on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Josephine Myles

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When the idea first struck me to write a romance with a hoarder as the central character, I almost sent it packing. It sounded like a unique hook as I’d never heard of another romance featuring a hoarder as a love interest, but then again, there was probably a good reason for that. After all, isn’t hoarding disgusting? Who would want to read about someone who’d filled their house with random stuff to the point where it had become a health and safety hazard? It ain’t romantic or sexy, that’s for sure.

However, as I have a terminally rebellious urge it was this inadvisability that really attracted me. I’d managed to write a successful erotic romance with a hero who was on dialysis (Ben in Handle with Care), and another with a dole scrounger (Cosmo in Screwing the System). For some reason I’m pulled towards unconventional but ordinary folk, complete with all their myriad physical and mental health issues, along with some juicy character flaws. Perhaps this is because these are the people I know in real life, and I’m resistant to the idea that only dedicated cops, billionaires and ripped firefighters deserve a happy ending 😉

garden junkOnce I’d decided I was going to welcome the hoarder plot bunny with open arms, I had more difficult decisions to make. What could my hero hoard that wouldn’t revolt readers? I’m utterly fascinated by hoarding television shows where they investigate people’s homes–particularly when there’s a proper therapist working with the hoarders to effect a transformation. That said, it’s one thing to watch it on television where only the visual element is involved, but to write it I’d have to call on all the senses. I decided I needed to investigate further, and delved into a wonderful book called “Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” to find out more about the different types of things people collect, and why.

Antisocial hoards:

Animals – Just when does a mad cat lady turn into an animal hoarder? The answer seems to be when the number of animals exceeds the owner’s ability to care for them, resulting in ill health and a house full of excrement. Animal hoarders are a distinct group of hoarders and according to the authors of Stuff (two experts in hoarding disorder), they are the most problematic to work with. While it’s obvious to outsiders that conditions are utterly insanitary and the animals need rescuing, their owners often believe that they are the ones saving the animals from a life on the streets or being put down.

rotten bananasFood – People who hoard perishable food are perhaps the next most antisocial group. They are usually located by their neighbours reporting roaches and rats, and this type of hoarding is likely to result in forced clear-outs by an environmental health team–something the hoarders find extremely traumatic.

Bodily waste – this is a really unusual one and definitely a sign of a severe mental health problem. There are people out there who consider everything that was once a part of them–toenail clippings, hair, feces, etc–to be in some way imbued with a magical property, and they cannot bear to let it go for fear that harm will befall them.

I knew Jasper, my hoarder hero, couldn’t collect anything too revolting or have mental health problems that were too severe, so fortunately all of these were out of the question.

Less antisocial hoarding:

pile of bikesWhen the objects hoarded are things like clothes, toys, furniture and books a hoard is far less antisocial. Yes, it can still be a health hazard for the person who lives in the house–at risk of having their possessions bury them alive–but it’s unlikely to annoy the neighbours unless it spills out into the garden, or the exterior state of the house lowers the value of their own.

I knew Jasper would have to collect something, but I liked the idea of it being a themed collection more than a random mix of objects–which becomes the stuff of nightmares when it’s piled up everywhere. At first Jasper was going to collect old electronics, but then I took a look at my dad and realised what it had to be: books. It was the perfect hoard for readers to be able to relate to. After all, aren’t most of us bookworms just a step or two away from becoming book hoarders ourselves?

That’s why I wrote the dedication for all of you:

For everybody who’s ever bought a book they know they’ll probably never get around to reading

I just hope Junk isn’t one of the ones you buy and don’t read!

Readers, have you ever bought a book you know you’ll never read, and why?

Prize giveaway: In addition to the grand prize of a sexy book tote (entry details on Jo’s website) there will be a $5 ebook gift voucher awarded to one commenter from every post during the tour, up to Monday 9th September, 9am GMT (full details also on Jo’s website, including the blog tour itinerary)

Junk coverJunk

Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.

