers all have to aspire to something.

Hope you enjoy the teaser, and please do stop by the comments for a chance to win a book from my backlist.

For a chance to win signed copies of A Gentleman's Wager and Phantasmagoria, head over to the Good, the Bad, & the Unread and leave a comment on the recent interview I did with them. Don't forget to check out their reviewed Phantasmagoria while you're there.

Vaughan folded his arms. ‘Please. Do I give ecstasy so freely?’ His smile sweetened, instantly lightening the mood. ‘Perhaps I do. Perhaps that’s why you’re here.’ He artlessly stretched behind him and clasped a chair back. The movement thrust his chest into prominence, making her smile in turn. ‘Why have you come, Annabella, my nightingale?’

He touched her face, trailed a finger down to her throat. ‘What’s the draw, the promise of a gothic nightmare or the bitter-sweet terror of my lips?’ His kiss fluttered over her pulse point. Bella closed her eyes and breathed in his scent, rosemary laced with musk. How she’d missed him. How she longed to return his caress. One simple touch and her body was weeping for him, but too often he’d teased her like this and then pushed her away. ‘And why no Lucerne? Were you so sure of a welcome without him?’ He stepped back suddenly, his tone abruptly cold.

Bella’s eyes flickered open. ‘Am I not welcome—’ she began, and then she caught his smile. He was playing with her, always playing with her.

‘But of course. You are most welcome.’ He took her hand and traced a slow circle around the palm. Bella watched his long fingers, imagining their trace against a more intimate area of her anatomy. ‘Let me give you a proper welcome to Pennerley.’ He pulled her, not into his arms for the kiss she longed for, but towards the stairs and down onto all fours.

Bella squealed as her nose pressed to the ancient grain of the wood. It was knotted and splintered in places, worn smooth in the centre where she knelt. Her nose prickled at the smell of dust and linseed. Vaughan threw her skirts over her back. For a moment she felt nothing, then his hand, warm and firm pressed between her legs and found her wet and eager.

‘Why Annabella,’ he drawled, ‘I do believe you’ve missed me.’

‘Damn you,’ she cursed as the familiar dribble of oil slithered between her cheeks. Nothing had changed. He still didn’t care a jot for her feelings or the truth of Lucerne’s absence. He cared only for the instant gratification of his own desires.

She shifted indignantly against the intrusive press of his fingers, but couldn’t stop the anticipatory heat from flaring inside her womb. She’d been waiting for this, longing for him. She knew what was coming, hated it, needed it, this sin. She should have known what to expect.

His fingers stretched her. His cock pushed in, making her empty cunt clench tight. She meant to push back against him, knock him off balance, but instead her bottom rubbed eagerly against his loins. It was so good to feel him inside her again, such welcome relief for the nineteen days of torture she’d spent without him.

‘Easy,’ he whispered, when she twisted her head to look at him. ‘You’ll come too fast.’ Bella didn’t care. She’d been wound too tight and all the emotion and rage she’d felt was spilling out of her. This carnal invasion, this thrusting heat – it was exactly what she wanted. ‘Bella,’ he hissed between his teeth. A sound broke in her throat in response, a hopeless expression of her longing. He was right. She had missed him, and more than he would ever truly understand. She loved him, but she had no idea how to tell him that or whether he wanted to hear it.

Her head was spinning. Her knees ached. His scent surrounded her, musky and animal beneath the hint of cologne. And at the point of their connection, a pulse was raging, driving her movements, dictating everything in simple, so very simple, animalistic terms.

She came hard, with a long rolling shudder, while Vaughan held himself still within her rear. Once the pulses had faded, he began to move again.

‘Again,’ he demanded, forcing her hips down with his palm, while the fingers of his other hand teased her still sensitive bud.

‘No.’ Bella gasped. ‘Vaughan, I can’t.’ She pressed herself to the ancient wood while colour burned her cheeks, feeling both elated and shamed. ‘I’ve been stuck in a coach for days. You could at least offer me a drink before you demand four orgasms in a row.’

‘I’ve only demanded two, and a chance to finish off.’ Chuckling, he patted her bottom. ‘But very well. Foster!’ he bellowed.

Bella’s eyes snapped open. ‘Your servant!’ She scrambled forward, but Vaughan held her tight about her hips. ‘Easy now, what’s the problem? Your drink’s coming.’

Bella hid her head in embarrassment. She’d been here just five minutes and within another five every servant in the place would know their master had swived her in the arse. She heard the screech of a door hinge, and Foster appeared by Vaughan’s side.

‘Bring me the port. My guest’s thirsty.'

