Chemical s[EX]2: a wonderful new addition to my bookshelf!

Image to use


Every now and again, an anthology comes to my attention which seems so full of hot promise that I keep mistyping the mobi-to-Kindle email address. Chemical s[EX]2 is such an anthology. The central premise—couples getting hot and heavy after consuming aphrodisiac chocolate—might seem narrow, but there’s a wonderful variation in tone and situational approach.

Told it you it was promising 😊

Beast (by Angora Shade) took me on an unexpected journey of a brat trying to camp, expecting her good-for-nothing boyfriend to make an appearance and congratulate her on her new-found outdoorsyness. The consumption of the chocolates they were supposed to enjoy together takes the story off in a ragingly hot direction that I didn’t see coming. No spoilers!

Oleander Plume’s opening story ‘The friend zone’ addresses, as the title might suggest, the beloved scenario of two long-term buds who find the attraction becoming impossible to ignore in the heat of the moment. The dialogue feels very real and fluid, and I could relate to Marnie’s exasperation with take-it-as-it-comes Vince as much as I could relate to his deep-seated need to say what he felt about the job he’s doing—one painstakingly arranged by Marnie, of course.

Mischa Eliot’s ‘Because she hates me’ dissolves the boundaries of badass Kerry and hapless Nora’s roomie relationship to extremely hot effect. I have to confess that F/F erotica isn’t something I personally seek out, but this story got me seriously hot under the collar anyway. That is QUITE a feat, in my eyes.

F Leonora Solomon’s ‘Team Building’ breaks down seemingly impenetrable boundaries between colleagues. Do not read this one until you’re actually hungry. The author clearly has a refined palate. The food descriptions had me lunging for the far less sophisticated bag of giant chocolate buttons in my cupboard within moments of the eponymous team sitting down for a cheese and wine night.

Ria Restrepo’s contribution ‘Elevator Confidential’ is eye-wateringly good. Trapped in an elevator with her secret crush and some aphrodisiac chocolates, Jackie’s bad day turns delicious. Walden may be her father’s friend and business partner, but how much temptation can he endure before succumbing to both their forbidden desires? What happens between them is dirty, decadent, and strictly confidential.

Yes, all the stories approach the same point; experimentation with the devilishly effective chocolates developed by Acme. Yet there’s no sense of Groundhog Day when working through the collection of stories. The voices are distinct, as are the personalities and the situations which bring the characters to the point of tasting that first choc. Perhaps most vitally, all thirteen authors are accomplished at building powerful levels of anticipation. There’s also a lively sense of humour to be enjoyed. The writers take their craft very seriously, but leave plenty of room to enjoy themselves.


As is my inclination, I do like to flag down the writers involved in collections I’ve particularly enjoyed, and today I’ve roped Ria Restrepo, author of ‘Elevator Confidential’, into an interview designed to plumb the depths of her soul. 

Ria, welcome to my wee blog. Got a few questions to put to you, if that’s okay?

Absolutely! I’m honored to be on your blog and thrilled to talk about Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More. Thank you for having me! I can’t wait to see how deep this gets—and maybe a little frightened.


How did you get involved with the Sisters of Smut, the imaginative fiends behind this superb collection? I’m quite jealous, actually. I aspire to be a smutty sister myself one day.

I first became acquainted with the lovely F. Leonora Solomon because we were both in the anthology Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica. Then later, I saw the first volume of Chemical [se]X advertised on Twitter. I thought it sounded interesting, so I bought a copy.

I thought it was all kinds of awesome, particularly the story written by Oleander Plume about scientists that create aphrodisiac chocolates, which inspired the anthology. I wrote a rave review and shared it on Twitter. That’s how I became acquainted with the amazing Oleander Plume.

Sometime after that, she held a contest based on a rather unusual list of writing prompts. I picked the prompt “hot sex in a rickshaw” and entered a story called “Rickshawing with Rick and Shawn.” The story didn’t win, but Oleander and F. Leonora loved all the entries so much that they decided to put together an anthology called Prompted. Unfortunately, it never came into being.

When I emerged from a hiatus due to personal reasons, I became active on Twitter again and saw that Oleander, F. Leonora, and a group of talented erotica writers had formed the Sisters in Smut. Oleander sent me an email, telling me that she and the other Sister in Smut were putting together a Chemical [se]X Volume 2 and asked me if I’d like to contribute a story. I was beyond flattered and immediately said, “Yes!”

It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done—not just because I got another story published. But because I got to meet and work with an outstanding group of women who are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I feel privileged to be among them.


How long have you been writing for publication? Sorry to be so specific—I think most of us who get as far as sending stories off to anthology collections have probably been writing since we were young. I want to hear your story. You’ll be forgiven for leaving out the parts where you had to stop being marvellous and go to the restroom.

I’ve been writing for publication since 2000, but I started writing well before that. Initially, I was mostly writing romance, but also tried my hand a literary fiction and political humor.

I really didn’t have a knack for literary fiction and only had a couple stories published in an anthology of local writers under my given name.

For a while, I wrote a rather silly parody series for a website called the Democratic Underground, also under my given name.

I also won a round-robin contest on Harlequin’s website and, for a while, my Chapter 5 of A Touch of Scandal was up on their website. It may still be there for all I know.

I’d read that Harlequin was launching a new chic-lit imprint called Red Dress Ink, so I sent them a partial manuscript. To my astonishment, they requested the complete manuscript. That was the first time this had happened and I was beyond elated. I sent it to them and waited, and waited, and waited some more.

Like the novice writer I was, I sat on my laurels instead of getting to work on the next manuscript. During this waiting period, I discovered the erotic story site Literotica. I loved the dirty stories, but noticed that most were poorly written.