When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.

Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.

What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.

Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.

Warning: Contains a level-headed counselor with a secret addiction, a bespectacled geek with a sweet tooth, a killer “to-be-read” pile, embarrassing parents, a van called Alice, and deliciously British slang.

Junk is out now, available from the following retailers:

Kindle US | Kindle UK | Nook | Samhain

About the author:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

For more information about Jo’s published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, visit JosephineMyles.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/hrQ4s

Photo credits: Garden junk by msmediadesign, bananas by dhester, bikes by xpistwv, all from morguefile.com


2239IT’S A BOY! No really, the tv has been on ALL DAMN DAY and that’s all they’ve been talking about. I wondered if after they finally announced that Princess Kate had given birth if they would go off tv and start talking about something else. But, nope.

And I was so sure it was going to be a girl!

So what has everyone else been up to lately? I’ve been trying to stay out of the heat. I just put in a new window AC unit because it’s just way too hot and the central air in our house just can’t keep up. I’ve been reading a LOT. What is up with all of you authors releasing books at the same time! I swear, Spring and Summer have so many great releases (not counting the mass releases around Christmas) and I’m just trying to keep up. This week’s reviews are some of the best books I’ve been having the pleasure of reading, and some of my most awaited.

In the meantime, I’ve been re-watching the whole Lost series, now that I finally realized that the whole series is available to watch on Amazon Prime. I was a Lost fanatic back when it was on tv from the first episode of Season 1 thru Season 3. Season 4 is where it started to get a bit wonky and I was too busy with school to keep up anyway. But before the last season started on tv, I watched up until the end of Season 5 and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve still never seen the last season. I’ve even avoided learning what happened in the last episode! And it’s been about 5 years now! NO DON’T TELL ME! Please 🙂

And a quick notice, make sure you read the Announcements section lower down the post, I have a really great one!

Anyway, I’ll get on with it now.

This Week’s Wrapup

We had so many great guest posts last week and several awesome giveaways. Ewan Creed visited to kick off my Wilde City Press erotica reviews, with a post about his two books/stories that I reviewed last week — The Leather Bar Mural and The Erotic Adventures of the Masked Raider Part One.

Tali Spencer visited to talk about writing the awesomest blurb ever, “My Blurb Has Balls” for her new book Thick as Thieves!

AF Henley visited on Wednesday for her new release Sonata, and talking about “Kids in Fics”.

Clare London was here with her post on Thursday, “The Unreliable Narrator” and the re-release of her book Freeman from Wilde City Press.

And lastly, but definitely not leastly, I was eagerly awaiting Edmond Manning’s guest post here on Friday. He visited to talk about his new book King Mai, the sequel to King Perry (which I LOVED) and he talked about “Opening a Man’s Heart”.

Two of those guest posts still have open giveaways! Clare London is offering a copy of her book Freeman and the giveaway is ending tonight at Midnight. Edmond Manning is offering a copy of King Mai and the giveaway will end at Midnight tomorrow.


Here are last week’s reviews:

Blood Bathory: Like the Night by Ari McKay – Really Liked It
The Leather Bar Mural by Ewan Creed – So So
The Battle for Galerir (The Galerir Saga #2) by Anna Lee – Pretty Good
The Erotic Adventures of the Masked Raider (Part One) by Ewan Creed – Pretty Good
Trucker Fucker by Barry Lowe – So So
The Man I Know by Dale Chase – Pretty Good
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino – Loved It!
Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player (Part One) by Patrick Darcy – So So
The Beginning of Knowledge by Anne Brooke – Really Liked It
And So It Begins (Prince and Trader #1) by RG Green – Really Liked It

Coming Up This Week – July 21 – 27

cover3_frontAnyta Sunday visited today to talk about “On (Not) Coming Out as a Gay Romance Writer, One author’s perspective” and is offering a copy of her new book, Taboo For You, for giveaway to commenters! So go, get over there and enter to win. And while you’re there take note of the great post she wrote for us. I found it really interesting from a female author’s perspective 🙂

03 SurfeitTalya Andor also visited today to talk again about her Appetite series. This is the third time she’s visited and I’m always interested to hear what she has to talk about because these books are all about FOOD! This one was quite interesting, talking about “Themes of Progression” and how her books in this series are mimicking a proper multi-course meal. Yum! She’s also offering a copy of her book, Surfeit the Senses, so go comment to enter!

