Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another Hot Threesome at ERWA!

Tomorrow is the first day of July, the first full month of summer freedom, and I'm the proud (and exhausted) author of three essays on the ERWA website. Don't the best things always come in threes?

This month's installment of "Cooking Up a Storey" is called "Naked Lunches:
Picnics, Porn Stashes, and the Roots of an Obsession.
" It may seem a bit familiar to regular readers of this blog in its discussion of naughty trysts en plein air and the surprising uses of one's personal erotic history. But this time I include a recipe for "Naughty Picnic Couscous Salad," which is appropriately very portable to out-of-the-way areas and protein-rich to keep up your stamina!

If you've been following my "Shameless Self-Promotion" column (and if not, why haven't you? Are you embarrassed?), you'll be interested in this month's
"Viva the Internet: Book Reviews and Blogs." The Internet is by far the most effective tool for independent promoters and I not only give you a few tips from my own experience, I invite the amazingly resourceful and creative Jeremy Edwards to share his intimate knowledge of the path of cyber-shamelessness in a must-read interview at the ERWA blog.

That's the usual couple, but I'm in the mood to invite a third hot body into bed, and what better candidate than a 21st Century Courtesan, the steamy new novel by Eden Bradley? My review of the book touches upon the nature of genre fiction and the ways writers bend its rules, often beautifully, as does Bradley in this psychologically complex erotic romance.

But wait--do I see another sexy babe slinking over with a gleam in her eye and a ticket to Vegas in her hand? Yes, it's my favorite American Cool lady, Susan DiPlacido, who is the featured author at Ashley Lister's "Between the Lines." You can find out more about Susan's fascination with Vegas, her tricks of the trade (regarding writing, not gambling, although we'd love to hear those secrets, too), and how to test run your next novel in a short story. You'll think you've hit the jackpot with this down-to-earth discussion of the author's craft.

So come on, jump into bed with us. There's always room for more!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sexy Side of Cinnamon

Our Spicy Sunday series continues with a stop at Gina Marie's for a taste of cinnamon. But be prepared to leave your preconceptions at the door. Actually, there is no door, just a rocky beach with waves crashing, an imminent storm gathering in the clouds, a beautiful shipwrecked sailor, the promise of transformation. And a whole new way to look at cinnamon. Cinnamon was one of the few spices my mother kept in our whitebread Catholic cupboard--but Gina Marie shows us how very sexy this spice can be if you just say "yes."

Swim on over for some arousing prose, mouth-and-eye watering indulgences, and a fascinating discussion of aphrodisiacs. If you dare!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Waxing Eloquent at Black Heart Magazine!

I confessed over at Alison Tyler's blog (read Alison's fabulous story, then check out the comments section) today that I feel a professional obligation to approach my stories from the "inside" whenever possible. I'd been thinking of writing a story about intimate waxing for a while, and a few weeks ago I finally got the nerve to make an appointment at my local salon. Not only did I get a story out of it, I also wrote an essay on the topic called "Waxing Eloquent" which went live today over at the smart and sexy Black Heart Magazine. Editor Laura Roberts included a very--yes, very--interesting Youtube video of a waxing session. Having been there on the table, let's just say I can relate.

Speaking of fetishes, you'll note that today's fetish Friday at Alison's has to do with blindfolds. Since a blindfold sparked my very first erotic story ever to be published, I couldn't help but submit a snippet for Alison's celebration of amaurophilia--did you know the desire to have sex in total darkness has a name? I chose my favorite scene. I just love the picture Alison chose to accompany it!

A happy sexy Friday to you all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

X Goes Audio!

I'm very excited to announce that the most sensually luxurious erotica anthology you can get your hot little hands on, X: The Erotic Treasury, is now available as an audiobook. For the aurally inclined--and I include myself in that persuasion--this means you can just lie back and enjoy steamy stories by erotica writers such as Rachel Kramer Bussel, Susan DiPlacido, Shanna Germain, P.S. Haven, Bill Noble and yours truly, slithering softly into your ear. Best of all you'll have both hands free to do, you know, whatever! Can you think of a better way to spend a sultry summer afternoon?

You can hear some excerpts at Susie's Blog. An advance reviewer told me my story "Yes," was read by a man with a nice, deep voice. Can't wait to hear him murmur those naughty commands for myself....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Will Celebrity Octogenarian Erotica Open the Door?