They had a volunteer editor program, so I volunteered and started working with several writers. I actually thought it might be good writing karma helping other writers out. Actually, I did learn a lot from editing other people’s work.

After a while, I thought I should write some erotica of my own and entered a story into Literotica’s National Nude Day Contest. It didn’t win, but it got a high rating and a lot of positive feedback.

One of the writers I was editing for introduced me to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association and I kind of felt like I found where I belonged. I wrote more erotica and had some successes here and there.

By the way, Red Dress Ink ultimately passed on my manuscript. I was disappointed, but seemed to have some aptitude for writing erotica so that’s what I was mainly focused on.

For a while, I was editing for a small e-publisher. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the situation ended poorly. I wasn’t certain if they’d badmouth me to other publishers, so I abandoned the pen name I’d been using.

Eventually, I started over as Ria Restrepo and had some early successes with “Undercover Desires” in Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica and “Restitution” in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1.

Again, I took some personal time off from writing, then came back and had “Eminent Domain” accepted in The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30, Volume 3, which came out on May 24th. Being invited to write a story for Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More was icing on the cake.

So that’s where I am now and I feel incredibly lucky that my writing seems to finally be moving in the right direction.


Just out of interest, who would you hire to narrate your work (or life story) on Audible? For the purposes of this inquisition, please assume that you have a bottomless budget and that Morgan Freeman isn’t available.

I was going to say Rose Caraway, but then realized she probably will be narrating “Eminent Domain.” That’s a really hard question. Okay, I’ll say Meryl Streep. I love her and she has awesome range.


I was really impressed by the speed at which Walden and Jackie get into the thick of things in your story. They don’t hang about, but the speed at which they give into the mutual attraction is still ludicrously credible.

And here I thought there was a rather long build up before they get hot and heavy. I love that you found it credible, though. It’s a tricky road to walk, trying to write hot sexual fantasies, but still make them believable.


Walden is very appealing—even with his ability to remain unfeasibly calm in the face of Jackie’s need to jump up and down and throw things. Is he by any chance based on an annoying unflappable gentleman of your acquaintance? And if so, have you throttled this gentleman yet?

Nice try, but no comment. Although, I will say that if I was lucky enough to know someone like Walden, my first impulse would not be to throttle him—even if I was seriously irritated with him. I’d like to think I’m more creative than that.


Have you ever sampled anything which is known to be an aphrodisiac? Feel free to silence me with harmless, non-aphrodisiac chocolate if that’s just far too nosy.

No, I’ve never used recreational drugs of any kind. It’s just not my thing. However, if there really were aphrodisiac chocolates, I might give them a try under the right circumstances.

Actually, I think chocolate in and of itself might have some aphrodisiac qualities—at least psychologically. In which case, I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my life and found it highly enjoyable.


I love the idea of an Un-Valentines Day party. I’ve been to a couple which were less formally named (‘Foul fourteenth’, if I recall), and the top subject was the rise in restaurant prices for that one day each year. What was the most extortionate meal you ever remember eating out, and did you manage to evade contributing towards the bill?

I completely made up the whole “Un-Valentine’s Day” thing. Maybe I saw it somewhere and it stuck in my subconscious. Mainly, I think the idea developed from “un-birthday,” which was mentioned in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

I’ve only been to expensive restaurants a few times with family. Thankfully, someone else picked up the tab. And I promise I didn’t order the most expensive thing on the menu.


Finally, do you have upcoming publications in the pipeline? Or any other hot wee stories that you’d like to use this moment to promote? If so, promote away!

As I already mentioned, “Eminent Domain” came out on May 24th in The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30, Volume 3. I probably shouldn’t go into specifics, but it’s basically about a good girl getting even in the naughtiest way possible. I’ll add that a Maserati and a biker are involved.

There’s another story that I may have some good news about after July, but I can’t officially talk about it yet.

Otherwise, after things settle down a bit, I plan to get back to work on an erotic romance novel—that seems like I’ve been writing forever—called Bounty Girl. It’s about a submissive bounty hunter engaging in a titillating game of cat and mouse with her ex-Dom.


I wish you all the very best with that project and hope it comes into fruition before too long so that I can snaffle a copy. Right, a few notes about Ria herself…

Ria Restrepo may appear to be a mild-mannered bookworm who drinks too much coffee and spends most days tapping away on her computer. But beneath the quiet exterior lurks a filthy-minded sex kitten with a lurid and lascivious imagination. Writing erotica, romance, and all the shades in between, she truly enjoys entertaining readers with stories about strong women exploring and celebrating their desires—especially when they involve dominant men with a sensitive side.








Now, for the folks at home, an excerpt and purchase details!


Want a copy? Here are the deets!


Even as hungry as she was, chocolates that fine were to be savored, not scarfed like M&M’s. She brought one of the tiny cocks to her mouth and filled her lungs with the enticing aroma. Unable to wait any longer, she sunk her teeth into the hard, outer shell—only to be surprised when filling spurted out. Giggling, she used her free hand to capture a runaway stream of sticky sweetness before it dripped off her chin and ruined her favorite red silk blouse.

Jackie admired the wicked brilliance of filling naughty chocolates with white cream. Before any more of it oozed out, she put the rest of the morsel in her mouth, but let it dissolve on her tongue. Her taste buds exploded with the flavor of bitter chocolate and a sweet, minty confection that had a trace of something else. She didn’t recognize the unknown ingredient, but it was definitely intriguing.

Humming with pleasure, she licked and sucked her messy fingers clean until every drop was consumed. “They’re delicious, but messy.”

When Jackie looked up at Walden, she froze at his heavy-lidded expression. If he looked hungry before, he looked positively ravenous now. 

“You did that on purpose.”

She knew what he meant. As much as she’d love to take credit for teasing him, she was innocent in this instance. Still, Jackie was smart enough to seize an opportunity when she saw one.