Anne Brooke is visiting tomorrow to talk about writing erotica, in a post entitled “Erotica, or How to Be Fully Human” 😀 And in a surprising twist (yeah right, just kidding!) there’s another giveaway! Her book that I reviewed last week, The Beginning of Knowledge is on offer, so don’t miss it.

Wednesday will see us a guest post by Barry Lowe, a new visiter to The Armchair Reader! I reviewed his story Trucker Fucker last week and he’s here to talk about it and offer a copy!

And that’s not even all, I also have a guest post coming from Megan Derr about her new book in the Dance with the Devil series, Dance Only For Me, and a guest post from Dev Bentham. So please stay tuned all week for a chance to win several books and read some interesting posts. I promise you 😉


Here are the planned reviews for this week:

FindaWayLGskyhuntersutherlandProvoked72lgAudibleLGdofm400LeftonStTruthbeWellLGBuyOut[The]LGBrennessel_Running_Up_That_HillapplepolisherQueensLibrarian[The]LGkingmai

Announcements

As some of you have no doubt realized, Jo Myles hasn’t posted one of her “Confessions of a Shameless Yarn Slut” in several months now. I have been remiss in keeping you updated and for that, I’m dearly sorry! Jo has a really full plate right now, and I’m sure that you all don’t mind that she’ll be discontinuing her knit/crochet series here at The Armchair Reader for now, because you’ll all be happy to have more of her books 🙂 I know I will. And I’ve really, really loved all that she’s brought to the blog. I thank her so much for her awesome posts. She’s definitely held up the crafty side of this blog since last Fall and done more than enough.

I do, however, have a new announcement to make. I’ve been looking around and hoping to find a new interesting series for you all. And I’ve found two really amazing, awesome ladies to fill the spot! Carole Cummings and J Tullos Hennig have come together to talk about Spec Fic and their first post goes up on July 30th, titled “Two old Speculative Fiction Nerds walk into a bar…”. Carole and Jen will be writing a monthly column about Spec Fic and I’m so excited to have these two wonderful ladies here at The Armchair Reader 🙂 Both have new releases coming as well and I’ll be profiling those as well!

That’s a wrap folks. It takes me so long to put together these posts, don’t hold it against me if it’s another month by the time there’s another one!


This month I’m blogging about something that’s really been on mind just lately: that dreaded moment in a knitting project when you hit a problem and stall. Me being the fickle sort of crafter I am, at this stage I’d much rather start a fresh project than figure out a way through that problem, and so I end up with stacks of half-finished projects that make me feel guilty every time I set eyes on the WIP basket(s). See, I’m even in denial about the fact there are two baskets, and let’s not even mention all those other unfinished projects lurking in drawers!

I haven’t done much knitting over the last two months, because everything I was working on hit a snag. Most of these just needed a bit of time, brainpower and decent natural light to sort out, but since I do nearly all my knitting in the evenings in front of the telly, those things are at a premium. What I really need to do is take a day out to power through all those tricky bits and get the WIPs all back to a stage where I can happily knit on autopilot.

Is this ever going to happen? I live in bloody-minded hope…

My five most hated “tricky bits”:

The point I've reached on my current sock project. Will to knit, waning...

