Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sex, Drugs,and Rock 'n Roll on the Cali-Oregon Border

If you live in SoCal, like me, and have reasons to travel north, like me, you're going to spend some time in airports or driving north.

While airports are always fun (not!), I prefer to drive. You get to visit, or at least pass through, all these wonderful hole-in-the-wall towns. You get to enjoy some amazing skies.

Hey, YOLO (You Only Live Once.) Which is also the name of a small but mighty agricultural county north of Sacramento.

When I passed through Hilt, California (and unless you're stopping to buy liquor, pretty much everybody passes through Hilt), I immediately thought of Sex. Because "hilt" is one of the nouns-turned-verbs currently popular in steamy romance, referring to an act of insertion, not of your standard sword sword. (Work with me here.)

Plus, I'd spent the night in one of the most romantic, luxurious and beautiful B & B's ever (more on that later) where I have to admit, returning with a partner is high on my to-do list.

Speaking of high, despite the lack of THC I was feeling quite happy about the odor and feel of the heavenly lotion the B & B had to offer.

I liked the original, but am planning to try the vanilla/plum, too.

 Which brings us to Drugs, er, Weed.

Weed, California, which I passed through prior to Hilt, is home to almost 3,000 people, and the inspiration for countless varieties of "I ♡ Weed" T-shirts. Weed is a lumber town near Mt. Shasta, and more than than 50 miles from the ocean.

Therefore, seagulls.

Probably if I was high on Drugs this would make more sense.

Southern Oregon, of course, boasts Talent. In between Ashland (Shakespeare Festival, hippies) and Medford (We've got an airport!), Talent rocks on with its population of almost 6,100. Because you can't have great Rock 'n Roll without Talent. (All right, I hear you groaning.)  Talent, Oregon does host recurring art and music festivals.

Not enough rock for you? 

How about The Crystal Room? Located in Mt. Shasta, California, exploring the eight rooms was like exploring a set of caves, one feeding into another, branching back and taking a different turning, all filled with sparkling stones and incredible art.

Raw stones, carved stones, polished stones...

This stone particularly drew me, something Van Gogh-ish about the colors.
Was out of my price range, however.

Yes, this gorgeous crystal is about three feet tall. And the edges are smooth, soapy and inviting to the touch.

Another smooth, colorful, inviting work of art.

There were big sparklies, and little sparklies.
And singing bowls.

Art with a combination of mediums.

Rock petals? Why not?

Feeling overwhelmed? The staff advised me to sit and center on this pyrite stool.

I was invited to touch and hold and fully experience all the stones and art. This piece blew me away.

I might also mention that hanging out with my awesome son and his terrific friends was a contact high in and of itself.

Picture at left taken during a day at the Family Fun Center (arcade, batting cage, mini-golf) where I actually put the bat on the ball for the first time in many years, followed by bowling, followed by dinner out, followed by...

I have so many ideas and so much inspiration for things I want to write!

More to come on my adventures at Mt. Shasta, Crater Lake - and I need your help with my head shots!!

Do you prefer flying, driving, or taking the train?
Got any good road trip adventures?

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank You, All Who Served

In honor of all the men and women who have honorably served our country, many of whom I've been privileged to know or have in the family.

Walter Diehl - my grandfather
Harvey Diehl - my father

from Rail & Wire
Irma Diehl, my grandmother. also served as a chaplain during WWI

Bill Koschin, US Navy my uncle, and
Betty Koschin, US Coast Guard,my mother
You may question some of the wars and conflicts the USA has decided to embroil herself in - I know I do.

Both my bros-in-law served in Vietnam, a war in which we now look back and ask, WTF?

Likewise, Iraq. Likewise, many of us are looking at Afghanistan and wondering if we shouldn't just get the hell out now, because what are we really accomplishing, right this minute?

But the men and women who volunteer for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, don't get to choose where they go or what they are assigned to do. They go where our elected representatives send them, and they deserve our support.

