Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hogmanayhumbug

Shhh. Don't tell anyone, but boyf and I are going to do something really shocking tonight. While the rest of Scotland girds its loins for the biggest drunken shit-faced hoo-ha of the year, we're...staying in. No first-footing, no roaring at the bells. No falling over in the street and no brain-cracking hangover tomorrow.

I should explain, for those of you that don't know, Hogmanay in Scotland is treated with a kind of alcoholic reverence. Here at the best of times we 'drink like it's going to be taken away from us', and New Year is the glace cherry on the cake of drunken bedlam. In the past I've watched guys toss flaming balls of tar into the sea, a procession of burning 'flambeaux' thrown in the river, fireworks over Edinburgh castle, fireworks in Aberdeen, danced on the table and played egg tennis in the Highlands, attended ceilidhs and parties and after-parties, crashed and burned and gate-crashed.

But this year, we are going to clean the house, toast each other quietly, and watch the new year come in with clear eyes. I can't wait.


Happy New Year all.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy (New Year)

Ooh, I'm in the quiet no-man's land between one festival and another. Nothing but leftover roast duck and a burgeoning liver to pick over, with the discarded remnants of wrapping paper drifting around one's feet. This is one of my favourite times of year. Like a turning space, between Saturnalian excess and the bright roar of New Year (- Scotland's favourite festival.)

Tip toe around quietly, and would you believe it, this is a great time to do some Actual writing...it's one of those stories that just swooped in unannounced and buggered up my schedule but fuck it, I'm having great fun. And we got a new bed - a big wooden sleigh bed that will be heavenly to curl up in with tea and cigs and laptop and ....

I'm off.

hee hee!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Premature orgasmification. And prizes...


Oops. Last night, despite being very tired and not really in the mood boyf and I did our bit for global peace. What with festive visitors and celebrations, we worked out the only window for our mutual orgasm for world peace was two o'clock this morning.

...but now I see there's a countdown and it's sposed to be synchronised globally. Now that's what I call ambitious.

For those of you who'd like to spread some orgasmic peace energy, zero hour is at about 3 this afternoon in the UK. Unless boyf wants to really impress his work colleagues and I want to thoroughly dismay my relatives, I think we're going to miss the big bang. But who knows, I might be able to sneak off somewhere and give myself a sly tickle, because I do think it's a nice idea. And they even have a T-shirt with the slogan 'We came in peace' which will make a lovely last minute Christmas present for Aunty Dot.

In other news, nip over to lust bites today for a very special festive post. With prizes!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006



Sometimes I wish for the time when a gentleman would consult his 'timepiece of advice' to see whether it was the appropriate hour for perseverance, civility or little liberties. Bring back the dying art of courtship! I demand my billets-doux!

- I'm not sure that I'd be up for 'nice bits or giblets' at any time of the day or night though.

(18th century 'timepiece' found in Schott's Almanac.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life is beautiful

sometimes I read things that make me feel sad and hopeful and incredible and silent, all at once.

Alice Herz-Sommer is 103. She is a pianist, and an optimist. Please read her story.


'The world is wonderful, it's full of beauty and full of miracles.'

A Herz-Sommer

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My crush



I know I'm greedy. Newman with a side order of Bobby, please.

More about lustbites

I never expected lustbites to get such a fast and positive response. It's been a hurricane in there - and that's just the tip of the iceberg! Behind the scenes we've all been planning and working feverishly - most of us can now conduct a conversation entirely in html. Without swearing much.

For all those of you who've contacted me to get involved - a huge thank you. We've stopped taking on new 'contributing authors' now, as our sidebar is well and truly overflowing. To clarify how it all works:

All our contributing authors are published female authors. Most of us work for Black Lace or Cheek books (that's my publisher), which is 'erotica for women, by women'.
BUT we warmly and enthusiastically welcome all your comments. We want to generate discussion, build a community and learn more about all the folk in the erotic sphere, writers, readers, publishers et al.

I'm sorry we can't take on everybody as a contributing author, but I do need some time to eat and sleep (hey, maybe even write!) and we had to put a cap on it at some point.

I hope you'll join us and keep visiting as the blog continues to grow and transform...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hyperventilation...

It's cold, and I can hear the thunder of Christmas approaching. Being of the elfish persuasion, I am painting chairs feverishly. As well as hacking and primping and tweaking over at Lustbites. Swing by and join in - we're having a whale of a time.
Our Wednesday session is devoted to man-crushes. Should I be embarrassed by some of my more outre fancy men? Help me out by telling me your favourite Daydream Lover. (Boys can play too - we're not fussy. And we won't bite. Much.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

I have this dream...

That me and all the people I know and love - scuse me, I'm a little tipsy, this might get sentimental - are having a big party at my house by the sea, on the cliff top, in the garden. You know, everybody. The sun's shining and there's charred meat on the grill and we're drinking cold glasses of wine and laughing.

In my experience the actual parties - even the big ones - never quite manage to include everybody. There's the long-lost lovers and the friends we've fallen out of touch with. The people who are no longer with us. Or it rains or we get too drunk or lose our wallet. Something always gets in the way and clouds the experience a little.

And then I realise that the whole of life might be like that party, only not condensed into one afternoon. A series of dreams, of wonderful times, spaced out graciously over years and years.

Have a good weekend all. x

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lust bites - a new blog is born!

I'm not sure what happened - I got all excited and just made a new blog for all us smutty writers. Nip over to Lust Bites to witness the birth of what might just be something quite special...


Oh, and for lady erotica writers who'd like to be a part of it, please just send me your email and I'll sign you up. We ain't got door rules or a dress code yet, so roll up before we start getting full!

(nikki dot magennis at googlemail dot com)

Got an idea

It's been a regular Black Lace-fest over at romancebytheblog today. I got all shivery and start to think erotica could change the world...

And I was just thinking - if I set up one of those group blog things, who'd be up for contributing? Mathilde Madden suggested something similar recently. A place for discussion and misbehaving. I'm a hopeless technophobe, but it might just woik. Shall I set one up, or will I be the only one at the party, with a crumpled paper hat and a sausage on a stick and no-one to play with?

And what could we call it? Smutbites. No, no, wait: Lovebites - surely that's taken? Quick, I'm going to see if I can reserve it...

Hotties


My lovely editor Adam Nevill is writing on a romance blog today - nip over here to poke fun and tease him. Or even offer some sensible comments on the mass debate, if you're so inclined.

Meanwhile I'm spending today romancing a hot water bottle - aren't they the most wonderful of inventions?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Naked DIY

Here's a picture you may not want to imagine - me on Friday night brandishing a large gun and wearing only a pair of gardening gloves, yelling at the boyf to bring me a teaspoon.

Yes, I turned down a hep party to stay in and mastic the gap round the top of the bath. (Such is the joy of growing older and living in the suburbs.) I'd read in the Great Book of Plumber's Wisdom that you need to fill the bath with water first. Obviously the easiest way to do the squeezing and filling of the parts that are hard to reach was in the scud. So I stripped and jumped in and merrily plugged away, taking care to keep any sensitive bits out of the way of the Hazardous Substances.

Bath is now iced like a wedding cake, as is some of the floor and the wall. Now I'm wondering, if we'd got a real plumber in to do the job, would they have done the same?

The edited life

I'm writing this post entirely without the use of the 'delete' kay. It's a little unnerving to say the least, but it's for a reason. I realised that now we tend to cumminicate by text and email and every message we send is can be smoothed and altered and f'ixed' before we commit to it. Real conversation is so messy - htere's no record of what we've said and there's not way to go back and add in the joke we just thought o or unsay what we wish we hadn't.

Remeber typerwiters? Letters on onionskiin paper? Illuminated maunscripts fo tat matter. The difference is the spped, I think. these days we clatter out and beep and send what sanitised second thoughts we tink are fit for opsterity. The only way to write chorently without editing is to slow the whole process down. Perhaps we might breahte slower too. Thiink better. Or even we might remember all the failings and errrors and hiatu

ses that amke up life in real itime. My editor's going to hate me, if I stick tot he new philosophy of writing wihtout editing. This stuff is barely legible. And it may take me some time to sharpen the quill and commence work on the new Book. Expect a completed one in a couple of years...meanwhile , have a slow and delighteful Sudnay, with all its errors and mishaps intact. x

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cinderella sex

I just finished a first draft. I'm proud, not because it's beautiful writing. Not yet. It's rough and clunky. But because I managed to ignore the voices. You know, the chattering critics in your head that sneer and titter and shake their heads. I got the bones down, the actual storyline that hovers around the words.

I've been struggling with the fine points of sex writing. It is hard to write about actual fucking, because you want to keep present, very visceral, very sexy, very real. But a litany of physical action doesn't work, and I tend to lose track of punctuation when it gets to - this is the thing: how do you describe an orgasm? It's such a wordless experience. Mindless, almost. I don't like swerving into metaphor, and unless you're writing first person it's hard to describe what a person feels when they're coming. Something like -

Uh
Uh
Uh


Might be the most accurate description. But then, I don't think I'd get away with it...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Summer in midwinter - the tea ceremony

Writing: I sit with these words in my head and try not to think about them, but only of them:

Meat, shoes, fat girl, rum, chopped limes, summer, sex, cigar, money, hair-grease, teeth.

Now I'm going to try and weave it all together. God, this is a strange way to spend your days. Things are finally easing off on the other-work front, so I should be getting back into some solid writing. Only, the more time stretches ahead, the more I tend to fidget. Enough, I'm being strict today. And kind.

In other news - now I've got a little breathing space I'm taking time to rediscover the very small things that I take pleasure in. For one thing - a good cup of tea. My tea making ritual changes, but I've always loved the elements. There's something about making oneself a cup of tea that seems like the ultimate pleasure. I just found Darjeeling is my new favourite, light and sweet and good. I have a favourite cup - (bone china, natch). A carved wooden Indian tray. Sugar bowl, the nice spoon with the thin neck that I um, borrowed from a cafe because I loved it so much. Freshly drawn water, a slowly steeped bag.
A cup that warms the hands. Steam rising. Sip.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

oh oh fashion


... have a look see at some pretty pictures.

'never the same twice' were given a houseful of vintage fabric to play with. They came up with some beautiful clothes, found models and borrowed a castle for the shoot. I took photos.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jeg går en Tur - A self portrait by Lasse Gjertsen

Ok, not getting any work done today. Instead, I've developed a crush on an inappropriate young man. This film of his is lovely, but there's other brilliant ones. Have a look...and if I ever meet him I happen to know a dirty phrase in Norwegian that might come in handy...

Writer wanted

Job description:

To write an amount of words in some kind of order. Sometime.

Essential qualities:

Olympic-standard laziness.

The ability to berate oneself constantly about said laziness.

Nailbiting or other oral fixation.

Intravenous broad-band connection

Please answer the following questions imaginatively. If you can't manage imaginatively, please try 'desperately':

1. What do you consider your most effective procrastination strategy?
2. What is your favourite excuse when the postman/gasman/burglar discovers you still in your nightwear at three in the afternoon?
3. What do you plan to have for lunch next Wednesday, now that the tuna in the fridge has turned a strange shade of grey?
3. Describe in no less than three thousand words your latest paranoid fantasy, including but not limited to:
a) Suspected Terminal Illness of the Day.
b) Likely Neurosis or Mental Health Problem of the Week
c) The plot of your next novel. *

*(optional)


Please return this form just after the deadline to ensure you are in no danger of courting success. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

...on the other hand

I just got word from HQ, and my story 'A Whole New City' will be appearing in the Black Lace anthology 'Sex with a Stranger'. Due out some time next summer, I think.

(A feeble whoop emanates from under the bedclothes...)

Bad dreams

Blog currently in quarantine. I've got what would be called 'man-flu' if I wasn't a girl. And I make a terrible patient.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sit at my desk with the fire on next to me and get back into the new book. Only a stream of visitors (since when did I get visitors?) has appeared out of nowhere. I've been fashion-shooting and receiving chairs for decoration and dragging my sorry flu-ridden ass out of bed to go for dinner with seldom-seen friends.

In between I've had the weirdest dreams, and wake up like a wild boar with a running nose, snuffling and snorting and moaning.

This is when I start to get peevish and vile, and will eventually start to ignore phone calls, doorbells and singing telegrams. It's that time of year when everyone starts to get in the spirit of the season already, and I'm too occupied.

Bah humbug.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nice feeling

You ever wake up and open your eyes to a sunny day that just feels ... right?

Hmm....

Oh yes, and I was writing a post in my head that was about why Shanna Germain deserves to win the Rauxa Prize. It's got nothing to do with the fact that I have the pleasure of knowing her from my crit group. It was something about how her writing is expansive, moving, beautiful, warm, inventive, imaginative and meaningful. And that she is totally dedicated, but still human. We need writers like this. In fact, if I was an editor I'd be beating down her door to publish a collection of her short stories, and promising her a good fat advance to do it.

Gets my vote...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Limbo


It's gone quiet in here lately, I know.

For once I am actually working my big fat arse off. Starting (finally! At last!) My Next Novel. The plot's not fully worked out, but I think if I hum and haw anymore I'll go crazy. And hopefully it will fix itself as I write.

And waiting, waiting, waiting, for responses to half a dozen pieces I've sent out into the ether. This is the point I get all superstitious, and think: If I repeat affirmations and cross my fingers and am good, they will be accepted.

Meanwhile, been exercising my new camera and being a hungover, partially useless fashion photographer for a friend. We discussed the pics today, and I actually heard myself say 'she's got hips that just don't work in that outfit'. At which point my BF snorted his tea all over the table and I realised how far I am from being the kind of person that can pass comment on anybody's appearance. Didn't stop me from labelling the next outfit 'a bit reader's wives'.

For your viewing pleasure, my good friend being styled. (Head removed so she doesn't kill me.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shiny brand new books

I'm having a hiatus. I love hiatusii - it means wafting around and visiting the library and having conversations with myself about what I'm doing and why.

This morning I got a lovely surprise - my shiny new copy of Saskia Walker's Double Dare. So far I've done nothing more than flirt with it - eye up the beautiful cover and read the snippets on the back. I'll settle in a big armchair later, curl up with a glass of wine and indulge...

But it got me thinking just what beautiful objects books are. Brand new they have that fresh-ink smell, the glossy perfection of the cover, maybe an embossed title. They feel good in the hand. A good, solid, comforting weight, like a thick slice of cake or a well-wrapped gift. Flitting around on the net, words drift in and out of my vision. When writing you're lost in that glowing white screen, and the words are still writhing like live creatures, half real, half imagined.

People are murmuring now about PODs and ebooks and the future of reading. Fact is, though, that there's nothing like the weight of a book - the solid, undeniable, fat-with-accomplishment look of printed words on a page. They're so real. Books are for holding onto.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Reno Balloon Race 2006

Something pretty for the weekend...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wrapped up

- two shorts that I had to edit yesterday. At least, I got to the point where all the words were swimming and I couldn't tweak anymore.

And then got to do what I'd really wanted to do all day - start on my punky bondage Strawberry Switchbladesque story.

I swear, it's like channeling. Sit to write, do a paragraph (nine o'clock, still not even been to the supermarket. Boyfriend is saying stuff to me, speaking in my ear. I'm thinking - will the bus work as a location? What is she wearing?). Finally get dragged out to buy supplies. Pissing rain. Yes, I think, it's raining in the story too. Wet clothes. Ribbons.

I'm here but I'm not here, I'm in a parellel universe, a forty year old man remembering his punk-soaked youth and the girl who caught his eye on a rainy night...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The internet is cool and terrible.

The internet is cool because - I wrote that post about some of my favourite books down there, and this morning had a comment from one of the authors - Tod Goldberg - author of the fabulous Living Dead Girl. How cool is that?

I read the book a couple of years ago and remember most the atmosphere of it; dark and golden. I don't have a copy, but I know it must have had a certain quality to it, because only That Kind of Book makes it onto my favourites list. The quality is - hard to define or explain, it's oblique and slanted, off centre and fresh. There's some fantastic books I wouldn't put on my list because they miss that quality - The shipping news, for example, is incredible, the writing's beautiful. But there's a kind of slant that particularly moves me that isn't there - the plot is somehow whole and complete, and I prefer things damaged and skewed, just so much.

Proulx's short stories have it, oh god, that woman writes so heartstoppingly well. In fact, short stories more often have it than novels. And poems often hit the right angle. It's a kind of careless grace, an ease of writing. Barbara Kingsolver's short stories, but not 'The Poisonwood Bible', though it's an incredible book.

I still can't explain the elusive Quality. Author's first books rarely have it - more often when they're older and have a thick back catalogue to lean against - when they throw out the little rough-hewn stories that are spare and beautiful and not fully explicable. When they've burned off the hunger and the words just fall out of them, like an outbreath. (Or seem to). When it comes to quantifying them, I've been trying to pin down the unpinnable for years now.

And this is why the internet is terrible - I had a friend who went to live in Japan who understood the Quality and we communicated daily for years. Long rambling wonderful letters, about love and books and islands that I would love to read again. Only they weren't letters, they were emails, and when my PC died they were lost forever.

Little miracles flare up in the ethernet and burn out quickly.

Friday, October 20, 2006

1001 books

So there's a new list of 1001 books you must read before you die. I downloaded the list, and started reading through it, ticking off titles I've read.

Then I realised that reading isn't a competitive sport. I remembered that half the books I've been told I 'must' read have left me cold. Half the big phenomenon books don't live up to the hype - I don't know that many books could live up to the ecstatic, foam-at-the-mouth ravings you find on the back covers.

And also - reading takes a varied, forking, tangential path. I don't think I like the idea of moving steadily through a list, nodding along with every other reader in the Western world, accepting the 'greats' and discarding all the other oblique, strange, off-list books that never make it for some reason. What about the 'withdrawn' library books that have never been borrowed but turn out to be phenomenal, unpopular revelations? I think all we can do is write our own lists.