You could win a copy…

Enter to win a free e-book copy of Chemical [se]X 2: Just One More and a $10 Amazon gift card!


And here are the buy links

Chemical [se]X v2: Just One More

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:


Barnes & Noble:




The importance of non-scale victories…

Quick declaration…

Many, many posts back I declared I didn’t want to drink anymore. I’m pleased to report that I kept that promise to myself, and I am now six months and one day alcohol-free. I’m much happier for it, and for the last couple of months I’ve genuinely not missed it at all. It’s starting to feel like a “normal” way of life now.


To help me kick that rather destructive vice into the dust, I decided to tackle my weight at the same time. People usually advise against this for good reason; when you don’t drink, you crave sugar. Big time. But I’m one of those people who need an obsession of some kind to function, so I started running (staggering!) while keeping tabs on calories in and calories out. I really did not need to get ANY bigger than I already was.

Full disclosure, I was thirteen stone six (188lb) on the day I quit the booze. I’m only five foot three tall. Oops. As of this morning, I’m still the same height, I’m relieved to report, but now just over two stone (29lb/13kg) lighter at 159lb. After a two-month plateau between January and March, I decided to put the scales away, just keep on making better choices on an hour-to-hour basis, and good things started happening again.

hate the scales

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight yourself, I’d like to talk a bit about non-scale victories and how important they are in comparison to what the scales say.

It is LOVELY when we see the evidence of all our hard work reflected on the scales. Can’t lie; I was addicted to my scales to begin with. The more active I was during the week, the more frequently I jumped on them for that all-important encouragement bulletin. If I lost two pounds, I could almost hear the roar of the Colosseum crowd. When you have a lot to lose, the scales dutifully ping up a number that’s lower than the last, and you’re motivated to drive that weight ever lower. Fabulous.

Here’s the rub; your relationship with the scales changes over time.

Think of the scales as the bloke in the pub who always has an opinion. When that opinion aligns with your own, they’re your bestest pal. You could spend the evening putting the world to rights, and you don’t mind them occasionally pounding you on the shoulder and booming, “you’re awright, son/darlin’!”

Sometimes, that back-slapping can get a bit severe. For example, you could be filled with the joy of the scales’ approval when they announce your loss of three pounds in a week. Three!! Well, you can have that impulse chicken-in-a-casket** from the bar menu, right? And the side-order of chips! The scales cheer you along (while stealing your chips) because you’ve earned it, right?

Just days later you’re back to where you were, despite that single, lousy blow-out, which surely didn’t cost you 7000 calories over your basal metabolic rate. It didn’t… did it? After all, you’ve been disciplined ever since: you’ve been out running, not stuffing your face after dinner…

The scales are giving you a punitive, temporary result; if you’ve been doing a lot of exercise, then you will have gathered a fair bit of protective water around your muscles while they repair. You certainly haven’t regained two and a half pounds of fat in just three days. Mr Scales is just punishing you for going home early rather than sticking around for that ‘one for the road’. It’s passive-aggressive bitchery at its digital best.

Thanks a sodding bunch, Mr Scales.

Am I saying that scales are not your friends at all after those first golden weeks? No, they can still be your friend, but to keep your mental health in good balance, you have to treat the scales like that ‘salt of the earth’ geezer from down t’ pub. Scales are very much a ‘small-doses’ friend. Enjoy them when they’re full of bonhomie and cheer for your progress, but, for God’s sake, don’t go camping with them. And always look around for Little Miss Non-Scale Victories (Miss NSV), because she’s a fabulous social buffer.

Joking aside, the scales are only there to record your journey to a smaller silhouette. You’re doing this for you – not for digital approval. Once that clicked with me, I started feeling much more bouncy, and much more inclined to get on with the rest of my life, which has meant being more active, and which means I can now get into the Jeans of Misfortune***.

Back to Little Miss NSV.

She’s the sign of progress you want to embrace. Miss NSV is the quiet friend who never says she’s coming out to play, but when you happen upon her, you’re always pleased to see her. She will never make you think you’ve gained three pounds overnight, steal your parking space, or argue with you about Brexit. She always tells you the truth about how far you’ve come, but she does it with a hug and a smile. Miss NSV is quiet and engaging, and she’s pretty much guaranteed to dissuade you from fixating on other people’s scale victories.

The only downside of Miss NSV is that she’s a master of disguise. We don’t always know she’s there. She’s rarely propping up the bar with Mr Scales (who she writes off as an annoying, smelly dickhead) and is more likely to be found reading a book by the fire. We have to remind ourselves to go and look for her.

Miss NSV manifests herself emotionally and psychologically even more than she does physically. So, to help track her down, here’s a sliding scale of NSV appearances, based on subtlety…

Is-it-green-or-is-it-blue levels of subtle

  • The laid-back ability to say ‘no thanks’ when people keep pushing sweets and treats on you.
  • A day going by when food really is just fuel, because you’re getting on with your life with the knowledge that the bulk will take care of itself.
  • You unthinkingly pull on a pair of jeans you couldn’t fit two months ago. You might have thrown a party at the time, but now you’re just looking forward.
  • You’re casually doing exercise that once got you severely out of breath.
  • You spend an afternoon being active and not even thinking about dinner.
  • Feeling your tummy growl is actually quite fun.
  • A salad can be seen as a source of enjoyment rather than poison offered by goblins and orcs, because you have no qualms about being heavy-handed with the dressing and the fun ingredients.
  • You pass on chocolate because you’re just not in the mood for it, and not because you’re being ‘good’.