Madelynne Ellis

Monday, April 28, 2008


Surely I am not alone when I write of those heady days of my youth when I dreampt of receiving the galleys of my novel from my publisher. I could almost smell the ink on the pages, fresh from the wooden contraption that gave them their name, the galley-press. (Click on the link for a picture and description of the process of creating galleys.)
Those publishing people really worked hard, didn't they? I guess it got easier once they harnessed the sun to help power the press...

Oh how I wanted a book and in 2006, I got one, thanks to Adam Nevill. The publishing process for Wild Card began: write book, submit book, proofread book. However, whilst my career as a novelist was as new as tomorrow's dew, the days of the galleys were but a memory, as poignant and ancient as the first tear of heartbreak.

What I received from my editor was a quick email note with a fat attachment. I was asked to look at the author's proofs and relay my corrections via email ASAP.

No smell of ink, no ream of heavy paper...and in place of the words I'd imagined would drop me into the pantheon of Great Canadian Writers as surely as Sheila Watson landed there with The Double Hook (one slim novel) I cast my eyes down to see:

He leant away slightly to put his hand between her knees, and then drew it slowly up her skirt until his fingers cupped her sex. She widened her stance to accommodate his big hand. He laughed at the wetness of her panties.

Oops, I remember now. I'm not in the running for Great Canadian writer, one slim novel or no. But that's okie dokie with me. I simply wish to be known as one of the many marvelous contemporary erotica writers working in the UK today. That's why I've crossed the pond. So please, if you wish to order my work do so from I'd be positively chuffed, eh? Here is a photograph of me reading one of my favourite novels in my English Garden.

Perhaps I should have said one of my favourite novels. I live next door to Elizabeth George and across the street from Mitzi Szereto. Honest I do.

I submitted five pages of author's corrections for Wild Card. An example?
...lips pursed in a tiny O to accommodate the delicacy it nibbled.

Since I am writing about her lips (plural) delicacy should be followed by the word they, however, since lips don’t nibble, teeth do – please change it to read:
...lips pursed in a tiny O to accommodate the delicacy of the nipple.

Oh my Gawd our editor is a saint. Here's pictorial proof from the Virgin Press archival library (now part of the Random House Archival Libraries).

St.Adam Tends to His Flock of Biddies er, make that Birdies:

I hasten to say that the author's comments on the author's proofs for my second Black Lace novel, Amanda's Young Men, were only four pages long and this was mainly because the powers that be decided to relocate it from the UK to NA and I was asked to suggest word changes they might have missed, for example, 'elevator' instead of 'lift'. Here's my favourite:

Page 193, Line 25 ‘Naff off, you, before you get hurt.' (UK)
Change word:
Take off, you, before you get hurt, (NA)

The rest of my suggestions were much simpler this time, to whit:
Page 98, Line 22:You'll have fun with this little slut, Roger, you’ll see. Lift her up by...
Change name: You'll have fun with this little slut, Rupert, you’ll see. Lift her up by...

This is important because while Roger is a fifty-something philandering husband who is, in fact, dead by this point in the novel...

Rupert is a legal young hottie with an angelic face and an ever ready hardon.

I've only ever received author's proofs for one short story, from Mitzi Szereto, for Hurting Hugh, in Getting Even: Revenge Stories. I was eternally grateful because I got to answer a question posed by the American proofreader ('cougar' is UK, should we use 'puma' instead?) with STET. "The proofreader uses this Latin term to indicate that proofreading marks calling for a change should be ignored and the text as originally written should be "let stand." Talk about yer wet panties!

I like receiving author's proofs. The work is detailed to the point of being obsessive and I am helping to improve my book. Now let us address another aspect of proofreading - proofing the work of others.

My daughter wrote a fantasy novel which I undertook to proof and subtly edit as a gift for her nineteenth birthday. The work was excruciating; at times I felt I was taping an invisible wall, only to find she'd meant 'Tapping an invisible wall. DUH.' Later, she thanked me. Her work shows promise.

I am an excellent proofreader of Felix Baron's work. This is one of the reasons why the author's proofs he receives are so much less error-riddled than my own. Felix thinks I am the best proofreader there is. He has secured not one but two 'quick' proofreading gigs for me, as a way of grabbing some 'fast cash'. (A buck a page.)

In both instances the same mistake was made and both gigs ended poorly. The error? I did not insist that the piece be formatted in Word before it was sent to me.

The first time, there were so many glitches in the piece that I sent it to my computer analyst sister, who makes more money per hour than I make per short story, for help. She performed miracles but there was some dumb little dinky mark, no bigger than this + that showed up every now and again. This little mark, according to the author, destroyed the integrity of the novel and negated all my hard work.