Know who else deserves our support? The women (and men) who are currently being raped and sexually assaulted in the military, who subsequently have their careers ruined if they dare to report their rape, while the RAPISTS are promoted and praised.

We'd all (myself included) rather wave our flags and believe a) it's a small problem, only a few outliers, and b) it's not something we civilians can do anything about. 

Please consider watching this movie - it's now available via DVD and streaming video.

Those who rape like nothing better than "nice" people who would rather not discuss unpleasant subjects like rape. That's a big part of why they get away with it. So talk about it. E-mail your elected representatives. We can do something about it.

This Memorial Day, among the picnics and barbecues and beach trips and Special! Sales! Events!, and whatever else you are doing, please take a few moments to remember and honor the veterans who were willing to put their lives on the line for the U.S.

Did you or your loved ones serve?
Your thoughts?

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Mas-tur-BA-tion! Can Be Fu-un

Birds do it, bees do it... well, maybe not the birds and bees. They don't really have genitals the way humans and chimps do, and they don't have hands.

Not that lack of hands stops some creatures from showing themselves a good time. If you have a male dog, and he has a "lovey" object, be it a stuffed animal, wadded up blanket, your leg, or an actual dog sex toy, you know what I'm talkin' about.

More than 70-80% of women masturbate, and 90% of men masturbate. And the rest lie. (Joycelyn Elders)

So why does the thought or discussion of many sex acts, but especially, masturbation, make people want to get on their high horse and giddyap out of there?

We Can Do It - We Just Can't Talk About It

We feel embarrassed - maybe we were taught it was very, very bad. So we hide behind slang and euphemisms.

For gentlemen, we seem to go hard on the animal metaphors: 
Choking the chicken, cleaning your rifle, corking the bat, cranking the shank, cuffing the carrot, fisting your mister, flogging the log, flute solo, jerkin'the gherkin, manual override, painting the pickle, pocket pool, polishing the banister, polishing the rocket, pounding your flounder, pumping the python, spanking the monkey, teasing the weasel, wonking your cronker, yanking the crank... These are only a few of the terms.

For the ladies, our taste is more for food metaphors:
A night in with the girls, auditioning the finger puppets, checking for squirrels, clam bake for one,  drilling for oil, fanning the fur, fingerpainting, flickin' the bean, muffin buffin', paddling the pink canoe, polishing the pearl, riding the unicycle, rubbin' the nubbin, spearing the bearded clam, squeeze the peach, strumming the banjo, tickling the taco, tossing pink salad... (And yes, there's more.)

I'm Doing It For You, Honey - Masturbation Can Improve Your Partnered Sex Life

Why masturbation can be good for women, from Web MD
Women who masturbate on a regular basis learn what feels good for them, Segraves says. "It helps build sexual confidence," she says. "It helps you guide the partner when you have a partner.”

You can say, for instance: "Please put your hand here," and not be embarrassed, she says.

Women who use a vibrator during masturbation tend to have better sexual functioning with a partner, Herbenick says.

Sex therapists typically recommend masturbation for women who have a difficult time reaching orgasm. It can help them learn about their body and feel less self-conscious.

"We know that women compared to men have a harder time learning to orgasm," Herbenick says. Masturbating can help, and masturbating with a vibrator may help even more, she says. "Using a vibrator, for reasons we don't understand, helps women orgasm." The survey is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Those who used a vibrator, she found, even if it had been a year since the last use, "had better sexual functioning in terms of vaginal lubrication, desire, arousal, and ease of orgasm, and they tended to have less pain or discomfort during intercourse."

Why masturbation can be good for men, from Web MD:
For various reasons, solo sex can be a real boon to sex with a partner. It helps teach men about their own sexual response -- what feels good to them and what doesn't -- so they will be better able to explain to their partners just how they like to be touched. It helps men learn to recognize the "moment of inevitability" just before orgasm and helps teach them how to avoid premature ejaculation. Perhaps most significant, it's a great coping mechanism for any man whose partner is temporarily unavailable for sex -- because of absence or illness -- or has a sex drive that doesn't quite match his own (something sex therapists call a disparity in frequency preference).

