Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sister Pact 2 snippet. Frances and Lizzie in captivity.

“Are you up for another challenge?” Frances asked.
Lizzie’s magnificent eyebrows practically hit her hairline. “Oh yes, darling...anything.”
Frances stood and wandered to the doorway checking no one was outside listening. “I think we need to see if we can drive a wedge between Brian and some of the lambs.” Frances held up her hand to silence her mother as Lizzie opened her mouth, her expression rapturous. “We need to be subtle mother, pick out targets. Sew quiet seeds of discontent. Get them to switch alliances. With everyone permanently baked, it shouldn’t be that difficult. What do you think?”
Lizzie beamed and said, “It’s like The Secret Army” and then in a loud stage whisper, “Viva la revolution.”
Frances rolled her eyes. They were hardly trying to smuggle British airmen out of Nazi-occupied France. “I’ve been working on Orion and Jenny, and Ken’s already a fan but I reckon we could get Sonny on our side, what do you think?”
“Oh yes,” Lizzie agreed readily. “He’s the most amiable man I’ve ever met.”
“Good,” Frances murmured. “You two seem to have developed a bit of rapport so do you want to have a crack at him?”
Lizzie’s smile dried up. Des even raised his head as the petting was abruptly cut off.  “Frances Sutcliffe are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”
Frances blinked at the shrillness of her mother’s tone. Again with the melodrama. “Relax, Mother, I’m not asking you to sleep with him.”
“I should hope not, young lady. Subjugating myself to a patriarchal oppressor - ”
Frances’s splutter interrupted Lizzie mid flow. “You just said he was amiable.”
“Goes against all my feminist principles,” Lizzie continued undeterred. “Did Emmeline Pankhurst do time in prison so I would have to prostitute myself for my freedom?”
“No,” Frances said belatedly when she realised the question had not been rhetorical.
“No she did not,” Lizzie agreed. “I refuse to use my body to bedazzle a man. I will not use my sexuality as a weapon even though my libido has been awakened with the roar of a thousand lions.”
Frances screwed up her face. “Oh, eww, mother, too much information.”
Lizzie gave her daughter a patient smile. “You young people think that everything shrivels and dies as you get on in years. Oh Frances,” she smiled dreamily, “It gets better.”
She sighed and took up stroking Des again who looked a lot happier than Frances to hear about Lizzie’s awakened sexuality.
“It’s like the power of the great earth mother pulses inside you and you become this insatiable, flowering, ripe,” she petted Des long furry belly more quickly with each adjective, “deliciously juicy vessel with this voracious craving for gratification.”
Frances gaped at her mother and for the first time in her life wished she’d been born deaf. And the way Lizzie was rubbing Des, blind may also have been advantageous. 
“I just meant be nice to him,” she said lamely. “Not,” Frances said quickly as her mother opened her mouth again, “Like that. Just you know...interact like a human being with him, laugh with him, talk about his interests, what he did before becoming a lamb. You know...normal stuff.”
Not warped Wicca, Earth Mother, juicy vessel mumbo jumbo.
“Oh...of course,” Lizzie agreed. “Leave it to me.”
Frances nodded and smiled ignoring the ominous Jaws music playing in her head.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The best part about having a sister. getting to be the first one to read her books!

Ros' new title, Fish Out of Water, released this week.  But I got to read this hip mermaid mystery when it was a mere guppy.  Today I'm sharing my favourite bit.

But first, the setup:

Dirtwater's straight-talking Deputy Sheriff has a lot on her plate: a nicotine addiction that's a serious liability for a mermaid, a solider-of-fortune ex who's hooked on her Mom's brownies, a gorgeous, naked stranger in her shower, and a mysterious dead blonde with a fish tattoo on Main Street.  

Oh, and one other thing. She's scheduled to die on her thirtieth birthday - in three weeks - unless she can 'change the course of destiny and save the world entire'. 

Throw in a Mom who's the local Mayor and a Dad who's been locked in the county jail for twelve years, and that's all the trouble she needs without her mermaid roots coming back to haunt her.

Rania's heading home to Aegira for a family wedding but she's starting to have a sinking feeling that's got nothing to do with hydroporting seven miles under the sea and everything to do with some weird connections that seem to be emerging between her, the dead blonde, her Mom's shady past and a ten thousand year old prophesy. 