Spoiler alert: This novel had no end. Apparently, the author decided once she'd typed enough words to call it a book, it was one. I actually wrapped up the story for her, not that she + noticed. I'm happy to report that I was paid. I'm sorry to report that my last words to her were 'You'll never sell it in a million years.'

Not long ago, Felix arranged another proofing gig for me. As we were dealing with a friend of his, a fellow who self-publishes, Felix spent the day reformatting the Word Perfect document into Word before I began. I ploughed through the story of a cop in small town America who cannot catch a serial killer even though our protagonist has been established (in a number of previous self-published novels) to be an expert in his field and has been given an additional 400 officers to assist him. Meanwhile the murderer tears an astonishing number of women to pieces. Will you forgive me when I say that once I was done I dispatched the attachment post haste?

Incredibly, the document had been so corrupted by the reformatting that most of my changes were not saved. The author was understandably upset. The two friends agreed to meet and Felix, being English, departed for the coffee shop fully confident that I would be paid. Our intrepid author offered Felix a box of chocolates for me in lieu of money. Felix replied,'Let's forget the whole thing.' To the author, a Canadian, this statement means 'Hurrah! We're still pals and you'll still write blurbs for my books and I can still call you whenever I want and say, "Felix, is there a hyphen in half-back" and you'll be happy to answer!' To Felix it means, 'I just forgot that you were ever born.'

Spoiler alert: The serial killer book has a happy ending. No, the cop doesn't actually ever catch the killer but he (the killer, sadly, not the cop) freezes to death in a creek and in the spring along comes a lean, hungry old wolf who makes quite a meal of that nasty carcass!)

My lesson? I'm good at proofing my own work and I'm good at proofing Felix's work. The rest I'd best leave to the pros. I guess I should mention that Felix 'proofs' my work too but instead of looking for things like, say, where I've used the dead guy's name instead of the hottie's name, he has admitted that he's mostly looking for information about my darkest, unspoken sexual desires. This makes for two things:
1)Our editor thinks Felix is a consummate professional and I'm a newbie.
2) Some confusing and foody (eeek!) encounters between the sheets.

Things I know about proofreading? Three Facts and a Hypothesis:

3 Facts
The manuscript must be properly formatted and delivered in Word.
Spell check does not replace proofreading.
If it's short, like a business letter, read it backwards.

1 Hypothesis
By the way, our editor is not under any obligation to approve the changes suggested by the author. Author's proofs are a luxury, not a right. So...

I betcha, if you're asking for a big change, you have a better chance of getting it if you try and match the number of characters in the corrected version with the number of characters in the original version, much as we did in the bad old days when we were actually typing these things and using white-out to try and make corrections with a minimum of retyping. For example:

Page 213, Line 18,19

Her brief velvet jacket hung loose, the soft fabric covering
only her arms, really. With each breath she took, the lining of the velvet
jacket caressed her nipples.

Change sentences so they don’t contradict each other:

Her brief jacket hung loose, barely covering half of each breast. With each
breath she took, the satin lining of the velvet jacket caressed her

Original: 28 words, 137 characters w/out spaces, 173 characters w/ spaces.
Revised: 27 words, 133 characters w/out spaces, 168 characters w/ spaces.

Professional proofreaders, care to comment? Authors, any tips or traumas to talk about? Readers, any groaners to report? And how do you spell it? Proofreader, proof-reader, or proof reader?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Coming attractions

On Monday, Madeline Moore takes a long hard look at proofing: what's it like, slogging through the pages you wrote yourself, with a red pen, and do you need to nip off for a cold shower half way through?

Sneaky extra on Tuesday: Madelynne Ellis's Phantasmagoria sees its US release! The original Smut Slot is here.

On Wednesday, Kate Pearce swoons at the podium to introduce the Romantic Times conference (something like the Frankfurt Book Fair, but with far more possibilities...)

On Friday, Erastes confronts the awkward problem of heroes who - frankly - might smell a bit. How do you handle historical hygiene? Should the author stick to very smelly verisimilitude or take some artistic liberties and a good shower?

Shower. Mmm. Watch that water drip...

Friday, April 25, 2008

GEMINI HEAT - keepin' it old school, baby!

GEMINI HEAT - Portia Da Costa

As many readers will know, Gemini Heat is the first Black Lace novel I ever had published, and very much a product of its time ie. it's a full on shagathon of a women's erotica novel rather than the far more relationship based erotic romance that I write today. In it, twin sisters Deana and Delia both vie for the erotic attentions of the handsome, wealthy and glamorous Jake de Guile, a half Japanese hunk who likes to play domination and power play games.