My sister sent me a link to a New York Times article on Gloria Vanderbilt (age 85) and her new novel, Obsession: An Erotic Tale published by Harper Collins.

The NYT article is full of amusing quotes. For example, Vanderbilt's son is CNN newscaster Anderson Cooper (I didn't know!) who says: “The six most surprising words a mother can say to her son are: ‘Honey, I’m writing an erotic novel.’ But actually she’s pretty unique, and there’s not much she does that’s surprising anymore. At 85, whatever she wants to write is fine with me.”

(Actually my sons would not be surprised at all, but they're probably better for it.)

The description of Obsession makes it sound very much like another classic erotic tale that begins, and ends with "O." There's an orgy mansion, plenty of BDSM paraphernalia, a cache of raunchy letters discovered in a "Frank Lloyd Wright-like architect's" personal effects after his death. Oh and some interesting activities involving "mint, cayenne pepper, and a fresh garden carrot."

Sounds like one of our blog tours.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. Vanderbilt is a cultural icon and so does that make it "okay" for a major publishing house to sully its list with her dirty book where others are soundly spurned? Does the resemblance to The Story of O elevate this work to an acceptably classic level perhaps even as it reaffirms the cliche of what literary erotica is--gotta have whips and an orgy mansion where an elite can enjoy the pleasures ordinary folk are not allowed? Fresh from the humiliations of my own efforts to promote erotica, I can only wonder at the industry's willingness to give Vanderbilt full literary and publicity honors. On the other hand, does the publication of such a book open the door to other writers who "dare" to tackle eroticism and "activities of a sort that readers of The New York Times are usually shielded from"? Or do we have to be octogenarian celebrities, freakish and therefore safe, both in terms of sexuality and profit (it currently stands at #461 on Amazon)?

Sadly, I suspect the latter is the case.

Anyway, I haven't totally processed this and so my blog post is somewhat half-baked, more of a question to anyone stopping by about how they feel about this and the issues not so explicitly named: that mainstream publishing uses sex to titillate but rarely delivers, for example. I may read Vanderbilt's novel, if it makes it to my library, which is an interesting question in itself. I'm sure I'll write more on these topics later, but to end on a high note: while I always cast a jaundiced eye toward the publishing industry, I really admire Gloria Vanderbilt for writing this book. Emerald had an interesting post by a less famous octogenarian about her erotic life which moved me deeply. We need more of this and if the first knock on the door comes wrapped up as a celebrity freak show, but opens the way for others, it may be a price worth paying!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Isabel Kerr and Beauty Under the Skin

Talk about synchronicity, the topic of beauty seems much on erotica writers' minds these past few days. Perhaps it's the baring of flesh that comes with summer?

In any case, Alison Tyler, had some interesting things to say about beauty, nakedness and writing and mentioned a wonderful story by Isabel Kerr, called "Love at First Sight," about a man's discovery of what true beauty can do. I'm always so impressed when a writer crosses genders and does it well. Isabel does it, well, beautifully.

Another tale to satisfy body, mind and spirit!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spicy Secrets for a Busy Porn Day

It's Spicy Sunday and this week Sommer Marsden is celebrating what to my mind is the sexiest spice--cumin. Cumin smells like sweaty men to me and sweaty men are my very favorite flavor. So slide on over to Sommer's to learn the secrets of her favorite "Busy Porn Day" dinner. Scoops of spices, unctuous oils, sensual massages, flaming corn, the most hedonist way to drink wine and many more sensual pleasures await.

Are you comin'?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Synchronicity: "Ten Minutes in the Eighties"


I first read about this magical confluence of apparent happenstance in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, one of my favorite “creative process” books of all time (her other books don’t work as well for me, but this AW was a true gem for finding my creative confidence when I first started writing more than a decade ago). For Cameron, “synchronicity” is another word for answered prayers, a hint that the universe might be intelligent and responsive, especially to those who dare to create—but also, as we all know from Blogger, with spam words.

Anyway, I ran into a lovely bit of synchronicity the other day, just around the time I was contemplating the female beauty trap and the toll it takes on young women and also appreciating the eloquent comments my blog buddies had left on the topic. I happened to be glancing through my erotica collection and I pulled out The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 4, the first volume of that anthology in which my work appeared. I was scanning the contents and noticed a story by Alison Tyler that I hadn’t yet read: “Ten Minutes in the Eighties.”