Now if she can just steal a corpse, get a crazy Aegirian priest off her case, work out who the hell's trying to kill her and stop sleeping with the fishes, she might be able to unravel the prophesy, the mystery of the missing choirgirls and the secrets hidden in her Mom's past. And maybe even save her own ass while she's at it.

Now, my favourite bit:

Dirtwater Morgue
“Okay, so you weren’t kidding.”  Larry’s face was grim, the deep lines that normally accentuated his handsomeness intensifying his seriousness.  In some other kind of man it’d be freaked out, but Larry’s seen a lot.  “She really is from someplace else.”
“Yep.”  I wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Someplace wet?”  He was asking the question but it wasn’t really a question.
“Yep,” I confirmed again, shortly.  “Very wet.  What gave it away?”
“Well…”  Larry scratched his head, as if where to start? 
“The dual respiratory system, that’s kind of unique, and these interesting internal gill things.  Nice.  Beautiful, actually, I’d be inclined to say.  So… tidy.”
He stood back, as if admiring a work of art, and considered Blondie for another moment or two.  She was stretched out on the long white bench.  It was dark.  He’d used only the lights he absolutely needed for the clandestine procedure.  But I could tell he’d been careful, and neat as ever.  The railroad track across her chest and forehead was made up of perfect little stitches, and there wasn’t a trace of blood or fluid on her.
He kept looking at her, carefully wiping down a line of tiny silver instruments. 
“Then there’s the dermis.  Our skin’s waterproof, but this stuff, this is something else altogether.  Looks like ours, but is actually made of these microscopic organic shields.  Scales, I guess you’d call then.  Perfectly adapted for long term submersion.  Remind me of this incredible scuba get-up a SEAL buddy of mine usedta have.  I won’t even go into what I found in here.”
He tapped Blondie’s forehead gently. 
“But let’s put it this way Rania.  I always knew you were a smart girl.  But what I’ve seen here today makes me wanna ask what the hell’s a smart fish like you doin’ in a dive like this?”
I smiled at him wanly.  It felt weird, hearing her described this way. Hearing me described this way.  “What else?”
“Well.  There’s the muscular-skeletal system, but I probably shoulda guessed about that.  After all, those arm wrestles have been messin’ with my head for… what? Thirteen years now?”
He shook his head.  “Incredible artistry, y’know that?  The weighting system built into the sinews.  That how you guys stay under?  No dive belts needed. And then her vocal apparatus.  Amazing.  I guess it’s hard to communicate underwater without some special equipment.”
I was smiling again although my whole body felt numb. 
But we needed to cut to the chase. I needed to know what he was able to find out about what happened to her.  Whether he could give me any leads.  Because I’d surprised myself by not being able to watch the autopsy.  Weirder and weirder.  I’ve seen dozens of them, and I was only sick once, the first time.  But something about her, so still and perfect and secret.  Relying on me to find out what happened.  I couldn’t watch her get cut. 
And maybe it was more than that.  Maybe I was just getting squeamish about death as my own appointed time drew closer.  As I wondered if I’ll be lying on some slab, just like Blondie…