But Deana and Delia have a game of their own, the Gemini Game, in which they pretend to be the same woman and change places, just to see if they can get away with it. In this excerpt it's Deana's turn to be 'Dee' for a night out with Jake...

As the door snicked shut behind her, the only image she could think about was the broad soft banquette of the back seat and her body stretched out upon it. Exposed and opened and flowing with wetness to take this male god into its mystery.

He saw it too, it seemed.

'Only this morning, eh?' he whispered, his eyes like blue lasers in the soft dark light of the limousine's opulent interior. He kissed her hand again, turning it slowly within his grip and licking long and lingeringly at her palm.

Deana remembered in panic where that mouth had been this morning. What he'd done to her sister... And even as she imagined the act, she empathically received its resonances. She felt her own sex flutter as if he were mouthing it, and she felt a quick hard dew of moisture flow out onto her thin silk panties. Oh please, begged some wanton inside her. Do it again! Do it now! Do it to me!

And yet she felt powerless as he placed her hand - like some inanimate object - on the leather of the seat beside her. Her only awareness was waiting. Wanting. The car was cruising along the main road now, but it could've sprouted wings and be flying them to the moon for all the interest she had in the world that it moved through outside.

'Yes, you are ready,' Jake observed, his voice amused. He looked down at her breasts, rising and falling beneath their shimmering armour, and at her thighs which were revealingly parted. She sensed him choosing somehow, eyeing her up like some choice dish or delicacy. Selecting which tasty portion to sample first. He moved closer and almost touched his lips to hers, then put a finger up to her jammy lipstick, dabbing at the glossy crimson coating and then studying its trace on the pad of his finger.

'Too nice to spoil.' Leaving her make-up inviolate, he pressed his lips to her throat, licking again and tasting, his hand taking possession of a sequin-covered breast as his mouth browsed languidly on her neck. He nipped the chord there, and simultaneously pinched the stiff peak of her nipple and the small sweet twin-centre pain made Deana writhe and whimper. Unable to stay still, she glanced frantically at the blond man visible through glass in front of her - and as if reading her mind Jake straightened up and locked her frightened eyes with his.

'We're soundproofed, Dee. But don't worry, Fargo's seen far more than just kisses in his time...' His fingertips twisted slightly and she wriggled again. 'Yes, that would be good, wouldn't it, my sweet?' His light voice took on a vaguely contemplative cast. 'I'd like to see you aroused before many... Your loins naked and pumping for the pleasure of others as well as yourself. Your sex wet and engorged... My fingers working you while an audience looks on.'

'No! That's awful!' Lies! Lies! Lies!

But he knew...

'It isn't and you know it,' he purred, both hands working now, tugging at the tips of her breasts in a slow wicked rhythm. 'You were walking around that gallery, looking at my pictures... and you were even more on show than they were. Why else wear a dress so thin, and be so nude beneath it?'

She made a token noise of dissent, her hands gouging at the leather seat as without warning he flipped down the top of her bustier and rolled it to just beneath her nipples.

'And this morning, so chic,' he went on mercilessly, just touching her exposure very gently, his forefinger rubbing each crinkled peak in turn as if to ensure their continued stiffness. 'That pretty business-girl suit on a body that was hot for sex. There're words for you, Dee-' He studied her naked nipples for a second, then dropped both hands to the hem of her skirt and started pushing. Inexorably. 'You're wanton, my darling. You're rude. You're easy. You're horny. How many of your contemporaries would allow a man to touch them between the legs so soon after meeting them... You're a gorgeous little slut, Dee, aren't you?'

She shook her head, but her stocking tops and suspenders were already on view, her thighs soft and creamy above the thick dark bands of nylon. Just a millimetre short of her crotch he stopped, but when she gasped with relief, he thrust a hand into rift between her legs and poked crudely at her vulva through the cobweb-fine silk of her panties.

'No,' she sobbed, as he rubbed her clitoris through the delicate gusset. She'd wanted to be more powerful tonight, more in control. She'd promised Delia she'd try.

'Let's have these off, shall we?' he said suddenly, in a strangely matter-of-fact tone of voice, pushing her skirt right up and out of the way and hooking his thumbs into the elastic of her tiny knickers. They were a soft sheeny peach-shade, matching her suspenders, but right now they seemed simply a hindrance to this man who'd utterly bewitched her.

With a peculiar, almost voluptuous sense of resignation, she lifted her hips to help him make her trembling sex naked. Something of the artist in her was able to look down on what was revealed quite dispassionately. She hadn't wanted to wear stockings because of the heat, but they, and the pastel suspenders they were hooked to, made a perfect frame for the soft honeyed creaminess of her belly and the warm brown motte at its base.

Perversely, he left her tiny pants caught around her ankles - an adornment more lewd by far than if he'd taken them off her completely - and pushed her knees open with his fingertips, touching very lightly as if respecting the seven denier fragility of her hose.

'Quite lovely,' he said, sliding one hand under her, between her thighs, and pulling her bottom to the edge of the seat.

Hope you enjoyed that! Leave a comment and your name will go into a draw to win a signed copy of a book from my backlist.

Gemini Heat is available now from and on 27th May from


Portia Da Costa
The Stubborn Old Warhorse of Black Lace

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crush Wednesday: Bollywood Men

by Janine Ashbless

There are some things you shouldn’t admit to liking if you want people to take you seriously: Porn – D&D - Musicals – Comics – SF- Bollywood films.


I suffered a lightning conversion to Bollywood while on holiday in India. The tour guide suggested we all go to the cinema. "But it’ll be in Hindi!" we said. "It doesn’t matter," he told us: "enough of the dialogue will be in English. The plots are easy to follow anyway." So we went and saw a romcom whose name escapes me. Then a few days later in Delhi we went and watched Bluffmaster. Abhishek Bachchan! Phwoar!! I haven’t looked back – though I have to admit watching them with the subtitles on really does help.

So if you’ve never tried watching Indian movies, or your memory is of dodgy 70s moustaches and ferocious overacting, let me persuade you to take a look. Now, Bollywood has an enormously fast turnout of films – hundreds and hundreds per year – but stick to big-budget, big-name films which have been well-reviewed and you won’t be disappointed. "Masala" films are entertaining - and sexy!

Indian films, like any art form, have their own structure and rules. Here’s a Gori guide to some of them:

1) The films are very long – normally 3 hours. Much like Shakespeare’s plays, they are intended for a mass audience and will have something to please everyone including the cheap seats. There will be spectacular musical/dance numbers. There will probably be an undignified slapstick scene.

  • 2) The actresses (unless they are playing a mother or a comedy role) are jawdroppingly, astonishingly beautiful. The men on the whole, alas, are not. (But don’t worry! – wait for my gallery of heroes below.)

  • 3) Not matter how light and fluffy the first half of the film is, there is no guarantee that the hero (or heroine, or both) will not be dead by the end of the closing credits. Emotional drama, particularly willing sacrifice, is an important ingredient.

  • 4) The cinematography will be great.

  • 5) Just as American film/TV obsesses about the father-son relationship, Bollywood obsesses about the mother-son relationship. Mothers are always saintly.

6) The singing will be dubbed. Male singers sound normal to Western ears, female ones sound like they are pinching their noses. You just have to get used to it.

7) Not matter how revealing the clothes and steamy the looks or the dancing, no one will kiss. (Except in Dhoom 2, and it got taken to court for obscenity!)

8) Love don’t come free. Romantic love is treated as the most wonderful, overwhelming experience – with the potential to tear lives and families apart. Win or lose, you will suffer for love.

9)If the heroine is wearing a spectacular white dress and receiving a ring that’s not the wedding, it’s the engagement party. Brides wear traditional red clothes for weddings.

10) Yes, you probably have come across this plot elsewhere. Bollywood has a longstanding tradition of sticking 2 fingers up to the concept of intellectual copyright, so you may suffer from odd feelings of deja-vu. Jism (I kid you not!) is a rewrite of Body Heat. Zinda is Oldboy. And so on.

So who are the men worth watching? My personal favourites are…

Shah Rukh Khan. He’s in hundreds of films. An absolute superstar, nicknamed "King Khan". Very likeable screen persona. SRK usually plays a nice-guy hero, dances well and is very good at the teary tragic bits. For Om Shanti Om he buffed up to glorious effect. See him in: Asoka; Dil Se; Devdas; Veer-Zaara.

Amitabh Bachchan. Semi-divine superstar of the previous acting generation: think Sean Connery but much more popular. Dignified charisma personified. Nicknamed the "Big B". See him in – well, just about everything, as the hero’s or heroine's father; Kabhi Kushie Kabhie Gham; Aetbaar.

Abhishek Bachchan. Son of Amitabh above right. Think he looks a bit rough? He’s tall, strongly built and oozes a gruff masculine charisma. Not the best-looking hero, but probably the sexiest. Plays loners, tough guy heroes. See him in Dhoom & Dhoom 2; Bluffmaster.

  1. John Abraham. Male supermodel. Body of a god. What can I say? (Apart from "Gimme now!") Usually plays villains and badboys. See him in Aetbaar (my review here); Dhoom; Jism.

Hrithik Roshan. Muscles and unusual looks (including green eyes and an extra thumb). See him in Dhoom 2 where he plays a master of disguise and stars in the most knicker-wetting basketball scene ever written.