There are a small handful of ways that masturbation can be harmful. If we masturbate so often it becomes, basically, our day job - we frequently turn down social invitations so we can stay home "playing one-handed poker," this is a problem. Or if we are partnered, and come to look at soloing as better and preferable to interacting with our partner, rather than a supplementary activity.

An erotic activity that takes a huge amount of partner trust is to masturbate while our partner watches us, and vice versa. It can be hard, pun intended, to add this to our couples' repertoire, but with the right partner, it is SO hot.

While masturbation will not give us any diseases, can't get us pregnant, and won't grow hair on our palms (unless we get our Rogaine and lubricant mixed up), we can, if masturbating to excess, develop a skin irritation, especially if our hands or other objects are not clean. When in doubt, always consult a medical professional.

Speaking of other objects - while spontaneity and using what we find around the house can be exciting, we need to be very careful about what we insert in our various orifices. There are hundreds of sites showing x-rays of weird items people stuck "up there" and had to go to the emergency room to have removed: keys, flashlights (searching for the keys, maybe?), perfume bottles, light bulbs, matchbox cars...

The Objects of My Affection


While some men are perfectly happy with a Kleenex and some hand lotion, maybe an adult flick on the TV or computer, many women, like me, like to use a vibrator. Vibrators come in all shapes and sizes, including some that look like a lipstick or mascara and many that can be recharged with a USB connection. Even a Hello Kitty model which is about the last thing that would ever "do it" for me, but I'm tryin' not to judge...

I live in drought-prone California, so I feel too guilty to enjoy a long, luxurious showers. But if you live in an area where water is abundant, a good handheld shower massager could become your new best friend.

There are a variety of sex toys for men, too, from textured sleeves to artificial vaginas and vibrating rings. And nipple clamps and lubricating lotions and butt plugs and "eggs" for both sexes, if that's something we'd like to play with. Much better than a matchbox car.

We can visit an adult novelty store in person (I love The Pleasure Chest!)  - go solo, with a partner, or with a friend - or, if we feel too shy or are too busy to go in person, buy online.

Self Serve Toys comes highly recommended by a girlfriend. They offer video advice on buying your first sex toy, and can even help you choose eco-friendly products.

Adam&Eve has a wide selection, too. You can even buy sex toys on Amazon, for cryin' out loud. Get your 50 Shades of Grey and your toys at the same time. (Actually, don't get 50 Shades. If you want good erotica, try Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin, Roni Loren, Maya Banks, Roz Lee, Sylvia Day, and Anaïs Nin, instead.)

My friend Chris Lam of What I Run Into pointed me to this pretty pink cartoon, about my own favorite toy, the Magic Wand. *can't help smiling* One of my boyfriends dubbed mine "The Jackhammer," and I chortled out loud to see that this artist uses the same name for it.

Please go to Oh Joy Sex Toy for the rest of this hilarious illustrated product review.
Very NSFW (Not Safe For Work)

We're Not Only the Talent, But The Casting Agency, Screenwriter, and Director.

When we masturbate, we can go for a fast and dirty O, or we can seduce ourselves. Bubble bath, candles, glass of wine and soft music... Because we're worth it.

It's like we're making our own adult flick, with ourselves as the star... only without the cameras. Most women and men like to fantasize when they masturbate. Relive a particularly exciting moment between the sheets (or where ever it was.) Think of somebody who makes you tingle.

George Clooney
Cover of George Clooney
Soooo hot, IMO

Queen Latifah
 Cover of Queen Latifah
So beautiful. If I was gay or bi...

  You like men in uniform? Two (or more) at a time? Role playing?

There is no "wrong" fantasy. Why not try something we wouldn't normally do, and pay attention to how it makes us feel. If we're used to making love quietly, we can make some noise. If we have a partner who likes us noisy (I had one partner who wanted so much dirty talk I felt like I was doing a running commentary on Sport Center), we can try hushing up the sound effects.

We can read something sexy and masturbate, or watch some p0rn (there is, actually, a fair amount produced for the couples or women's market). The beauty of masturbating is that we are in total control.

We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation. (Lily Tomlin)

Life is too short not to love ourselves.

Did you learn anything new here today?
Do you have your own toys?
Got any to recommend?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Devotee Romance - Interview with Ruth Madison

I first met Ruth Madison through the Romantic Friday Writers group, and the romance and sensuality in her short snippets blew me away. Through her, I've learned about a whole new world, that of able-bodied men and women who are romantically drawn to those who have physical disabilities.

In a romance universe that includes interspecies love (human/werewolf), interracial love, and BDSM love, isn't the most important part of the equation the word love?

1) Devoteeism. This sounds like an Eastern religion, with chanting and incense. What is it, and do you have any estimates on how many devotees there are - either in numbers, or as a percent of the population? One in twenty/in a hundred/a thousand...?

It does sound like that! Such a dumb word, but somehow the one that got attached to us. Not that there are any better words that I've heard. The first thing people tend to say when you say "Have you ever heard of devotees?" is "You mean like Krishna devotees?" And no, I don't. I guess the word came about because someone liked the rhyme of "amputee devotee" and it used to be thought that there were only devs of amputees. Now we know that's not true. I've also heard the word "admirer." I don't know, they all make it sound like we're zombies, slavishly obsessed. 

So right, to answer your question, a devotee in this context is a person who is attracted to people with physical disabilities. The distinction of physical disability is important here. Devs are not people who are preying on people with diminished mental facilities who might be unable to understand or consent to a relationship.

There's no telling how many of us there are. People usually start having these feelings as teenagers (though I was a young child when I started experiencing it) and it tends to be a source of guilt, fear, and secrecy. There are very few people who are going to willingly come forward and say that they are a dev. There are also probably many who know that they like books about disabled heroes but they don't know or think about why. I don't think we'll ever know how many there are.

2) Would you consider devoteeism a preference (like I prefer dark-haired men, but will date blonds or redheads), a fetish, a kink, or a perversion? Is there a spectrum, that for some people the erotic need for disability is stronger or weaker than for others? Are there people who are "locked in" to a particular disability - for instance, they would date a man with cerebral palsy, but never a blind man?

I do like to use the hair color example a lot to explain it. It helps non-devs kind of begin to get the idea, but it is a lot more complicated than that. There is an enormous variety in the experience of devness. For some people they are not able to be turned on by anything that does not involve disability. To me, that's a fetish. But a lot of people don't like to use that word. It has the connotation of being something so freaky and inhuman in a way.  Also I know some people think that fetish happens because a person is so promiscuous and wild that normal sex no longer satisfies them. That is not at all true of devs and from other fetishes I've examined, I think that's very rarely the case.

The hair color example falls apart because there is a power dynamic issue that's going on in a relationship between a non-disabled and a disabled person. That has to be acknowledged and worked through. I don't think it's always the case that the person who doesn't have a disability has more power. It really depends on the couple and the situation. But I know there is a concern particularly for women who have disabilities that the power dynamic with a non-disabled man could be very skewed. 
The thing that devs most want you to know is that they are interested in the whole person. Just because they are physically drawn to someone because she is an amputee doesn't mean that they aren't paying attention to the rest of the girl as well. There are a few devs who have some kind of social disorder and are not able to treat human beings with respect, but I am absolutely convinced they are in the minority.

Some people are perfectly satisfied to read books with disabled characters and have no desire to try out dating people with disabilities in real life. Others do try, though it's very difficult because there is a lot of prejudice and hatred against us. I have dated several men with various disabilities, though none turned out to be the right match for me personality-wise and I'm now marrying a non-disabled man. 

Yes, there are some devs who fixate on a particular disability and others who are turned on by many different kinds of physical disabilities. Some like many disabilities but are most attracted to a particular one. It can mutate too. I started out being only attracted to paraplegics and the older I got, the more it grew. I have a friend who particularly likes blind guys and another who particularly likes amputee guys. Both have had successful and honest relationships with men who have those disabilities.

When people first hear about the existence of devs there tends to be a negative gut reaction, but from the devs I have met and communicated with, it seems like we are in a great position to understand disability and to even see it as an advantage. Sometimes people with disabilities will say to me "I don't want to be with someone who can look past my disability, I want someone who enjoys all of me."

3) In (W)hole, Elizabeth has always, even as a young child, had erotic fantasies centered around male disability. She also felt great shame, because she knew/feared if her secret was revealed, her parents and everyone around her would despise her as a pervert. In your research, have you found this is the most common experience? Or do some people fall in love with a person who happens to be disabled, and after that relationship ends, find themselves more drawn to disabled persons?

I would say that people who happen to fall in love with a person with a disability and then date other disabled people are probably not devs. Unless there was some deeply buried reason why they got into the first relationship. It can definitely happen that someone falls in love with a person who has a disability and they realize that it's not a big deal and it's fundamentally a relationship like any other. So then they aren't intimidated or scared of the idea of dating someone else with a disability.

The people I've met who identify as being dev had those feelings of attraction years before they even knew anyone with a disability. (W)hole is very closely related to my own experience, particularly how Elizabeth felt as a child. Her family is not like mine and I never had a relationship like hers with Stewart (I never date anyone without telling them I'm a dev, even the non-disabled guys). But from talking to people, it sounds like the very young age that I experienced it was unusual. Most start noticing it around puberty as their sex drive begins to develop.

There's a lot of theories floating around about what causes devness and where it comes from, but there has never been sufficient research on the subject. It's all just gut reaction and misunderstanding. For example, some believe that as a child I must have had some experience of admiring a person with a disability and it turned into a fetish. But I had no such experience. I had dev feelings before I met anyone who had a disability. I had a very normal and happy childhood and the feelings were with me from such a young age that I really feel like I was born with it.

4) Traditional YA often allows unspeakable violence, but little to no erotic sex. Think Hunger Games. When I read (W)hole, I felt that it had a very YA voice, but that the sensuality would keep it out of the YA section of a bookstore. In what genre would you shelve this, and why?

Oh, so true! This was the biggest challenge in publishing the book. No one wanted to touch it because it was too risque for YA but too tame for adult. It's classified now as Romance, though it's really a Coming of Age tale. This inability to find a genre for it has, I think, held it back. No one quite knows what to make of it. Though, I think it's a fascinating read for people who are curious about other people's deepest, darkest secrets! (Bev: An idea - there's a up-and-coming genre now called New Adult... perhaps it would fit there?)

5) Let’s talk movies and the disabled. I remember how blown away I was by the sex scene between Jon Voight and Jane Fonda in Coming Home. *fans self* Did you see The Sessions? What did you think of it? (I particularly enjoyed the actress in a wheelchair who portrayed disabled people having rather wild and crazy sex lives.)

I have not seen The Sessions yet! I really want to. It's definitely on my list. I've heard such good things. Money is tight these days, so I'm waiting for a free RedBox coupon or for it to come up on Netflix. 

The first movie for me that I found really sexy was Born on the Fourth of July. I was probably way too young to be watching it! I also found Avatar ridiculously sexy. 

I'm happy to hear about the actress you mention. I think it's great that we're starting to see stories of people with disabilities being regular people. Because they are! In fact, I really dislike the "us" and "them" language that I feel kind of forced to use. I wish there were more roles given to actors who actually have the disabilities being portrayed. Too often in movies the experience of the character with the disability is given a really cliche and insulting portrayal. I'm excited to see Teal Sherer build her carer as an actress who uses a wheelchair. I think she brings a great nuance to characters.

6) When people write paranormal romance, nobody asks if they have personally had sex with a vampire or werewolf. When people write murder mysteries, nobody asks how many people they have killed. It’s all presumed to be fantasy and imagination. But when people write erotic romance, like BDSM or menage, for example, they are often asked how closely the material is modeled after their own sex lives. Are you comfortable discussing whether there is a personal experience factor in choosing to write stories with this common thread? Or, could you share what is the weirdest or worst assumption people have expressed to you?

Hahaha, that's true! It's all about fantasy when you write Romance. You're just telling yourself a story that makes you happy and feel good. I'd say that my characters are more comfortable in their own skin than most people who have the same disabilities in real life. 

Realism in certain aspects is very important to me. I want to give realistic portrayals of how sex works with spinal cord injury and not just gloss it over. Because if I do my job right, then I'm showing women that they totally could have a great relationship with a paralyzed guy and there's no need to turn down that person in real life. So I want them to see the real challenges and how they are overcome.

I started writing my stories because I ran out of books in the library that had disabled guys in them. I started creating my own, writing what I wanted to read. Later in life I did start dating men with disabilities and that has allowed me to add some more realistic detail. But the guys in romance novels don't tend to be real guys and they're not supposed to be. What I love in books I wouldn't really want in real life. For example, I like books about bad boys. In real life, I love geeky, kind, gentle men. 
I'm sure people have made some nasty assumptions about me, but none that I've been directly told! I guess people expect me to be more sexual and promiscuous than I actually am.

7) Dev Dreams is a collection of short stories and novellas, which range in heat level from sweet to super-spicy. Who’s your favorite couple in this set, and why will a reader love them?

Tough question! I love all my couples. I guess I have a particular fondness for Ember and James from On Saturday Afternoon. Em is definitely a side of me, trapped and debilitated by her shyness. She has to choose whether to follow her heart or give in to what others want from her and that's a struggle I can relate to.

8) On your website, you have short stories that people can read for free, or donate. I’ve heard of restaurants like that, but not writing models. Do people donate, or just help themselves?

You know, the donation button was something that I thought I'd try, but it hasn't been successful. I like to experiment with different ways of bringing stories to people, so it was worth trying out, but I'm going to take that down. I like to give away the shorter stories so that people have a chance to see what my writing style is like and they will then have an idea if they would like to read my books.

9) What project are you currently working on, and when you expect to release it?

I have so many ideas and it's really hard to prioritize and focus on one until it's done! Currently I'm working on a novella that is a twist on the classic romance plot of a rich man and a young secretary. In mine, the rich man is a quadriplegic. That will be going to my editor and proofreader within the next couple of weeks. I'm so looking forward to sending out an email to my list subscribers when that's ready because I haven't had anything new in a while!

I'm also working on something really different for me, which is a cozy murder mystery with a girl detective who is in a wheelchair. My writers group is helping me to polish that one.

Then there's the story of Dylan Sinclair that I think people are really going to like. It's about a young man who is paraplegic and dreams of a career in music. He has the talent, but not the look. So he convinces his brother to impersonate him and the scheme works a little too well. I'm so excited about this story, but I'm having trouble moving forward with it because I want to make it perfect!

10) What question has no one ever asked you (and what is your answer)?

Ooo, another tough one. I'm such an open book and I always encourage people to ask me anything they want. Yeah, I really can't think of anything! Okay, readers, it's up to you to pose a question for Ruth in the comments.

There isn’t enough fiction out there with characters who have disabilities.  Ruth Madison aims to fix that. After years of combing through the dusty back shelves of libraries looking for her elusive, imperfect hero, she started writing her own.

Ruth’s romantic tales are full of wounded heroes: men physically challenged by life, but not defeated.  These men overcome the difficulties of amputation, paralysis, or cerebral palsy to find acceptance, happiness, and heroines who love them exactly as  they are.

Facebook: RuthMadisonDev
Twitter: RuthMadison82

Got a favorite Ruth Madison book?
Questions? Comments?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sex and the Differently-Abled

Many people, if they think about having sex with a disabled person at all, hold some preconceived notions, like it would only be a pity f*ck, or perhaps, somebody would have to be paid to do it.

 Reality? Just like non-disabled people, some disabled people do pay for sex. Others are celibate, others have married sex (which ranges from little to much in frequency), and others are all but swinging from the rafters, as humorously portrayed by the gorgeous Jennifer Kumiyama in the 2012 movie The Sessions. (Actually, since sex swings are "a thing," perhaps some are literally swinging from the rafters. Just like some non-disabled people.)

Fetish Fantasy Yoga Sex Swing via Adam & Eve
I must be a chicken, because when I look at this, it
doesn't scream "sexy" to me, it screams uncomfortable.

The Sessions, which I loved, starred Helen Hunt, John Hawkes, and William H. Macy, and garnered dozens of award nominations.
Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined--at age 38--to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.

People fall in love

Regardless of age, of the color of their skin, and whether or not they have working legs, or eyeballs, people fall in love, and not always "with their own kind."

The first time I became aware of this was when I was very young, watching the movie Coming Home.  Jane Fonda portrays a woman with a husband serving in Vietnam, who falls in love with a disabled combat veteran while her husband is overseas.

The tenderness, the attraction, and later, the lovemaking between these two was smokin' hot.

Likewise in Dee J. Adams' Dangerously Close; she's paired a newly blinded heroine with a rock star hero, a man who's used to people judging him at first glance.
He sat next to her and Ashley imagined the serious expression on his face. “No,” he said. His warm palm stroked her jaw as his thumb grazed her cheek. His voice had that husky quality again and her insides started a slow melt. “It’s my way of making sure you’re okay the rest of tonight. I want you close to me.” 
Ashley’s breath hitched. The contact, the words and the way he said them were electric. Maybe she was too wigged out from tonight. Maybe all of it was in her head, but it didn’t change the way her body felt. A definite hunger slowly built from her center and fanned out to her fingers and toes. She didn’t move. She couldn’t. She sat there frozen, waiting for more of his touch, more of his heat.

Hot, hot, hot - and why not? Why should romance novels and movies only portray 25-35 year old superfit whole bodied men with amazing pecs, and 18-30 year old superfit whole-bodied women with perky breasts and both a law degree and a PhD in biochemistry?

Not that I don't enjoy those books, too, but IMO, it's more interesting when a character is imperfectly shaped or has a physical challenge as well as an emotional/spiritual one. One of the things I love about Mercedes Lackey's fantasy fairy tale novels is it's not unusual for her to feature heroines or heroes who are damn near blind without their glasses. (Like me!)

When a fat girl has a hot boyfriend - and yes, it happens, frequently - he may face social pressure from people telling him "you can do better," as if the only standard of beauty (and worth) for a woman is being thin. There's a common expectation that if you are already married and your partner becomes ill or disabled, well, of course you would stick by him/her. But if a man or woman meets and marries someone who is already disabled, or perhaps ill with HIV or MS or bipolar disorder... Society tends to question, "Why? Is there something wrong with you?"

It's almost as if the person has become that condition or disease - the wheelchair, the illness, the deafness - and that's all many people see.

In some cases, it's looking past the physical attributes, disability or disorder.

I prefer men who are taller than me, and men with hairy chests (even if that's not currently "in" among romance male cover models), but I've dated men shorter than me, and bald-chested men, and sometimes had long relationships with someone who was "not my (physical) type," because I enjoyed so much more about him. For me, and for others who are attracted to A but not dead-set against B, it can be a case of looking past initial physical attributes and connecting with the person, perhaps even coming to prize those attributes over time.

Others are initially attracted to others because of those physical attributes.

Tomorrow I'll be extensively interviewing author Ruth Madison, who introduced me to the world of devotees - people who are sexually attracted to partners with physical disabilities.

Stay tuned!

Your thoughts?
Got any book recommendations that feature
disabled or otherwise "different" heroes or heroines?
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