Fit-bloke-in-a-tight-shirt levels of subtle

  • The family member who can always be relied upon to remind you that you’re on the large side suddenly has nothing to say. They might not compliment you, but they don’t make comparisons to large land mammals either.
  • You can button up jeans which are one size down. they might turn the belly north of the waistline into a mixed-muffin wasteland, but you can do them up without lying down, and without losing feeling in your pelvis. Keep going, and they’ll fit in a few weeks.
  • There is more space between your belly and the way your shirt hangs
  • Jeans are suddenly loose around your thighs
  • Increasingly, you’re inclined to go out for a run or get some exercise to make you FEEL BETTER, not because of the effect it will have on your waistline.
  • You no longer have an extended fight to the death with the elastic while trying to get your sports bra on.
  • Someone you’ve not seen for a while says, “you’re looking well!”

    (This is the fail-safe compliment of the hyper-polite, who do not wish to intimate that you looked large last time they saw you.)

  • You pass on dessert because you’re actually full, not because you’re depriving yourself.


Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen Feature Wall level of subtlety

  • Your trousers fall down. This, depending upon location and company, can be a mixed blessing.
  • You get whistled at, or become the subject of much female eyebrow-bouncing.
  • Some good-natured but loud-mouthed soul of your occasional acquaintance bellows, “fuck me luv/mate, where’s the rest of ya?”
  • The family matriarch previously relied upon for reminding you that you were large can now be guaranteed to warn you about the dangers of undereating.

    Because there is no winning with these people, you should still count it as a win.

  • You return from a shopping trip in the same non-homicidal frame of mind that you were in when you set off in the morning.

Feel free to add your own NSVs in the comments (with their subtlety rating), and I’ll add them to the list.


** Not a spelling error.

*** So named because I fell into a bog last time I wore them in 2016, and the resultant cleaning required made them shrink little little shrunken things.



A random rant…

May I have a quick, despairing moan?

I’d like to moan about nutritional labelling on packages. Take, for example, what I found on an 80g ‘grab bag’ of Doritos: 150kcal for a 30g serving.

Thank you, Dorito People, for the unwanted maths. Fine. So 150kcals will get me 37.5% of the pack. That’s wonderfully useful information – I was just about to grab the scales and measure out 37.5% of the bag for a serving.

Who does that? I can understand it with cooking ingredients, but… Doritos? I don’t carry around a pair of scales on the fly, and since most of the bag is air, it’s quite hard to judge 30g without upending the bag onto a nearby surface, putting the correct allotment aside, and popping the rest back. This approach is unlikely to win you friends on trains, I must say.

Likewise, if I have the temerity to eat this party food at a party, then it’s unlikely that I’ll be weighing them out there, either.

Manufacturers of hastily scoffed “sharing” food, please tell me what’s in HALF THE BAG.

In fact, tell me what’s in the whole 80g bag—not the 100g or 30g value, I just don’t care—and I’ll take the portion size risks for myself. Do not make me whip out the calculator for a portion which I am never going to choose. Please.

If I’m on a keto diet, I’m not going to eat them at all. If I’m going high carb, I’m going to scoff the lot. Even if I’m sharing them, I am not handing over 62.5% of the bag, thanks very much; I’ll be going for a rigorous “you shake, I choose” approach, which pretty much guarantees at least 50%.

Rant over.


Feel free to help me find my blood pressure pills, lol.

Author Guest Spot: Jacqui Greaves

It’s been my custom over the last couple of years to feature the occasional interview with a fun and most beloved author. The spotlight this time belongs to Jacqui, who kindly answered a few questions during a break between far-flung travels…

lowres GOF cover

What’s it about?

Sentenced to death as an infant by his grandfather then abandoned by his mother, Guillaume grows up with no idea of who or what he is. All he understands is that he has a voracious sexual appetite and the power to render himself irresistible to any woman he desires. His life is thrown into turmoil when his full powers are revealed in a violent display of fire and murder. Forced to leave the only home he has known, Guillaume sets forth to unravel the mystery of his heritage. His quest takes him through France and deep into Africa. As his powers grow, only his lifelong companion, Smoke, can help him control the depraved primal urges that threaten to overwhelm him. When Smoke loses her influence, it’s not only the lives of those close to him that are threatened. Can the world survive the ancient being that Guillaume becomes?

Jacqui! Welcome, welcome to my humble blog. Firstly, congratulations on the release of ‘Gods of Fire’! That must be, what, three or four years in the making?

Thanks, I’m delighted to be here! Yes, Gods of Fire has had an elephantine gestation. It took me a little over two years to write, and then, between editing and life, at least another year to finally commit and publish it.


Did you suffer any periods of writer’s block in the creation, or are you one of those alarmingly focused writers who doesn’t believe in it?

I have long periods of non-productivity, but I don’t call them writer’s block. During these periods I can be very productive in other aspects of my life or writing, but the major work in progress I’m writing just needs to take a rest while the story percolates in my mind.


One of the things I love about this book is that it straddles genres; it’s very hot in parts (and I’m not just talking about the fire, here), and yet the world-building has the richness I used to associate with David Eddings novels. Did you read any particular fantasy novels in your young adulthood, wishing it had more sex in it?

My childhood, young adulthood and adulthood have been filled with reading, a lot of it fantasy or science fiction. I didn’t come across erotica, or explicit sex in literature, until my mid-teens (probably a good thing!) and at the time associated it with historical romances. I don’t think I ever put the genres together in my mind until I started writing. For me, sex is an integral part of life and therefore should be included in our stories, so it just seemed right to include it in mine. I enjoy the challenge of writing hot sex scenes, it’s hard to get right and we all know that bad sex writing is embarrassing at best. I also believe that fantasy and science fiction offer ways to explore sex, sexuality and morality in ways that literature and other genres can’t.


I loved the lutin orgies. Can you describe lutins to our unknowing audience, and give some idea of scale—ie, bigger or smaller than a smurf? (Three apples high, according to Hervé.)

My lutins are based on the mythical French goblins. They stand around a metre tall, so much bigger than a smurf!


Is Abernethy Forest real, or based on a place you’ve visited?

Abernethy Forest is real and, yes, I have visited it.  It’s in the Scottish Highlands and is every bit as beautiful and mystical as I described.


I think my favourite character, other than our fierce and ever-so-slightly-stubborn hero Guillaume, is the Nunda, Smoke. Smoke (without being too spoilerish) is a mysterious and deeply loyal wingman (wing-woman?), made even more mysterious by mind-altering powers and her insubstantial panther form. You have Smoke’s feline tendencies down pat. Is she influenced by people or cats that you have loved? Or a combination?

Smoke is certainly a favourite with my readers! She’s based on a cat from Swahili legend, that some still believe is real; so much of her physical description is based on reports from hunters. Some of the way she moves is based on the dearly departed “Evil Eddie”, my farm cat, who, at a metre long was a formidable beast with an unpredictable nature—loving one minute, furious the next. When writing, I’d watch videos of tigers and lions to get an idea of the movements or actions I wanted to describe.


Let’s have a game of ‘What would Guillaume do’. A nasty Norseman gatecrashes a lutin orgy. Does Guillaume:

  1. Distract him with a swift shag
  2. Dangle him from the nearest trees by his balls
  3. Nick all his clothes, tie him up, cover him in honey and crushed nuts, and leave him for the squirrels to nibble?

This is a very good question! It’s entirely possible he’d do all of the above…but in this order:

Tie him up, cover him in honey and crushed nuts, shag him, dangle him from a tree by his balls for the squirrels to nibble and wander off wearing his clothes and carrying his weapons.


What are your future writing plans? Got something lurking in the pipeline, or making its way out into the open?

My current work in progress is a sci-fi, fantasy in a quasi-historical setting. The main character is a young woman, there’s at least one dragon, a bunch of samurais, talking statues and a tricky fox. As always, there’s lots of violence, blood, death and sex scenes that will make you all hot and clammy.


I’m looking forward to that. Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters? Or do your characters keep you awake by arguing with each other instead of letting you have a bit of kip?

Guillaume definitely misbehaved! He was meant to be quite a different character but refused to listen to instructions. In the end I just followed along, typing like a mad woman, while he ran off wreaking havoc everywhere he went!


Do you have any particular routine or ritual while you’re writing? (beating the printer to death doesn’t count).

I can’t start writing for the day until I’ve read over and edited the previous day’s work. I find this helps to take me back out of the real world and immerses me back into the world I’m creating.


Finally, what book do you wish you could have written?

One that made a lot of money! Other than that, I don’t covet other authors writing or stories.

To find out more…

Buy link for Gods of Fire:




Finally, a little more about Jacqui…

Jacqui has lived an adventure-filled life, spanning a range of careers and countries. She’s wrangled kindergarten children, driven buses, researched humpback whales, spoken at the United Nations, visited Antarctica, farmed deer, and, most recently, written strange and sexy fiction. A New Zealander, currently living by the beach in Melbourne, Jacqui has two novellas published in the PNRLust Anthologies and several short stories in online publications. Gods of Fire is her first full-length novel.

Finally getting on with things…

For a long time, I’ve had this mental block which brings me to a creative halt when I have outstanding projects to finish. These can be small (like critiques on stories posted on the ERWA Storytime email list), or huge, like editing projects. Until I’d cleared the decks, I felt like I was writing furtively, or doing things that weren’t work. I might as well have held up a sign saying “Writer’s Block, come and settle here!”

I’m learning to dedicate time in the day for my own writing now, whatever may be going on in the background. Even if it’s half an hour when I’ve finished working, it’s still half an hour more than I’d achieve otherwise. I keep telling myself to just write and worry about editing later. I’ve also learned to write as scenes occur to me, and stop obsessing over linear perfection and cohesion. I need to make notes about the things that need to be adjusted further down the line for consistency, and just flipping well get on with things.

So, this is me getting on with things; the following excerpt is from “Biding his Time”, the third tale in the ‘Brotherhood of Bouncers’ series, which opened with the short story “Single Syllable Steve”. Colin features in SSS only off-screen as the bouncer whose paternity cover the eponymous Steve was covering when he met nightclub accountant Celeste.

Colin pulled across The Strand into William IV Street, struggling to keep track of the pedestrians swanning across the road from all angles while Leon reeled out an endless to-do list from the comfort of the passenger seat. His soft, Aruban accent was usually soothing, but it was becoming a dangerous distraction to the business of surviving West End traffic.

“The Hippodrome’s doing a costume night on the sixteenth, but it’s a pub-hours event only. We’ll want to soak up some of their after-party crowd, so you’ll need Aaron on the door to sift out the—WOAH!”

Colin slammed the brakes before hitting a hipster with headphones larger than Leia’s side buns and no sense of self-preservation. The guy glared at Colin and flipped him the bird.

“Christ, Col. Too close, man.”

“Well if you’d let me focus on the road—”

“It’s a long day ahead,” Leon said. “We need a head start.”

Colin took a deep breath, his hands still shaking. “I appreciate that, but it’s turning into a bit of a memory test. We’re two minutes from the club. Can’t it wait?”

Leon put his mobile away with a heavy sigh. “Fine, I’ll go through the whole thing for you all over again, even though life is short.”

“You’re all heart.”

“But we do need to discuss the Jemima situation before we arrive.”

Colin whined inwardly as he merged into the traffic at the Trafalgar end of Charing Cross Road. He’d vouched for Jem partly because of her four years’ experience managing club bars in Amsterdam and London, but mostly to get his brother-in-law off his back. One of Richard’s business school protegées, Jemima seemed to have absorbed some of her mentor’s megalomaniac tendencies. ‘Bossy mare’ and ‘uptight cow’ were just a couple of the names the barmen had bandied around on the quiet. It wasn’t entirely fair, but she didn’t make things easy for herself, either.

Leon slipped his mobile into his jacket pocket and sighed. “I don’t think she’s settling in well.”

“Right. Has she complained to you, or—?”

“Don’t play innocent, Col. She’s said nothing. As you’re well aware, she’s widely disliked. It’s hard not to notice her inability to blend in.”

Colin brought the Mercedes to a sharp halt at the junction with Shaftesbury Avenue as orange turned to red after a millisecond flash. Even the bloody traffic lights had it in for him this morning.

“Col, you know she’s a problem.”

“I know there’s a problem,” Colin conceded, “but it’s not exclusively with her.”

“Interesting. And you say this because…?”

“The lads started slagging her off at the exact moment she made it clear that she wasn’t just at work to be flirted with.”

“Ah.” Leon winced. “Difficult.”

“Just a bit.” At the green light, Colin let the car coast forward at a sluggish fifteen miles an hour, keeping pace with the battered Peugeot right in front.

Please change the subject.

He needed her to stay on the job a little longer, or at least crash and burn in a failure entirely of her own making. The thought of picking Barney up from Richard’s place for the weekend and having to tell his brother-in-law that his prize student hadn’t even lasted a month just didn’t bear thinking about. There would be endless digs about him sabotaging the poor girl, preventing her from thriving, and generally making a mockery of Richard’s legacy. At some point—and Colin feared this intensely—Richard would make one snide remark too many and earn himself a bloodied nose and a short, fast fall to the floor. How he’d managed to go so long without belting that pious fucker around the head was nothing short of a miracle.

But Colin needed the miracle to sustain itself.

Colin crushed the steering wheel in his palm, begging his blood pressure to come back from the stratosphere and rejoin normal orbit. Four more months of sobriety, stability and good income, and he’d have earned the right to regain full custody of his son.

Nothing could get in the way of getting Barney back.

“I need you to talk to the barmen,” Leon announced suddenly. “If I address them, they will never respect Jemima. They’ll think she came running to me because she couldn’t cope with the ‘banter’.”

“How is it different if I rap them over the knuckles instead of you? They’ll still give her the side-eye.”

“You have a way with them.”

Colin grimaced. “I’m bigger and I’m good at looking proper fucked off. I’m not sure that’s the same as ‘having a way’ with them.”

“It’s up to you, Col. But if you don’t intervene and Jemima can’t form them into a team, then she’ll have to go.”

“Fine. I’ll deal with it.”

Swearing under his breath, Colin invested all his energy in navigating the narrow back streets that led to the little car park that Elysium shared with the Greek kebab joint next door. It was tempting to take his frustration out on the handbrake and the car door, but Leon would make him pay for any damage.

He stomped to the back door that led to the club’s top floor offices, trying not to let his temper get the better of him. It seemed so unfair—he’d just left the personality politics of managing the bar crew behind him with his move to head up the security team, and now he was plunged balls-deep into the business of watching Jem’s back.

“One last thing,” Leon called, just as Colin had his key in the lock.

Five, four, three, two… one. Colin forced a smile. Turned. “Yeah?”

“Tell that dopey fool Gareth that he can’t keep leaving his hot dog cart in Mr Christou’s reserved parking space. Andreas won’t be on holiday forever.”

“Gaz reports to Jemima now.”

“Perhaps, but he seems to respond to your particular guidance.”

“Fuck’s sake, Leon! What am I, the wazzock-whisperer?”

Leon chuckled darkly as Colin pulled open the door to let them in. “Don’t be angry, Colin. It’s a gift.”


Goodbye Irritating and Bastard… welcome to the new aids!!

A major reason I drank as much as I did was the ongoing distress and insanity caused by having a single hearing aid with appalling levels of feedback. It screamed, whistled and squeaked right in my lug-hole for eighteen months, and I had no option but to try to ignore it.

Between the feedback situation, the constant ear infections, and the abominable behaviour of many deaf-hating audiologists and ENT consultants, I reached often for bottles of anything over 37% proof.

But this is a post of joy. Joy, I tell you!

On Tuesday, I was fitted with new aids in BOTH ears 🙂 It was the first time I had my own equivalent of ‘full hearing’ in over two years. They’re made by Siemens and they’re really flashy. They were an absolute shock to the system when first turned on.

When the settings were complete and the audiologist (lovely fella call Matt) diverted sound from laptop to aids, I shot vertically off my seat as if launched by NASA. It’s a damn good job I’m sober now because I dread to think how much of a heart attack I’d have had if hungover during the fitting.

He scraped his chair back and it was like someone dragging a drain cover across Tarmac. I stared at the chair, wondering how the ungovernable frig it could possibly make that much noise. But once I’d got used to the concept of actual VOLUME in my ears, I was cock-a-hoop. Matt warned me that a lot of stuff would come as a surprise over the next few days, and sent me off home with an app for my phone to change the aid settings.

Oh my word—the last two days have been an eye-opener.  The zip on my jeans sounds like a Lambourgini braking on gravel.

I’ve also discovered that we possibly possess the world’s noisiest fridge. I cringe to think of all the times I flatly denied sneaking a middle-of-night snack, now knowing that the opening of the door can probably be heard in Bristol, let alone upstairs in the bedroom. I don’t know whether to clip hubby round the ear for humouring me for four years, or whether to kiss him for his patience. Christ. The hinge went off like a bunch of competitive crypt doors, and the motor was like a million mosquitoes farting in a wind tunnel.

I’m getting used to things now. Although my world is temporarily RATHER STARTLING, it’s also more peaceful.