Arjun Rampal. I’ve only seen him in one film – Om Shanti Omwhere he played the villain. And I’d let him tie me down and have his evil way any day! Another supermodel turned actor.

And if you want another set of opinions (and …. ooh ….photos) take a look at the India Times Top 10 Men.

If you’ve never seen a Bollywood film I suggest the following as a good place to start. They’re easy to find on Amazon and they all have at least one yummy hero (and many lovely women).

1) Bluffmaster: modern setting: witty, twisty comic romantic tale about a con-artist. Reminiscent of the TV series "Hustle".

2) Rang De Basanti: one of my favourite films ever. Political drama. Modern setting but with flashbacks to the Raj; about a bunch of layabout students who get involved in making a film with an English girl. Great music. It’s a fabulous movie but the end made me cry. (Frenetic trailer here)

3) Dhoom 2: Crime/chase caper with motorcycles and exploding helicopters and stuff. Two sexy heroes (Abhishek as the cop in pursuit of Hrithik the criminal) for the price of one! Also stars the worst shirts ever worn by man.

4) Veer-Zaara : Romance. SRK is in prison for a crime he did not commit, to safeguard his true love. Brave ‘n’ beautiful female lawyer hears his story and fights to win his freedom. Glorious cinematography.

5) Dil Se: Tragic romance. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl turns out to be suicide-bomber… Scenery so beautiful it will take your breath away. Has a very famous dance sequence set on the top of a moving steam-train.

6) Lagaan: Historic Raj setting. Sports drama about a grudge cricket match between Indian villagers and the local British regiment.

7) Asoka: Ancient historic setting. The (romanticised) tale of the rise of Asoka - first Emperor of India - who subjected the surrounding kingdoms to bloody conquest before renouncing violence, converting to Buddhism, and instituting one of the oldest and most humane systems of law in the ancient world. Swords ‘n’ saris!

But I regret to tell you that although the movie Jism does star John Abraham, it’s not nearly as rude as it sounds!

Janine Ashbless
My website : My updated linktastic Blog which now comes to you in glorious GREEN

P.S. All the films and actors mentioned above have their own individual Wikipedia entries if you want to know more.
Any questions? (I don’t promise I can answer them!) Or am I preaching to the choir?

Monday, April 21, 2008

"His throbbing member"

by Olivia Knight

Dangerous Liaisons: the nasty and delicious Viscount Valmont has set about ruining the happy little virgin, Cecile de Valonges: ‘Now,’ he says, running his tongue down her shuddering breasts, ‘ I think we might begin with one or two Latin terms…’

He may begin with Latin terms, but for erotica writers, ‘penis’ usually won’t do. ‘He placed his penis in her vagina’ is a public information documentary, not porn. On the other end of the scale, no porn pastiche is complete without a throbbing member, as in ‘He thrust his throbbing member into her dripping honey-well.’ So what do we say?

Jean Auel, of The Mammoth Hunters fame, is the queen of throbbing members: they’re huge, hot, and they always throb:

Jondalar was so swollen, so big, how would he fit himself in her? … Her eyes were drawn to his throbbing member…His manhood was throbbing eagerly, impatiently …Only few women had depth enough to take in all of him…
– Jean M. Auel, The Valley of the Horses

No penises for Ms Auel: members, manhoods, or – at a push – shafts. She wouldn’t pass the Black Lace guidelines, which beg authors to ‘hold the euphemisms’ and specifically not to say ‘the centre of her womanhood / his rampant manhood’ etc. Body parts, they observe stiffly, only throb when they’re injured, and men do not talk about their ‘glans’. What’s arousing in a situation is ‘not the exact length, colour and consistency of the guy’s cock,’ which means curtains for Fanny Hill, too – arguably the first porn novel.

In his seminal (and there’s plentiful semen) book, John Cleland does much the same as Freud: take men’s experience, mirror-image it, get women’s. Voilà! And so he describes dicks, from his female characters’ points of view, with the loving attentiveness usually reserved for breasts:

I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the plaything of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard that, had proportions been observed, it must have belonged to a young giant: yet I could not, without pleasure, behold, and even venture to feel such a length, such a breadth of animated ivory! perfectly well-tuned and fashioned, the proud stiffness of which distended his skin, whose smooth polish and velvet softness might vie with that of the most delicate of our sex, and whose exquisite whiteness was not a little set off by a sprout of black curling hair around the root, through the jetty sprigs of which the fair skin showed as in a fine evening you may have remarked the clear light ether through the branchwork of distant trees overtopping the summit of a hill: then the broad and bluish-casted incarnate of the head, and blue serpentines of its veins, altogether composed the most striking assemblage of figure and colours in nature. In short, it stood an object of terror and delight.
– John Cleland, Fanny Hill, or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

