Quite a precious day!

Yes!!! It snowed heavily during the night and it will remain well below freezing for the next 2 days. Yay!!

All I have to do is sit here in my snuggly (very) old house and write!

My backyard at around 7 AM this morning. These 2 snowed-over slabs of concrete in the foreground are covering up the original well, back before the house had running water.

Plus, I am almost done with my stage adaptation of Tell My Bones, my script about the life of the folk artist, Helen LaFrance. I am really, really happy with it, gang. Finally. It is almost finished.  And I am just so happy with it. It’s only the 5th version… But you know, you gotta just keep on going until it clicks.

Well, the Conversations with Nick Cave  that have been going on in Australia and New Zealand this month are almost over.  The reviews have just been so good — and I’m talking mostly about the people posting on Instagram who have been to see the actual shows.

(I know, all you Americans out there are going, “What the fuck are you talking about?? And why do I want to know this??”)

I’m only bringing it up because I sure wish that I could have a conversation with Nick Cave… I’m just sayin’… Oh well. Such is life in Crazyland, Ohio, where nothing happens but snow… But I will settle for that for now!

I am gonna go back to my writing now. Thanks for stopping in on this snowy Sunday in the Hinterlands! I leave you with this bit of awesomeness!!  (God, I love this song! I could listen to it all day. And sometimes I actually do…) Okay! I love you, gang! See ya!!

I’m just sayin’

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I am a believer in the radical Jesus, and that I am also a minister practicing in that vein, even while my divinity education was conservative and traditional.

Since I almost never wear my white collar and black shirt, even people who know me reasonably well forget that I’m a minister.  I love when people suddenly remember that I am one and they say, “Wow, does this mean you can marry me?!”

Yes, if I love you, I can. Hahaha

But, seriously, yes I can marry you, but I’m only registered in the State of Ohio.

But that’s not what I wanted to post here about today. I wanted to talk about how amazing the Christian Healthcare Ministries are. it’s a Christian healthcare cooperative, which means, we don’t believe in health insurance. We follow Christ’s mandate to carry one another’s burdens, and we voluntarily contribute whatever amount of money we want to help pay one another’s medical bills. Even the catastrophic ones.

And it works. Above and beyond paying our monthly contribution, which is always a set amount (which is a FRACTION of what health insurance costs), the amount we end up contributing each month to pay for the medical bills of other members is just kind of staggering.

For instance, I send in an additional check of anywhere between $9 to $13 each month, to help cover a specific person’s hospital bill – a total stranger, whom I will never know and they will never know me. We all do this every month, until everybody’s bills are paid. We also pray for each other – strangers. (And we go to our own doctors, there is never any “network” we have to stay within.)

This is from December. Yes. What we chose to voluntarily contribute to strangers last month. It just astounds me, the power of Christ in people’s lives.

Oh my goodness!

If you wrote to me re: my erotic romance novel, New Orleans Nights, I’ve lost your email! Please send it again!

No one ever, EVER writes to me about this book, so I would really like to read your email.

New Orleans Nights is an eBook reprint of a novel I wrote in 2004 specifically for Walden Books, which was originally titled In the Secret Hours. It had a really pretty cover back then. It was published by Magic Carpet Books in New York, NY.

Due to a contractual SNAFU with Walden Books, though, I wound up having to write the entire novel in 6 weeks, and the novel itself had been sold on a one-paragraph proposal. This means that, apart from that one-paragraph that I dreamed up in about 15 minutes, I had no clue what the novel was going to be about! I thought I had an entire summer to figure it out. But alas, it turned out that I had only 6 weeks…

What a horror story! Not the book – the book is an erotic romance. The horror part had to do with what a nightmare it was to not only dream up an entire novel in 6 weeks, but then write it simultaneous to dreaming it up. And it had to run for 250 pages; 75,000 words.

Well, okay. The book did not sell well. Erotic romance readers didn’t take to it, however, my “regular” erotic fiction readers actually liked it because it was so off-the-wall!

And to be absolutely frank with you – to this day, I have no clue what the heck that book was about! I simply do not remember the plot of it.

So, upon glimpsing an email in my inbox re: New Orleans Nights that instantaneously disappeared, I went over to Amazon and looked it up. Wow, gang! It sounds like a super terrific book!

I was kinda flabbergasted. I honestly do not remember a single solitary word of this novel. However. Here’s what the current publisher has to say!

