Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yay for the Old, Yay for the New

I usually make an effort on this blog--and I hope it pays off--to stick with material that serves the reader at least as much as myself. But for this entry I'm going to be totally selfish and post some personal reflections on my life in 2006 and plans/hopes/dreams for 2007. And who knows, maybe it'll even be vaguely interesting to you too.

Coolest Stuff of 2006

The year started out with me excited about my upcoming book release, Soulful Sex Volume III, a dream that was quickly squashed by the news that my publisher was going out of business. Turned out, however, that it was the best thing that could have happened. Not only did I have a blast having full control of my publications (under my own publishing house, Living Beyond Reality Press, my sales income ended up more in 2006 than the previous two years combined.

I was invited by Romantic Times BOOKclub to speak on the erotica panel at their national convention in Orlando. This came on the heels of my participation in the magazine's big issue on erotic romance. It was quite a thrill to work with the number one publication in the romance fiction business.

Another big dream of mine was realized in May when I released Diana's Deck Romance Fortune Telling Cards, which I designed and illustrated. Obviously I get to work with words all the time, so it was awesome to get to work with pictures. I really love how the set turned out. It was really exciting when Non Sport Update featured the cards in their August/September issue.

2006 was a pretty good year for me too for awards. I was voted Featured Author of the Year 2005 by The Romance Studio Blue. In the 2005 Preditors & Editors poll I received two Top Ten Finishes: 6th place in Non Fiction Article for my essay "Man-Devil-Angel: The Perfect Erotic Partner" and an incredible 5th place (out of 266 entrants) in Best Author! In April I received a big surprise: "Je t'aime, Etienne" from Soulful Sex Volume II was a Finalist in the Best Story from an Anthology category in the 2005 RIO Awards of Excellence, presented by the Reviewers International Organization. Last but not least, my essay "The Successful Author, Revised" won first place in the 2006 Funds for Writers Annual Essay Contest.

One of my biggest thrills of 2006 was the great review I received from the infamous Mrs. Giggles for Soulful Sex Volumes I & II. It's no easy feat pleasing Mrs. G and I was very grateful (and relieved!).

I had planned of course on releasing more anthologies of "erotica with soul" in 2006, but made the last minute decision to write a non-fiction book about my experiences with self-publishing, titled Do-It-YourSelf-Publishing. The book got the attention of a lot of different websites and publications, and was featured by Funds for Writers, Mrs. Giggles, About Freelance Writing, Write and Publish Your Book, BookHitch, and TheNextBigWriter, among others. Best of all, it was endorsed by famed fantasy author and epublishing supporter Piers Anthony.

Meanwhile, the local Milwaukee media gave me some good press this year: An interview with me was the lead story in the entertainment section of, entitled "Tech-savvy Milwaukee author publishes her own books."

I met an awful lot of great people via the web in 2006 but must give special mention to The Lipstick Mystic, who has promoted my work on her website and newsletters, and featured me in a truly outstanding interview in December. But I can't even begin to list here all the cool new fans--both of my books and this blog--I encountered this year, many of whom I'm happy to consider new friends.

And outside of the romance writing biz, 2006 brought me such great events and discoveries as these:
  • My hero Guy Carbonneau becoming head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
  • Rereading The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Cody Willard
  • James McAvoy in "Children of Dune"
  • The return of Superman
  • "Lady in the Water" (yes, I loved it!) and "The Man Who Heard Voices" by Michael Bamberger
  • Les Stroud aka "Survivorman"
  • Adam and Jamie aka the MythBusters
  • My 50th birthday
  • "Tranji" and the "So You Think You Can Dance" gang
  • The Chicago Bears
  • Hiro and "Heroes"
  • "Battlestar Galactica"
  • Edward James Olmos (who deserves a separate bullet point of his own)
  • "The Office" (it just gets better and better)
  • Our new Sony Grand WEGA 50" 1080p Rear-Projection SXRD HDTV (I lurve it!)
  • The Pirates! adventure books by Gideon Defoe

Looking Forward to 2007's my "resolution" for next year, an idea brought up to me by my friend Jennie. It's this: "Keep It Fun."

When you're an ambitious person such as myself, it's easy to get caught up in projects to the point that they stop being fun. It's one thing to have to labor in your job, but in your hobbies and avocations a person needs to be sure not to lose sight of the point: to have fun. I'm 50 and lord willing will live another 50 years, but however long I have left, I want to enjoy it.

So I'm hoping to keep that in mind in 2007, and spend plenty of time with family and friends and doing enjoying the many blessings I am so fortunate to have. I'm sure I'll work hard anyway--I'm weird like that--but I'm hoping to have a little more fun as well.

Would that you all had such nice, happy resolutions for the New Year. Well, while you're working to lose weight, exercise more, or whatever tough and dreary challenges you're taking on in 2007, I hope you too will Keep It Fun. And I hope part of that will be plenty of visits to this blog!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Dreams Diana Style

Why is Christmas time so romantic? Well, that’s a question for another day. But I thought I would indulge myself and envision my own personal perfect romantic fantasy Christmases. Here goes:

Christmas Fantasy #1: A Cozy Scottish Holiday with James McAvoy

James as Mr. Tumnus in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is just about the coziest thing in history. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be a faun to be cozy, just wear a wintry scarf and host a tea party in front of a hearth. Our celebration could certainly take place in a cottage in his native Scotland, and he would definitely need to speak in his natural Scottish brogue. Imagine curling up with him with a mug of mint tea with cream, gazing into the fire and listening to him tell of Christmases in Scotland. Ah, I’d be a happy lassie….

Christmas Fantasy #2: A Joint Heroes/Lost Party

Should we hold it on the island or in New York City? It wouldn’t really matter, with John Locke, Charlie, Sawyer, Peter, Hiro, Mohinder and Isaac all in the same place at the same time. Okay, you Jack fans, he wouldn’t be bad either. I think the most fun to have with this crowd would be if we all sat around with some leftover Oceanic Airlines booze and tried to figure out how the plot lines of the two shows might possibly be connected. Maybe the Dharma Corporation is behind the genetic manipulation that created the heroes? Maybe Hiro is distantly related to the guy in the hatch training film? Maybe John Locke is one of the heroes (that miraculous healing of the legs, ya know)? At any rate, we’d all have to drink another toast every 108 minutes. What a blast.

Christmas Fantasy #3: Christmas on the Canadian Shield with Les Stroud

I’m not envisioning spending the holiday with Survivorman in one of his usual inhospitable settings like the jungle or the desert. Nope, I’d rather have him show me the splendor of Canadian winter in his neighborhood in Ontario. Some sledding, some snowshoeing, and all that cold beauty…appreciated as only Les can. And of course, we’d end up in front of a fire warming our toes, with Les singing carols and playing guitar. You know, I have endless admiration for his wife Sue, who bravely supports her husband’s hazardous lifestyle, and I hope she wouldn’t mind my giving Les one Christmas kiss of thanks for all the joy he brought me this year.

Christmas Fantasy #4: An Office Christmas Party with “The Office” Crew

I’m not denying the best thing about hanging out with the Dunder-Mifflin crowd would be catching Jim Halpert under the mistletoe. But I’d love to spend time with the whole gang. I would shamelessly encourage Michael’s ridiculous sense of humor, talk “Battlestar Galactica” with Dwight, and become best pals with Pam. Then we could all head over to Chili’s for drinks and get really crazy. (I’d have my eyes on Jim the whole time in case he made one of his classic faces at the videographer.) And if Toby was all alone for the holiday, I’d be happy to keep him company.

Christmas Fantasy #5: Feliz Navidad with Edward James Olmos

EJO is the first person of Mexican heritage I’ve crushed on, so it’s been interesting for me to find a romantic element in that old Jose Feliciano song this year. It would be lovely to have a tour of Mexico at holiday time with Eddie, and knowing the kind of guy he is, I’m sure the experience would be more about the reality of Mexican culture and history than any margarita-sipping-at-a-Cabo-resort kind of thing. The man has one of the most loving hearts I’ve ever encountered, and he pretty much embodies the spirit of Christmas. I’d love to just sit with him and watch a Mexican sunset, and listen to him talk about the unity of the human race in that magnificently beautiful voice of his.

Christmas Fantasy #6: Home for the Holidays

Yep, I have to admit, my best fantasy of all for Christmas is the one that will really come true: Spending time with my own wonderful family. I must confess we know how to do Christmas up right, and I can’t wait for the annual fun to start. Although I’m sure David and the girls would be quite thrilled if all my fantasy friends were able to join us. (Yes Davie, Evangeline Lilly is invited too.)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Love is Blind

I think everyone has had the experience of “waking up” from an infatuation (or even from long term love) to suddenly realize the object of affection was nothing like you thought s/he was. You know, the “love is blind” phenomenon. It’s truly amazing how the psyche can sometimes so completely revise the person standing before your very eyes.

I have my own (Jungian-based) theories on this. I believe each person’s psyche feels lack, in other words, yearns for certain human qualities in order to achieve completion and wholeness. When you meet someone who has a few of these traits, particularly if that person is your type physically, he qualifies as “romantic material”: a person upon whom you can project the complete package of your ideal traits.

Once you have “fallen in love” with the man, it’s amazing how successfully your unconscious mind is at convincing you he has all these qualities. When he actually manages to exhibit them, you will exaggerate the situation; when he fails to do so, you may interpret it as a small thing or only temporary. Or instead, you may find yourself angry, sad, or deeply disappointed when he fails in this way. You may make determined and desperate attempts to change him.

It is only when you finally see and accept that the person doesn’t actually possess the traits you hoped for that you reach the realistic crossroads. At that point, if there is enough about the individual to make the relationship worthwhile anyway, you will accept his “shortcomings” and love him for who he really is. If there isn’t, if you have been deluding yourself too much about him, you will fall out of love.