The point I’ve reached on my current sock project. Will to knit, waning…

Turning sock heels – I know this isn’t really all that difficult as I’ve done it plenty of times before, but it does require a certain amount of concentration every time. Then there’s the picking up stitches along the edges of the heel (which I hate), along with a fiddly little move to prevent the dreaded hole at the top of the heel flap. I always have to go and look this up and then frown at the instructions for a few minutes until I’ve unscrambled what they’re telling me. It’s such a shame, as I find the rest of the sock so relaxing to knit!

Fitting problems – This is where my winter cardigan has stalled. Basically, my tension changed drastically while I was knitting (no idea why), so now I have two fronts that are different sizes, and the knowledge that if I don’t adjust the sleeve cast-on I’m going to end up with them being horribly baggy. I need to frog and reknit that front panel, as well as get the calculator out to figure out what size the sleeves need to be and how this will affect the increases. Arrgh! At least I’ve figured out how I’m going to adjust the waist of the cardie so it doesn’t look too big all over: I’m going to gather it in using ribs of crochet, making decorative and functional exposed darts. Wish me luck. I might even get this one finished in time for next winter…

Blocking – I never used to bother with blocking, but when I started making garments I realised it was probably a good idea. It’s just such a bloody faff, having to pin out damp knitwear on a board. What I really need to do is make a proper blocking board covered in 1cm check gingham, but until then I’ll struggle along with my ironing board and trusty Omnigrid patchwork ruler (one of my most versatile pieces of sewing equipment!).

It's a bolero. Honest. Or... it will be, in another couple of years perhaps.

It’s a bolero. Honest. Or… it will be, in another couple of years perhaps.

Sewing up – Normally I crochet the seams in my knit garments which is much more fun than trying to sew with yarn (and I’m someone who enjoys sewing, as a rule). However, I have a bolero I’ve made out of delicious mohair yarn on big needles, and I just know that crocheted seams will look far too bulky and obvious. I’m thoroughly embarrassed by how long this project has been waiting to get sewn up. I started making it in May 2011. Nuff said.

Buttons – Again, I’m mystified as to why I find sewing in buttons such a pain in the backside, but I really do. Shopping for them is great fun, but actually attaching the damn things irritates me. Not only is there the decision as to what colour thread to use (tricky if you’re using variegated yarn), but in order to make the button really secure you have to add some felt or another button to the back of the knit fabric. In future I think I’m going to use toggles for everything. They’re much easier to attach and have a certain retro charm 🙂

***

And of course, recently I discovered a brand new tricky bit: the moment when you’ve made three gauge swatches for a cardigan using yarn available in the UK, only to realise that it really will look best if you use the same yarn the designer did. Yarn that’s going to have to be imported from the States and attract not only huge postage costs, but a chance of my package being opened by Customs and having a load of extra VAT whacked on top, along with an opening fee. I might well be returning from GayRomLit with a suitcase full of yarn!

What tricky bits trip you up in your craft projects? And are you the kind of person who solves problems the moment you hit them, or do you prefer to follow the lure of the shiny and new?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josephine Myles first learnt to crochet when she was eighteen. After making one beret that turned into a teacosy and frustrated at the crappy choice of yarn in her local shops, she decided the craft just wasn’t for her. Fast forward ten years, and having a bun in the oven prompted Jo to pick up her hook again to crochet some teeny-tiny baby things. Fortunately, by this time the world had caught up with her and there were all kinds of sexy yarns out there to indulge in. A few years later she taught herself knitting and dressmaking, and she hasn’t looked back since.

When she’s not busy with yarn or sewing machine, Jo can be found with her head in a book, pottering in the garden or running around after her daughter. She should probably get back to writing the steamy manlove novels, shouldn’t she?

Jo’s website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Ravelry profile: http://www.ravelry.com/people/Anna-Jo

All photographs the author’s own.


This month I’m thinking about the very basics of knitting and crochet. No, it’s not the yarn this time, but those humble sticks we use to push, pull, loop and twist that yarn into fabulous fabric. I’ve got to admit, I have quite a collection of needles and hooks going, and am gradually replacing my older ones with fancier modern alternatives as I get the chance. Here then, is my quick and very subjective history of needles and hooks:

grey hooks & needlesSteel Yourself

Knitting needles have changed. I remember my gran knitting when I was a child, and the soft clicking of the metal needles against each other. They were always metal, always grey, and didn’t seem to get any thicker than about 5mm. The same went for crochet hooks. Okay, you could find plastic ones sometimes as well, but for some bizarre reason the manufacturers thought they would be best in grey too. I have a selection of my gran’s metal knitting needles in my collection, along with a set of grey steel crochet hooks and a fair few of those dull grey plastic ones. They form the early core of my hook and needle collection, and I’m strangely sentimental about them despite finding them rather ugly and in the case of steel, unpleasantly cold to hold.

plastic hooksPlastic Fantastic

Then, about ten years ago something started happening. The plastic started getting funky. This was around the time I picked up crochet again and I was overwhelmed by the choice of hooks. I bought a set of clear plastic coloured ones in sizes up to… wait for it… a whole 10mm! Wow! I even found ones with glitter in that made me insanely happy to use. Yes, I really am that easily pleased by sparkly trinkets.

Got Wood?

But that wasn’t the end of this explosion of consumer choice in craft tools. There were other, traditional materials still waiting to be explored. Wood and bamboo came onto the market and with hefty price tags attached. I have to admit, I was drawn to the natural materials from the outset. Not only do they look warm, but they feel warm and they don’t make that annoying “tic-tic-tic” sound when you’re knitting. Even better, the stitches are far less likely to slip off a wood or bamboo needle than a slippery steel one. I am now a devotee of fancy turned wooden hooks and needles, and one of these days plan to replace all of mine with the gorgeous birch ones from Brittany.

Wooden hooks & needlesThere is one major disadvantage, though: wooden needles snap far too easily when you sit on them and I’ve had to repair quite a few of my finer ones. It’s also not a suitable material for really fine crochet hooks, where you end up having to go for steel again. Fortunately, I’ve now found a more comfortable compromise: crochet hooks with a plastic and rubber grippy handle and a metal shaft. After my initial qualms (looks more like something you’d find in a tool box than a craft kit) I was converted. What makes these hooks particularly suitable for me is that the hook end is tapered rather than inline, which I find much easier to work with. For an explanation of why that’s so important, check out this excellent illustrated post explaining all about what to look for when choosing from different hooks.

knitproneedles_2_1_2_2Going in circles

I used to think that when it came to circular knitting needles, I’d have to go with plastic or metal. Fortunately that’s no longer the case and I’m now the proud owner of a set of beautiful coloured wooden Symfonie KnitPro needles. Better yet, they’re interchangeable! Now I need to learn how the use the things, as I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never dared use them before. It can’t be that hard, though, right? After all, I can knit socks on double-pointed needles.

needles 300XEverybody get funky

Yes, these days there’s almost too much choice when it comes to hooks and needles. Metal ones are now available in a rainbow of colours, as well as with lots of different types of easy-grip handles. Plastic is brighter than ever, and even the wooden ones are starting to appear in all manner of colours. KnitPro do all different kinds of needles and hooks in their trademark rainbow striped wood, or if you want something unique you can even buy ones direct from artisan woodcarvers who will make them in the wood of your choice.

Of course, all these funky tools cost money, but if that’s an issue you can make your own knitting needles with absolutely minimal woodworking skills. Children in Steiner Waldorf schools make their first needles when they learn to knit. Apparently they just use a pencil sharpener on a piece of wooden dowelling then sand off the end. The cap end is made of a lump of beeswax, but it would be easy enough to glue on something more appealing like a brightly coloured bead. You could even make your own custom end caps using polymer clay.

There really is no excuse to stick with the boring grey hooks and needles!

