Tag Archives: writing

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…

I’m so sorry, gang!

While creating a new permanent section to the blog last night, called From the Vault, I inadvertently sent a bunch of unsolicited porn into everybody’s inboxes late last night!

I’m so sorry about this, gang. It was not intended. I thought I was uploading them as updates to the section, and not sending them out as individual posts.

Jesus. So sorry.

And on that inauspicious note… there’s a new permanent section to the blog now, called From the Vault, featuring older stories that were popular but that I’m not going to be republishing anywhere.

I’ve moved “Necessary to her Good” to that section, too, since that wound up being a really popular story on the blog last week.

And, yes, the Smashwords sale is now over. Thanks for making that frenzy of free downloads the busiest bunch of traffic to my Smashwords pages ever.  Normally, most of my sales come through Kindle on Amazon, but Smashwords is a really cool company, folks, so thanks for checking it out.

Of course, this also puts me in a quandary, since I don’t write erotica anymore and, obviously, since I’m giving away tons of old stories for free now, I haven’t written it in years. Blessed by Light, one of my new novels, has a lot of erotic elements to it, but it is definitely not the same kind of writing. And yet the old stuff is clearly what a heck of a lot of people want. So I’m just not really sure, gang, what – if anything – I’m gonna do about that.

My mind is simply in other realms now. Not that those realms aren’t erotic, but they also contain larger questions for me – spiritual things I’m trying to learn on this last half of my journey through physical life. I need to write about that kind of stuff now.

I guess it just gives me something else to ponder in that big vat of stuff I keep in my brain that I constantly ponder upon!

All righty. Sorry, again, everyone, for that onslaught to your inboxes during the night.

As I said in my post yesterday, I’ve got a lot of stuff I gotta get crackin’ on, now that January has arrived, so after right now, I’ll be returning to my blog-posting schedule of once or twice a week.

Oh! Yesterday, Nick Cave sent out another one of his letters. It was very charming, about his 10 most favorite pieces of music while growing up. You can read the letter here. (Or sign up to receive them; they’re always interesting and unpredictable.)

I’m guessing that if you live in Australia or New Zealand, you already know this (and if you don’t live there, there probably isn’t any real need for you to know this), but this month and next month, Nick Cave is going to be doing those solo engagements where he’s going to sing & play piano (?) but also take questions from the audience.

I can’t imagine missing that but clearly I will be – that part of the world is about 10 thousand miles from here. I guess I’ll have to wait until the tour comes to Crazyland…

Actually, in all seriousness, nothing comes to Crazyland. Ever. I think the last thing that came to Crazyland was when I moved here, 10 months ago. Really. You step out on your kitchen porch, turn your head in one direction and look that way; and then turn your head in another direction and look that way, and beyond those foothills and trees in the distance, you’ll see more & more sky coming your way and that’s all that ever comes to Crazyland. God and the weather.

Oh, wait! Something else really cool has come!! I hope to get a photo of it soon, but I’m always zipping past it at my normal 95 mph. However, in one of the lower-lying cornfields out on the main road, a sizable amount of rain water has collected since the fall and swans are living there!! Literally, I’ve counted a dozen of them! Swans!!! Those glorious white birds that mate for life. It’s just so lovely.

Related image
Swans but not the ones who live here

Okay. Gonna work now. Have a nice Wednesday, wherever you are in the world! Hope it’s a happy one.  I leave you with this incredibly beautiful and iconic love song from 30 years ago! Not about swans, but still lovely.  (I know, I know – if you’re an American, you’ve never heard it…but hear it now!) Thanks for visiting, gang! Sending you lots of love. See ya!

It’s Good to Think & to Be Smart!

Yes, that is my gentle reminder to you that today is the final day of the Smashwords sale, wherein all of my eBooks that are published with them are FREE to download, in any and all eReader formats.

I’m guessing, though, that you’ve already done that. Still. It’s good to think and to be smart. LOOK at your desktop or at your eReader device! If my eBooks are not in there [Twilight of the Immortal; Freak Parade, and The Muse Revisited Volumes 1-3.], then you’ve forgotten to download them and must hurry and do that today. The final day.

Or at least until the month of July, wherein, Smashwords does it all over again…

However, this means that in those months between January and July, you will have to pay 3 and sometimes as much as 4 dollars to download each of these books. Yes – I said 3 or 4 dollars! It looks like this: $3 or $4. And we don’t want to go that route, do we? Because then, I personally – as the writer- would actually receive most of those dollars. And that could set a very dangerous precedent. I might expect you to start purchasing my newer books forever after that. So let’s just avoid all that potential unpleasantness and go download those books today.

All righty!

Well, unfortunately, the merriment of the holidays is over and I seriously have to get back to work around here.  Someone in LA, who shall remain nameless, had the nerve to email me on New Year’s Eve – albeit, on Pacific Time, so to her, it was not yet dangerously close to the actual moment of merriment. But still. I get an email late last night explaining when & where & how I need to begin the endless hours of Skyping with producers re: my pilot script.

I so don’t want to do this, people, and yet I so have to. It was stressful just looking at the email. Because it isn’t actually Skype – it’s “Skype-like” and so I have to download yet another app and learn how to use it and how to send my script, etc. And I have about 24 hours to figure it out. And I still have not revised my show bible.

I know. I said I was doing it. I also said I was going to stop texting the guy I’m in love with because he’s really busy now and I wanted to give him some space… However, even though I opened the show bible Word file every single day for the past several days, I would simply look at it and my brain would just sort of glaze over with inertia. I got nothing done.

And so now, someone is going to say, “Okay, let’s see what you did!”

ME: “Nothing. I did nothing.”

Not gonna go over well.

THEM: “We were under the impression you were serious about your script and really wanted our input here.”

ME: “I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said that.”

Anyway.

So I kinda gotta scurry around here and get things in shape.

And this also means I will go back to my non-holiday blogging schedule of posting once or twice a week, instead of every day.

Plus, I’ve decided to go back to writing in my journal more and stay offline whenever possible. I’m seriously trying to break my texting habit.  Frankly, I really wish I were addicted to smoking instead of texting. I could light up in the privacy of my own world and just sit & think & smoke, instead of dashing off yet another annoying: “Plus, I just wanted to be clear about…[fill in the blank about what on earth it is that I could possibly be more clear about].”

And with smoking, at least you get that awesome nicotine rush.

Okay, gang. Off I go! Enjoy your New Year’s Day festivities, wherever you are! Thanks for making a quick trip here part of your busy day. Sending you great big bunches of love! See ya!

And I also text…

Blessings for a Beautiful 2019!

Thanks so much, gang, for hanging out with me in 2018! It has been really just an amazing year. And most of you have been with me through all of it:

  • Trying to find a house to buy out in the Hinterlands
  • Finally finding the 117-year-old home of my dreams & I move in!
  • I learn to live with an astoundingly noisy train that practically runs through my house
  • Me and my cats are overjoyed with a house that has 21 wonderful wide-open windows as spring arrives
  • Starlings and robins build nests all around the outside of my house and my world comes alive with birds
  • Baby raccoons are born in my tree and fill me with delight!
  • The Mormon missionaries come into my world  for 4 months and open it up to so many beautiful things
  • But then ultimately I decide I am a sinner and likely to stay that way!
  • I fall into lust (from afar) with all those 20-ish-year-old Boys of Summer and then
  • The Muse returns to my life with a  vengeance in July and I start really writing again
  • the Mob comes back, briefly, into my world and I realize I’m nuts!
  • I decide not to be nuts and then I fall in love instead which turns out to be exactly the same thing
  • I go to NYC. I go to LA. I once again have way too many projects on my desk
  • And now here we are, at the precipice of another breathtaking New Year!!

I hope it’s a really good one, friends. Fight to stay positive, even when you see a little darkness maybe coming your way. The darkness won’t last if you can be good to yourself and hold others in the Light.

Take care. I love you. Thanks for visiting!!

Me, going on forever back in October

Redemption & Black Rain

It’s Patti Smith’s birthday today. I think she’s something like 110 years old, but don’t quote me on that.

Pictured above is a photo of my original copy of Horses, that I got for Christmas 1975, when I was 15 years old.

To that point, it was the greatest Christmas present I ever got. I was only out of the mental hospital for a few weeks by that time (if you’re new to the blog, see posts from August, I think? One titled “ooh yeah, throwing up”.)

Angels truly blessed me by bringing Patti Smith into my world when I was at my absolute lowest. She kept me alive, and helped me believe in the validity of myself — kept me writing songs, too, until I was old enough to get the hell out of Dodge and go to New York City and become a singer-songwriter.

Directly before being put in the sanitarium, I had bought a copy of the book Cowboy Mouth, by Sam Shepard and Patti Smith. I bought it  at a library sale for 10 cents. I had no idea who either of them were back then. I bought the book because it was a collection of plays, and because I liked the feel of the book in my hands, you know?

When they came and told me I was getting locked up in a loony bin, I was absolutely terrified. And they came for me at the final moment, you know? They said: Pack some things, we’re putting you away. Right now. In my 14-year-old terror, I grabbed whatever I could find that I thought would save me, and as luck would have it, I grabbed the book Cowboy Mouth from the top of my dresser.

Obviously, confinement in a mental hospital was a truly low point in my life. And I didn’t “get better” in there, unfortunately. I got worse. Because I learned how to fake everything and conceal my problems, because I was always trying to avoid conflict with the staff and things like the “Isolation Room.” An actual padded room, with a metal bed, a thin mattress, no lights and just a small window way at the top of one wall. How my mind really, really wanted to get out of that window. But anyway.

I read Cowboy Mouth and fell in love with Patti Smith. I had never encountered a woman who could write like she could. She was transgressive and courageous. I didn’t really use those terms back then, I just knew she gave me a fierce amount of determination to survive all that had happened, and was happening, to me.

The angels stepped in again, while I was waiting to see my appointed psychiatrist one afternoon. There was a copy of Mademoiselle Magazine on the coffee table in his waiting room. I flipped through it to discover an interview with and photos of Patti Smith!! That was when I learned that she had a record coming out at the end of that year – Horses.

Honestly, it gave me something to live for. And made me more determined than ever to move to NYC as soon as I could conceivably do that. Because, clearly, Patti was NYC at that point — all those poets! All that rock & roll. Wow.

Well, Horses was the most amazing album I ever heard in my life. It changed me. It solidified my determination to survive my own life – all the rapes and the utter abuse and cruelty. The only other record album that had a similar effect on my determination to survive came 10 years later, in NYC, when I bought The First Born is Dead by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

You know, sadly, the man in my family who bought me Horses for Christmas, who made me so happy and gave me something to help me be courageous about life, was also the same man who, a couple years later, abducted me out to the country, drugged me and raped me for hours on end.

You know, the angels will give you something transcendent and beautiful, and then Life comes along and says “there’s a catch.” The angels have given you the key to your redemption already, but you have to remember to use it when the black rains come.

It’s sometimes a struggle to find that key when you really need it most.  But I tell you, gang, I keep working on it.

Anyway. Happy birthday to Patti and to everything she’s always stood for in this world.