Evie had two problems. She was about to turn twenty-one and inherit the DuMaret fortune from her mother, which would make her one of the richest and most sought after women in New Orleans; and her father, who wanted to control every aspect of her life as he already did her inheritance – he even had a husband all picked out for her, the son of another wealthy Big Easy family.

She had a third problem when she met Lucas Cain. Cain was drop-dead gorgeous and all her unfocused physical yearnings centered themselves around him. Before she knew it, Evie was giving her heart and her body to Lucas without reservation. But Lucas was a young man with a lifelong mission: he had come to take over her father’s business, her family’s fortune, the very mansion in which they lived and -when he meets her – Evie, as part of the prize.

As their passionate encounters continue, against the sensual seductiveness of the New Orleans’ Nights and the glamorous French Quarter, Evie little guesses the revelations that lie ahead that will shatter her romantic idyll. [I have absolutely NO CLUE what these shattering revelations are! – MJL.]

Full of vivid imagery, enthralling characters and edge-of-the -seat twists and turns, as well as molten-hot interludes, New Orleans’ Nights, is a book that erotic romance readers will enjoy and remember for years to come. [But writers – not so much!! – MJL] With New Orleans’ Nights, Marilyn Jaye Lewis shows, once again, why she is considered to be one of the best erotic writers in the world. Read New Orleans’ Nights and you will find yourself drawn into a sensual world that only award winning erotic novelist Marilyn Jaye Lewis could create.

Gosh, gang! Buy it today! And let me know what the HECK it’s all about!

Yeah, well

Just when I thought I was finally taking my time, working on all my various stuff-in-progress at leisure…

Loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that from April through September of 2018, I was hard at work down at my kitchen table, trying to revise, re-fashion, reform, adapt my (award-winning!!) screenplay  Tell My Bones, about the life of folk painter Helen LaFrance, into a stage play for Sandra Caldwell.

I set it aside, momentarily, because I suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, began writing a novel called Blessed By Light.

I then had to set that aside in order to do extensive revisions to my CLEVELAND TV pilot before going to LA.

Came back from LA, was in the throes of falling in love, went thoroughly and completely insane instead, contemplated the value of attempting suicide, decided I preferred writing & being in love to the prospects of being damned for eternity or whatever would have happened there, and then a couple of days ago, I began yet another undertaking, Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse (sort of an erotic memoir in letter form), wrote the first “Letter,” when suddenly and without warning,  Sandra Face-Timed me and I had not washed my hair in days…. !!!!! (People! Please! Do not Face-Time me without giving me much advance notice so that I can wash my hair!! You truly DO NOT want to see me the way I usually look!!)

Anyway.

She Face-Timed me and said that she wants to do the Helen LaFrance play now, possibly in Florida, before we do The Guide to Being Fabulous, which was supposed to go into staged readings in NYC, like, really right now, but hasn’t.

I hemmed, people, and I hawed. And she said, with a little alarm: “You’ve got it, right? It’s ready, right?”

Oh yeah, yeah. Sure.  I’ve got it right where you want it! Just let me tweak it a bit…

So anyway, that’s where we stand. I must seriously complete the Helen LaFrance adaptation and get it to Sandra, and so I now have about zippo time for writing on the blog!!

So please forgive my sporadic posts at this point in time.  I will endeavor to, you know, just write a whole heck of a bunch of stuff, including the blog posts, and just throw it on out there as I go zipping past!!

Meanwhile, thank you for visiting! I love you guys. I hope things are going really great in your area of the world. I leave you with this! A synopsis of sorts! Come see the play! You won’t want to miss it! (See it before it wins the Pulitzer and ticket prices go through the roof!! I’m just sayin’…)

Painting by Helen LaFrance

Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story

A One-Woman Play with Music in One Act
Approximate running time: 90 minutes

Tell My Bones is the true story of how self-taught folk artist, Helen LaFrance, becomes a beloved painter of the rural South while enduring the hardships of Jim Crow-era Kentucky. 

The paintings of Helen LaFrance now hang in galleries around the world, but it took nearly a century of tragedies and sacrifices for that to happen.

Tell My Bones is the life of the indomitable Helen LaFrance, who tells her quite personal story through the magical world of her beloved folk art. Paintings such as “Bringing in the Cotton,” “Tobacco Harvest,” and “Quilts in the Breeze” come alive on screens that recall bedsheets hanging out to dry on clotheslines in a more rustic world. Her paintings unveil the story of a loving, rural family, surmounting hard times in 20th Century Kentucky. Tell My Bones is an uplifting one-woman drama set to the stirring music of specially arranged African-American Spirituals that celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit.