That’s the simple version, in a nutshell, but of course it plays out in all kinds of involved, complicated, and unique ways in real life. Just for fun and edification, I’ll share an example from my own life.

I once met a guy I will call Romeo (not too many men named that nowadays, are there?), who was just the sort of independent puer archetype (that’s an “eternal boy”) that always attracts me. We thought enough alike that we could easily relate, and so were able to get into deep and interesting conversation on a regular basis and became quite close.

One thing I have always needed and have difficulty finding in men is strong will. I’m a very capable person but have a yearning for a good old-fashioned authority figure who will, if I may put it this way, push me around a little. I have always been an obliging, good girl type, so by contrast I found Romeo’s stubborn, volatile, uncompromising male nature the irresistible opposite of myself. His behavior was so deeply satisfying to my psyche, and so rare, that my unconscious glommed onto him and was desperately afraid to lose him.

Because my deep-seated psychological needs were met by Romeo, I was willing to pay quite a price for it. I inflated the worth of the other qualities in him that I liked, and deflated the importance of his difficult traits. And while the relationship brought me truly blissful levels of happiness at times, it also brought some of the most acute grief I’ve experienced.

Another interesting phenomenon occurred with Romeo. He wasn’t exactly my favorite type physically, but due to the way he touched my soul, his sexual appeal to me was greatly enhanced. I remember one time having a discussion with some other females about who in the world we would most want to make love to, including celebrities. It took me but a moment to recognize that in my mind, sex with this guy would transcend anything I might experience with someone like Hugh Jackman. Yes, I knew how crazy this was, but it was absolutely true.

Eventually, of course, I woke up from my delusions about Romeo. I did my best to see him for who he was and have a reality-based friendship with him, and eventually succeeded. Meanwhile, he met someone else, and as is the nature of relationships, adapted to being with her. In the process his personality changed to the point that he no longer possesses the very traits that initially drew me to him.

Consequently, I find it hard now to sort out which qualities Romeo actually abandoned in himself, and which he never possessed in the first place and were just figments of my imagination. Naturally, either way I’m confident he has become much less admirable a person, although I’m sure his significant other would beg to differ with me. LOL

And to this day, when I go somewhere that we went together, or hear a certain song, I really miss the guy, whether or not that person ever truly existed. And naturally, I would. Love is blind, and to mix metaphors, like an elephant, love never forgets. And woe to me if I ever meet someone who truly reminds me of the man I thought Romeo was. That will be a scary--but very thrilling--day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Be Devilish...But Then Stop

In my opinion, the average woman has an interesting way of reacting to male aggression. I’m sure men find it quite confusing. I think it may just be that we females are a bit at cross purposes when it comes to sex.

On the one hand, our primordial brain responds powerfully to male aggression. The macho, forceful, studly guy turns us on in spite of any rational thinking. He can be pushy, demanding, even threatening, and in response we feel the seductive urge to submit.

But on the other hand, women are also rational creatures. As such, we respond to kindness, protectiveness, and sensitivity, very opposite traits to those listed above. Logic tells us a macho guy will probably not prove the best mate in the long run.

But the problem is, you really want to have sex with him in the short run. What’s a girl to do?

Once again, fantasy life comes to the rescue. In our imaginations, we get to have it both ways: We can be assaulted, even violently, by the macho man and enjoy the deep-seated thrill it give our primordial brain. (I know it’s not PC to mention rape fantasies, but honestly, most of us have had them, after a fashion and of course very different from real rape.) But then the fellow can be transformed--by circumstance, revelation, or best of all, our love--into that gentleman a woman could spend her life with.

Have you read a few books like that?

Yes, some of us do want both Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes. And only in fantasy are you going to get them both in one man, unless you find a nice one who will play at being nasty for fun. Would that more men had that act mastered. Which brings me to my anecdote.

Yes, naturally I have an anecdote to share that inspired this whole line of thinking. As you know, I’ve been fixated lately on Edward James Olmos, aka Admiral Adama from “Battlestar Galactica.” You don’t have to be a fan of the show to follow this, so stick with me here. In this role he plays a firm and determined but very kind and honorable man. Meanwhile, in real life EJO is a wonderful guy who gives profusely of his time and money in a number of humanitarian causes, particularly related to U.S. Hispanics and their culture. In short: good guy, very kind hearted, gentle, and protective.

Meanwhile however, Mr. Almos has played a number of really rough roles in theater, TV and film. Last night I watched him reprise his role from Broadway in the film version of the musical “Zoot Suit.” As El Pachuco, he is a fantasy figure (an element of the protagonist’s psyche, actually) that utterly embodies macho. He sambas seductively, sings in that velvet voice of his, and oozes sex from every pore. He lurks, he skulks, he advises violence and makes cynical pronouncements about life. He’s hostile, cruel, dangerous, cynical, sinister, fearless.

He’s not my type at all and he absolutely sends me.

This is the kind of character you picture bending you over a table and saying, “I will take you right here, chica, and you will like it,” and you completely agree with him.

If I were really in L.A. in 1940 in a bar with a bunch of Pachucos, I would say in abject terror, “Easy, carnal, I would rather just leave if you promise to leave your switchblade in your pocket.”

But you see, I know the actor, and I know he’s just performing, and that underneath that black zoot suit and intensely red shirt lies a heart of gold. I’ll play the game with this particular fellow, because I know he’ll be devilish and then stop. I’ll let him hike up my silky red skirt and do his worst to me, and it’s fantasy so it will be like a tango.

What in real life would be a nightmare, in dreams is a delight. Isn’t that often the way it is? But often those kind of dreams are the most powerful of all.

Now we just need more men like Edward James Olmos, who can play the devil but live like an angel....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Perfect Face

Hey, I think I found it: the perfect face.

I spotted this guy on a Calvin Klein TV commercial and decided to test my googling skills and try to find out who he is. I was successful, but while this gave me occasion to gloat about my ability to google, I was a little chagrinned concerning my Celebrity IQ...apparently Gabriel Aubry has been around awhile and is well known for dating Female Perfect Face Halle Berry.

So, for my PC wallpaper I replaced my homemade Commander Adama collage (if having spent time on such a thing isn't a mark of geekdom, I don't know what is) with Gabriel Aubry. It was a bit of an experiment, really. I want to try to discern if a pretty face is enough to serve as, if you will, erotic inspiration, so I'm going to give this guy some "face time" on my computer.

[Let me digress a moment. One thing I've found quite interesting already is the whole concept of a "perfect face." Obviously there isn't one. I found that out last year when I read about scientists trying to create the universally appealing perfect male face, computer generated of course. I couldn't believe how not attractive I found the result. I mean, he was okay...but did nothing for me. Gabriel Aubry, on the other hand, has perfect hair, flawless features--if he showed up on my doorstep claiming to be a god, I'd believe him. Interestingly, however, I queried every other female in the room (my mother-in-law and my two 20-something daughters) and they all said, "he's good looking, but not my type." I personally find this hard to fathom, but it just goes to show you, nothing is so perfect as to transcend taste.]

So, how's the experiment faring? Well, I can't say that looking at Gabriel isn't nice. It's an experience rather like eating chocolate...I can see how apt the expression "eye candy" really is. However, I find it impossible to fantasize about him at all. There's nothing there, know what I mean? He's a male model, so he makes his living looking good, but apart from that I have no material to work with. Consequently, I really can't work up any passion about the guy. He only moves me in a very slight, shallow way.

Whereas you can take any of my celebrity obsessions of the past year and it's completely different. James McAvoy in the role of Mr. Tumnus is sweet, charming, cozy. As Leto Atreides from "Children of Dune" he is powerful, mysterious, and tragic. M. Night Shyamalan (at least in my view) is brilliant and inspiring, a multi-talented artist. Survivorman Les Stroud is funny, courageous, resourceful in the extreme, and beautiful in soul. And Admiral Adama, with his marvelous gravelly voice, is the quintessential leader and father figure, stern but tenderhearted. Each one of these men/characters move me emotionally and spiritually, and consequently any physical appeal they possess is enhanced.

Enhanced to the point where each one has a face that strikes me as perfect.

So, I have a feeling it won't be long before the 60-year-old, worn face of Admiral Adama is back on my wallpaper. Now that's a handsome man....

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hypnosis and Seduction

I’m currently reading a fascinating book about hypnosis, a topic that has interested me since I was a child. I’m finding I had a lot of misconceptions about the subject, rooted in the way hypnosis has been treated in the media over the years.

In the 60s when I was little, movies, TV, and comic books consistently portrayed hypnotists as sinister fellows with somewhat magical powers. They were forever bringing the heroine of a story under their control for nefarious purposes. A good example is one of my favorite films, “The 500 Fingers of Dr. T,” written by Dr. Seuss. In this movie the little boy’s widowed mother is hypnotized into marrying the evil Dr. Terwilliger, until a heroic plumber manages to free her from his spell.

Even as a little girl I found this hypnotist archetype strangely compelling. I liked to make up stories about falling under the control of a hypnotist. There was definitely something sexual about it all, even though I was too young to comprehend that. As I got older, I discovered a similar archetype appealed to me: the vampire. The irresistibly seductive power of the vampire has to me always simply been another example of hypnosis, albeit with a supernatural element. And there’s no denying that vampires are sexy.

I think very early on, my psyche associated hypnotism with the emotional and physical sensations of surrender, submission, relaxation and pleasure, all of which are key elements of sexual experience for women. Hypnotism was, in effect, seduction, and the hypnotist therefore a master of the art of seduction.