So I’d sneaked outside and avoided the temptation to ransack the morgue for stray cigarettes, raiding the fridge instead.  Larry keeps it stocked.  Three bagels, four slices of cheese, two quarts of orange juice and three Hershey bars later, Larry was done. 
 “So did she give anything away?  About her death?”  My voice sounded shaky and I didn’t like it, so I tried again.  “I mean, probably not, I know. Nothing visible from the outside.  Anything internal?”
Larry scratched his big grey beard again as he spoke carefully. “Most things seem to be in place.  Far as I can tell, of course, not being an expert on what ‘in place’ is supposed to look like for her.  But there was something odd.”
I leaned forward, desperately curious and sick inside at the same time.
“It’s her ears,” Larry said.  Then paused, like he didn’t quite have it right.  “Okay, not her ears exactly.  More like deep inside the ear canal.”
“What is it?”  The creepy fingers of fear I hadn’t shaken off tightened their grip.
“It’s like…”  He searched for the right analogy.  “The tissue in there’s all been melted.”
“Melted?”  I was confused.  “Like with heat?”
“Yeah,” he sighed.  “But… not.  I mean, it looks melted. Hmmm… no. Dissolved.  Turned to mush and nothing.”
My mouth was suddenly very dry, and I got a sheen on my top lip.  But I wasn’t gonna lose my lunch in front of Larry, so I reached for the jar of kool mints and gobbled four of them in a row.  He silently handed me a glass of water.   
“Anything else?” I was asking more to keep busy than anything else.
Larry consulted some notes he’d made on a little pad next to the kool mints. 
“Um,” he said, and was I just imagining it or did he look kinda shifty? 
“Stomach contents are pretty standard vegetarian fare, but I’d say she’s from the city.  God knows you can’t get a good no-meat chow mein round here.”
Huh. I was listening but not computing.
“Otherwise seems to be in good health.  No surgery, broken bones, illness.”
Again, not surprising.  Aegirans don’t get sick often. With little pestilence and crime, they keep themselves nice well into their sixties and beyond.
Larry went on.  “She’s never had a baby.” 
I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Watch-keepers are young, focused.  But Larry’s words made my throat close over.  No babies.  And now she’ll never have any.  They love children, in Aegira.  They got population control sorted out several millennia ago, realizing the population couldn’t grow like on The Land if they were to continue to hide.  So Aegirans have only one child, but each belongs joyfully to the community, and they share and delight in every birth. 
Larry put his book down. 
“Rania. There is one other thing, and I don’t know what to make of it so I’ll just tell you.” 
He paused again.  I’d never seen him look so uncertain as he ran his hands again over his mouth and rubbed at his beard.  “Actually,” he corrected himself.  “Maybe I’ll just show you.”
He lifted the sheet that he’d used as a modesty cover for Blondie.  Her legs were slightly apart underneath it, and the gold of her skin looked impossibly smooth and unbroken against the white of the cotton.  Larry pointed, high on her thigh, almost to the top of the inside of her leg.  I could see another tattoo, blue-green like the watch-keeper fish.  But fresher, a very recent tattoo. I could see the angry red lines indicating it had just been done.  And this time it was a name.
My name.  Rania Aqualina.
I’m the reason she was here.  She came for me.
Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw that big old aquarium, and things started to make sense.  I knew how she got here. 
But why me?