We tend to be more restrained about ‘prodigious engines of pleasure’ and ‘tools of monstrous proportions’ – it’s a cock, not a battering ram, and we’re describing sex, not a photographic close-up. Occasionally, however, it’s an object worthy of detailed attention:

My mouth goes first dry, then begins to water with sensual hunger. As does his glans ... I smear the silky fluid over the hot, flared head of his cock. The solid flesh is hard, like polished wood, the superfine skin stretched by his extreme arousal. This magnificent organ is a thing of raw, physical beauty, the very expression of primal maleness, the essence of man.
…His body is a gift, a living sex toy.
And an object of worship.

Portia da Costa, In Too Deep, out in September 2008

She said glans! (I promise not to tell.) She also, mostly, says ‘cock’. We have a plethora of synonyms – just take a listen to Monty Python’s Penis Song

… but, as Janine Ashbless says, ‘Everyone knows what a cock is,’ even if she prefers prick. In historical settings, you can get away, as she does, with ‘pintle’, ‘pizzle’, and ‘tarse’ (I’ll pass). She swears blind that ‘phallus’ is good for high fantasy settings and she even throws in a few Latin terms: phalli, anyone? (Madelynne Ellis has already covered more historical terms in her post Sexy Slang.) Erastes, also writing historicals, manages to slip in some ‘loins’ in Standish and – this is man-on-man – cocks abound:

Then oh joy, hands again, on the top of his thighs, rubbing them gently, hot breath on his cock, then a tongue, lapping at his scrotum, making him gasp as each sac was licked and nipped, and taken into a hot mouth, rolled around and then left in the cold, while the mouth moved on, never still.
– Erastes, Standish

Action, not description, is the order of the day with modern erotica, but even to describe a cock in action you still need more than one word. After four chapters of my first erotic novel, The Ten Visions, my own inventiveness ran out and I summoned my free-minded friends to a cocktail bar for a brain-storming session. True brain-storming, it was a free-for-all: no word too foul, too childish, too naff, or too plain absurd for inclusion.

The words fell into categories, most distinctly masculine. We had weapons: club, spear, javelin, flesh burner, arrow, shot-gun, and sabre. We had machinery by the truckload: sledgehammer, drill, rocket, tool, sputnik, gear-stick, hose, shuttle, and piston. We had a bit of food (sausage, meat-and-two-veg, hotdog) and some appeals to the natural world (stamen, branch, woodie, slug, snake, trunk). We got coy, with manhood, length, appendage, his triumph, hardness, member, loins, and lingam, or preferred to describe the smoke rather than the fire: his bulge, his groin. We turned childish: weiner, willy, schlong, and dong. No-one remembers or will admit to putting forward ‘fish’.

I lurched proudly homewards with my very own Olivia’s Thesaurus of Filth (penis wasn’t the only subject we covered), but as the cocktails wore off I reread it. When would I ever refer to a man’s sputnik? Could I ever write ‘stamen’ or ‘lingam’ without hurling at my own cute bashfulness? And why, pacifist and feminist that I am, would I ever describe cocks as weapons? Did I even have three useful terms? Yes, as it turned out, because it’s all a question of context.

In The Ten Visions, when Adrian gives it to his ex with Sarah witnessing through magic, weapons are perfect for the scene:

She felt the thrill of that constricting passage, the ache to push harder, how Adrian’s spear danced with excitement at Clara’s wail. His hand seized one of the small breasts, using it to pull himself up from his knees onto her. His weight lodged his weapon deeper inside and the girl howled to be fucked.
– Olivia Knight, The Ten Visions

In a very different scene between Sarah and Adrian, they’re in a place of perfect purity and she’s discovering his earth-magic, so the flowery terms I disdained suddenly have their place:

The deliberation of each movement made it exquisitely tense, as they trembled against each other’s skin. She pulled her leg up gradually until her inner thigh rested on his sharp hip bone. Her tender lips unfurled like an orchid, exposing her entrance to the cold air. The swollen head of his stamen nudged against her small bud.

In ‘Barely Grasped Pictures’ – still my favourite of my short stories – only ‘cock’ would do, but in ‘Innana’s Temple’, in 3000 BC, ‘tool’ made sense. And in the novella The Dragon Lord (coming out 1 May in Magic and Desire), I found a place for arrows, rods, shafts, and even, memorably, a slug. Everything has its time and place. Perhaps I’ll go hard-core urban soon, and use some drills and sputniks.