Anyone else out there a helpless addict when it comes to funky hooks and needles, or do you not care what they look like so long as they do the job? What’s your favourite material for knitting needles and/or crochet hooks, and why?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josephine Myles first learnt to crochet when she was eighteen. After making one beret that turned into a teacosy and frustrated at the crappy choice of yarn in her local shops, she decided the craft just wasn’t for her. Fast forward ten years, and having a bun in the oven prompted Jo to pick up her hook again to crochet some teeny-tiny baby things. Fortunately, by this time the world had caught up with her and there were all kinds of sexy yarns out there to indulge in. A few years later she taught herself knitting and dressmaking, and she hasn’t looked back since.

When she’s not busy with yarn or sewing machine, Jo can be found with her head in a book, pottering in the garden or running around after her daughter. She should probably get back to writing the steamy manlove novels, shouldn’t she?

Jo’s website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Ravelry profile: http://www.ravelry.com/people/Anna-Jo

All photographs either the author’s own, or manufacturer’s publicity shots.


leather strap

When editing Screwing the System I made a Wordle of the text to try and identify overused words I could seek out and change. One that came up was “leather” – used 49 times in total. Overuse? Oh, I don’t think so. Alasdair is, after all, a biker and many of his toys (not to mention his favourite jeans) are made of the fabric. But just what is the allure of leather, and why is it so readily associated with all things kinky?

The original gay leather subculture grew out of motorcycle clubs established after the end of World War Two. These were a way of gay men continuing the close bonding established in the military, and this “Old Guard” of leather culture that developed drew heavily on military protocols and rituals. You can find wonderful images from this time in the work of Tom of Finland, which eroticises the masculinity of big men in black leather. S&M was an important part of the leather rituals, with little tolerence of men switching roles between submissive and dominant.

Leather, Latex, and BDSM prideIn the 1980s, however, the leather culture evolved and people began to throw off the restrictions of the old guard traditions. Leather began to move into the BDSM mainstream and has since been taken up as a badge of belonging by all kinky people, regardless of their gender or orientation–even if they really prefer latex or PVC! There’s even a leather pride flag.

The thing I most love about leather, though, is the scent. For me, the smell of good quality leather acts like a euphoric drug, and I have been known to go into posh shops and sniff handbags just for the high. Apparently the scent is mostly made up of the chemicals used during the tanning process, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing to me. The only other smells that come close to having the same effect are lanolin and fresh basil. Oh, and creosote on pine fences baking in the sunshine…

Leather slaveThe other wonderful thing about leather is its wearing properties: strong, supple and it moulds itself to your skin while remaining breathable. There isn’t a synthetic out there that can do the job. I went through a militant vegetarian phase in my teens and attempted to phase out leather, but in the end I had to admit defeat as I couldn’t find anything else I could stand wearing as a watch strap. Leather is just… comfortable. It’s no wonder it’s the top choice for recreational restraints!

The only thing I bemoan about the leather culture is the insistence on everything being black. Yes, it has a certain gothic appeal, but I’d love to see more in the way of brown leather bondage gear. There’s something more pleasingly organic and less harsh about the appearance of brown leather. And what about all those other wonderful shades out there? Who’s for a purple suede flogger? Anyone? Oh, all right. I made the prize one in brown instead.

Anyone else out there a leather enthusiast? Or is there another fabric that does it for you?

Comment to win! Jo is offering a choice of a book from her backlist to one lucky commenter on this post, and all commenters throughout the blog tour will also be entered into a draw for the grand prize of a handmade suede flogger, to be announced on 25th February.

Also, watch out for the follow-up short story, Screw the Fags. To be available as a free download from Smashwords and All Romance eBooks later this week!

Screwing the System

Screwing the System coverHe’s nobody’s bitch. Until he gets a ride on the bitch seat.