Not only is this story a masterpiece in its own right—perfect prose, wickedly funny and very hot—but it expresses so much of what I was talking about in a poignant and powerful fictional package. When I finished the story, my jaw was hanging open. It captured so much about the female experience in our culture. The setting is LA, the fantasy factory of the nation, and just the thing for elevating one woman’s experience to the universal.

Here’s the brilliant first line that immediately enthralled me:

“For 10 minutes in the ’80s, I was beautiful.”

And, believe me, it just gets better from there. So go read Alison’s story in the Good Vibrations Archives. It’s pure gold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday is for a Fezziwig Fetish!

Hey, it's a good day! Not only is Herr Doktor coming home from yet another business trip today, but I discovered a nice surprise when I popped over to Alison Tyler's blog for my Friday morning fetish fix.

I'm the fetish fix! With an excerpt from my story, "Fezziwig's Balls," which was published in Naughty or Nice: Christmas Erotica Stories, edited by Alison. This anthology also has one of my all-time favorite sexy Christmas stories, "The Queen of Christmas," by Andrea Dale, as perfect a blend of sex and humor as rum-spiked eggnog.

What an F-ing good time all around!

And yes, corsets are a very sexy addition to the play wardrobe. I might just have to get mine out this weekend to celebrate!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dangerous Compliments and other Legacies of Childhood

My new scanning skills have definitely changed the focus of my blogging over the past weeks. I was looking back through old photos again, this time to put together the story of my wedding kimono, when I came upon a small album of my favorite pictures from my childhood. There are only about a dozen or so that I bothered to take with me from home. I’m particular about pictures, and there are phases of my life I’d rather not have memorialized in visual form. But these photos made the cut, times I do want to remember.

The first photo above with my father was taken when I was starting the second grade at age 6, and yes, I was a pale blonde at the time, rather like my own youngest (my older son is inexplicably swarthy, and no, I didn’t have a fling with the mailman, although he was a very nice guy).

This next photo was taken in the summer of 1971, two and a half years later, when I was nine. You’ll note that my expression has lost its childish innocence—I’m self-conscious, even at that tender age. I’m also wearing a bit of make-up and dressed “sexy” in my oldest sister’s flapper costume that she wore for a dance recital, my costume for a float my father and I designed for a Humane Society dog show. This picture always takes me by surprise. “Oh, I was sort of cute back then,” says a little voice in my head and then I pause, an old sadness bubbling up in my chest, mixed with a pang of fear.

That’s because it feels dangerous to say such things about myself, even the little girl that I was. It’s stuck-up. Prideful. Bragging. I know I’ll be punished for my sin in some way, if not immediately then somewhere down the line, because “having a big head” and thinking highly of yourself is the worst thing that can happen to a child. It was certainly dangerous for my parents to “get above themselves,” an aspect of Depression-era North American culture that Alice Munro portrays well in her fiction. Compliments and "big heads" may indeed have been dangerous for my parents' generation.

And then there’s the fact that any cuteness of feature in me was totally cancelled out by my body, which you may observe from the next photo was…well, not blubberously fat, but not at all thin. And even back then, thin was in.

Why do I see my generous thighs first instead of that miraculous Eiffel Tower my father built to my design, gluing tiny pieces of balsa wood together for hours in the basement? Why do I second-guess my looks instead of admiring the “Belle of France” lettering in crepe paper, a trick I learned from a library book on creating your own float? Why does the solid flesh trump the creative deed every time? Eventually I do see these things and most importantly of all my father’s love in helping me create this stage for a can-can girl and her poodle (named, I'm embarrassed to admit, “Boofy” of all things, AKC name “Mimi’s Bouffant”).

But I’m still a little sad because I know that little girl will spend the rest of her life doubting and wondering—am I worthy? Was I pretty? Or do I just pathetically wish I were?

I just finished an interesting book called The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, which argues that men pay a deadly price for gender inequality (fascinating for a mother of sons). But what I want to quote here is the author’s contention that women enter a beauty pageant every day of their lives. As a corporate workshop facilitator, Farrell would put executives through a roleplay where they would be selected for a job promotion based on their looks. Apparently this exercise worked wonders in helping men feel what it was like to live in a woman’s body, because it wasn’t just about sex, it was about self-worth. Those who didn’t make the finals felt rejected, lesser than. Those who did wondered if they were being appreciated for the wrong reasons.

And that’s exactly what it’s like to be a woman.

My situation was complicated by the fact that my much older sisters were willowy thin and lovely. The oldest was a total guy magnet, with suitors in constant attendance. My middle sister was not asmuch the car-stopper, but she had a flair for the dramatic, and I have many memories of her holding court with tables of guys, charming and teasing them. In my novel, Amorous Woman, my protagonist Lydia describes her widowed mother and the power she held over the men who came to pick her up for dates, power that Lydia longed to claim for herself one day. I realize now that I was thinking of my older sisters as I wrote that, a nine-year-old watching from a distance the power a pretty woman could have. But I wasn’t the pretty one. I got the good grades. I performed. But that was never enough.

My parents were loving people, but they didn’t believe in compliments. Compliments on my looks would have to come from strangers. I remember the first time this happened. I was ten and my parents and I had just moved to Albany, New York—my sisters were in college in other states at the time. We were eating out at a fancy restaurant and the waiter, a man from the Middle East, took it upon himself to pay me lavish attention. He called me a young beauty, a princess. Every time he came to pour water, he poured compliments as well. Frankly, it made me shy and uncomfortable. And it further helped shape my attitude toward such treatment when my father commented under his breath, “Guess he’s looking for a big tip.”

Which he probably was. But that link between compliments in exchange for something that put me at a disadvantage continued in adolescence. Simply put, boys said you were pretty when they wanted sex—whether it was true or not had no bearing--and so such things were not to be trusted.

I’m not sure if my self-esteem would be stronger if my parents had been more forthcoming with compliments. I may not have trusted them either and consumer capitalism is certainly invested in making all of its citizens feel lesser than so they will buy, buy, buy. But I do try to compliment my kids, sincerely, whenever I can. I tell them they are handsome (they are) and smart and hard-working.

The other day after my son presented his oral history project and we were safely in the car, he said, “So, are you going to tell me how great I did?” He rolled his eyes a bit, but I could tell he liked it anyway.

Okay, I’m predictable, but at least I don’t have to worry he’ll get a big head, because was born with a large skull anyway!

So, how to conclude these illustrated, painful yet prideful ramblings? Compliment your kids, sincerely, whenever you can. It can’t hurt—while the opposite surely can. That I believe.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Self-Abuse is Good for You!

I was reading a new book promotion book--my next column of Shameless Self-Promotion is due soon and I'm getting back in the mood--and they suggested Googling yourself now and then. As if I need prompting to do that, but it had been a while, and my fingers were tingly so I went ahead and "did it."

It's a nasty little habit, but the trouble is, I feel like a lab rat who gets her reward now and then, often enough to keep at it even when the lever yields nothing. Fortunately, today I got another goodie, an unsolicited (and nice) review of Amorous Woman on Black Heart Magazine. Love that viral marketing! And love it when a reader who comes at me with a jaundiced eye gets won over by my stor(ey).

Recently I also got a nice note from a guy stationed in Iraq who enjoyed my novel. That got me thinking I'd like to do my part for our service people, especially those interested in things Japanese, by giving away a few copies of Amorous Woman. If anyone has any ideas on how to get in touch with interested parties in uniform, do let me know. I'm researching options now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Magic of Gettysburg

Most of you know our summer vacation plans this year include a trip to Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania, for a family reunion on my mother’s side, which will involve several thousand aunts and uncles and cousins. The highlight of the trip, however, will be an erotica writers’ soiree on August 9 at a delicious Italian restaurant recommended by Craig Sorensen. Heidi Champa, Jeremy Edwards, Emerald and Erobintica are planning to attend, and a few others mentioned they might be able to make it (don’t want to shout out until plans are firmer). The more the merrier, so please consider joining us for a living, breathing erotica anthology!

Being the nerdy types that we are, Herr Doktor and I decided to devote a few evenings to a screening of the movie Gettysburg to help our kids get more out of the upcoming trip. Both of them are really enjoying the soft history lesson, and indeed the movie is very well done, if almost as long as the Battle of Gettysburg itself. The acting is first-rate and I was especially drawn to Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of the professor-soldier Colonel Joshua Chamberlain who held Little Round Top with his brilliant strategy (and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for it). Seldom is a “hero” played with such a low-key, down to earth subtlety in Hollywood. It makes me want to read more about the historical figure…not that I don’t have a million books on my to-read list already.

Anyway, after Gettysburg, we’ll be heading south for more family visits, and I was reminded again that if we lived in the 19th century, our family would indeed be divided, sister against sister, cousin against cousin. My sister married a Virginian, I an Illinois native. Her husband’s great, great, great…[insert a few more greats]…grandfather was a 19 year old private in the Confederate Army, one of the soldiers who followed Pickett in the deadly charge across the open field on the third day of the battle of Gettysburg—although apparently, he survived to sire descendents. Herr Doktor’s kin who were in America at the time were affluent lawyers and judges who could pay others to fight for them, but their loyalties lay with the Union.

My brother-in-law is a Civil War buff and knows just where on the battlefield his forefather waited for the charge to begin. I’ve yet to have his guided tour at the historic park where my mother played as a child, but perhaps some day? I do have a wonderful photo he had taken at a Civil War reenactment of himself in a Confederate sergeant’s uniform, holding his baby son on his knee. He has a beard, so the effect was uncanny—exactly as if he had gone back in time to be his own forebearer. A year later, when my first-born was about the same age, we happened to be in Gettysburg, and I made it my project to have a twin photo taken of the Land-of-Lincoln side of the family. It was hard to get the same authentic look from the tourist trap photographers, but we finally found the best photographer in town (thanks to a family recommendation) and they were very willing to help us get an “authentic” look.

That’s what you see here, although it really doesn’t have the same haunting magic as my brother-in-law’s photo. (Wish I could show you that one—maybe in Gettysburg?) But it’s not a bad counterpart. Unlike most tourist men, who choose to pose as a general, we also went with the more realistic rank of sergeant. And in both photos, the bald one-year-old baby boys look equally annoyed, even on the verge of tears, as if they disapprove of their daddies going off to war.

I was also a big Civil War buff as a child, due in great part to the fact I visited my grandmother in Gettysburg so often. The wax museum there was one of my favorite places in the world. I always felt as if I was literally stepping back in time to spy on these momentous events, and I remember one particular Friday evening when we stopped at the museum after dinner with Grandma (usually I had to wait until Saturday). No one else was there, just my parents and I wandering through the dark corridors in the company of John Brown, Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant. I can still conjure that hushed, wondrous feeling of time travel. Indeed, I’m looking forward to taking my children there in August, and to getting a new photo taken of the whole family at a tourist trap photographers. This time, though, we may be more playful, and promote Herr Doktor to general!

Other Spices, Other Lives

On the third stop of our Spicy Sunday summer blog party, hostess extraordinaire Neve Black has cooked up a luscious Spanish feast featuring fresh cilantro. Clothing is optional (or at least minimal) and of course there's music and dancing and plenty of Tecate beer with lime to go with your fish tacos! The topic of conversation is one very dear to my heart and imagination--the power of food to transport you in time and space. Neve knows how to throw a party, so stop by for lots of time-travelling fun. And I guarantee you I'm having tacos for lunch today!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alison Tyler!

Happy Birthday, Alison! It’s hard to think of the right gift to give a woman who has everything, or will once all your smut-writing well-wishers in this world-wide blog birthday have presented their imaginative offerings. But I did want to express my appreciation for all you do for erotica and erotica authors--as a fabulously hot writer, a courteous editor and a friggin' fun blogger--with a little food, a little sex and a little sampling of things Japanese.

Although I like to write a dirty tale now and then and certainly hope my work is “effective,” out there in the so-called real world, my favorite way to reduce people to wobbly-kneed, salivating love slaves is with my cookies. In honor of your birthday, I’d like to present you with a whole box of my signature treats—pecan pie cookies, vanilla spoon cookies sandwiched with raspberry jam, three-layered, almond cake Venetians glazed with chocolate, and spicy Dutch almond cookies with marzipan filling. Feel free to eat more than one--it's your birthday!