So maybe it’s just me, but there’s always been something very alluring about hypnotists and their ilk, from their mystical aspect to their self-assurance to their irresistible power over others. They are great fodder for sexual fantasy, and for erotic writing as well. In my opinion, if you’re going to do a sexy villain, you can enhance the character by giving him hypnotic powers. In my novel Souls’ Embrace the psychically powerful Master Xiturias uses his mind-control abilities to seduce the heroine Mauren, and hopefully win her away from her true love. (Sounds a lot like “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” doesn’t it?) The “hypnosis” scenes in this book are extremely erotic. (And they were very fun to write!)

But now I find myself reading about hypnosis not as a character or plot device, but rather as a therapeutic tool. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to shake my old impressions. Even if I revise my rational opinion about hypnotists to think of them as medical practitioners, I can’t seem to alter my emotional reaction.

I can imagine a licensed hypnotist practicing his science for the purpose of, for example, helping a person lose weight, but as I picture it, I find it hard to distance such an act from seduction. I certainly can’t think of myself undergoing hypnosis without there being some erotic aspect to the experience. If indeed I ever sought the help of a male hypnotist, it would be very hard to keep the infatuation at bay.

Considering the number of people who turn to this science for health benefits, I must be a little unusual in this respect! These people can’t all be struggling with sexual attraction to their hypnotists.

So, anyone else out there harbor a fascination for this archetype?

I might have to undergo hypnotherapy to get over my “thing” for hypnotists…

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Real Men and Imaginary Lovers

I imagine at one time or another you’ve developed a crush on some TV character (as I recently have done for the umpteenth time), one of those intense infatuations that sets you off madly googling the actor who plays this person. You feel like a stalker, in spite of the fact that you’re pretty sure you’re not a psychopath of any kind. The feeling worsens when you see your idol photographed with his wife or girlfriend, most likely someone gorgeous, and you find yourself jealous. You know you will never meet this guy, so what difference does it make that he’s in love with someone other than you? Be that as it may, it still tweaks your heartstrings.

I’ve had a number of women over the years correspond with me over this problem. The first thing I do is tell them they aren’t crazy or sick. The feeling is really quite natural, and it doesn’t really mean you resent the fact that your idol has a life apart from you. The problem is that you feel desire for him of one sort or another, and the reminder of his real life just makes him seem less attainable than ever.

The cure for this problem isn’t always easy to manage. With some infatuations I’ve found it a snap; with others, nearly impossible. However, I’ve found it gets easier with practice.

The whole key is distinguishing between the Real Man and the Imaginary Lover, and believing confidently that each one exists quite apart from the other. I’m venturing into some good old Jungian psychology here, but you don’t need a doctorate to get the gist. I’ll do my best to explain, and use my current situation as an illustration.

In watching “Battlestar Galactica,” I fell for the character of Admiral Adama. This guy doesn’t exist in “reality,” of course. He is a concoction created by the writers of the show and the actor, Edward James Olmos, with help from directors, costume designers, hair and makeup people, and so on. Adama also has origins in some timeless archetypes that have inspired artists and authors for millennia: the soldier, the father, the paternal god.

There’s one more person involved in creating William Adama: me. Because he is “fictional,” he depends upon the imagination of viewers of the show to give him “reality.” Each individual will view this character a little differently, and because of what he or she brings to the situation, will react to him in a unique way. This archetype has always been powerful to me, so my psyche imbues Adama with more importance than the actor or writers could manage on their own.

So, what about the actor himself? Well, I can certainly say this: he looks exactly like the guy I’m in love with. And intellectually I recognize the part he plays in bringing this character to my senses. So it’s hard not to give him credit, as well as to sort of confuse him with my Adama.

I admit I have googled Edward James Olmos. Why? Because, well, it’s exciting to do. He reminds me of the Admiral, what can I say? In his particular case, matters are somewhat complicated by the fact that the Real Man is quite remarkable. Not only is he a brilliant actor, director and filmmaker, but a tremendous humanitarian. I watched a video of him doing some motivational speaking about the unity of the human race and it brought me to tears, without seeming much at all like it was Commander Adama saying the words.

You may have had a similar experience reading about the actor who portrays your idol. If the Real Man also inspires you in some way, the entire affair may become even more confusing to you.

Occasionally too, we become attached to celebrities who “play themselves.” My recent affection for Survivorman Les Stroud, and my longtime admiration of NHL player (now coach) Guy Carbonneau are good examples.

Still, I recognize that even for these guys, I create my own concept of their personalities and characters, distinct from the reality. I don’t know either of them personally, nor will I ever. If I did, I’m sure their human flaws or individual characteristics would rob them of the magic imparted by my imagination.

So, there are a number of things to keep in mind to help separate the Real Man from the Imaginary Lover, and I’ll set down a few here:

1. Don’t feel that the Imaginary Lover is “just pretend,” “not real,” or “a figure of your imagination,” and therefore doesn’t exist in a valid way. It would take a lot of words to cover this topic, but suffice it to say, the Lover is an independent extension of your psyche, uniquely yours and very real. Most importantly, although “imaginary,” he can fulfill your psychological needs better than you think.

2. Don’t suppose that the Real Man is who you really need or want. He may share some traits in common with the Imaginary Lover (most especially, physical appearance), but he is probably very different in many key ways, or at least not so perfect.

3. If the Real Man has many qualities you genuinely admire, to the point that you covet him in a painful way, work on separating him from the Imaginary Lover. It truly is possible to admire and like the Real Man while recognizing that it is the Imaginary Lover that truly inspires and excites you.

4. Focus on the fact that the Imaginary Lover is truly, completely, and uniquely your own, utterly devoted and faithful to you. You will never compete for him with another woman, or his work, or any other distractions. Whoever it is who is with the Real Man will not be quite so lucky with him, since he isn’t perfect!

5. When the day comes that you find the shine of the Imaginary Lover tarnishing, don’t feel sadness or regret. The nice thing about him is that he will seek out a new form to touch and inspire you, one that addresses another facet of you, or a newly developed need.

I wish I could impart to you everything I’ve read and experienced on this subject—this is a ridiculously brief treatment of the matter. If you want further explanation, I recommend my book Living Beyond Reality. I say this not to turn this column into an infomercial, but honestly in the interest of sharing with you what the good doctor Carl Jung had to say that applies so aptly to the subject of celebrity crushes.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the man. Thanks to him, when I spend three hours googling some actor, I am able to feel perfectly sane. Even when I see the photos of him kissing some other woman.

(He kisses much better when he’s with me, if you catch my meaning.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

One Little Fantasy Scene: Galactica

Sometimes a person’s imagination fixates on one simple, powerful fantasy. You know what I mean, a little scene that you replay over and over in your head, which for whatever reason evokes powerful emotions in you that you savor again and again. It’s like a sexual fetish in a way: this fantasy mini-drama grips you, almost takes you over, for awhile.

I’ve had this experience from time to time, and my most recent one draws upon the superb sci-fi show “Battlestar Galactica.” I’ve been watching the previous two seasons on DVD with my husband, in a mad rush to catch up to the current episodes. We’re really quite addicted to it. And we’re both great admirers of Commander William Adama, senior officer of the Galactica, portrayed masterfully by Edward James Olmos. Adama is a fascinating character, a mature hero with a bit of a fatherly quality, who is complexly human. Interestingly, I had no sexual feelings for the character until the scene that follows suddenly invaded my mind.

How strange is the imagination. Was I subconsciously attracted to Commander Adama before I envisioned this, or did it inspire me to fall for him? Your guess is as good as mine.

At any rate, I set down this tiny piece of classic fan fiction. The narrator is the invented character Lieutenant Sara Linderman, an officer on Galactica, in a scene with the Commander. The archetypes are so timeless, you hardly need to have ever seen the show to appreciate what is going on. Or so I suppose, on.


“Come in, Lieutenant,” said Commander Adama, looking up at the doorway from his desk.

The room was dimly lit by his desk lamp, and the book-lined walls bathed in amber light gave a cozy feel. I took a couple of steps, then said, “May I close the door?”

“Of course,” he said, removing his glasses and setting them on the desk. “From the look of you, this seems like a serious matter. Please, have a seat.”

He indicated a chair at his side worktable. As I sat down, he slid his own chair out from behind the desk. When he had seated himself in it, I found his knee was nearly touching mine. Adama was a personable man who often parted with protocol to be affectionate, and we had worked together so long I had become used to his physical closeness. However, in this situation I was especially aware of it; I could practically feel the warmth of that knee. His eyes looked into mine, brows raised slightly with obvious curiosity.

I took a deep breath and released it. “Sir, rest assured I will file a formal request in this regard, but I wanted to discuss it with you personally first.”

The curiosity became concern. “A formal request? What request?”

I sat up very straight and looked him in the eye. “Commander, I request a transfer to Battlestar Pegasus.”

He visibly started. Then, after a pause, he said, “The Pegasus is not under my command.”

“That’s the point, sir,” I interjected at once.

Was that a look of hurt I saw? If so, it was fleeting. He resumed, in a professional tone, “And what might be the reason for this request?”

“With all due respect, Commander, I would prefer not to give a reason.”

His face went stern. “Your preference is not relevant, Lieutenant. I’m not about to transfer one of my best officers to the Admiral’s command without a reason. A very good one. So answer me.”

I looked away from him. I had never once defied him in all my years of service, and I knew I couldn’t do it now, either. What he asked, I answered, what he ordered, I did. But I knew once I spoke, there would be no turning back, ever. Regulations and common sense dictated only one course of action.

I felt a warm hand cover mine. I turned to find Adama looking at me with kindness in his eyes, stark contrast to his harsh tone of the moment before. “Sara, after all we’ve been through, how can there be anything you can’t tell me?”

For all our professionalism—and we were both very professional soldiers—there had been many times we’d been as close as two humans could be. I’d saved his life and he’d saved mine. We’d shared terror and triumph, grief and joy. It was not the first time he had touched my hand in kindness, and indeed, I had not so long ago lain in his arms wondering if I would die from my wounds. That, in fact, was the moment I had finally faced the truth.

“Sir, I request the transfer because…because I’m in love with you,” I said.

My entire fate hinged on how he would respond to this. I watched his face intently, looking for a reaction. For a moment his eyes went wide, and then he seemed to struggle to collect himself. His hand remained on mine, completely still. Finally, he blinked, and sat back a little, forcing a smile. “Lieutenant Linderman, believe me, you’re not the first soldier to develop an infatuation for a superior officer. That sort of thing has been going on since war was invented. I don’t mean to belittle your feelings, but it would be a very bad decision to make too much of them.”

He drew away his hand, but on impulse I snatched it back. I looked hard into his eyes. “Commander, you know I’m not making too much of them. You know.”

I clung tight to his fingers. His eyes searched my face. How I loved those eyes! I loved when they were angry and stern, I loved when they were gentle and compassionate. I couldn’t imagine my world without them…but that was what I was asking for.

He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. His free hand came up. I expected him to stroke my cheek; it was a fatherly gesture I’d seen him use several times in crisis to calm a female soldier, myself included. But his hand stopped to take hold of my chin. His grip was firm.

I opened my mouth to speak, although I hardly knew what to say. But the look in Adama’s eyes silenced me. He lowered his chin and leaned to me, cocking his head a little. Oh gods, did he mean to…?

In an instant I got my answer. He closed his eyes and I closed mine, and I felt his mouth upon my lips. I kissed him back, fervently. He took hold of my shoulders in his two strong hands and gripped them tight, and kissed me. I put my arms up his back. His hands slipped behind me, his arms pulled me in till I was pressed into his firm chest, enfolded in his warmth. His kisses were so kind, so gentle, so full of love and tenderness that I wanted to cry.

At last we drew apart. His hands took both of mine and held them very tightly. He closed his eyes, sighed, opened them again. A resolute look came over his face. “Your request is granted, Lieutenant,” he said. “I’ll send paperwork to the Admiral in the morning.”

My throat tightened. “Thank you, sir,” I told him, my voice nearly breaking and my eyes welling with tears.

“The reasons will remain confidential,” he added.

Reasons, plural. I managed a little smile. “Thank you, Commander. Thank you.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sex and the Creative Juices

After a bit of a hiatus, a friend of mine recently developed a new celebrity crush. She is a writer too, and we have a lot in common psyche-wise. In the wake of her new fascination, my friend found herself suddenly coming up with new ideas for stories, a phenomenon I have experienced over and over again. It’s amazing how this process works: the connection between sexual attraction and creativity.

As you’d expect of me (LOL), I have some theories as to why this happens. Infatuations, whether they be for characters, celebrities, or real life individuals, are a sign that the object of affection possesses some particular, powerful appeal to your psyche. He is compelling to you in some unique way. The fact that you have encountered someone who strikes a chord with you naturally sparks your imagination. You fantasize about him, in specific situations that evoke strong emotions from you. These situations are exciting, and his character is thought-provoking and forceful.

If you have any creative propensities, it is only natural that the imaginative activity inspired by this crush spurs you to some kind of action. Obviously if you are a writer, you will feel a strong desire either to write non-fiction about a subject related to your idol, or fiction about a similar personality. If you are a musician, you will want to compose or perform pieces somehow connected to him. A graphic artist will draw, paint or sculpt with a related theme; even a craft person will find a connection by making a quilt, scrapbook, costume, etc. that connects her to the character.

Can you be creative without this sort of sexual/romantic inspiration? Of course you can, it’s just more effort. I’ll illustrate: Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on my next anthology, Soulful Sex: The Science Fiction Collection. The first story I composed was initiated during a period when I was particularly fascinated by director M. Night Shyamalan. I created the general storyline and the hero’s character at this time, developing a fellow of Indian descent who was a videographer of almost preternatural talent. Things got off to a good start, but then, as fate would have it, I got distracted by a new celebrity crush.

This, of course, was my attraction to Survivorman Les Stroud. The problem was, the archetype represented by Les suggested some very powerful drama and heroism, perfect material for fiction. And this was also one of those rare infatuations that is more than a fleeting fancy, but actually hits you on a number of significant levels.

So, I found myself really struggling to finish the first story about the videographer. I’ll admit there were some plot points that would have been tricky to handle under any circumstance--for example, could I really make it believable that in the near future society had managed to replace human sex with machines? But the matter was complicated by the fact that my imagination was preoccupied with survivalist themes.

Well, I’ve been writing for 40 years, so I know how to use discipline to complete a story, and I did. It was finally time to take on the next tale, and once I moved on from the sex machine story, I found nearly the whole plot of my next one lying piecemeal in my imagination. It was, naturally, about an interplanetary survivalist. The hero was as vivid to me as any I had ever created, being my own personal version of Les Stroud in space (I don’t know the real man personally so there’s no telling how much he is like my character Joel Fennimore). The heroine’s feelings for him were intense and clear and passionate, as you might expect. Putting the thing on paper was as effortless as creative writing gets. What a relief after the struggle of the prior story!

Which brings us to where I’m at with the third and final novella for this science fiction book. I’m in the interesting position of having processed my obsession with survivalists and no longer having that as such a powerful distraction, but meanwhile not having replaced it with a new fascination. So my imagination is on its own this time. My hero is not based on anyone in particular, and the plot is simply a concoction put together from random ideas in my head. I’m finding it easier to write than the sex machine story, but certainly not as effortless as the survivalist one.

So, all this discussion begs the question, is the creative process more fruitful when a powerful attraction drives it? At this point in the romance genre I have written 32 stories, novellas and novels. Of the 32, I would classify 15 of them as having been inspired in the manner outlined above. Is there any significant way in which those differ from the rest? Well, all of my longer works utilized an infatuation for inspiration, so I suppose it might be hard to sustain a sequence of creativity without that factor. My three most popular stories also are in that group, but my personal favorites fall both within and without the category.

Most significant is that all of them were easy to write. I guess that suggests that while imaginative effort and discipline can indeed substitute for pure “inspiration,” they are definitely more work! I would state unequivocally that, given my druthers, I’d certainly prefer writing under the thrilling influence of an infatuation every time.

Too bad I have to write a new story every couple months, and am not quite that fickle!

My works to date (“inspired” ones in italics):

Between Earth and Sky
Abigail’s Archer
Office Mating
Real Magic
The Dark Prince

Souls’ Embrace

The Trio
The Infatuation

One Hundred Women
Je t’aime, Etienne
As Commonplace as Rain

Fantastic Toys

The Queen’s Lady and Her King
The Guy from Beadsville
The Frontier
The Seduction of Squire Meg
The Verity of the Vampire

Harmless Pleasure
Dead Man’s Chest

Alloy Love
Spacewrecked with Joel Fennimore

Claude’s Laboratory

Gift of Flesh
The Golden Padawan
The Scarlet Shackle
Secret Santas

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween Costume Hotness

I love costumes and if I had my way, we’d get to wear them more often than just at Halloween.

First of all, I get a ridiculous thrill out of wearing certain kinds of costumes. Now, obviously it doesn’t work the reverse way for men, but if you’re a woman it’s very cool to dress up as a female version of your favorite heroes. In the past I’ve done this many times: I was a hockey goaltender back in 1998 (specifically Ed Belfour of the Chicago Blackhawks), a Jedi knight in 2002, and a pirate a la Jack Sparrow in 2003. I have to admit, every time I’ve walked into the office Halloween party in one of these personal hero type costumes, I had the shivers.

Costume parties also offer a great opportunity to see guys dressed up in extremely cool outfits that totally outshine the sexiness of normal fashion. I’ll never forget the year one of my co-workers came dressed up as Braveheart’s William Wallace, complete with kilt and blue face paint. This year he wore the most fabulous Batman costume, while another associate was dressed as Clark Kent (with Superman costume underneath). As silly as it sounds, this pair of pretend superguys really tripped my trigger. Gives you a taste of what it would be like in the actual presence of a real superheroes, huh? Yeah, yeah, I know--there’s no such thing, right, right. Meanwhile, for those of you who recall my recent obsession with fauns, another co-worker of mine who is also quite handsome chose to come as Saturday Night Live’s Goatboy, but looked a lot like Mr. Tumnus from Narnia to some of us. Sigh....

So am I the only one geeky enough to experience this stuff at Halloween? I have a feeling not.

Let’s digress to other situations when costumes are the order of the day. Going to Renaissance Faires is fun for the shopping, the ale and the horses, but let’s not kid ourselves. The best reason to attend is seeing the guys in tights and jerkins and doublets and armor. It’s funny how you can stand next to a man in an outfit like that and your blood just heats up. Jeans and a tee shirt rarely do that, you have to admit.

Or, try a Holiday Folk Fair. We have one in Milwaukee that incorporates dancing teams from every possible ethnic persuasion. That means more tights, more kilts, more men making you wish you could get in the Wayback Machine and enjoy this eye candy every day.

I realize science fiction conventions simply make a lot of people laugh, but there are reasons why they’re hugely popular with a large portion of the population, and one of them is the costumes. Klingons are kinda geeky, but they do sport very awesome uniforms. And no matter what you think about George Lucas’s talent at filmmaking, there’s no denying the Jedi uniform is damn sexy. Gotta love the long black coats made popular in the Matrix movies too.

I suppose there’s just something basically sexy about the exotic element in costumes...the fact that they are out of the ordinary. Think about how superheroes always sport costumes, and even the basic cape-and-tights outfit Superman wears has appeal on a guy with a Kryptonian physique. It’s interesting therefore to consider the NBC show “Heroes,” in which ordinary folks discover they have individual superpowers. None have costumes (except the cheerleader, of course), and without them they are special, they are heroes, but they simply cannot be superheroes. The Japanese character Hiro drove this point home recently. So far he’s been like everyone else, dressed in everyday clothes. But in one scene he appears out of the future, and is changed into a sort of samurai look for reasons we can only guess and can’t wait to learn from future episodes. In that guise, ordinary, goofy Hiro is suddenly quite awe-inspiring...and even sexy.

Funny how that works.

I think costumes are a sort of physical manifestation of the imagination, and the imagination of course is where all the truly potent erotic stuff goes on. Imagine if you could (like the holodeck from Star Trek, okay have I proved I’m a geek yet?) experience a truly physical version of your sexual fantasies. Wow. Well, wearing costumes, and being around others in costumes, can be a little taste of that, and it can be exhilarating. From Harley fans wearing lots of leather and studs, to Goths with black eye makeup, to punk rockers dying their hair green, we express our sexual needs and interests through costumes. And that’s why they sell a lot of that sort of stuff at your local Naughty But Nice store.

There are people who disapprove of Halloween because of some perceived connection to Satanism or Paganism in the holiday. I think it’s a necessary and healthy occasion to express the imagination in ways we rarely permit ourselves.

So let me know your favorite costume worn by yourself or a friend! C’mon, you know there was that one that really turned you on...

And meanwhile, now that the annual office costume party is over, I find myself as usual already planning for the next one.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Is the Sex TOO Perfect?

The other night my husband and I had a date night, and over cocktails and appetizers at Harry’s in Shorewood, we discussed my erotic romance works. David was overwhelmingly positive in his commentary--I really never realized he liked my stories that much--but he did have one really interesting criticism.

He felt the sex was too perfect.

First of all, David said my heroes are all virtually perfect (except the scoundrels among them, who manage to be perfect scoundrels). The heroines he found pretty much likewise. That was acceptable, really; he didn’t mind my creating characters that are somewhat larger than life. However, reading the love scenes put David in mind of the same confusion and intimidation he felt in his younger years, comparing the sex in novels to his own romantic experiences. How could a guy hope to live up to that in the real-life bedroom? Couldn’t I cut him some slack and have something go wrong in these torrid passages once in awhile?

To reassure the man, I had to explain something about the female brain.

I shared with him a magazine column I’d read earlier in the week. A woman wrote in for advice concerning her relationship with her husband, who liked to look at pictures of hot, naked women. The wife was completely freaked out over this, feeling she had no chance to compete with these perfect young girls. The columnist explained to her that men’s brains are very compartmentalized when it comes to these things; no doubt the husband never compared his wife to these women at all. She was in one compartment: his unique sweetheart. The magazines dolls were in another compartment, one that had nothing to do with real life. He knew as well as anyone that they weren’t really real.

In the same vein, I explained to David, very few women confuse the way sex is in fiction and fantasy with how it is in real life. I write these mind-blowing love scenes, with their cataclysmic pleasure, preternatural intimacy, and spiritual ecstasy, never thinking for a second that such stuff happens in reality.

I wouldn’t necessarily write about sex this way if I had a different style and wrote in a different genre. For example, if I wrote literary mainstream fiction, like my idols John Irving, William Goldman, and John Updike, I would write about sex the way it really happens between normal people.

But my stories are almost mythological. The characters are very archetypal, and represent concepts and characteristics that are powerful to the psyche. The union of my various mating pairs is always at least a little cosmic, intended to speak to the soul of the reader more than the logical mind, to the subconscious rather than the ego, if you will.

Even when I’m writing a contemporary story about two office workers making love on a desk after hours (“Office Mating” from Soulful Sex Volume I), the lovers are acting out that classic fantasy on behalf of all the readers who are too wise and practical to ever act upon their office crushes. It’s clandestine love, it’s breaking the rules, but what if it was so “meant-to-be” that it actually worked? For the sake of the archetypes and the mythological theme, these two office workers are going to have fabulous sex on that one is going to tip over onto a stapler at a key moment.

But that said, I know full well if David and I had tried it in the office where we originally met, the results would have been comical at best. That’s real life, and it doesn’t need to be like my stories to be wonderful and meaningful and fun. Which is basically what I told him over drinks at Harry’s, and I think he believed me.

For all his worry, he doesn’t seem too intimidated by the competition in the pages of my books.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How to Spend an Idol Night

If you have a personal hero, animus-bearer, celebrity idol, or however you wish to term it, I highly recommend you have yourself an “Idol Night” sometime. It’s not only fun, it’s good for the psyche.

My first experience throwing an Idol Night was about 15 years ago, when I was in my Sting phase. I had three girlfriends at the office who indulged my obsession (they actually dubbed me Queenie Bee) and so one night we all got together at my house for Sting Fest. Much music by Sting and The Police was played, I shared my favorite videos, and a great time was had by all.

But for my example of how to conduct an Idol Night, I will use a more recent experience, from this past weekend. My daughters Katie and Amanda and I got together for an overnight celebration of my current personal hero, Les Stroud (aka Survivorman). Interestingly, it was my Katie who came up with the idea after Les was kind enough to send me his gifts (see "Those Little Addictions"), and Manzi was all about doing it too. So we planned what we decided to call “Lestivities Night.”

Now, for a proper Idol Night you will want to of course incorporate your subject’s various talents into the entertainment for the evening. You also want to focus on whatever it is about the person that inspires you the most, the aspects that move you the most deeply. It’s also fun to explore different facets of the individual’s personality, to get a “whole picture.”

If at all possible, you should work in some opportunities for “audience participation.” That is, make the experience active as well as passive. That can mean anything from just talking about the subject matter, to playing games, to doing a project. The point is to explore the part of yourself that relates to the Idol, and learn something about yourself as well as him. If there’s any common ground between you and the object of your affection--in my case with Sting, it was our mutual appreciation of Carl Jung and his analysis of the human psyche--be sure to work that in.

[If you’re wondering how my girlfriends and I brought Jungian psychology into our Sting Fest, well...we watched Sting’s film “Brimstone and Treacle” and talked about the sex appeal of the dark side of the psyche. Educational and fun.]

So, let me elaborate on Lestivities. It began with a beautiful fall afternoon in Greenfield, Wisconsin, very well suited for an occasion that would focus largely on Les Stroud’s appreciation for the natural world. We started by making some jewelry out of rocks that I had polished myself, using the rock tumbler Katie’s boyfriend gave me for my birthday. To me this was a really relevant activity, seeing as Les is always reminding me that the stuff nature creates can be even more beautiful than what man creates. I’ve certainly always felt that way about rocks.

I finished my jewelry first, which gave me a chance to pull out my new Native American flute for a brief demonstration. I just recently decided to take up the instrument quite on a whim; I’m not even sure how it came to me, it might have even been in a dream. At any rate, I’m usually a very logical person, and to do something based on a feeling was quite a departure for me. I’m sure Les’s influence had a bit to do with it, as he frequently points out the importance of following your heart.

We adjourned to the upstairs VCR to watch “Snowshoes and Solitude,” the documentary Les made in 1999 with his wife Sue about their year-long honeymoon in the Canadian bush. The two lived as natives did 500 years ago, in an utterly deserted wilderness. It’s an inspiring adventure that provoked no little discussion afterwards. We were quite in awe.

I’ll tell you right now, the girls and I are hardly survivalists. But we do really adore our annual camping trip to Point Beach State Forest on Lake Michigan. That’s our personal “touchstone” for living in nature, so we made ourselves a supper of hot dogs in biscuits and salad out of a bag, the sort of stuff we consider camp food. (Our plan to bake the “wiener wagons” on sticks over the grill was abandoned for the oven in about two minutes; yeah, we’re real survivalists all right.) Later we also broke out the pie irons to make pudgie pies for dessert. Native North American life of yore was never like this; I’m sure they had no Octoberfest beer like we did, either.

Now it was time to really get the fun underway, in the living room where we have our big screen HDTV and kickass sound system. We alternated three thrilling episodes of “Survivorman” with listening to excerpts from Les’s music CD. This is what’s called immersing yourself in the Idol. The room was illuminted by my wood-scented candle, I had the fountain running for splashing-ambiance, and it was the next best thing to having our hero in the room.

We squealed in horror as Les dealt with giant tarantulas in the Costa Rican jungle. We laughed as he sang the fun Irish-jig-style song “The Cockroach.” We thanked our lucky stars for our safe, dry sofa as Les got caught in a horrible nighttime storm on a life raft. We recovered from our sympathetic-seasickness thanks to his most blatantly sexy recording, “I Got My Mojo Workin’.” (What would Les think to see two generations of women swooning over this song?) We despaired with him as he made the tough descent into a Utah canyon in desperate need of water, only to find a dry riverbed.

By 10:45 we were exhausted from sympathizing with our daring, determined hero as he endured heat, cold, hunger, thirst, loneliness, and all those godawful jungle bugs. We went happily to bed and were more grateful than ever to be in warm, dry, comfy sleeping quarters.

The next morning we reconvened for a breakfast of bacon and eggs (standard camp fare) and scrumptious homemade granola, the one food we had all weekend that Les might actually have eaten himself! We listened to the whole CD and talked about all manner of things.

Everyone took away from the experience a little piece of what I think Les Stroud tries to impart with his music and filmmaking. And that’s what Idol Nights are supposed to accomplish. If you are mightily attracted to and/or appreciative of someone, it’s because there’s something about that person that speaks to the needs of your soul. Katie, Manzi and I all are the sort of women who look for heroes among the genuinely goodhearted, talented but humble, spiritual sorts of guys like Les. It does all our hearts good to find that men like him truly do exist.

This blog is called Erotica with Soul, and of course there is always an erotic element to the powerful attractions we have for heroes and celebrities. But as you see, it’s that wholesome, invigorating kind of erotic element, one that a mom can share with her daughters. Our Idol Night resulted in all kinds of good aftereffects: the appreciation both for nature and for the comforts of urban life; a desire to be more spiritual and more in touch with our life goals and dreams; and the inspiration that comes from discovering a true hero, an ordinary man who can do extraordinary things out of love and spirituality.

It was a night none of us will ever forget. Try your own Idol Night sometime soon--you may have a similarly powerful experience.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Simple Erotic Pleasures


Sometimes in dreams you zero in very intensely on some small aspect of life to which you might not give a lot of thought in your waking hours. I had that experience yesterday morning when I dreamed about hugging this guy.

What I recall about this dream hug is that it was a lovely example of that experience almost all women have had at once time or another: embracing a guy in a linen shirt. You know, a regular cotton/polyester blend type dress shirt. There is really nothing to compare with that feeling of a man’s body underneath that sort of fabric. Hugging a guy in a tee shirt is completely different, as is hugging through a flannel shirt or a sweatshirt or nothing at all.

Maybe it’s because the fabric is fairly thin, and loose enough to move, but a dress shirt seems to transfer a man’s body heat and firmness in a completely unique way. The feeling is so comforting and so exciting at the same time. And you get the sense that you are experiencing the guy’s body as intimately as you could without him being naked.

Funny how when I saw this guy again, he looked especially handsome to me, just giving me a good morning smile. Maybe there’s a bonding process that goes on when you embrace a man in a dress shirt.

Now in my dream, the shirt was white. Not sure why. But I asked myself the question, what would be my personal ideal color for the linen shirt hug? What would yours be? Shirt colors can be significant you know. I would propose these possibilities:

  • If you like a white shirt: you are thrilled by the power/intelligence of a professional man
  • If you like a light blue shirt: you like a more casual man
  • If you like a tan or khaki shirt: you go for a resourceful, military, or outsdoorsy, “manly” man
  • If you like a cobalt blue or red shirt: you like a man who is intense and confident
  • If you like a brown or gray or muted green shirt: you like a man who is shy
  • If you like a pinstriped shirt: you like a man with elegance and sophistication
  • If you like a wild print shirt: you like a man who’s eccentric

I find it a simple erotic pleasure just to contemplate hugging various types of men in these various types of shirts. LOL

And meanwhile, I also gave a little thought to what ingredients I would include in a potpourri of simple erotic pleasures. Here’s what I came up with on this particular day:

  • A hug in a linen shirt
  • A guy doing a really good impression of one of your favorite celebrity voices
  • A gesture for you to “come here” (that’s a killer)
  • A guy waiting on you who isn’t actually a waiter
  • Getting within 12 inches of a good-looking guy’s hands
  • Talking with a guy about a subject you both feel passionate about
Any day you can obtain even one of those is a good day. I haven’t managed any of them yet today, but I’ll do my best to fit in at least one before bedtime. Hope you do too!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Erotic Fun for All Ages

Talk about a weird title. Well, bear with me here, I have a point to make.

Saturday night I was privileged to be among the 123,000 people who will be seeing the “So You Think You Can Dance” Tour across the U.S. What an incredible experience it was, too. The top ten finalists from the Fox hit show performed for about two hours, including the various video retrospectives that gave them time for costume changes and breath-catching.

The audience was enthusiastic, to put it mildly. Deafening applause, screams, and standing ovations (I’ll bet we gave them 15 at least) were the order of the night. It was the kind of show that brought that out in a person. The neat thing about this audience was that it included all ages, from senior citizens down to lots of little kids. From the preponderance of 8 to 12 year old girls, I suspect there were a lot of dance students present.

So it was definitely a family crowd, and obviously a family-style program. Nevertheless, the show had a powerful erotic element, at least according to my definition. Regular readers of this blog know that in my view, the erotic does not necessarily include graphic sex; sometimes it’s more about the creative life force--that stuff that makes the world go round, if you will. To me, the erotic doesn’t always arouse sexually; sometimes it makes you feel romantic, joyful, creative, or energized. And while there was absolutely nothing in the show not suitable for the kids in the room, nevertheless in a totally wholesome kind of way it was erotic.

I’ll give you three examples, drawn from what seemed to be the audience’s favorite numbers, all three being reprisals of routines done during the TV series.

The renowned “bench” routine (to “Calling You” by Celine Dion):

This dance was so popular on the TV show that when the lights came up on our stage to reveal the presence of a bench, we got to our feet before the dance even started! In this contemporary routine, Travis and Heidi act out a classic mating sequence, with the twist that the female is the one trying to woo the male. The guy is just on the edge of giving in, and sometimes you think he will, but in the end he sadly walks off the stage.

This dance depicted the wooing process not as a seduction, but as taming, an attempt to convince the loved one that it is safe to submit to intimacy. The tension humans feel between their longing for intimacy and their fear of it is universal, and is a key element of erotica. While we may or may not be yearning for literal intercourse, humans of all ages seek closeness with each other, and when we manage to achieve it, the result can be wonderful. The fact that Heidi and Travis could not come together at the end of their dance was painfully poignant.

The “runway” routine (to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back”):

This is definitely the most overly sexual of my examples. In this dance, which features the entire ensemble, the dancers portray models on a runway. A lot of pouting, vogueing, and strutting takes place, “Zoolander” style. It gives the dancers a chance to focus unabashedly on looking sexy.

It’s really impossible to take runway models completely seriously, so this routine was definitely tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, the poise, grace, and self-confidence of the dancers functioned to make them all come across as damn hot. This is a lesson I don’t mind having the kids in the audience learn: It’s not how good-looking you are, or how you dress, but whether you believe in yourself that determines how attractive you are to others. The ultimate love charm is attitude.

The “geek” dance, aka the Tranji dance (to “Gyrate” by Da Muzicianz):

In this number, top two finalists Benji and Travis come on stage dressed as nerds, but the irresistible rhythm of the hip-hop song transforms them to cool guys with street cred. When the beat sets their pelvises thrusting (and this in turn sets the audience screaming), they do a quick half-striptease, losing their backpacks and glasses and flipping their caps around.

First of all, Benji and Travis are just as endearing as dorks as they are as their hip-hop alter egos. It’s a ton of fun for the chicks in the audience to enjoy them in both modes in the same dance. But the message here is that music and dance bring you to life. You lose your introverted geeky meekness and get aggressive, wild, and ready for fun. That’s a kind of arousal, and while only a certain part of it is sexual, it works just as well with pre-pubescent kids who don’t understand sex yet but sure do appreciate fun.

There were all kinds of other erotic moments I could relate from the show (from the romance of the Viennese waltz, to the sexy drama of the tango, to Ryan using Heidi’s trim butt cheeks as bongo drums), but you get the idea. This show vividly made the point that erotic and wholesome are not opposite ends of the spectrum. Wholesome erotic elements can energize and inspire people of all ages--in fact, that’s part of their true nature.

I’d be interested to know what impact being at the show had on our audience. I have a feeling just about everyone had a little more upbeat and productive Sunday than usual. I know I’m going to be running on that energy for quite a long time….

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

No Hips and Other Delights

I realize men are attracted to women because we have some things they don’t. Specifically, breasts. Sometimes I sit back in amusement that men are so fascinated by body parts simply because they don’t have them. I think most men don’t even have particular standards as far as breasts--they like them all, which is good seeing as my own are not really boast-worthy.

This fixation seems very silly to me until I consider my attitudes about the male body. I mean, how amusing is it to be entranced by the lack of something? I speak here of hips. Yesterday I came upon a couple photos of one of my celebrity-obsession-guys wearing jeans and a tank top. These were very well fitting jeans. This guy is one of those nice, lean types, and from waist to thigh there is not the slightest bulge on him front or sides, and not much in back either.

It’s embarrassing (and yet I’m telling you) how long I can stare at these pictures without tiring of them. They are the equivalent of a nice shot of Jack Daniels, and the buzz is completely natural.

I know how men check out women’s breasts and it gives them itchy palms. Well, that’s how I feel about no hips. I would just love to take hold of the hip bones on this guy and feel their narrowness and that incredible lack of fat. Seriously, hip bones! I amaze myself really, but there it is.

Now I can understand the female fascination with washboard abs, great pecs, rippling biceps/triceps, runners’ legs, and wide shoulders. I understand what these things represent to the female psyche: physical power, virility and all that. But what about the lack of things...hiplessness and my other personal fascination, the small posterior? There’s little explanation for the appeal of those except I don’t have them. Lacking the Y chromosome, I can’t lose my hips, not that I really want to. So I guess the narrow-hipped, small-assed male attracts me simply because he’s different from me.

I suppose if I stretch my imagination, I also appreciate that lack of hips suggests mobility, motion, even a sort of aggression. While women seem more domestic, fertile, nurturant in shape, men such as my lean friend are the opposite. Think of the classic Elvis archetype, whose narrow-hipped pelvic thrusts drove several generations of women to swoon. Perhaps that leanness also hints at efficiency: as in, “I’ve got nothing superfluous here, nothing to distract you from the penis...and after all, what else matters?”

Just as women don’t get the big appeal of breasts, I’m sure men utterly take for granted their lack of hips. I suppose they can see why their muscles and shoulders could impress, but it must evade them why a woman should be driven to a frenzy by that 1-to-1 waist/hip ratio. I wish I could better explain, gentlemen, but trust me: when you wear those well-fitting jeans the virility just pours off you in waves.

The no hips/small posterior phenomenon is a factor in a lot of classic female fantasies, including:

  • Guys playing guitar in leather pants
  • Slow dancing with hip pressure (my hands will drift down, sorry)
  • Guys leaning against a bar, a juke box, a car, or anything else that results in the pelvis thrusting forward (are you brandishing that weapon at me?)
  • Shirtless attire (you thought we just wanted to see your torso; actually, it’s just nice not having any shirttails hanging down over your pelvic bones)

I’d happily picture my fellow in any of those scenarios--okay, I already have while composing this. And goodness, this hip thing is really addictive. It occurs to me what would be really embarrassing: You know those tests they can do on people to see where their eyes travel to on a page? I can just imagine the incriminating results they’d get analyzing my eyes and these photos.

I’m sure my little brain will move on to a new obsession soon enough. But it has been fun the last 24 hours being in my small hip rut. Not to worry, it hasn’t done anything to reduce this romance author’s productivity...much the opposite, happily. The last dozen pages I’ve written aren’t bad at all. Do I mention hips? Well, okay, yeah…once or twice.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Those Little Addictions

I can hear the voice of Robert Palmer in my head, "Might as well face it, you're addicted..."

I'm hoping my readers can relate to what I'll be talking about here; surely I'm not the only one who suffers from such an affliction occasionally. You know how it is: Every now and then you have a pretty intense erotic/romantic "encounter" with a person, or a character, or a celebrity figure, so intense that you can't help but focus for awhile on that person. Inordinately much. It's not to the stalker level of course, just to the level that you feel a bit weird about it.

The internet is a blessing and a curse when it comes to these little addictions. Back in the old days, when I fixated on somebody I could only slake my thirst to know more about them by making a trip to the library and digging into old magazines and microfilm. That was just too darn inconvenient to do every day. But now you can treasure-hunt for tidbits on the web in the comfort of your home, making it possible to feed (and therefore encourage) your mini-obsession so much more easily.

You know what I mean, right? You start with Google, or maybe Google Images comes first. You might uncover a fan site about the person--jackpot! Otherwise you'll undoubtedly unearth some photos, articles, interviews, etc. After exhausting those resources you may try using Limewire or some similar source to look for audio or video materials. Or you'll check Amazon for related books you could buy, or eBay for deals on autographed photos or packets of old clippings. You may even try out some of the blog search engines, hoping to find other people fixated on the same person/character. Or maybe you'll check fan fiction sites to see if anyone is writing stories about your idol.

Depending upon how famous this individual is, you could be finding treasures for weeks, or run out of material in less than a day. But even if it's the latter, if you've got it bad enough you'll keep thinking perhaps something new has cropped up, or a different search engine will be able to find something you missed, or something very cool related to the person will be up on eBay for purchase.

The more you keep looking, the weirder you feel about doing it. But here's what keeps you motivated to try: Every now and then you will find something that's just really awesome. Maybe a particularly excellent photo. Or an interview that includes a really meaningful quote. Or some commentary from another fan that just nails exactly how you feel.

Or a new song.

So, here's my particular problem. Regular Erotica with Soul readers know about my recent bout of regard for
Les Stroud, also known as "Survivorman" on the Discovery Channel show of that name. I love the show and have all kinds of admiration for what Les is able to do, combining his survival skills with some excellent filmmaking ability. To top that off, I found out Les is also a musician.

So hang on, this gets even worse. I corresponded with Les's office to order a copy of his music CD and sent them a link to my blog tribute to the man. His extremely kind assistant Wendy shared the tribute with Les and in response, he said he'd be sending me a surprise. Now I've found it never pays to count on promises from celebrities, as they are very busy people. So when my package arrived from Canada, I tried to keep my hopes from getting up. I opened the envelope and found that Les had sent me the new Survivorman Season 1 on DVD, as well as his documentary "Snowshoes and Solitude" on VHS. Not to be materialistic about this, but the retail value of these gifts with shipping was $72 U.S. My point is, these were very nice presents, and just about the nicest things he could have sent a person obsessed with Survivorman.

So now I'm dealing with a guy who really sends me, is a musician, and is incredibly nice and generous. He's not making it easy for me. And to top it all off, I listened to the CD and it instantly became one of my favorites ever. Just so happens I really like Les's voice, how he plays acoustic guitar and harmonica, and his style of folksy/bluesy music writing. His expertise is supposed to be wilderness survival and filmmaking. Then he goes and sings like an angel on top of it. Blorg.

So, here's me last night, frustrated as heck that the man has only one CD out (there's another coming soon, thank God). And like the obsessed weirdo that Les Stroud has made me--okay, it's not really his fault--I'm convinced the Internet has not yet coughed up all its material on the subject. I am haunted by this thought as I work on writing my latest story, till finally I can't stand it anymore and start Googling.

And I found a new song! A new song, in its entirety in
high quality streaming audio! And in the process, find out Les also plays fabulous electric guitar (saints preserve us) and can write incredible rock music. The Lord be praised! This song is just as good as my favorites on the CD. What a happy night.

But woe for me, I have now been encouraged in my maniacal cyber-treasure-hunting. This cannot bode well for my hopes of behaving more sanely.

What are you gonna do though? This guy just brings me so much joy, it's hard to corral your mind into playing the latest Top 40 hits in your head when you also have the option of letting Les Stroud's
"Clouds" run in there in all its inspiring glory. I think it's making me a nicer, more positive person. I feel like kissing my husband more, cuddling my cat, donating to charity, forgiving co-workers for screwing up, etc. Is this a bad thing?

Call me crazy, call me obsessed, but a girl could do worse than a little addiction to a nice celebrity, I guess.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Alan Rickman’s je ne sais quoi

It really bugs me when I can’t figure out why a guy is really attractive. This is my problem with Alan Rickman. The man is 60 years old, has an extremely unconventional face, and is hardly known for landing romantic lead roles. Nevertheless, his allure transcends logic and is so potent that I doubt he could play any part without seeming sexy.

Over the past weekend I saw him in “Blow Dry,” a 2001 British comedy about a quirky national British hairdressing competition held in a small town in Yorkshire. Alan plays an aging barber in business with his son, who has turned from his celebrated competitive success of the past due to his wife’s running off with another woman. His son is played by the young and always heart-throbby Josh Hartnett, who is the film’s romantic interest. However, as always, Alan Rickman steals the show.

His portrayal of Phil, the hairdresser, is understated. His bitterness over his failed marriage seethes quietly, and when he decides to intervene against an old rival’s cheating in the competition, he is stealthy and low key. Against the flamboyant backdrop of the other hairdressers (you can imagine), he seems as solid and humble as they come. But when ultimately he brings all the films plot lines to rights by competing in the final round, Phil suddenly unveils a passionate and creative streak buried for years, symbolized by the stylized scissors tattoo he bears on the sole of one foot.

I’m not a big tattoo fan, but I found that revelation an extreme turn-on. It was like a private secret unveiled. Of course a guy like this would only have a tattoo in a spot no one would ever see except on the most rare, significant occasions. (Only a guy like this could endure the pain of a tattoo on the sole of the foot!)

And somehow the tattoo was a metaphor for the charm of Alan Rickman himself. There’s something rare and special about this guy that you can’t put your finger on, but I suspect he knows where and what it is.

That je ne sais quoi succeeds whether he’s the sinister Professor Snape in the “Harry Potter” movies, the downright evil Sheriff of Nottingham, the eccentrically powerful being Metatron in “Dogma,” or the romantic hero Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility.” It even works when he’s Harry in “Love Actually,” a guy who cheats on his wife with a rather sleazy co-worker. Alan is a marvelous actor, and indeed becomes someone new in each of his roles (particularly as the voice of Marvin the depressed robot in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). Nevertheless, whomever he’s being, that certain something always shines through.

Sometimes I think it’s Alan’s unusually sensuous features, but then I was likewise as drawn to him as Marvin. Perhaps then it’s his unique voice, so refined and so often deliciously haughty. But would I rather look at him or listen to him? Maybe it’s the dry, detached manner that is the one common thread in his performances--that cool and unflappable, slightly disdainful demeanor.

Oh, I give up, I can’t even guess what it is about Alan Rickman that makes me so crazy. But I do know, whatever “it” is, no one else has it.

Any theories out there? I know I’m not the only one nuts about this guy....

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Yes, today I'm here to blog about the sexiness of Canadian men.

Back in the day when I published my weekly ezine "Hockey Snacks," I coined the term "canuckophilia" to mean the love of Canadians and the Great White North. I got a ton of reader mail on the subject, and there were an awful lot of American women with "eh?"-fetishes. (Meanwhile, my male Canadian readers were astonished to learn this and many planned trips south to find out for themselves if they could get chicks by saying "aboot.")

I retired from the Hockey Snacks gig in 2002 but remained a fan of Canada. Lately, embroiled as I am in my most serious celebrity crush in a long time, I am rediscovering my old tendency toward canuckophilia. I used to be fascinated by Canadian hockey players, and now that it is a Canadian survivalist instead ("Survivorman" Les Stroud), I see some recurring themes.

According to the fantasy at least, Canadian men are tough, resourceful, real guys. In hockey, it seemed the Canadian players were the ones who could augment their skills with sheer determination, and hang in there when other men wussed out...qualities one certainly finds in my hero Les. There was also an unsullied, unsophisticated, genuine niceness about most Canadian players. It was almost as if life in the simpler, closer-to-nature environment of the north made for men of character.

In my day job I sometimes deal with Canadians on the phone; they are typically warm and friendly and completely oblivious to my romantic enjoyment of their Canadian accents. Part of the charm of these guys is that they have no idea that some Americans are canuckophiles and actually find them sexy. They don't realize some of their southern neighbors fantasize about Canadian men who can play great hockey, subdue the wilderness, and curl. I've blogged before about the sex appeal of curling, that other great Canadian sport, and I likewise doubt that Brad Gushue has a clue. (Pete Fenson may be the closest thing to a hot Canadian man that the U.S. has to offer. LOL) So not only do Canadian guys have all this going for them, they are humble and self-effacing to boot.

There is also a kind of exoticism about Canadian men which I'm sure they would never understand or acknowledge, but which some American women perceive. While we all live in North America, and speak the same language (and there's a whole nother sexiness going on with the francophones up north), Canada is still different from the U.S. We may make jokes about the McKenzie Brothers, Molson-swilling lumberjacks, and hockey players missing teeth and "puttin' on the foil," but there is still a romantic mystique about those who in a country that contains vast wilderness and extends far above the arctic circle. Okay, so maybe only 10% of Canadian men live more than a hundred miles from the border...still, there are guys up there who are tough enough to deal with cold temperatures, outsmart bears and moose, and hit 75-mile-an-hour slapshots.

The archetype of the Canadian man doesn't appeal to everyone; he's no James Bond, no Vampire Lestat, no erudite, sophisticated, or overtly sexy hero. But for those of us attracted to ideals like self-reliance, humility, strength of character, kindness, determination, and competence, that guy in flannel with the fishing gear or hockey equipment can be mighty alluring.

It's nice to be crushing on a Canadian again....

Friday, August 18, 2006

From 13 to 50

Today I'm turning 50. Pretty exciting stuff! Makes me glad that I have found some success with my fiction writing in recent years, seeing as career-wise, that was my life's goal from the time I could hold a pen. But until three years ago I would never have guessed it would be romantic erotic fiction that would be my ultimate claim to fame. I guess you can't always anticipate what ability will eventually surface as significant to your life.

It's crazy to think I've been writing about sex for 37 years. Even crazier that I can remember the first time I did it. I went through puberty at age 13, and it was almost as if one day the stuff we'd learned in that "special class for girls only" sounded gross, and the next it started to be intriguing. But one particular day I was thinking about this boy in my junior high class that I had a crush on, and it seemed to me that such intimacies with him might not be disgusting after all.

I think my pubescent feelings were something of a precursor to the view of sex I would eventually hold for a lifetime. I hadn't yet discovered what orgasm felt like, nor had I seen what a naked man looked like, so the nitty-gritty of sex was still to be discovered. (Let me interject that shortly after this my parents did a terrific job of educating me; I read a couple excellent books they provided me and learned all about everything.) The actual act of intercourse seemed scary, but the concept of conjugation was very compelling. So you see, from the very beginning, the physical act of sex was not my primary focus when it came to the erotic. It was much more spiritual and emotional.

Chris, my junior high crush, was a very shy boy who barely spoke to anyone much less me. Perhaps it was because he seemed mysterious that I was drawn to him; at any rate I didn't really know him personally at all. Nevertheless, I was suddenly acutely aware of a fellow human being in terms of his maleness. I sat behind him in algebra and studied the flesh on the back of his neck, the shape of his limbs, the line of his jaw. I put my hands on the desktop close enough to his back to feel his warmth. I was full of yearning that seemed wonderful but terrible. I thought about touching him, kissing him, and found myself reacting to these thoughts in a whole new way.

I felt surrender: the primordial female response to masculinity. I wanted to give over to him, to let him be aggressive to me. And these feelings made sex, for the first time, seem potentially a desirable thing. The abstract thought of Chris entering me, of our bodies melding, was very sweet. Intercourse I still wasn't sure of, but that deep closeness, that physical connection, had great appeal.

So I wrote about it in my diary. I didn't write about the sex act, but about the abstract concept of being joined to this boy. And to this day, although I do write about the sex act now, it's these same feelings and concepts that to me are true erotica.

I must have reread that diary entry a hundred times, for years afterward, along with the other passages I occasionally penned. Into adulthood and over the decades to follow, I often wrote erotic scenes and stories about men to whom I was attracted. These were all for my own private consumption, but having the sort of approach to erotica that I did, I worked hard to make them vivid and well written and emotionally as well as sensually compelling.

It turned out these efforts were not in vain. In the late 90s I began to share some of my stories with a couple of close friends, who begged me to write more. In 2002 I wrote a piece of Star Wars erotic fiction and posted it online. That was the turning point, for I began to get real fan mail for this story and for the first time to consider writing erotic romance for publication. I had been freelancing with minor success for three decades and written four novels, one self-published, but I had never thought of selling work in this genre.

It took me 33 years to get to the point of deciding to do so, but then only about a month to find a publisher--actually two publishers. And here I am, finally having found my writing niche, and turning 50 years old. I think it never occurred to me that my strangely abstract, spiritual/emotional approach to sex would appeal to others, but apparently there are quite a few people for whom it strikes a deep chord.

I feel a lot younger than 50, and can still pass for 40 to strangers (throwing in a recent picture I like, out of sheer vanity--LOL), which I guess is a fortunate thing for a woman who writes erotic fiction. And although I'm not as obsessed about sex as I was in my mid-30s (when my second husband met me, lucky guy), I make up for it in the wisdom that life experience brings, much of which does touch upon the erotic.

In other words, I'm very happy to be 50 years old and specializing in writing erotic fiction. That 13-year-old is still in here somewhere, still in awe of sex, still trying to figure it all out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Les is More

I recently blogged about several attractive fellows from the Discovery Channel, one of whom was Les Stroud, aka "Survivorman." Well, you know how it is: you can never predict what particular person is going to capture your imagination, and in the intervening days, Les has trapped mine. I've also learned there's more to Survivorman than I originally realized.

I have a strong theory why I find so much appeal in a man who specializes in survival. If you'll pardon the arrogance of this statement, I'm a pretty capable person myself--intellectually and emotionally, anyway. Meanwhile, however, I was raised in the early 60s with the romantic ideal that men are strong and protective. In spite of my independence, deep down I have always craved a hero to rely on, someone almost supernaturally able to deal with challenge.

So it was only a matter of time until I found myself attracted to Les, particularly considering the format of his show. He's all alone in these beautiful but dangerous locales...just the man and the camera that connects him to you. When he looks into your eyes (via the lens) and shares with you his most intimate reactions to his plights of survival, you feel yourself bonding with the guy. You suffer with him when he shivers with hypothermia, you pray with him that he won't be attacked by bears, you hunger and thirst with him as days pass and his body pines for nourishment. That kind of shared experience has its effect.

Nevertheless, I confess the allure of Les Stroud crept up on me slowly. He is capable but not dashing, pleasant-looking but not gorgeous, manly but not macho. He can seem almost ordinary at times (if you ignore what he's doing), as he goes about his business quietly with moments of humor and occasional annoyance. After I had spent enough time with him to notice a friendship forming (if familiarity with a TV personality can be called "friendship"), I suddenly realized I felt more than that. One day I kinda liked him; the next I was holding pretend conversations with him in the imaginary wilderness of western Ontario.

Yesterday, however, things took an even more intense turn.

I was killing time and decided to see if I could come up with a nice Les wallpaper with some spectacular natural backdrop behind my new hero. In the course of this, Google turned up someone's personal blog page that featured the line: "Les Stroud--I want to have his babies!!" I figured I'd found another "Survivorman" fan. But when I clicked from Google to the page, I found the reference was in this girl's "favorites" column, listing him as her favorite musician.

I knew Les was a musician, as I reported here before. But it isn't his primary claim to fame. My curiosity piqued, I dug a little deeper and found a page of Les's on which he spoke more about his musical career. It included three free MP3's of songs he had composed and performed. I chose one entitled

It was an interesting folk fusion sort of song, with acoustic guitar (Les) and fiddle taking the lead roles. I liked it a lot, and it was certainly out of the ordinary. Then over the music rose the narrative voice of Les, the one I knew well from watching his show, speaking softly and slowly of his childhood daydreams. And abruptly, without warning, he began to sing.

I am not exaggerating when I say, I had an intense physiological reaction to this. A flush of heat flashed in the core of me. It was a kind of shock, a gasp of delight but more awe-full than happy. Why shock? Well, it wasn't that it didn't sound like Les: it did. And yet, I had truly never guessed his singing voice would be that beautiful. I stopped breathing, ceased moving, experienced nothing but that weird flush and the sound of Les Stroud's music in my ears.

I haven't had a reaction like that to music since when I heard Ewan McGregor open his mouth and sing "The hills are alive with the sound of music" at the beginning of "Moulin Rouge." As on that occasion, I found it hard to believe what was happening--that this person possessed that voice--even though the proof was in my very ears.

I listened to the other two songs. All three were wonderful. Les's guitar playing was wonderful, and the fact he wrote these songs was just one more fact at which to marvel.

It's hard to find men who excel in the esthetic realm and the physical one. Sometimes the survival master's comments on "Survivorman" do verge on poetry, and clearly his love of the natural world and his camera work also mark him as having artistic sensibilities. But there is something about music that, at least for me, transcends all. So this discovery proved to me Les Stroud's soul is a match for that mind and body that I've seen endure and conquer the physical realm's toughest challenges.

What is it about hearing a man sing that just makes you want to lay your heart at his feet?

Over the years I've gotten quite good at mastering celebrity attractions. I know they are 90% fantasy and 10% fact, and I stay conscious of that. That said, Les Stroud is almost too much for me. None of this is acting, it's all the real Les. I fear the fantasy/fact ratio with him is more 40/60. I find myself actually aching a little if I think about it too hard. I'm sure his wife could tell me plenty about his faults and the downside of living with him (as if I could, as she did, live with him without electricity, plumbing, or even metal tools!). But this time the wonders of this man are rather irrefutable.

As much as that pains me, seeing as I won't ever even meet him, it's also really marvelous.