So what’s your preferred word for – you know, a thingie – and what makes you cringe? What’s the best and worst descriptions you’ve read (or written)? And have you ever said, in all sincerity, ‘his throbbing member’?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Coming Attractions

by Janine Ashbless

It's a lovely sunny day and I'm lying in a field watching half-naked young men running around...

No, sadly, that's not true. It's just one of those dreams you have when it's nearly the end of April and you're wondering why it's still cold and grey out there. Luckily here on Lust Bites we have some things to keep you toasty warm...

On Monday Olivia Knight will be thinking about cocks. Not that she doesn't do that just about all the time, you understand, but she will be considering how we write about them, what synonyms we use, and the phrase we should never use unless we want to be laughed out of the Writers' Club: his throbbing member.

On Crush Wednesday I shall be here to share my enthusiasm for the male stars of Bollywood films, and give you some idea of who to look out for.

And on Friday Portia Da Costa will have a hot excerpt from her re-issued classic novel, Gemini Heat.

Is it just me or is it warm in here?

(who has just been told she is allowed to write a minotaur porn story and is thus insufferable. More so than normal, even.)

Winners! Winners! Winners ! And a new competition!

The winner of the Big Book of Filth (sex slang quiz comp) is Nikki Magennis.

The winner of a Kate Pearce book (love letters comp) is Tess.

Congratulations! The address to send your postal details to is lustbitesladies[at]yahoo[dot]com

The winner of Portia Da Costa's RETURN TO GOTHICWORLD draw is: Kaisquared.
The winner of her ANCIENT AND MODERN draw is:Kissa Starling.
Portia has decided to give *both* winners a copy of both Gemini Heat and Gothic Heat.
She's still waiting to hear from the winner of the BOUND BRITS draw:R F Long, and from the winner of her FIRST ANNIVERSARY SCAVENGER HUNT prize: Jeanette.
People who've won a Portia prize should email her at: portiadacosta[at]gmail[dot]com

And as a bonus: the first smartypants who can name here the film from which the photo above comes wins a copy of Insatiable by Valerie Tasso - but to be honest I think my book is safe! Closing date Tuesday night (which should give you some clue).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dirty Laundry; Jane Lockwood guest blogs

While I'm off gadding around with cover models at the Romantic Times Conference I persuaded my dear friend Jane Lockwood, author of Forbidden Shores to write a great post for our blog today! So please welcome Jane and excuse me if I get back to, the cover models, um I mean promotional activities...
Kate Pearce x

"Ma'am, I should like to be under your Man Cook by Way of Improvement."

Thanks for having me as your guest on Lust Bites!

I'm Jane Lockwood and I write dirty books. Dirty historical books, actually--and I blog with our very own Kate Pearce over at The Spiced Tea Party, where we spend quite a bit of time talking about how to write hot books that are also historically accurate. If you want to hear more about that, and you're attending RWA National in San Francisco, Pam Rosenthal and I will present our workshop Writing the Hot Historical at 8:30 a.m. (aargh) on Saturday, August 2.

The commercial break is now over--sort of. Because I'm also giving a workshop later that day on Georgian servants, which is what I've really researched--and strangely enough, the material overlaps. Why? Socio-economic changes and all sorts of good stuff you’ll have to attend my servant workshop to understand.

But during the period, a genre of art became popular--portraits of servants at work. Of course portraits of women in the kitchen, particularly surrounded by suggestive vegetables, had long been popular (wow! look at the size of her .... cabbages).

Possibly portraits were a sentimental representation of obedient, diligent family retainers from a mythical golden age of master-servant relationships. Servants, after all, knew the secrets of the house and their employers, and they were supposed to be loyal and discreet—but not always. During the sensational divorce trial of Lady Diana Bolingbroke (1734-1808), her servants testified with enthusiastic attention to detail about locked doors and the hair powder on one end of the couch and the mud on the other (from the head and boots respectively of her adulterous lover). Yes, it was the House of Lords; yes, they were under oath; but you get the impression they went a bit above and beyond the call of duty.

Some portraits had a very strong erotic quality; look at this lady’s maid (she's very well dressed in her mistress's cast-offs) eyeing you up while she washes her mistress' undies. Robert Morland's series of women doing laundry was wildly popular, reproduced as engravings for the discerning gentleman. He actually produced two versions of the woman ironing--this one with her eyes modestly downcast, and another of her staring brazenly at the viewer. Note how cleavage takes center stage in both pics. Think about it. A woman doing something with her hands and allowing someone to watch—it’s full of erotic possibilities. Maybe she knows she’s being watched … or maybe she’s pretending she doesn’t know.

Questions, comments?

Jane has also offered to give away of copy of "Forbidden Shores" to one lucky poster.