Sod the official list. Here's mine, in no particular order, of some books I've loved and loved:

The Saddest Pleasure, by Moritz Thomsen
Living's the Strange Thing, by Carmen Martin Gaite
Snow is Silent, by Benjamin Prado
Chekhov's shorts
A confederate general from big sur - Richard Brautigan
Toward the end of time - John Updike
Norwegian wood - Haruki Murakami
The Unbearable lightness of being - Milan Kundera
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Old man and the Sea - Hemingway
Unless - Carol Shields
Living Dead girl - tod goldberg
Enormous changes at the last minute - Grace Paley
Things you should know - AM Homes
My life in heavy metal - Steve Almond
Janet Evanovich's Plum books


....at which point I give up and wander off to read something new, lists losing interest after a few minutes or so.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In the wrong job.

Thanks to Madelynne Ellis for this lovely little bit of time-wasting fun.



You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.



(Yes, but I have bills to pay!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Barrelling along...

If you've got a spare half hour or so - drop into Barrelhouse's community story project and add your twist to their story in progress.

(I'm still thinking of what to write about oatmeal and Johnny Cash...)

It's a great site, anyway, and worth a visit.

Meanwhile, the back went into another spasm last night while I was um, talking to my boyf. I have to ration my time spent sitting at the computer, which may be no bad thing. And have a day's bed rest too, with no funny business.

God, they never warn you about this in the safe sex classes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Glasgow gets colourful.

A friend worked on this ad.

I wish they'd do it all over the city....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Strawberry switchblade research


- A brief flash in the Glasgow poppy-punk movement of the eighties. I started researching the band last night and got sucked in. So much for revision - research is much more fun.

There's this fabulous site that has recorded lengthy interviews and collected all the clips and pictures they could. (I'd never even heard of them til yesterday, but last night I learned all about the rise and fall of the polka-dot duo.) It's a perfect little story...

Now all I need is for some old Glasgow punk to drop by and arrange a hook-up with the guitarist and I will be in obscure research heaven. (And the story that started me off on this wild goose chase will never get written, because as ever real life trumps fiction.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time out

I'm sure there's a mathematical equation somewhere that goes: Inspiration expressed as 'X' increases in directly proportion to the length of time 't' spent pottering and dossing, pissing around and faffing.

If you don't believe me, try taking a whole day off - spend it in bed or in the park or in the bath or in the pub. Forget all your usual oughts and musts and shoulds and just let yourself slide down the slope of self indulgence. Please yourself - in every way you can think of... ; )

I bet you wake up the next day with a sudden flash of something - a fresh idea, a revelation, a nice warm taste in your mouth.

I spent yesterday cleaning the house, knitting and eating. Yes I am an old lady, and yes these things give me immense pleasure. Today I feel stoked up enough to revise a couple of stories and work on another two. (We'll see how far I get...)

Time is elastic in my head.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wisdom of the ages...

I just got this email from my mother. I think she's trying to cheer me up as I get older. Thought I had to share some of the quotes with you...

Inside every older person is a younger person - wondering what the hell happened.
-Cora Harvey Armstrong-

Inside me lives a skinny woman crying to get out. But I can usually shut the bitch up with cookies.
- (Unknown) -

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being -- hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
-Erma Bombeck-

Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.
-Maryon Pearson-

If you can' t be a good example -- then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
-Catherine-


Have a good weekend, y'all.

Nikki xx

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Take two.

...And in classic ditz fashion, I appear to have lost my manuscript.

There will be no four-under-a-blanket snippet, as it is lost on my defunct hard drive and only available in some of the few remaining print copies of the book. Hurry, kids, while stocks last!

Instead, I've put up the 'Pepper's Ghost' scene - one of Julia's dance routines with the circus. Later I may add more. After I've had a stiff drink and wept a little, because I really have lost two thirds of my manuscript...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The new buzz...

Starting round about now, I'll be doing some blogging and writing over at Vibrator.com - looking forward to the reviews very much...

Join me for Adventures in The Land of Sex Toys!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Woohooo

I'm 30, that's it. End of the twenties. I'm wearing new boots and panties, and I've got a shit hot camera to play with.

Also, got my first sales report for Circus Excite today - somehow I forgot that people would actually buy it. And they have! Thanks to all of you, you've made my birthday very happy.

Now I'm off for cake ...

xxx Nikki

Friday, September 29, 2006

Interesting...

GOTTA LOVE SCIENCE

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.

For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features.

However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with a spear lodged in his chest and tape over his mouth while he is on fire.

No further studies are expected.


The above from the wonderful Madalyn Aslan. I don't usually give much credence to horoscopes, but I've been reading this woman for a couple of years and she's quite scarily accurate. Plus she tells jokes. I mean, what more can you ask for in a seer?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Who's in charge round here?

(Whispering quietly so as not to scare it away.) I think I found a plot. It's the same one as I had last week, but it's tweaked and licked a little here and there and it might just shape up. I'm scared, because it's fairly simple. I prefer to hide behind lots of twists, in the hope the reader will be so dazzled by the plot they won't notice the writing. But this time, it's going to have to be good. I'll have to write it well, no choice when it's just a man and a woman and a very limited scene.

I've pinned up Hemingway's quote: Never confuse movement with action above my desk, and I'm solemnly sticking to it. It means rather than running away scared I'm delving deep into my character's thoughts and feelings and wants and fears.

Without giving too much away, it's going to be first person, present tense (Note to self - Oh Jesus, must you? Really?), and pretty intense too. I need to find out everything about BDSM! Immediately!

Heh heh heh, rubbing hands. Shopping list:

Rubber
Whips
Feathers (Okay, that's just me.)

I'm excited about this now. While some readers may have sought out this blog hoping for kinky tales (sorry!) and may not appreciate it, this is what really gets me going. Catching the drift. Hitting the point where it looks like the crazy idea might just woik....

Meanwhile, can anyone point me in the direction of some good sources for BDSM research? I know there's a club here in Glasgow but I'm absolutely terrified at the thought of going and being exposed as an undercover author-spy, and having my clothes rip-ped from my body...

Enough. Now back to it, workbitch!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ooh, look!

Here's a link to the interview I did recently with the lovely Mathilde Madden for the Erotic Author's Association, discussing her upcoming book Equal Opportunities.

Kinkalicious is my new favourite word...

This week's lesson is ...

For god's sake,

back up. Just got word back from the computer doctor, and my laptop is a dead duck. Three years of odd notes, half written stories, letters, everything. Gone gone gone. No hope of recovery. Shortly I shall bounce back and think of it as a clean slate, fresh start, turning point. But for now, let me wag my finger at you and encourage everyone to get out the discs. It's a dull job, but you don't want to be where I'm sitting right now, really.

I'd just like to rant and rave briefly about the manufacturers - Acer - for producing The Computer That Ate My Damn Life. So there you are. Buy Dell, and don't bother with the warranty cos it's not worth a damn.

In other news, I made a plot so 'minimalist' yesterday I'm awestruck. Gone are the evil blackmailers, clever twists and cliffhangers. In fact, I think I wrote a black hole that swallowed the plot.

I think I'd better give it ONE more shot...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Last night's picture



A body is a story.

The plot thickens.

I woke up this morning thinking - I know the plot is in there somewhere already. I can smell the damn story, just not see it clearly yet.

And then, while doing some serious writing avoidance, I stumbled on a post by Morgan Hawke that lays it all out so beautifully, I am about to go and nail the monster.

I think what I meant by 'organic' plotting was that once one has created a character, their story is nascent within them. I don't like to just throw the heroine into conflicts for the sake of it - I want her actions to grow from her character. I'm probably agonising too much and taking it far too seriously, but this is how I work. It has to be meaningful to me. Starting a novel feels like preparing for a long sea voyage, and I want to be well prepared.

It's a little scary, like when the clouds draw back and the sun is very bright. I know that I have to be very honest about the story, if I'm to enjoy writing it. There's been a little talk lately among writer friends about writing what you love, and I thoroughly agree with the idea. Otherwise I might as well go and get a job in the drycleaners.

So here goes. Off to dissect and analyse my poor character, and then throw her headlong into her worst and best fears and desires...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fashion/Roadkill

I got the boots, after a marathon day in Glasgow's shops. Knee-high, with buckles. In those shoes, I feel like I can stomp round the world. I go shopping about once every 6 months, and have developed a kind of military approach. I know what I want and hunt and hunt until I find it. Nothing else, and no substitutes. Apparently I'm hell to go shopping with, because I take it Seriously.

After six hours, with bloodshot eyes from the strip lighting and panting from heat exhaustion, trenchfoot from marching up and down Argyle Street and hair all wild with static, I got my quarry and dragged it home.

BF is trained, after a shopping trip, to compliment me approximately every half hour. 'Why, what beautiful boots!' 'That's such a good colour on you' etc etc. Rounds the day off nicely.