Buy Fish Out of Water.
Find out more at 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quiz: What do yoga and crazy-hot sex have in common?

Arching your back like a vixen?  Thinking “I should do this more often”? Sleeping like the dead afterwards?

Buzz, one of my two stories in the Harper Collins anthology URL Love, is set at a health retreat.  A seriously serious health retreat.  No meat.  No iced vovos.  No talking.  And definitely, definitely no mobile phones.

So what happens when a good girl breaks the golden rule?

Buy URL Love to discover which position is even better than downward dog.

Ros J

Buy URL Love: From Texting to Twitter, the Hottest Online Love Stories.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Frances and Joni outtake #4

Another snippet from the continuing saga of Frankie and Joni. Frankie's thoughts turn to Nick and other things as she spends her first night in captivity. Up a tree. Dont ask....

Frances shook her head, peering into the semi-gloom at the roughly hewn ceiling she could just make out. This would be doing Nick’s head in too. This lying around. He was like her - a doer. Not in the same way, sure, but in attitude, absolutely.
Nick was more physically capable. The kind of guy who could build a shelter, ride a horse, shear a sheep, kill a beast, slay a dragon, navigate by the stars and no doubt sail the seven seas.
A man who was good with his hands.
And a nice bloody change from let’s-get-a-man-in-to-do-it Edward. Cheating-embezzling-bastard Edward.
Soon-to-be-divorced Edward
Of course he was also very good with other parts of his anatomy. The way he could make her clothes fall off with one look and how he consistently found just the right spot without the need for a GPS tracking device, was really quite amazing.
Frances stared at the ceiling and smiled. Even now memories of their exploits in bed last night were causing her head to spin. She shut her eyes. The man’s adventurous spirit and rough, tilling-the-land hands were going to give her enough fantasies to last several lifetimes.
Who knew sex could be that good?
Her eyes fluttered open. A lovely floaty feeling invaded her bones and she shut them again on a sigh and giggled.
Yes, giggled.
Her eyes flew open. Had she actually giggled?
What the hell? Frances didn’t giggle. Grown women did not giggle. Little girls with Shirley Temple curls giggled.
The thought was absurdly funny and she giggled again.
“You okay?”
Zeke’s sleepy voice wafted through the screen door and brought her back to reality. “Sure,” she said, even though she knew she wasn’t.
But a weird drifty feeling was swirling inside her and it seemed to make the not being okay, somehow okay. Make the urgency of getting out of here suddenly not such a crashing priority. But in the morning she was going to show Mr Shepherd of the Apocalypse. She was going to give that man, Brian – Master Brian - a piece of her mind.
Frances rolled on her side to stop the room from spinning. The low flame of the lantern twisted before her multiplying in a kaleidoscope pattern. Brian’s head flickered in the centre of each one like a disembodied ghost.   
She muffled another giggle. Brian....
Seriously, who would associate anything apocalyptic with the name Brian?
Brian conjured images of a slightly myopic accountant. Nothing remotely end-of-the-world-ish about Brian.
Zoran. Now that was a world-is-nigh name.
Or Lucifer.
Or Darth. Come to the dark side, Frances.
Frances stifled another giggle.
These were names honed from the fiery depths of an apocalyptic dawn. Seriously, if you were going to go to the trouble of coming up with such a ridiculous name – Lambs of the Apocalypse – why on earth wouldn’t you, as leader, change your own name accordingly?
What was one more crazy fantasy in this bizarre alternate world they all seemed to be living in?
Master Zoran, Shepherd of the Apocalypse.
Now, that said don’t fuck with me. Bow down before me or perish in the everlasting fires of damnation!
That was hail and brimstone.
Frances shook her head. Master Brian could do with a good business coach.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I hate 50 Shades of Grey (even though I’ve never read it).

No, not because it’s saucy (bring it on). 

And not because I’m jealous as hell that EL’s first book has sold a gazillion copies and redefined fiction for the next God-knows-how-long (although God knows I am).

Not even because I’m a feminist (which I am) and am worried about the questionable sexual politics I hear discussed at every single event I attend (which I’m not – the characters are consenting adults so knock yourselves out as far as I’m concerned).

The truth is, I can’t wait to read it.  The only reason I haven’t read it so far is that I have just had my fourth child and in between running around like an unpaid taxi, breastfeeding and doing laundry five times a freakin’ day I don’t even get time to read mail from the Tax Office marked “urgent”.  So I feel like I’m officially the only woman in the entire world who hasn’t read it.  But even that’s not why I hate it.

The reason I hate it is that I have had it up to my armpits with hearing talk about the “new” phenomenon of “Mummy porn”. 

So, actually, I guess it’s not 50 Shades of Grey I hate at all. 

It’s every simplistic, puerile, sexist gobshite of a journalist/tv anchor/social commentator who thinks (a) “mummies” are somehow are a different species from every other woman on Earth and (b) there is something new, funny or wacky about their sexuality.

Fact.  (Almost) every woman on the planet is reading the book, not just “mummies”.  Why is so interesting that, among all those women reading this book, women with children are too?

Fact.  “Mummies” do not somehow miraculously change in desire, identity or nature because a child passes through their bodies and they become responsible for it. Newsflash - “Mummies” are sexy people, that’s how they got babies in the first place.

The argument seems to go that 50 Shades legitimised “mummies” reading sexy stuff because initially, they could read it on their e-readers, discreetly, so no-one needed to know what outrageous harlots they were.  And then, after a while, they discovered everyone else was reading it as well so that made it ok too.

The hypothesis is ridiculous.

Most mothers I know are not shrinking violets nor do they require permission  from other people to make decisions.  They are, in fact, not afraid of anything, least of all their own interest in reading some racy fiction. 

They will take on their mothers-in-law, schools, and entire systems if they have to. 

They are fearless and ferocious.

The term “mummy porn” belittles not just mothers, but all women.  It reduces us and makes us the objects of (somewhat affectionate) scorn. We do not talk about “daddy porn”, because let’s face it, it would be a tautology. Most Daddies have read or viewed material way more hardcore than 50 Shades. 

But then, unlike women, men are not defined as “Daddies”, even once they are.

So.  Here’s the thing. 

Women can read what they like, be they virgins, seniors, or (God forbid) mothers. 

We always have, and I’m pretty sure we always will.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sister Napped outtake #3

Frances has just met her kidnappers, a cult called The Lambs of the Apocalypse.....

“Come on,” a gentle voice said next to her elbow, “I’ll take you to your room.”
Frances, reassured by the kindness of the voice and Ken’s defence of her – and that there must be a “room” somewhere in this wild Gondwanaland (hopefully with a flushing toilet) - pocketed Des. She didn’t protest as Zeke took her by the elbow.  She was utterly knackered, her wrists, ankles and now knees hurt like hell and she needed to pee so badly her sphincter was barely holding its own.
But tomorrow, these so-called-lambs were going to fear her silence!
“Zeke, is it?” Frances asked as she stumbled along beside him trying to see by the light of one flame.
“That’s right.”
“Is there a loo in my room? I really am very desperate to...”
God, the final indignity, having to talk about bladder function to a strange man who was part of what she could only assume some elaborate kidnapping scheme, or at the very least a bizarre form of practical joke.
Just as well they’d kidnapped her instead of Joni. Her sister’s Woolworth’s bladder would never have withstood the rigours that Frances’s has been put through – there would have been an accident in the back of the car for sure!
“Spend a penny,” she ended lamely.
“We have drop toilets,” Zeke informed her. “This way,” and he peeled off to the left.
How on earth he could even see where he was going was beyond Frances. She did notice that Zeke, who towered over her and whose hand at her elbow felt as big as a meat cleaver, also had the most prominent eye-balls. Remarkably so. They could surely have won him the part as Geoff Goldblum’s stunt double in The Fly.
They were obviously an asset in this apparent black hole.
“Here we are,” Zeke said as he opened a door Frances had practically run smack bang into.
A waft of composting waste, human and vegetable, permeated the dank night air and sat in her nostrils like giant globs of fetid snot. 
Frances, who had quickly become reaccustomed to five star facilities, guessed suddenly that drop toilet was not a euphemism for a loo with an adjustable seat height. But considering she was ready to squat where she stood and empty her bladder in front of a bug-eyed man, beggars couldn’t be choosers.
Zeke placed the torch handle through a metal ring inside the door. “That should help you see what you’re doing.”
Frances smiled weakly, not absolutely sure she really wanted to know what the inside looked like or even what she, Frances from Kew, looked like inside it, but human bodily functions knew no dignity. “If I’m not out in a minute you have my permission to come in and get me,” she murmured as she held her breath and went in.

Monday, July 16, 2012

More Sister Napped: down to business...

Another taster of book two, Sister Lit-ers.  And it's not all beer and skittles for Frances and Joni...

Joni held the paper bag against her face as the paramedic had instructed, but it was just so hard to do it and scream at the same time.  It required the kind of multi-tasking her father, Carter, had always accused her of being incapable of.  Maybe he was right after all.
Anyway, fuck deep breathing.
“We shouldna called the cops, they’re gonna kill her, they’re gonna fucking chop her up, it’s gonna be like those fucking serial killer movies or the fucking ear thing with Van Gogh,” she wailed piteously through the bag.  Each time she made to take the bag away, Lex’s steady warm, brown hand guided it gently back again. 
“And God knows what they’re gonna do to poor Des.”  Visions of Des’ furry corpse hanging from the rearview mirror of the kidnappers’ white van like a macabre trophy danced before Joni’s eyes, and she screamed again.
Nick spoke firmly.  “No, Joni.  Lex did the right thing.  They know we’ll call the cops.  They expect it. It was just an… ambit claim.  They’re just trying to spook us. Keep the upper hand.”
The truth settled like acid in Joni’s stomach. Mission Accomplished, arseholes.
Nick spoke again.  “They’re not gonna do anything to Frankie that might risk their investment in this.” His mouth was a forbidding line. “And we’re gonna need the cops right now.  And all their resources.”
Joni knew he was right but she felt a moment of crystalline clarity and her tears dried instantly, like liquid paper.  She looked Nick and Lex right in their eyes.  “Just so we’re clear.  If my sister dies because you suck-arses called the cops, I’m never speaking to either of you again.”
Lex and Nick both nodded earnestly.
“We get it,” Lex confirmed.
“Check,” Nick echoed.