Forced to apply for a job he doesn’t want, Cosmo Rawlins has only one aim in mind: fail the interview and get back to making music. Except his attempt to shock the older, sharp-suited Alasdair Grant doesn’t have the desired effect.

Instead of getting thrown out of the office by flaunting an interest in BDSM, Cosmo finds himself on his knees, apologizing to the sexy, good-looking Top.

Alasdair has more important things on his mind than training a novice sub, especially a rebellious bad boy like Cosmo. But there’s something beneath the younger man’s defiant attitude that’s too intriguing to ignore.

As Alasdair takes Cosmo in hand—and for a wild ride on his Harley—he becomes obsessed with bending the young rocker to his will, both in and out of bed. Until he goes one demand too far, and Cosmo is gone in a cloud of dust. Forcing Alasdair to admit that earning Cosmo’s loyalty—and love—will involve the toughest challenge he’s ever faced.

Warning: This title contains an overbearing Top with a less-than-glamorous job, a rebellious brat who refuses to call him sir, and a total lack of high-end BDSM clubs or playrooms. Expect floggings over the kitchen table instead.

Screwing the System on Amazon.com

About the author:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

For more information about Jo’s published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, visit JosephineMyles.com

Wrist strap photo credit: ephotography via photopin cc
Slave photo credit: RussellReno via photopin cc


Happy New Year peeps! I don’t know about you, but in the cold, grey doldrums of January my mind naturally does turn to the year ahead and the sort of goals I want to set for myself. Perhaps it’s just a way of cheering myself up after the Christmas season has ended, and I’ll freely admit some of these goals never get met, but even thinking about them helps to energise me. I don’t do resolutions per se, but I do like to have some ambitions in mind for the year, and one or two of those will always involve either learning new crafts or new techniques for existing crafts.

The Knitting Lesson by Eugene von Blaas

The Knitting Lesson by Eugene von Blaas

Which brings me neatly on to my topic for this month: learning a new craft. Much as I might want to be able to master a new craft technique instantly, there’s usually a steep learning curve involved and sometimes the patterns I choose are beyond my level of ability. However, I love a good challenge and attempting the (nearly) impossible is always fun.

But what about getting started in the first place? Do you remember your first time?

Picking up the baton:

I’ll always remember how I was introduced to my favourite textile crafts. Sewing was very much learned at my mother’s knee, and I have fond memories of sitting embroidering with her when I was off school ill (she never made me go in when I felt poorly). Likewise, knitting was taught to me by her mother, my Nanny Moya. To be honest, she wasn’t much of a knitter and preferred smoking, drinking, betting on the horses and oil painting (which she was pretty talented at). However, when I was about eight she sat me and my sisters down with some plastic knitting needles and horrible pastel pink acrylic yarn, then proceeded to teach us the basics of garter stitch.

While the sewing stuck with me and is something I’ve dabbled with all my life, knitting fell by the wayside as soon as my favourite doll had a scarf. I didn’t bother with it again until about five years ago, when a lovely woman who ran a children’s craft group I took my daughter to decided to teach me all over again. This time it stuck, and I’ve been knitting ever since.

The Colour Book of Crochet

The book that got me started

Beret

The beret that turned into a Rasta hat

Crochet, on the other hand, is something I’ve had to teach myself using books. Back in the mid-nineties I was

lucky enough to find myself a second-hand book on crochet with some fantastic line drawings and explanations of the basic stitches (something a lot of modern books don’t seem to be able to equal). Of course, the patterns were very 70s and as I didn’t pay any attention to the concept of tension or gauge, the hat I crocheted looked absolutely ridiculous. It might have been big enough to fit over my mass of dreadlocks, but the wannabee Rasta look really wasn’t working for me!