And for dinner we feasted on roadkill. Yes, to continue the horror theme that seems to be rife this week, I got in and started plucking and gutting a beautiful hen pheasant that my mother found on the road. I like feeling like a proper capable country girl, but to be honest, when one has one's hand in the erse of an animal... I turn a little pale.

Well, that will have frightened off the vegetarians. Honestly, I'm not doing this blog thing right, am I? I promise soon I will get back to the subject of erotica, somehow. Or sex, at least.

Do shoes count?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Your future, nectar bird

The phrase means nothing, it was just a strangely poetic spam message I got yesterday. Further on it promised to solve my 'erectoin problems'. Then I got another one that said: 'Your cash, ovate-oblong'.

I've never been called Ovate-oblong before. Is that some kind of strange translation of a term of endearment? I quite like it.

Today I shall be taken out to buy boots. Big tall leather boots with a bit of a heel. First of my birthday presents, as I am now on the slippery slope that leads to thirty. I shall be wearing a black armband for the next month to mourn the passing of my youth.

But I can't be too morose - life is good and at least I will be celebrating/commiserating with friends and am not stuck in an obscure African country while the government 'processes' my passport...(I feel for you, step-bro. We'll celebrate when you get back. And some.)

To brighten your day, here's a picture of Best Gay Erotica 07. For all those girls and boys who like a little m/m, enjoy. The lovely and vastly talented Alana Noel has a story in it that I can't wait to read.



And I just worked out how to do links within text and I'm very proud of myself...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Plot? What plot?

Anyone got a spare one they can lend me? I've been buggering about with characters and sudden twists and evil ex-wives all day and come up with naaaaada.

I hate plots anyway. Maybe it's time I went all post-post-modern and dispensed with the whole idea. This woman keeps bumping into this guy (Oh! My clothes have fallen off!) and shivering with unbearable longing (Ohhhh! My hardening nubs!) and then they have sex. It's erotica, right?

Sigh. I have this hunch that the story has to rise organically from the characters. Quite what that means, I'm not sure. But I'm sticking with it. So the girl has to have a point, and the story has to have an Arc, apparently, and Conflict and a Resolution. I'll keep niggling away and something has to turn up. Because I can't just spend the rest of my life making up ridiculous stories and then deleting them and making up other ones, can I? The sitting room is covered in post its with question marks and starting to look like Will Self's office. But less tidy.

Monkeys, typewriters, etc. Here's hoping.
Baby Panda

I just realised what I did. Monday morning and I put up a picture of a horrible ugly little creepy crawly. Yuk.

Sorry.

To make amends, here's a baby panda.
(Thanks to Miss Syl for pointing me in the direction of this clip.)

Country life



Street noise, traffic, indicators, motorway, horns, engine, miles and miles of engine. Drive for about forty minutes from Glasgow's neon and smoke filled centre, and the roads start to get rougher. The greenery gets slowly wilder, the grass longer, the trees more ragged. The houses peter out. Mountains. Kestrel.

Stop the car, get out and close the door and

Bang the silence hits you deep and velvet and sweet. Stretching out across moors and water and sky. Endless silence. A clean air universe. Mist rolling over the hilltops, the loch as still as a mirror.

Dive into the undergrowth, tangled branches of birch and oak and rowan, brambles catching at your clothes, uneven ground, marsh. Mushrooms. Trek for two hours, circle till the green has soaked right into you.

Drive home.

In the house, strip and check each other's soft, warm places. Find black dots, the bodies of ticks with their heads buried in your flesh. Use tweezers - 180 degree anticlockwise rotation and pull. Burn the bodies. Disinfect.

I hate midgies and ticks and clegs (horseflies) and spiders and thorns. But perhaps it helps keep the silent places as they are, empty of people and crowded with life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Morning pages

If I was really clever, I'd have a little tune starting up now, so that as you read this the strains of

'..Yellow is the color of my true love's hair
In the morning, when we rise
In the morning, when we rise
That's the time
(That's the time)
That's the time
(That's the time)
I love the best...'

- because I woke at half six with the dawn and had a whole hour and a half of just me and the milkmen. Somehow it feels like at that hour everything is much clearer.

Last night we went to an auction, deep in the Southside of Glasgow. Such a strange world. Boxes of junk, chandeliers, dealers, wardrobes, china, dust and the smell of smoke and booze from the crowd. The rising anticipation, the fast patter. It's almost a sport. There were people there (old ladies, mostly) who weren't buying anything. Just going for the thrill.

I loved the back and forth volleys, the competition of bidding. The strip lighting, the shed full of people all brightly lit and various.

But part of me felt like a traitor, and it's something I feel often these days. Like a spy. I'm out in the world, not participating, just watching. Storing images for later use. Gleaning information. The back and forth of books - I walked across the muddy parking lot and think: 'this is just like Peter Carey's first novel, the one with the angel'. Every experience is framed by the books I've read. Did I say read? I mean, devoured, swallowed, swam in, injected.

And I saw the pink/orange sky behind the red tin roof, and tried to work out how I'd write it. How I'd describe the people in the shed. Sometimes I think books are an affliction. Once trapped inside them, you see the whole world through a prism of words.

Until the morning, when you wake up warm and slow. The words have turned to dreams overnight, and are renewed.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To do list

If you're a Libra, you will never be able to make a decision. I once burst into tears holding a menu in a restaurant because I just couldn't make up my mind. (And yes, this was as a grown adult.)

Today I have a long list of things I should do. Mostly stories. It goes:

Cuba
Fake lesbian
Punk
Housebound novel/Housebound novella (Oh great, a choice within a choice.)
Dr Sex
Tax return (I know that one won't get picked til I feel the chill breath of HM Customs on the back of my neck)
Small loves
The poker club


I should just pick one and start it, but I'm feeling like I've got a menu in front of me and the waiter is hovering over my shoulder and the rest of the table is looking at me expectantly.

Ah fuck it. I'm going with Punk, even if it doesn't have the most pressing deadline.

But maybe Cuba...

Monday, September 11, 2006

watching paint dry.


I can feel the season changing. There's a bit of fog in the air, the sting of autumn. Blank skies. Today I'm spending painting the bedroom walls. White on white. Filling the cracks with fine white paste, sanding down with aluminium paper. Running my hand over the surface to check how smooth it is. Seeing how the light bounces, where it catches on a snag that must be rubbed down.

Prep work.

While I do it thoughts rise up and I rub them down. In the white wall I can see the lurid, vivid dreams of last night fade to nothing.

Yesterday I and the rest of the city visited the church of B&Q, which has no minister. There you can buy just exactly the colours you want. They have a thousand colours, more, shining or flat, each named something poetic, something stupid. We walked past aqua blues and candy dreams and asparagus green. Took the big plain pot of white so heavy you can hardly carry it, brought it home, and now I'm turning the whole house into a blank sheet where the light will settle.

After that, I'm going to start on something else. Probably a book. There's 200 white pages waiting to be filled. Watch this space...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Don't pogo in an underwired bra


The best and the worst part of the weekend's festival was jumping up and down for a full hour while The Fall played. The Fall are the same age as me, and I think I'm just an inch too old for such boisterous exuberance. I'm trying to cultivate a more sophisticated and elegant attitude for my thirtieth year. But the drums went bang-bang and the keyboards clanged and the little sliver of me that is not grown up yet couldn't help it. The stiller Mark E Smith stood, the more I bounced, and the kids all around bounced back and we smiled at each other before giving another little shove.
So civilised.
But now I have aching calf muscles, stomach muscles and bottom muscles. There's a big red friction burn across my ribs from my bra. I hate to think what I've done to my uplift. And my masseuse will be most displeased, as the recovery process for the back did not include Bouncing.

Ah, but for one hour, I felt like Tigger in grown up punk heaven.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Free books!

...in your local library. But are they worth reading? I pay a good whack of overdue fines every month, and I've always, always taken refuge in the library. I remember as a kid thinking - this is too good to be true. All these books, and you can just take them??

But yesterday, I felt just how stale and hopeless the library situation is. I went in to be met by a wall of sub-tropical heat. It's always around 30 degrees in there, so the books are wilting and melting in their plastic sleeves, not to mention the people. The staff hunch over fans, sweating and labouring and trying not to pass out, while they search their faulty computers for books that don't exist.

Half empty shelves. They did a survey recently in Glasgow libraries, asking what people wanted to improve their book-borrowing experience. I looked down the list, and about every single comment was simply: 'More books'.

Yesterday I needed two things - books on dressmaking, and something about the history of Glasgow.
'Oh, no. We don't have much of that.' What, books on the city we live in? 'No. The kids are always in asking, for their school projects, so the two books we have are usually on loan.' Okay, so a subject that is requested constantly and is highly relevant to all of the people that visit is not stocked. Fine.
Dressmaking? She practically laughed in my face. They've got Trinny and Susannah punting three different books on how to make your ass look smaller. Zilch on anything that might encourage you to actually take the intiative, learn a skill and do something creative.

So what do they have in our lovely local library? You can take your pick from twenty one different books on naming babies, babies names, popular names for new babies...TWENTY ONE books. I counted. Has one of the staff got a crazily large family? Or are they just particularly indecisive? Alan Titchmarsh musing on his TV career. Celebrity chefs explaining how they got to be celebs. I'll concede the fiction department is fairly good, with new books coming in sporadically and quite a broad variety from lit to trash. Still, I scrabble to find anything that I actually want to read in there. People seem to come in mostly for the newspapers. But reference? Actual informative, useful books?

It's like a ghost-library in there. The kids come in to use the internet, run around and shout conversations on their mobile phones. I hear they're trying to encourage conversation in libraries, to get away from the old-fashioned Sssssh! image.
Why? What on earth is wrong with silence? About the only haven left in the city used to be the quiet spaces inbetween the shelves. Now the books are just an inconvenient pile of irrelevant junk gathering dust in the corner, while the computers buzz and hum and the staff apologise, again, for not being able to help, and I sigh (quietly) while I wish for a library that stocked classics as well as celebrity biographies, and reference books that weren't all about house makeovers.

Have books had their day? Once google has copied and posted every book they can lay their hands on, and the last librarian has finally hung up her half-moon spectacles, and the last author finally slid into ghost writing Z list 'memoirs' for people that no longer read fiction, what will happen then? Were novels nothing but a fad that lasted a couple of hundred years? Should we abandon literature and turn to speculative chit-chat, gossip rags and virtual reality? Is it still worth even trying to write a book?

I guess the fact that I'm the only one of my friends who actually ever visits a library to borrow books (yes, the only one at all), might well have something to do with it. Part of me thinks I'm not going to evangelise about something like this. If people don't want libraries, or books anymore, then so be it. We'll all dive into the net and lose ourselves in the bright colours and loud noises.

Just sometimes, I long for the rich, silent, endless universe that books can offer. If only you give them the time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In a mirror, darkly...


I just got back from life drawing. I'm so tired I feel hysterical, and half drunk, and happy. It's so nice to turn your head off and see only with your eyes and hands for two hours. Line, shadow, temperature, tone, negative space, points and angles. Except not in those words, not in any words. Because the whole point is reflecting what is before you, without thinking getting in the way.

And now I'm starting to think how one's head gets saturated with words, till they're spilling out of your ears and mouth and hands. There's a whole lot too many words out there - from politicians spinning newspeak to newspapers churning out vapid opinion in the guise of news, to (dare I say it) half drunk bloggers pontificating about their drawing class.

So I'll shut the fuck up, and leave you with one of the pictures what I drew...
Your Kissing Technique Is: Perfect

Your kissing technique is amazing - and you know it.
You have the confidence to make the first move.
And you always seem to know what kissing style is going to work best.
Sometimes you're passionate, sometimes you're a tease. And you're always amazing!



This is all very nice. But unfortunately -

You May Be a Bit Schizotypal...

A bit odd and socially isolated.
You couldn't care less of what others think.
And some of your beliefs are a little weird.
Like that time you thought you were Jesus.




Just as I expected. I think I'm jesus and a perfect kisser. The rest of the world thinks otherwise. Damn.

Blog guilt

I haven't blogged anything for days. To be honest, spending all day in your pyjamas, writing lists, editing and re-editing and smoking cigarettes just doesn't seem interesting enough to share with the world.

I'm working on a story that refuses to die quietly or get better. I've subbed it to the crit group and hope they'll tear it to pieces and give me ideas of how it might be made into something approaching readable. Next up - ach damn. I should should and ought to be starting a novel. But I'm scared to get given a deadline and the responsibility. What if I ran out of breath before I reached the requisite word count? What if the ideas are all just turkeys?

I'll do it tomorrow. Today, time-wasting and cooking, and later two hours life drawing. A nice way to spend time word-free. The class is across the road - literally, I can see in the window right now. And the model is very bendy. When I did the life-model thing I would sit dazed for an hour - this girl twists and holds the most demanding poses without any limb shake or apparent discomfort. Kudos.

Apart from that, it's autumn, and therefore time to gather berries and make jam. The rowans and brambles are out, and me and SO had a lovely afternoon fighting prickly hedges and getting rained on while we collected enough berries to stain our hands purple.

This weekend we'll be going to a new, small festival in a park in Glasgow, called Indian Summer. The yeah yeah yeahs are playing, and The Fall and some other cool bands. And best of all, my little (read six foot two and built like the proverbial) brother is back from Africa. We shall celebrate till we fall over.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mission accomplished

Well, partly. I sat down and wrote with a big frown yesterday. Cancelled lunch, stamped on the floor till the neighbour turned down his rampant house music, refused to be distracted by thoughts, and wrote.

Result? One story 1000 words longer, most of which are pish. By eight o clock I was about typing 'All work and no play makes Nikki a dull girl'. My back's gone into a spasm. I'm cream-crackered. And I hate the story. I want to inflict unnecessary pain on the characters.

So, is this what they mean when they say you have to learn to write even when you don't feel like it? Today the building site next door is at full throttle. The school yard is full of the noise of kids who sound like they're killing each other, punctuated by loud bells. My dear SO is demolishing a wall in the bedroom. I dream of living in a house at the top of a hill, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the sound of spring rain drumming on the roof.

Meanwhile, back to this turgid story. By the time I'm done the bastard will be well-written, if I have to rewrite every word.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My glittering career


This is how I work. Spend weeks gathering projects, making lists, looking at deadlines with a kind of detached, curious horror. Make another list, with a timescale and stars for the super-urgent projects. Ignore them. Write down about fifty 'cool titles' for stories I won't ever write. Perhaps some first lines, random ideas that bubble up from the murk.

Look at the list again. Pick the least urgent item and waste days researching some very small detail that is not essential to the plot. Look at calendar, feel panic rising. Decide to redecorate flat. Deadlines still approaching, but now can't reach the desk to do anything about it. Pile more assignments on top.

At last, when there's not a single alternative left, I'll write.

I think I just arrived there...


(In other news, got the cover proofs for 'Sex in Public' this week - a verry cool cover, don't you think?)

Friday, August 11, 2006

mmmm....

deeeeeep tissue massage. tendons in a state of bliss. stumbled home strung out on lavender oil, dribbling slightly. They should hand out massages instead of methadone, to everyone free once a month.

you haul your crooked and bruised body up to lie on the couch, gingerly, and the woman does STUFF to your spine that makes it come over all epiphany, and then she plays a little light percussion on your hamstrings and collarbone...it feels like god is rubbing your belly, I think that's the phrase.

yes, massage is the solution to all the world's problems, I do believe. They should teach it in schools.

Oh boy. Going to lie down and watch the clouds drift by...(doped up smile)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

If music be the food of love...



Sex and Music, the new Black Lace anthology, is out today! I'm very excited - my first Wicked Words story 'All I have to do' is in there. It's one of my favourites, about lost love and mix tapes and the way musicians have a certain special something.

Plus, there's plenty of other lovely stories in there - a whole spectrum of musical sex! Amazon's only got one left at the last look, so you'd better be quick...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Walnut and brass


For years I wrote in a cupboard, squeezed in behind the ironing board and boxes of assorted crap. Then I moved to a ramshackle house and built my own desk out of bits I'd found in the street. It rocked, and not in a good way.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present - my grandfather's desk. It's a beautiful thing, no? I remember sitting at it with him, the room full of must and pipe smoke and stacks of papers cascading onto the floor. He was probably trying to explain racing form to my 5 year old bewildered self. Now it's ensconced in my living room, waiting for attention.

It's walnut, with brass handles and brass feet. A leather top that is covered in coffee stains and perished to soft rag. The kind of desk you feel you have to live up to. I'm about to go and start laying out paper on it - ideas for stories, drafts, notes. I feel like the smell of ancient history will seep into the work - and I feel like I'm at one of those growing-up stages again. I shall make coffee, for tradition's sake, and smoke a lot of tobacco. Listen to the echoes in my head. Wish me luck...


Update: That was then. These days it has more um ... character* ...



*crap piled on top of it. And a daylight bulb so I don't get scurvy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kitty & Rooster, Weird Friendship.

You can tell I've had a productive afternoon, can't you?

Bjork - Triumph of A Heart

Oh this so reminds me of nights out in Glasgow, tumbling home at the small hours to find pumpkin waiting up for me....ah, I miss my cat.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sex in Public

Hooray!!! Joyous news - my story 'Housebound' will be appearing in the 'Sex and Public' anthology by Black Lace, due out next year sometime. Very happy. Dancing.

Would be dancing, if it weren't for the spasms. Time to get the glad rags on and go celebrate...

Spinal crap

Smothered in Ralgex. Letting out loud yelps every so often. Cursing computers, bicycles and large breasts, all of which might be the reason my spine is twisted up in knots. Wanting to write, but it's like having a punch in the kidneys every ten minutes.

As is clear, I make a terrible patient. For a compulsive hypochondriac, this is bad news.

I am drumming my fingers on my brain, waiting for word on stories subbed and novels tentatively suggested. Looking at the deep blue sky outside suspiciously, as all Glasgowites tend to do. Sunshine? What, are you trying to make us look stupit or something? The first hot day of the year, everyone heads to the park with a bottle of Buckfast tonic wine under one arm and a bottle of baby oil under the other. Sizzle.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Under gloom

It's a day when the rain drips steadily off the gutters and down the back of your neck. I've done something to my back so I can't sit in a chair for long. Like an old lady, I must lie flat on my back, unmoving. Probably a chakra problem. Nothing to do with hours sitting in front of a baleful computer and not writing.
There are times I'd kill for an excuse to be not able to write, but today I've got three stories begging for attention and a load of research fresh in my mind that I don't want to lose. Ow.

There it goes again. I am off to lie prone on the living room floor and watch the Glasgow monsoon. Adios, lumbago calls...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Superpowers


Last night friend and I had a discussion - which superpower would you most like to have? She said 'the ability to know what others are thinking' and I said invisibility. Imagine being able to creep around unseen and watch other people's habits. It would be terrible but fascinating. She suggested they're really the same thing, and she might be about right. We're constantly trying to gauge people's thoughts by observing their actions. By reading them.

The Superpower of Knowing Others.

And thinking on it, this is the superpower you are aiming for when you're trying to write. Watching your characters, trying to gauge what's going through their head. Second guessing. Worst-Case-Scenario envisaging. Exaggerating. Extrapolating. Fighting the forces of Ambiguity and the Seven Demons of Cliche. We spend a lot of time in other people's heads.

Now, is this why we're all so damn paranoid? I think writers need an extra superpower. I think we need a poster-boy for our delicate egos. (Especially us fragile lady writers). I'm proposing Insolent Boy. Not sure exactly what his superpowers are, but he sounds cool. The ability to Zap! Captain Sensitive and his side kick, Disheartenment. Amazing healing powers to restore bruised feelings. Above all, the ability to see what other people are thinking, and really, really not take it personally.

So the next time you feel a bad review coming on - don't despair! Summon Insolent Boy, give the world the fingers, and hie thee to a keyboard to batter out your revenge the best way you know. By writing more.

PS I get a feeling I'm practically tempting fate here. A panning is probably imminent. This calls for Relentless Optimist-Woman and her Anti-Paranoia Gun. SPLAT!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Old Chinese Porn

"It's absolutely not pornography. It's literary stuff and a classic from the Qing dynasty,"

I wish, just once, I would get a chance to say that line out loud.

The glory!

I know it's tragic, just how much a little thing can boost me. But LOOK! I got four stars at Amazon, the reviewer said:

'This book surprised me it was not what I was expecting and I always love a book who can pull that off'

(in one breath. The review did spoil the plot a little, but bless her and thank you, and is there a cure for rampant narcissism?)

Ah, happy days!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It came out of nowhere...

Reading Mike Kimera's post about a story he wrote that seemed to arrive in his head 'fully formed', and I have a sneaking suspicion this is how my best work happens.

Sometimes you slave and research and scrabble and revise, and eventually you tick all the boxes - a plot, characters, dialogue, etc etc. A perfectly workable story. Yet the times when you sit down and just strap yourself in, fingers rattle over the keyboard and voices actually Talk to you, like there's someone standing over your shoulder.

A few hours later, you have a piece of writing you hardly recognise, but everything about it hums. Hums in a very good way.

Would you get the seat-of-your-pants stories, the gifts from nowhere, without the hours, days, weeks spent trying to understand the passive voice and sentence structure? Is this what they're on about when they talk about the subconsious, or is it Jung's collective unconscious, or mere luck?

Either way, I've spent all morning writing a particularly turgid first paragraph, and I'm here now to ask the muse or the psyche or the synapses to start work, please. I can smell the story, I just can't write it. Come on and possess me, o demons of pithy language...

Monday, July 24, 2006

(shhh....I think they've stopped)

(speaking very quietly...) here's an interesting article on women's erotica from publisher's weekly. That'll give you something to read that's not about water pumps, while I go and dance a little dance on my tippy toes to celebrate the return of peace to the street...

speak of the jingle

I swear to god the ice cream van is now faintly audible through the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Three blind mice - grrrrrrrrrrrrr - three blind mice on a tinny, distorting, never-ending loop that cuts through the water pump like a nasty memory cuts through a nightmare.

grrrrrrrrrr blind mice aaaaaaargh blind mice grrrrrrrrrrrr cut off their tails with a carving knife grrrr argh grrrr argh blind mice

The water pump

the water pump is still running. maybe in a way its just like listening to your own heartbeat or the buzzing noise that unwanted thoughts make in your head or perhaps the builders are doing this on purpose because I know they stand on the scaffolding and look in at me with their mouths full of snickers bars and their 'cheeky chappy' slappable gormless faces while they waste time and money running water pumps that don't appear to be doing anythiing much, other than making a steady, toneless, LOUD grrrrrring noise - isn't aural torture something the US military use they did that in Guantanamo i heard, played 'barney the purple dinosaur' relentlessly at top volume for over 20 hours and wow peopleare horrible and grrrrrrrrrrrrrr what is the point anyway in pumping some nameless liquid from one place to the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr next what is the point in anything when you think of it and isn't there some kind of suburban grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr petty bye law about this I know the milk floats have had ASBOs issued because of their piercing, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr repetitive jingles, IN FACT what about the dearly beloved criminal justice bill and repetitive grrrrrrrrrrrr beats being illegalised can't I call the police or invest in soundproofing well if only I could concentrate for ten grrrrrrrrrrrrrr minutes maybe I could come up with a dazzling first chapter and earn enough money to buy a house deep deep in the scottish highlands with no noise other than the occasional midge and perhaps a sheep, baa-ing cutely.

Oh good god. Please stop. Builders of the world - please.

(grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...)

Monday monday..

It certainly is. I can tell because it started so bad.

I woke up from a dream about my houseboat sinking, shouting 'turn off the water pump' at my poor b.f.

Turns out the good builders that have moved in next door have indeed got a (very large) waterpump. It's also very loud, and they are running it merrily and have been since the crack of dawn. (OK, since half eight this morning. I count that as dawn.) Whatever the hell they are pumping out, I hope it smells noxious and gives them all a headache to match mine. And I hope they feel bad that they are thwarting my latest attempt to write something beautiful, profound and totally unrelated to water pumps.

Second Mondayish snag - seeing some photos of myself taken recently. Jesus H. One is quite taken aback sometimes by just how white/large/oddly shaped one's body is. So that trashed my morning. Now, what's for lunch?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Two boys kissing

There's been a little rumbling lately about whether women like m/m, sorry, male on male action. Seems this is one fantasy that lurks without showing its face - I don't remember it ever featuring in Nancy Friday (which is of course, a very accurate barometer of female fantasy).

Last night, (about ten years after the rest of the civilised world) I watched 'Y tu Mama tambien'.

Wow. Beautifully, beautifully shot, all the shimmering, sour colours of Mexico. Nicely structured plot. I instantly liked the boys, and the woman's character (sorry, dreadful with names) was a more complex and interesting story. All that tension and youthful horniness, irreverent bravado. And the scene where they get it on, and the camera follows the two boys hesitantly kissing...

So maybe we should have a straw poll. The men have been drooling over 'girl-on-girl' for years - I'm voting heartily in favour of m/m. Perhaps with a similar caveat to the lesbianesque fantasies of men though, in my lurid fantasies, gay men and gay porn are not a turn on. Probably I feel left out, or intimidated. Straight men getting it on though, innocent men surprised by their own feelings - oh yes...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hunting for fresh

What about the idea that 'there's nothing new under the sun'? I wonder where the real fresh stuff lives. You know, the stories where you can just smell something exciting, something honest and original. The ones that reek of real thought, not recycled ideas. Is it possible to come up with something really new? Does it matter?

And I'm starting to think that holing oneself up in a stuffy little flat is not the best way to find new inspiration. I get a lot of my best ideas when walking, and if I didn't get so self conscious I'd carry a dictaphone. (Or if I could remember where I put it, which drawer the spare tapes are in and what kind of batteries it takes.)

Cos out there, right in the sweaty heart of the city - god, it's breathtaking. You spend hours pondering made up people, trying to make sure their actions are believable and consistent and the disbelief is properly suspendable. That there is some kind of plot doing something worthwhile.

And then you walk down Argyle street and there's punk kids crying in the midday sun, there's ageing transvestites buying fried chicken buckets, there's junkies getting slashed with razors, there's men in bowler hats eating Bright Red Apples...characters are jaw-droppingly inconsistent all over the place, they commit totally unbelievable acts. And synchronicity - don't get me started on the Deus Ex Machina. 'Because it just was'. Real life makes a very badly written story.

(This is where I have to remind myself of the division between life and stories. Again.)
Equality is like gravity...

From the man that gave us Buffy, here's a sweet, short and funny speech. I feel for him, because he seems so shy up there. But he pulls it all together, and what he says is spot on.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Worst Word

'Cunt' has allegedly been the nadir of the English language since, god, when did the Victorians decide everything that looked like a leg should be discreetly covered with a valance and gilded ruffles?

I love this word, but I can't deny it has power. Negative as well as positive. How did it accumulate such a mixed bag of karmic resonance? Has it always been both the weakest and the strongest point of a woman?

Zoe Williams in the Guardian has issued a challenge. 'Bring on the cunt warriors'.

I might take her up on it. But should the goal be to render the word cunt anodyne and inoffensive? Strong words are rare currency these days. Or does it hold that power exactly because it's describing something so powerful? The word isn't sexy, it isn't coy, it's direct and assertive. Maybe we should play with it rather than disarm it.

A close male friend recently muttered how all the suppression of women was a reaction to their ultimate power - the power to hold life within themselves, males being a necessary but disposable part of the fertilisation process. I'm not sure this is true, in fact. We could reduce men to sperm-donor status, but then women could logically become egg receptacles and baby-incubators.

The point is, brothers and sisters, there's nothin going on without both sides getting on.

The cock or the cunt are not the important bits, it's the trembling in between that matters...

Whoop!

'Undercover' is now available for your viewing pleasure at Clean Sheets. Hope the link works...

Now I must finish my peppermint tea and unstick my eyes to get on with Holiday Packing...Double Whoop!!!

(I should add - story for those of the legal age of majority in their country only. No kids!)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A short, dark story

Well, I haven't worked out how to make a button that will neatly pull up the story in another window. Sometime. Til then, here's a short piece that I haven't found a home for. Probably suitable for 18 and above. A little brutal. Perhaps.


*Cuts both ways*


A froth of tissue paper when I lift the lid, a smell of luxurious and expensive cruelty rising from inside the box. Polished to a mirror finish; sharp, exquisitely pointed. Lying like a deadly snake between us, and across from me, your face wax coloured, taut with patience.
Only the light tap of your fingernail on the tabletop betrays a tremor of intent, a curl of the lip that makes me want to dart from the room or kick nervously like a trapped animal.

Just like you to wrap something so carefully, so skilfully. You’d tied the ribbon perfectly tight, splayed the ends at exactly the right angle. Not a trace of disorder, not a whisper of hurry or frustration in those precise fingers.

I watch your hands. The long-boned menace of them.

Still, I want to play the game. Knowing what it entails, shivering with nerves, I allow you to stand and approach me. Fold your arms. Let the silent force of your expectation amass beside me till I am almost sickened.

I acquiesce to your unspoken demand - undo the buttons of my shirt and let it fall. Naked underneath, I tip my head back, bare my body to you. My heart. It beats fervent and weightless in my chest, and I feel I am exposing the most tender of weaknesses to the light. Shame rushes to my face like a slowly spreading stain. I am prickly with cold, awkward with longing.

This show of willing could be enough, I pray, to prove my soft body and broken soul are surrendered, in your possession.

I should know better.

Leaning over me you place a hand on each knee. Your palms are warm and dry. Implacable.

Without a sound you pull them apart, make me spread my legs for you. Beyond the point of pain, to a splitting moment where I nearly cry out. Hold them forcibly at the wide-open angle that leaves me obscene and desperate. Under the pressure of your hands my flesh is turning red – the scalded flush of a Chinese burn as you wait for me to beg.

Biting my lip, I resist for as long as I can, hoping the signs of my arousal will draw, at last, a reaction from you. A soft kiss, a little lick of the tongue. A pinch.

Beside us, the open box on the table holds what will finish this. Give me release. Though it terrifies me I throw a glance at it, giving you the signal you need to let go.

I release the tension in my legs a little, allowing the smallest of moans to escape from my mouth. There’s a shakiness in my breath that belies all the longing and fear of a supplicant.

‘Every gift is a double-edged sword’, you say.

You lift my gift from the box.

I am ready. I rise and walk straight into the beautiful trap you’ve set, hungry to suffer.




© Nikki Magennis 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nekkid = erotica?


In another life I was or am a painter. Last week, late night drunken argument revolved around life drawing and whether it's remotely sexual. Now, I've spent time sitting on the couch bare naked, while hairy old men scribble away in a circle around me. I've done the scribbling and I've taught classes in the same.

Most of us, artists and models, would protest loudly that it's not at all sexual. Really, it comes down to line, tone, shade, and finding a long enough piece of charcoal. And yes, I can dig this. Just a naked body, after all, and I'm not prudish.

But then - how come I'd feel uneasy posing naked for certain people? There's an intimacy there than must be more than body-shyness.

And how come most 'erotic' art is just pictures of naked ladies? Barring photos, it seems any nubile woman unclothed qualifies as a sexual object. Even if she's only washing her hair.

It's a thorny issue, and one I'm still thinking on. Meanwhile, enjoy the picture.

Tommy Sheridan...oh my word.

'a champagne-swilling adulterer with a liking for group sex', according to the front page of every paper in Scotland today. (Noticeably absent from the Guardian and other nationals - we really are an add-on, aren't we? I'd have thought this was every journalists dream. Sleaze, politics and sunbeds.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the golden-skinned Sheridan, he is or was the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party - rent-a-ranter for every demo and march I ever attended, and famous for campaigning to save our beloved Glasgow tanning salons. He was also, as far as I have heard in my brief brushes with the edges of politics, a conscientous and principled man. The SSP were the only councillors to refuse junkets offered by...one of my previous employers.

So he likes group sex. He cheated on his wife, perhaps. What the fuck has that got to do with his work? It's between he and she, and nothing to do with politics. The same goes for every political sex scandal ever 'exposed'. The only question I have is why such a disproportionate number of MPs and presidents get tangled up and tripped over by their ravenous sexual appetites. Is this part of the personality of a politico? Or is it just that if you dig deep enough, everyone is kinky underneath? We love to crow at the sleaze, but are we all really so lily-white and honourable ourselves?

Calling all scientists...

Ok, you're sending a probe to Mars. You have done studies into how to eat a biscuit while minimising crumbs. Do you think just one of you smart arses could come up with a surefire hangover cure? The bane of mankind. Think how much more productive us old lushes would be if the morning after wasn't lost in a haze of - scuse me

- sudden toilet dashes and woozy headspins. Either the 'organic' wine failed to protect me from a hangover or those poisonous little Barbie clone bitches at the so called restaurant last night have slipped something into my food.

I call it food. Two dots of potato and fish, mashed up, fried and salted heavily. Ten pounds, thank you very much, and service with a sneer. Times like that you wish you were a restaurant critic.

Realised that the last time I was in there I did a runner. For very good reason, it seems.

Afterwards LOML (there, for all you acronym fiends out there, I made one up. I'm sure half of them are anyway. ROFLMAO) and I drifted home over the river, and through all the big industrial desert between here and town. Some of our loveliest times seem to have been spent drifting round down by the river, with the evening sun turning everything gold and the moon rising, peach coloured. Budlea blossoming. Broken glass dusted over the tarmac. Half cut, rambling, aimless.

Oh yeah, and the nice little plan we've got in development for next winter. To escape for a few months to the other side of the world. Via Iceland, California and Japan, onwards to New Zealand. The nicest thing about finding the person you want to be with for ever? Daydreaming together.

I realise I might be too much of a romantic for an erotica writer. But then again...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Twitchy.

And getting nothin done. It's beautiful hazy weather out there but I am hypnotised by this bloody computer screen. Apart from making cup a soups, all I've achieved today is ... um. Nothing. I keep opening documents and then sliding off into tangents. Can't settle. Admin, I can call it an admin day, can't I? Rather than admit I've done NOTHING of any value.

OK, I've composed a letter to a formidable sexual philosopher to ask him to allow me to probe him. Research for the book. Unsurprisingly, I'm unable to post it because it sounds so damn rude. And found a book I want - the Carnal Prayer Mat by Li Yu. One of those ancient yet apparently very contemporary stories - Tale of Genji-esque.

Sigh. And yesterday was so promising...(this is where I take a hold of my head and crack it hard off the table, and *force* myself to do something. Adios...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Look! I made links!!!

Pop the champagne, I think I'm getting the hang of this blogging thing. If it's all worked right, there should now be links at the side there, to the novel and some other writer's blogs. If you happen to be one of them (- does a little flag go up when someone links to you?) I hope this is okay, I'm still lurching round the technology, and haven't even started on the etiquette yet.

I mean, is it forward to link to someone? Or am I way too old fashioned? Ah boy, I'll get there one day...

Revelations? On a Monday?

So I spent yesterday in a funk worrying about bad reviews and how I never wanted to be a writer in the first place and ouch this hangovers not going away and There is a funny smell coming from the fridge. I'm sure it's an omen.

That was yesterday. Today I remembered that Plan B is to stay in bed for as long as is needed (half ten this am, not bad...) with tea, cigarettes (I know, aren't I a dirty slattern.) and a notepad. Ignore outside world, it's phoney anyway. Write out in longhand, with detailed tangents and descriptions, the Absolute Worst Case Scenario. Snivel, moan, wallow in self pity. Blow nose, get up and get half dressed. Make tea.

Feel much better. Remember the point is to write what you WANT to write. The reason the review shook me (jeez, I haven't even read it yet) is because I worry so much about the book. When I'm happy with what I write I couldn't give a damn (well, not much) what people say. You get that buzzy feeling, and you just KNOW deep down that it's good. Not necessarily to everyone's taste, not even necessarily a great piece of writing. But simply that you wrote what you wanted to write today.

Ah. I'm thinking about tattoos and subways and dusty city alleys. This is the other writer's paradox - when you decide to take a day off from writing to work on your inner moron: hey presto, within ten minutes you're writing again. Or maybe it's that inner moron itself, tapping away quite happily...Bless her.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

In the laundry...

Clean sheets are nearly there with publishing my short 'Undercover' - and the noble editor called it a 'lovely, arch little story', which tickles me immensely. Boost.

I'll shout loudly about it when it's online!

On the other hand, I'm now in cold sweats about this review of Circus Excite in Scarlet - no copies available in the local newsagents and my imagination's starting to run in overdrive. The line 'you'll never write in this town again' is running through my head. Ah, great, the fertile imagination now diverted from the tricky first chapter of the book into writing my own obit. I may have to lie down in a darkened room for a while...God, how come writers are such oversensitive creatures?

Course, I can always leave the country and assume a different name.

Again...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gone fishing

Ok, let me give you an insight into a writer's pathetic morning. Spent a few minutes trawling the web to see if anyone has noticed Circus Excite, loved it, hated it, bought it.

Found it featured on the front page of http://www.theeroticbookshop.co.uk/ which is cool.

Found a one word review from a reader on the Canadian Amazon site. She picked it out and called it 'terrific!'. Julia Petterson, whoever you are, thank you. That's the first response I've had from a reader and I'm disproportionately grateful.

Ah, recognition!

Fingers crossed...

Posted the sub for 'Sex in Public' yesterday. It's been torn up (literally), reshuffled, stapled back together and rewritten, so with any luck it might pass muster.
In any case, I'm ready for the next one. Sex with Strangers is not due in til October, so I'm thinking I'll try doing the first chapter of the next book. Again.

That'll be attempt number six, but perhaps I'm diving in too soon, without having obsessed over the characters enough...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

False starts

Yesterday, scrunched up at the small part of the table not covered in dust sheets, flowerpots and power tools, tried to make a start. Surrounded by men removing windows, scraping, banging and blaring Radio 2, I didn't get very far.
Made a collage instead, which nicely frittered away a couple of hours. Pics of the locations and characters.
Then cruised around at http://www.desdmona.com/ reading other people's stories. Which is humbling. Some of the writers out there are making truly shit hot work. And they know their onions. Damn. There's a forum where you can post stories for criticism, but I have to admit to feeling kind of shy. If I had the first chapter down, maybe.

I need to get into that buzzy mode though. There's two ways I can write - one, by being in the right frame of mind, hitting the voice and just hammering it out. Fast, fun and usually produces good work. Or two, by laboriously working it all out, crafting th story, building it one word at a time. This way usually produces acceptable work, but lacks the special sparkiness. So I need to get in the flow. Tea and cigs usually help at this point...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Because



Because of the way you touch the tip of my nose in the morning. Just a little stroke and a tap, but it feels like you're setting me up for the day.

Bones of the book

- done! Synopsis finito, and now my fingers are itching to start drawing up the characters. And the research, hooray. This time around it involves a moral philosopher, a punky band, curtain ties and a ruined house. So far.

So I've got a lot of reading to do - applied ethical sexuality, anyone?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I love deadlines...

...I love the whooshing noise they make as they rush past...

I think that's Douglas Adams, but anyway. Since summer has arrived I've parked a chair on the grass outside and started trying to untangle the next novel. funny how with one image - for this one, a woman in an attic-like studio flat - has enough resonances and possibilities to give birth to a whole, convoluted beginning, muddle and end.

Only writing erotica, there's so many ideas that have been flogged beyond death. Escapism - is that really all we're looking for in an erotic book? Those worthy, well-written books are so often not sexy, but I'm getting tired of pneumatic women who keep presenting themselves to me as characters. And the dominant, powerful, mysterious males. Are these archetypes, or just lazy figments of my imagination? If anyone has any answers and would like to tell me who they find sexy, the less obvious the better - I'd be grateful. Meanwhile, I'm off to play around with a deserted hotel with an overgrown swimming pool and dustsheets everywhere.

In my head, I mean...

Friday, June 02, 2006

I knew it...




You Are Animal



A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.

You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.

But you sure can beat a good drum.

"Kill! Kill!"



You have no idea how happy it makes me to be officially a muppet. x N

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hello america...

and Canada too...the book is out there! Released today - I wish it luck. Feeling strangely protective of it...

Have woken with a sunny day and a stirring desire to start on the new book. When I look at other author's pages, they all seem to be much more industrious, but maybe when I get into the swing of it I'll be bashing out 2,000 words a day quite happily.

This week I'll be digging out some snips of erotica to post up here - taster size pieces. At least, I intend to. Should not make rash promises, a voice in my head says! Watch this space...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What makes a book tick

That old conundrum - where's the line between proper literature and erotica. Or porn for that matter. I found a collection of Barbara Kingsolver's essays in the library - beautiful and very human. One of them is detailing her exploration of sex in a book she is or was working on: 'Taming the beast with two backs'.

She seems to find herself strangely unsettled by the fact she's going to add sex in her book, rather than 'spacebreak sex scenes', (to paraphrase). Why is this more intimate than writing about strong emotion? She quotes, and notes, the names of a few (male) greats who've included full-blown sex in their books - Miller, Updike, Roth. I love these writers, and their vivid, searing scenes. There's a pushiness about all three of these writers that I find entrancing. And they lay open sex in graphic, masterfully crafted ways.
What none of them have done - at least, in my memory of their stories - is showed any much tenderness. Searing confessional style is respected. Ripping the guts out of a scene, laying bare the author or narrator's weakness, looking at it under a magnifying glass and musing on the historical resonances. Fabulous writing, yes.
But what you take from Kingsolver or Carol Shields is a different kind of honesty. I'm treading the line here of the old man-woman debate. I'll be careful. These writers will admit to warmth, to compassion, to a humanity.
Is writing always flavoured by sex (as in gender)? Are we just more squishy, more emotionally involved, weaker? What you resist, persists. The only way to join in properly is to take up a pen and make - more iconic characters who are female and many faceted, with strength and weakness. To try and avoid a knee jerk reaction or merely an emulation of the male way of doing things.
Is this turning into a manifesto?
I ought to be writing the synopsis of the next book. In order to do that, I need to work out A) the meaning of life and B) my characters. I feel for the heroine. She's got a lot to live up to. I don't presume to aim for the same high ground as the previously discussed authors, nor even anywhere near. But what they do and have done affects this girl.
She'll have to work hard.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

X rated gardening

I played a game once, with friends, where we had to inject as many double entendres into a normal conversation as possible, without letting on to the other people present.
What we found was that virtually every word we uttered could be construed as louche - it's not what you say so much as (wink, wink, nudge nudge) how you put it.

The point is, sex can permeate every situation, and when you're writing erotica you're wearing lewd-tinted glasses. I'm thinking about the setting for the next book, and wondering if botany can be remotely construed as sexy. There's mud, of course, which could be good. All that heavy toil can work up a sweat.

The sticking point, I suppose, is the characters. Bob Flowerdew on Viagra. It's a strange and disturbing image...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My beautiful new typewriter



You can keep your blackberries. I just got this beautiful bright red Olivetti and it makes the best clickety-chunk noise, plus it has a shiny red case so I can carry it round wherever I go...

Real life is a pale imitation...

...of the circus that goes on inside your own head.

First proper post, so I thought I'd wax on about writing.

After immersing yourself in the vast expanse that is a blank page, frittering about with hieroglyphics and ellipses and unreliable narrators, occasionally you think maybe it's time to open your front door and take a look at the outside world. But reality often disappoints, for the following reasons:

Humans have front-positioned eyes, which mean that unlike when you're playing omniscient narrator, you can't see in all directions. Looking only forwards is unnerving, like you've got blinkers on. And god knows what's happening behind you. I mean, what a design flaw.

Time just keeps moving relentlessly bloody forward. Whereas in your fevered imagination, it can rewind, freeze, skip hop and do cartwheels, out there in the real world it ticks onwards, in one direction only.

There's no proper way of editing real life. Apologies and retractions are just not as clean as cutting and pasting - which means you're liable to make glaring errors at any minute, and there's no way of undoing them.

And most of all, unlike a story, life just keeps on trucking...things coagulate sometimes into what looks like a neatly turned-up narrative, but before you know it, something else goes off the boil and the denouement turns into a tangent, which opens up another kettle of fish which drifts off into a very unsatisfactory non-conclusion, which begs the question...

Why bother with reality?

Forthcoming...




Out in August... Short story 'All I have to do' is in there, and it's one of my favourites. It's about one of those wild, romantic affairs that can never last but kind of linger in your head.