Descended from runaway slaves, Helen LaFrance is born in 1919, on a farm in Graves County, Kentucky, in a log cabin built by her father. When Helen is 3, her mother teaches her how to paint, using berries and laundry bluing as “paints” and twigs for paint brushes. Needed as helpers on the farm, Helen and her 3 sisters receive only one year of formal schooling, with most of their education coming from their parents, who teach them to read and write from the only book they own – the Bible.

Upon the death of her mother, Helen is sent off the farm to earn her living in the nearby town, first as a live-in maid, then as a factory worker. Fostering other people’s children along the way, her five marriages do not bear children of her own. Some of her foster children bring her great joy, while others bedevil her – robbing her and burning her house to the ground. Throughout the trials of life, Helen pursues the chance to paint at every opportunity. She finally achieves success as an artist at the age of 89, but then suffers a paralyzing stroke. Will she teach herself to paint again? Through her unconquerable faith in God, she does. At age 94, now confined to a wheelchair, she receives Kentucky’s highest honor, the Governor’s Award, for her complete body of work: hundreds of paintings that have now sold all over the world.

Helen LaFrance, late 1990s

Another One from Hell’s Kitchen!

Here’s another song from my Hell’s Kitchen singer-songwriter days. (If you’re viewing this on your phone, you have to turn it sideways to see the music player.)

“Mother with the Gun”  was written in 1984 and was inspired by a headline in the New York Post that I saw while in the laundromat, wherein a young mother had shot her husband and then killed herself – all on their front lawn, while their very young kids watched.

It was a heartbreaking story that the Post of course turned into something lurid and sensationalized.

It’s probably not a stretch for you to see how I could relate to that young woman. Even way back then, my art was everything to me. I never wanted to get tied down to anything.  It terrified me that the world, or those around me, would just consume me, you know? And that there would be no time left for me to just be me and that I’d literally lose my mind.

This demo is actually a 24-track demo, not one I made on the 4-track in my bedroom. And if I remember correctly, no one in this particular band was my boyfriend… The music stuff was getting a lot less fun, though. I mean, when it shifted from the tape decks in our bedrooms, to the huge studios in midtown.

By then, I wasn’t dating musicians anymore; I was dating writers. Which meant a lot less heroin addicts in my world, but a heck of a lot of introverted heavy drinkers (myself included!).

And speaking of 24-track recording studios. When I was 21, I started going to recording engineering school in NYC, to learn my way around a recording studio. You know, back then, recording studios were pretty much a private boys’ club, so if you were a girl and wanted to learn anything about it , you had to go to school.

So I went. And had a 4-point grade average, was at the top of all my classes, and – yes! – was the only girl! And when it came time to get our internships in the big studios in midtown Manhattan, all the guys in my class got actual internships at studios where all the really famous rock & roll groups recorded. I got offered – yes! – a receptionist’s job at one of the midtown studios, where I would be needed to answer phones and make coffee – oh, and always dress sexy. They actually said that to me.

I kid you not.

Naturally, I declined the job, basically told them all to get fucked, and bought a 4-track and just hung out and did my music in my room.

Gosh, I enjoy being a girl!! (I’m so happy that it’s way different for most girls in music nowadays.)

Okay, gang, have a good Sunday, wherever you are and wherever it takes you. Thanks for visiting. I love you. See ya!

I am circumspect!

Yes, that’s me. Circumspect.

I was informed yesterday by the publisher of Dirty Filthy Lovely: Dark Erotica (another collection of my previously published stories, most of them rather exceedingly dark) has been picked up for sale by Walmart eBooks.

ME: “Really?”

PUBLISHER: “Yes.”

ME: “Walmart? You’re sure?”

PUBLISHER: “Why wouldn’t I be sure? It’s my company.”

I find this strange and even inexplicable, since Dirty Filthy Lovely is pretty much a panoply of “questionable consent” stories. How long before some irate shopper flags the book and it is pulled from Walmart’s illustrious virtual shelves? I guess we’ll find out, gang.

Meanwhile…. I managed to slow my car down to a crawl the other day, and I got a cool photo of the swans living in the flooded cornfield down the road from me! (Click on the photo and it gets much easier to see.)

Swans in the cornfield

It makes me so happy to see them, gang. These are the most swans I’ve ever seen in one place before. Never mind that they are out in a cornfield in the middle of endless farmlands.