Passing it on:

To my mind, one of the most rewarding things about learning a craft is in passing that knowledge on to someone else. Of course, it can be ever so slightly galling when they really devote themselves to it and their skills quickly surpass yours, but I’m also really proud of all the people I’ve got started who’ve then gone on to greater things. I just remind myself that I’m too much of a craft omnivore to attain true mastery of any one craft—a Jo of all trades, perhaps 🙂

Paula's scarf

Paula’s very first knitting project

Over the years I’ve taught many different crafts—some professionally in a workshop setting, like mosaic making, furniture painting, trompe l’oeil painting—and many others to friends who’ve expressed an interest and were willing to sit still long enough for me to show them. It’s my latest student I’m most proud of, however. My good friend Paula has always told herself she didn’t have the patience to learn to knit, but over the last few months she’s made herself a gorgeous, oversized garter stitch scarf using chunky yarn. It looks amazing on her, and best of all, after a few early panicked “fix-it” sessions with me, she gained so much confidence that she was able to diagnose a lot of her own mistakes and fix them all by herself. I’m hoping to teach her a few more stitches this next year, and I’m going to really enjoy having a close friend to go yarn shopping with!

Options for learning a new craft:

  • Find a good book. Stitch ’N Bitch by Debbie Stoller is a classic for learning the basics of knitting and I still refer to it occasionally. Ask other experienced crafters which books they’d recommend to a beginner.
  • Find a crafty friend and bribe them to teach you all their arcane secrets. It helps if they’re the patient sort who aren’t going to make you feel silly when you make all those mistakes that are bound to happen. If you don’t have a crafty friend, you might be able to join a local group of crafters who meet up and persuade one of them to teach you. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of crafters are really keen to pass on their skills to newbies.

    cary_grant_knitting-thumb-430x322-119215

    Cary Grant learning to knit

  • Search for local classes and workshops. These days many yarn shops and haberdasheries make ends meet by offering short crafting courses. I’m spoiled for choice even in my rural Somerset town!
  • Search online. Not only are there thousands of wonderful free tutorials out there for almost any craft you can imagine (in text and photo or in video, depending on your preference), but you can also sign up for more advanced, paid for classes at venues like Craftsy.com. I’ve only just started my Craftsy adventure but I can see that it’s excellent value for money and will definitely be signing up for more in the future. You can work at your own pace through the video tutorials, interact with your teacher, chat to other students and download all kinds of helpful materials.

My personal crafting goals for 2013:

This year I aim to make a new item of clothing every month. Many of these will be dressmaking projects as that’s much quicker than knit or crochet, but by the end of the year I do want to own at least two more cardigans made by my own fair hands (one of which will be my Craftsy project, Jennifer Hansen’s Rebel Lace Cardi), along with a couple of more luxurious items for wearing out to cabaret evenings, such as some lacy opera gloves and a filigree shawl. I also want to have made a few macramé items (a belt and a bracelet), and to have fully mastered the skills of broomstick lace and hairpin lace.

I’d also like to introduce at least one more person to the joys of knitting or crochet. So many of my friends say they’d love to but they don’t have the time. I’m just going to have to help them find it!

How did you learn your favourite crafts? Have you passed those skills on to anyone else yet? And do you have any specific crafting goals for 2013? Do share! I’m terribly nosey like that ;D

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Josephine Myles first learnt to crochet when she was eighteen. After making one beret that turned into a teacosy and frustrated at the crappy choice of yarn in her local shops, she decided the craft just wasn’t for her. Fast forward ten years, and having a bun in the oven prompted Jo to pick up her hook again to crochet some teeny-tiny baby things. Fortunately, by this time the world had caught up with her and there were all kinds of sexy yarns out there to indulge in. A few years later she taught herself knitting and dressmaking, and she hasn’t looked back since.

When she’s not busy with yarn or sewing machine, Jo can be found with her head in a book, pottering in the garden or running around after her daughter. She should probably get back to writing the steamy manlove novels, shouldn’t she?

Jo’s website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Ravelry profile: http://www.ravelry.com/people/Anna-Jo

All photographs either the author’s own, or now out of copyright.