In terms of writing, I also stand a much better chance of writing convincing hearing characters, which I’ve always really struggled with. That’s going to be like a breath of fresh air! Though my favourite bouncer Steve is severely deaf, his life-long mate Colin isn’t. I’m feeling much more confident about writing his story now 🙂

A good use of energy?

Right, so apart from desperately trying to get some work done over the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been busy exercising and note-taking for my various writing projects. I’ve also been trying to help a friend find a picture of a sexy bloke for the cover of her novel. This hasn’t been a joyful activity. Her parameters for ‘sexy’ are quite tight, and it seems that where ‘Getty Images’ is concerned, you need to be careful of what you wish for. Searching for ‘hot man’ produced this, for example…


Yes, quite.

Happily she found the name of a model she liked and found a bunch of pictures all by herself, thus relieving me of my supportive duties. That gave me back some time for my next non-working task… exercise.

The exercise has been an ongoing endurance test since I woke up on 13th October and decided I was never going to drink again. Because I’m as skint as a flint with an over-extended overdraft, running has become my thing. It’s a bit too dark to run at the times I’m most inclined to want a drink (5pm onwards), but I’m definitely benefitting from opening the day with some decent exercise. I’ve dusted off my FitBit and started tracking everything again.

The key benefit of the FitBit is that it gives me something else to obsess over. And oh boy… it’s so easy to obsess over reaching daily goals. Here are mine:

Floors climbed (8)
Steps achieved (6k min)
Calories expended (2100)
Exercise completed (10 mins a day min)

Each little icon lights up a pleasingly cheery shade of green when you’ve hit your goal for the day. If you’ve done really well and hit all your goals, you get a sort of green waterfall of celebration sweeping across your screen. It’s very satisfying. Who wouldn’t want to put their energy into that?


Only issue is… FitBit can be a little glitchy. Sometimes it refuses to acknowledge the exercise you’ve just done. You could be standing in a puddle of your own sweat, syncing your phone app like a loonie to make it catch up with your watch, but sometimes the app just doesn’t want to know.

As a case in point (pic below) FitBitch was quite happy to admit that I’d done 24 consecutive minutes of painful jogging, but why oh WHY does that not show up in the ‘tracking exercise’ window? (For FitBit newbies, that’s the one with the little bloke running in the pentagram).


You can arrange the settings so that you get a rewarding little ‘ping’ for each hour that you move more than 250 steps, but FitBitch has been known to stiff me of the occasional hour. Usually the last hour of five, when I’ve had an otherwise impeccable run of success.

Conversely, I’m sometimes rewarded for trudging around the supermarket at a not particularly impressive pace. Where’s the justice? Where’s the consistency?

But overall, the FitBitch and I get on absolutely fine. Even while I sit here, calling it rude names and ranting about its occasional shortcomings, it’s a lot better for me than what I would otherwise be doing right now on a Sunday night…

… drinking, and trying to write.

They don’t happen together, I find. I might occasionally (accidentally) hit upon a witticism, but drinking to get my imagination going wasn’t working. Since I’ve stopped, I’ve poured my entire capacity for linear working (ie writing scenes as they appear on my outline) into my paid work. This has left me with very little capacity for doing the same with my own writing under my own name.

However, the good news is that scenes are starting to write themselves in my head again. I can jot down notes quickly about arguments my characters have, and they make sense later (which is a blessed relief.) I’ve started making notes on motivations, bits of conversation, bits of backstory, and ideas for how subplots evolve and feed back into the main story. As I start to balance work, fitness and time to write in a more effective way, I hope to get moving on actual writing again.

I look forward to that – I’ve missed it.

Seeking brilliance, not brain-ache


blocked nose

My sinuses are blazing like they’re mustering the energy to launch a rocket into space, my eyes are watering, and I ache EVERYWHERE. I look like a vampire who’s been caught out by the clocks going forward.

But it’s okay, I can cope. I might feel like physical s**t, but I’m still feeling reasonably cheerful because…

It’s not a hangover!

Still sober, and currently on day 16, I’m delighted to report.

But yeah, my brain hurts like the vodka vixen grabbed me by the heels last night and swung me around her head a few times in a room full of small but painful ornaments. I’ve made some lovely vertical-spoon soup, which has helped, and in a minute I’m going for a walk to blow some cobwebs off, and then it’s back to work.

The slight dilemma I have at the moment is that my brain has chosen the worst time to get all energetic with plot and scene ideas for two projects at the same time. After I’m done with my day job, I do like to figure out what’s next for my novel-writing schemes. My priority is, and should be, the continuation of “A Brotherhood of Bouncers” (ABB).  However, my muse is clearly still on the sauce (even if I’m not) and she’s pelting me with ideas for silly scenes for the sequel to ABB! Maddening stuff!

Advice please, people! How do you lot cope when someone’s opened the door of the plot bunny hutch and let all the little buggers rampage around the place? As an editor, I’ve got nearly 15 years’ experience. As a writer under my own name? Not a great deal!

Confessions, Concessions and Fresh Starts…


Okay – this isn’t easy for me to admit, so I’m going to come straight out with it: I’ve stopped drinking.

That’s not really a confession, is it? Right. I’ll try that again.

Confession—I was having serious trouble controlling my drinking and knew I had to stop. I’d completely lost my ability to moderate.

Phew. That was hard.

Realising that I had to stop didn’t arise from any specific crisis or melt-down, I’m relieved to say. I hadn’t had a huge row with my other half, or disgraced myself at work. I hadn’t failed to do something I was supposed to do because I was too hungover to move, and nor had I said something horrid to my son in an emotional wine-fuelled temper. I was still able to put hand on heart and say that I wasn’t working (editing or ghostwriting) under the influence.

However, I was beginning to panic. Although I wasn’t drinking every day, I was certainly drinking up to five days a week, and I found that once I’d started, I literally couldn’t stop. If I didn’t have that first G&T of the evening, I’d be fine. But once I’d had that first, then I had to get drunk.

I’d tried moderating before, but that just slowed down the addiction. I went alcohol-free for a time, hoping it would reset my body’s relationship with alcohol, but—guess what—my heavy patterns not only returned, but got worse.

In short, I was still at the point where I’d have felt like a fraud if I’d walked into an AA meeting (though I’m sure I’d be made welcome), but I absolutely knew I had to get some help because my situation was only going to head downhill.

On recommendation from a friend, I looked up ‘The Sober Diaries’ (by Clare Pooley) and read it from cover to cover in three days. I didn’t drink while I was reading, and I haven’t had an alcoholic drink since. I’ve also found a wonderful Facebook group: ‘Club Soda Together’. I have absolutely no doubt that I’d have caved in and headed for the off-licence at least three times in the first week if I hadn’t been busy replying to posts and commenting for a couple of hours on end.

Long may it continue. As far as my family and long-term friends are concerned, I’m doing Sober October (for now). I’m sure they will be supportive when I do get around to admitting that I’d stopped drinking out of fear rather than out of the passion for better health, but I’m not quite ready for that in-depth conversation yet. I just want to focus on the monumental lifestyle change ahead of me.



I did have one major achievement this year; being part of the editorial team to critique, select, polish and assemble stories for my online writer’s group “Storytime”, which is the writing workshop of the Erotica Readers and Writers’ Association. It’s been nine months in the making, but I’m delighted to announce the release of “Twisted Sheets: Tales of Sizzling Menage.” for the fab promo price of a mere 99p, or $1.30.  That is less than the cost of the orange juice that goes into a mocktail. Bargain.

It’s already in the top 5 rankings for its category on Amazon. Wippeee! Here’s the link! It should open in the Amazon Store in the country where you live. Ideally.

I was really proud to be part of bringing this anthology together. Many a SOBER hour was invested in helping the authors to get their stories into the best possible shape, and it was a great project to be involved in.


And Fresh Starts…

One thing that has happened since I’ve stopped drinking is that my imagination seems to be coming back to life. I’ve been telling myself to get ON WITH MY BLOODY NOVEL for about six months now, and finally some productive note-making is taking place.

I wrote ‘Single Syllable Steve’ back in 2015 as a short story (pre Kindle Unlimited, when standalone, longish short stories were more fashionable) and I’m embarrassed not to have followed it up yet with the longer sequel suggested in the reviews.

My plan now is to create together a series: “A Brotherhood of Bouncers”, following the adventures of Steve (a uniquely vast but deaf bouncer) and all the other lads who he connects with by setting up the WhatsApp social group ‘West-End Ladz’ for doormen and floormen. The first full novel is Steve’s, then that of his best mate Colin, and so on and so forth. I do like creating a universe, and I’m a sucker for cross-over characters and details 😊

Please wish me well for a more prolific future.


Clowns Hysterectomy, Jokers to the right… (the joy of getting the song lyrics wrong)

All of us have, at some point, seen things that we can’t unsee, however hard we try.

I’ve found over the years that it’s almost as impossible to un-hear something. The worst offenders for things that get stuck in your head (after earworm) are misheard song lyrics. A short time ago, a friend of mine shared the meme below, which brought back some memories:

Ken doll

I first heard this as “Sandal in the bin’, and even once I’d read the entire set of lyrics on the CD single insert, I couldn’t get my brain to accept the true version of the song. It was as if the wrongness had imprinted itself in my mind and nothing could overwrite it.

I had similar problems with Rod Stewart’s “Fart Like a Tiger”.

Madonna was shocking for poor diction. I suppose it didn’t help that I was really young when ‘La Isla Bonita’ was released, and therefore not really au fait with currencies around the world, but once I’d heard “young girl with eyes like potatoes”, I couldn’t make “pesetas” work. And as for “Like a Virgin”, I was convinced she’d been touched for the thirty-first time… which struck me as less than virginal, even at the tender age of about nine. It was all very possible, of course. If said virgin was applying the ‘suck it and see’ approach to dating, then it’s perfectly possible that she’d clocked up 31+ fumbles before doing the deed. Just not particularly likely.

It wasn’t always my weird imagination at work. You listen to “Me Israelite” and tell me you don’t hear “me ears ‘re alight.” I was always convinced that Fats Domino found his drill on Blueberry Hill (he wasn’t a fan of pronouncing his ‘th’, that man), and that the Beatles sung “I wanna hold your gland.”

It’s not me honest, guv – it’s all these people who can’t enunciate their consonants.

Now that I can’t hear music much at all anymore, I’m rather vulnerable to dastardly friends fitting new lyrics to well-known songs, and over-writing my memory of how the song sounds. I was at work once when my colleagues were bickering about opera and how dreadful/wonderful it is with equal force. Opera’s advocate, Cookie, said you can put anything in an opera and it will sound good. Challenged to sing operatically about curry, he launched into “Nessun Korma**”, and that is now the version I have stuck in my memory bank. Thanks Cookie!

I need to point accusingly at Tony J Fyler, too, for re-penning that Pink Floyd Classic “Another Prick with a Wall” to the extent that I can’t hear the original version in my head anymore. Cheers Tony!

So… which song lyrics haunt you? I think most people have heard Bon Jovi belting out “It doesn’t matter if we’re naked or not” during Livin’ on a Prayer, so that doesn’t count. C’mon… hit me with your misheard lyrics 🙂

Tig xxxx

Nessun Korma
Nessun Korma
Nihili Naan bread
fuck-all pakora….