Okay! Back to work around here. Have a really happy Saturday wherever you are in the world!!! Thanks for visiting. Sending you buckets of love, gang. See ya!

Neptune & Surf is 20 years old!

It makes me so happy to announce that my first book, Neptune & Surf, is officially 20 years old this year!

First published in 1999, it has remained continuously in print now for 20 years, both in English and in French. You can buy used copies of it in all its various print formats all over the Internet. However, the official version that is currently in print, is an eBook, published by Little Brown and Company UK, and available here.

When it was first published in trade paper, it looked like this:

Neptune & Surf, Masquerade Books 1999

And my official author’s photo back then looked like this:

Marilyn Jaye Lewis 1999

The Guardian newspaper in London called Neptune & Surf  “a sensational debut” and selected it as one of their Top Ten Summer Reads for 1999.

The American Book Review  said it was “reminiscent of Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon A Time in America’”.

Neptune & Surf garnered me London’s Erotic Writer of the Year award.

And here is what my first reader reviews said on Amazon.com – where Neptune & Surf ranked in sales at #7 in fiction upon its release!!

5.0 out of 5 stars  Brilliant

I adored this book. Marilyn Jaye Lewis is a first rate erotic writer. I read it more than once, bought copies to give to friends. Her characters are so human, their stories so well developed, and the eroticism is…well, truly erotic. Everyone who appreciates erotic literature should read this book and everything else Lewis writes. She’s the best of the best.

5.0 out of 5 stars This is erotic fiction with believable characters.
No matter what I’m looking for in fiction, I always enjoy it more when I care about the characters. Ms. Lewis drops us “behind the scenes” into the thoughts of tangible characters in intriguing interaction. She’s also got a knack for the occasional sudden twist into a sexual situation – sometimes disturbing, sometimes gratifying.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted but Nice but Not!
My girlfriend got me this. I had no idea what the hell it was, but I was out of regular books, so I read this. I thought it would be all lesbian stuff but it’s *really* good and sexy and I’ve never really read *anything* like this. Totally cool.

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality erotic literature with a deft, sure touch
Quality erotic literature is rare, and well-done examples even more rare; such an undertaking demands a deft, but sure touch. Neptune and Surf holds three novellas, which nicely complement one another: a set of stories that are literate, with well-drawn characters, imaginative plots, and a marvelous sense of atmosphere; which holds, underlying all like a subterranean lava flow, a theme that is frankly, unashamedly, erotic.

Lewis begins our journey with the title story, set in the gritty, ramshackle Coney Island of the 1950s, a squalid, slightly shabby land of dreams that’s lost its glitter long ago. It’s a neighborhood were the residents scratch out a living as best they can, and two lovers, Nat and Rosalie, become one, for a few brief moments of bliss in this sad world, and are moved by the power of life.

The Mercy Cure, takes us into the home of two lesbian ex-nuns, women who have lost their church, but not their belief. Their comfortable relationship is disturbed by the appearance of a former student, one who has kept alive her raging schoolgirl crush on the former Sister Margaret-Phillip – “…a lean and hard looking woman, her black hair cropped short, making her angular features and dark eyes seem that much more severe.” The girl drawn into their midst, yearns for a man’s touch, even as she’s driven to satisfy her obsession with her ex-teacher. She tries to explain her conflict to her lesbian lover: “…to have a guy wanting you that much, to be aiming all his lust right at you, so you can’t ignore it anymore, until you’re wanting it too”. What is revealed is a richly complex relationship of love and hate, punctuated with laughter and tears, a short but telling journey, a fast ride on an emotional roller coaster.

The final story, Gianni’s Girl, once again turns out to be a story of faith — the belief that even in the most forbidding circumstances, one can survive and triumph. Victoria is playing with fire when she gets involved with Paulie, a minor functionary of the mob. It is a world in which women are used, traded and bartered to satisfy male debts of honor. Victoria is forced to perform before these mobsters, made to engage in the most degrading sexual acts, and in the midst of this depravity, she meets Gianni – an unlikely hero, an innocent with boyish charm. Gianni’s notions of love are straightforward; a man who knows nothing of sin and guilt.

Lewis’ work is characterized by hope; sexual instinct fuses with the life force, driving the characters, in an affirmation of life itself. Her message is ultimately positive, speaking to the human spirit…and the human flesh.

A heartfelt thank you to all my readers all over the world who kept this book alive for 20 years…

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis