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Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

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Red Hot & Holy — Sera Beak ‘s Heretic’s Love Story

This spiritual memoir, Red Hot & Holy by Sera Beak, is a hot mess in itself: wildly emotional, unsparingly personal, and written in a style that the author mentions as “spiritual street slang (‘gangsta goddess’).”

It’s about the soul as the meeting place of human body and ethereal spirit, the part of us that connects to God. I’d always thought of soul and spirit as pretty much the same thing. I like this three-part view of a human much better.

I also got from the book something helpful to me in a more day-to-day way: A reminder that expressing the passion of one’s soul does not require dancing on table tops.

It’s easy to get the idea that passion comes in only a few styles, all of them flamboyant.


This memoir, while being flamboyant itself, makes a point of saying: soul is what’s real and complete and essential in each of us.

So if my soul or yours is more stylistically like Obama than a flamenco dancer, it’s not necessarily a case of inhibition or shortage of passion, but of individual style of expression, which does not rule out table-top flamenco dancing when the mood strikes.

And it works both ways. “I self-consciously raised my hand in my Buddhist studies class.” Beak writes, “and, with a shaky voice, said that while I respected everything I was learning, “enlightenment” sounded (gulp) kind of boring to me.”

I found the reminder that one way is no better than another useful even as I was finishing reading the book at my desk in my office. When I saw movement in my doorway and looked up from my computer, a tall lanky woman leaped across the open space, did a couple of dance steps. “Feeling inspired?” said Kat J. Hall who works upstairs in the building doing marvelous facials at her Rosehips Skincare. She declared it “Miller time” and said she was going to sit outside, drink a beer, and watch the sunset.

I wished her well in that pursuit, and turned back to my computer screen, happily free of any thoughts of myself as a party-pooper.

In the book, Sera Beak asks herself what her soul wants to express. She concludes: love for the divine. And she wants her spiritual devotion intense, with “heat, movement, aliveness, wildness, and okay, yes, sexiness.”

I’m definitely in favor of all that, though way less forthcoming in writing about my personal experience (though quite explicit in my novels, particularly Cobalt Blue.)

So I asked myself what exactly is it that my soul wants to express. (Sometimes I think it’s expressing itself in spite of me, or maybe it’s that I’m not entirely conscious of what I’m expressing. It had to be pointed out to me that the meeting of sex and spirituality is a theme in all of my novels.)

Again I ask myself: exactly what does my soul want to express? I think it’s that we are more than our human limitations; I write about the kinds of experience that hint at that truth, sexual experience being one of those.

That’s as close as I can come to the answer at the moment. What does your soul want to express? And in what style and medium? (And I mean to ask my upstairs neighbor Kat the same question. I think her answer is going to be pretty interesting.)

“The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the aspect of humanity that connects with God.” From

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  • October 12, 2015 at 10:32 pm Reply

    I think passion can be a very quiet experience, like the devotion required to create a work of art.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 12, 2015 at 11:59 pm Reply

      I so agree, Sally. And a temperament can be both quiet and passionate.

  • October 12, 2015 at 11:30 pm Reply

    I understand “flamenco” actually means “flamingo”. I don’t think very much about what I or my soul or spirit want to express – I pretty much let myself express/say/show whatever’s coming up for me in close personal relationships, that won’t get me in deep trouble. My life’s worked better since I finally evolved to be that way. And I’ll never be a table-top dancer. Dr Bob

    • Peggy Payne
      October 13, 2015 at 12:01 am Reply

      I think your medium is your message, Dr Bob, which works well for anyone who is clear on their message.

  • October 13, 2015 at 12:25 am Reply

    I think my soul wants to express joy; through creativity with flowers, through sex with love and through service to others to help them find their joy.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 13, 2015 at 8:39 pm Reply

      Wonderful soul, kenju!

  • Bob Braxton
    October 15, 2015 at 12:57 pm Reply

    to express: playfulness
    medium: a kind of “poetry” (micro-) basic pattern 3 lines each with three syllables (which may vary – 2 per line, even 1 per line, also (favorite) 4 per line – the most that I recall in six years of writing – 11 per line).

    • Peggy Payne
      October 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm Reply

      A worthy message, Bob. You’ve maybe seen the quote often (wrongly)attributed to Einstein: “Play is the highest form of research.”

  • October 16, 2015 at 5:23 pm Reply

    I love what you wrote Peggy “. . . expressing the passion of one’s soul does not require dancing on table tops.” Certainly, as a “gansta goddess” myself, dancing – though not necessarily on tabletops, as a bar in much more stable – is definitely one of my modes of soul expression. Similarly to sex, which is very much a union with God in my experience — I prefer to dance in private. With eyes closed, and with no eyes on me, I can completely let go and Let God.

    Letting go into the rhythm of the “dance,” be it solo or with my divine male lover, is certainly a pathway for my soul to express itself through my physical body. Another pathway my soul finds for its expression, is via joyful laughter. And your blog post had me doing just that!

    Thanks for giving my soul something to express itself with Peggy. You might just hear me downstairs in your office, while I howl with laughter upstairs in mine!

    • Peggy Payne
      October 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm Reply

      I’m so glad you like this, Kat. Lovely response. And I do most of my dancing in front of the TV.

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