While you’re sampling the birthday sweets, I’d also like to offer my services in the single area of my life where I show a talent for organization. That is, of course, my impressively neat sex toy draw. Not only is everything tidy and properly folded, but—this may not be immediately obvious--the items are catalogued and arranged in alphabetical order, from anal beads to XXX-rated vintage porn (this isn’t true, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?).

As my special birthday gift, I’d be happy to transform your drawer...

...into mine...
...slipping in a Hello Kitty thong and a few secret Japanese potions (introduced to me by Neve Black), while you are otherwise occupied with the next adventure….
Finally, I believe birthdays are a time for a special trip away from the ordinary, so I’m enclosing two plane tickets to Japan, where you and Sam can spend the weekend at my favorite hot spring inn, called Chojukan, in the mountains of Gunma prefecture. The inn’s nineteenth-century grand bath allows men and women to soak together in the old custom, a rarity in Japan today. After midnight, adventurous couples have been known to do other things, too!

In between luxurious baths, you’ll be served luxurious feasts like the one pictured above--sure to satisfy any hankering for sushi. Don’t forget to save room for a few cookies for dessert.

Otanjobi omedeto! (bowing my wishes for a very Happy Birthday to you)!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Proud Momma

My oldest graduates tomorrow. It's a surprisingly physical experience. I'm bursting with pride. And I want to cry, too. I wish I could share more about my first baby with you, but that's not what this blog is about. But since it is about art in my life, I'll pass on some of his work this year. Suffice to say, I'm one proud momma!

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Truth About Writing--and It's All True!

I keep forgetting that much of the world regards writing as a glamorous profession. When I mention I'm a writer--something I've only felt comfortable doing in the past few years with the publication of my novel--eyes light up with interest. More often than not, a confession soon follows about a book my new acquaintance has been thinking of writing for a long time. Usually something along the lines of The Da Vinci Code but with a new twist of some sort, but to be fair, the ideas run the gamut from thriller to Jane Austen literary (and they also usually sound like pretty good stories!). "Wonderful," I say. "Do it. You know, writing really changed my life. It made me see the world in a whole new way. So enriching!"

It's all true, but I don't have the heart to tell them that's only a small part of it. However, the multi-talented veteran erotica writer M. Christian does have the courage to spell it out for us. And what he says is so very true indeed. Be sure to read through to the end, fellow writers. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot Chili Powder at Erobintica's!

Yesterday was a quiet day for me, but not today! Even before I had my coffee, I was dancing to hot music, wiggling around on a very interesting chair, and enjoying the super spicy cuisine of Erobintica (including dessert--yum!) She is throwing one amazing party with treats for the eye, ear, tongue, and a few other sensitive parts of your body as well. Don't miss it--and be prepared to get very hot.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Naughty French Secrets--Join the Club!

So, I'd mentioned earlier how much I was enjoying a book called Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City, and I've been meaning to share a few tidbits from its many titillating sidebars and insider tips. Actually this would be a good reference if you're wanting to put a French lover in a story! Did you know that for French men, sex ala derriere is considered part of the usual offering, no negotiation or discussion necessary? I'd heard this from (shocked) friends the summer I spent in Avignon, but since it's in an actual book, I guess it must be true. (I never got that far, but did have one interesting cultural adventure in a car with a French fireman I keep meaning to write up--provided there's interest, of course).

Anyway, here's an interesting statistic from the book: "According to the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, 5-10% of Americans engage in light SM on at least an occasional basis. And if you've ever been blindfolded, tied up, or spanked by your lover during sex (Donna's note: no fair if said lover does this when s/he's not having sex with you), you can count yourself among them." Ha, and I thought I was irredeemably vanilla! Who knew?

How about these words of wisdom from Catherine Deneuve: "Sex is a big question mark. It is something people will talk about forever." C'est vrai, n'est-ce pas?

And the ever-quotable Mae West: "When choosing between two evils, I always pick the one I haven't tried before." Words to live by indeed.

One of my favorite quotes in the book is by writer Jules Renard: "Don't tell a woman she's pretty; tell her there's no other woman like her, and all roads will open to you."

Presumably even the "back" road, Monsieur?

But seriously, gentleman, I will confirm, if you want to seduce a lady, do not go on and on about how you love women, fat, thin, busty, flat, smart, bubbly--gawd, you just think they're all enchanting. Hold her gaze and tell her she's special. Even if it's not true. And roads will open ;-).