Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Visit to the Vampires!

It has been years since I attempted to give blood because the last time I did so was just after my son was born in 1992. I got a notice from the American Red Cross that they couldn't use my contribution and that I was banned from giving blood until further notice because my "liver enzyme" count was high. At the time I had no idea what that meant. However, years later, after I was diagnosed with a necrotic gallbladder and had to have emergency gallbladder surgery because my liver was near shutting down, we learned what sent those liver enzyme levels soaring. After I was rid of that nasty little sucker, and gave my liver a couple of years to regenerate from the damage, I was cleared to give blood again.

It actually felt good to pass all the testing and to get up on that table and hold my arm out to be stuck. I have B+ blood type which is one of the rarer ones, so that made me feel even better about it. Knowing that my blood will give someone else a chance at life is the greatest reward! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Rape

Sleep on and hear nothing.
Black Gold, Texas Tea.
Sleep on while outside Mama cries.
Mama screams.
Sleep on and see nothing.
Mama bleeds.
Sleep on and feel nothing.
Mama struggles, Mama chokes.
Be the silent partner,
while outside,
Mama dies.

© copyright K. Lynette Erwin, 2014

Mag 208

Friday, February 21, 2014

We Reserve the Right to Be Stupid, Ignorant, Bigots

Since the recent decisions by U.S. Federal Court judges in several states, including Utah and Oklahoma that have struck down those states' constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, several other states including Kansas, Idaho, Tennessee, and Arizona are in a panic over the "religious freedom" of their states' business owners and service providers. This fear of the gay onslaught has launched a series of legislative measures and bills that would allow business owners and other kinds of service providers including in some cases, hospitals, pharmacies, police officers, fire protection, lawyers, and public service providers, to refuse service to LGBT persons and/or couples for the reason that providing such service violates their religious freedom.

The burning question for me is, why are people just now panicking over this? Did they not realize that they were serving members of the LGBT community all along? And if so, did they feel that in serving gay/lesbian/transgender persons, that their religious freedom was being violated or is this another trumped-up crisis created to instill more fear?

On a personal level, this is not only insulting, but it's embarrassing. Come on people! How stupid does it get and how low are we going to sink? All I can say is that if Oklahoma enacts similar legislation and businesses in my community start shutting us out, I'll just shake the dust off of my feet and go someplace else. I'm sure I'll find another business where my filthy lesbian money spends just as well as anyone's.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For the Love of It

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a lover of Mozart's music; better-put, I'm a lover of Mozart, period. I've had an obsession with him since I was a toddler and my parents played LPs featuring his piano concertos and symphonies on our stereo. When I went to college and majored in vocal performance, my favorite operas were by Mozart, and later, when I went on to graduate school, I did my master's thesis on Mozart's original Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Anna "Nancy" Storace.

It was while I did my research for that thesis that I unearthed some amazing information about their relationship (which some of the most respected Mozart historians of the past suspected was more than a warm professional association), that piqued my interest so much, that after I completed my thesis, I continued on for 8 more years of in-depth research into Nancy Storace, her life, her family, her career, and her relationship not only with Mozart, but the 20 year relationship she had with the English tenor, John Braham. After I met Steph (who is a retired orchestral conductor and Mozart historian), we combined our research on Mozart and Nancy Storace and out of all that research was born a novel series entitled So Faithful a Heart, which contains two books entitled The Love Story of Nancy Storace & Wolfgang Mozart and When Love Won't Die.

One of the greatest challenges we have faced as independent writers/authors and publishers is the marketing of our work. With the explosion of online print-on-demand self-publishing and electronic books has come the accompanying explosion of self-published books in every genre imaginable. We see this as nothing but positive, except that it means more books than the consumer can wade through. Therefore, the average
consumer still looks for "brand names", or in other words, books that are listed on the bestseller list and/or
are published through the traditional method through a big-name publisher. Marketing a book under these conditions is a daunting and often frustrating task. Your biggest market is usually friends and family. Beyond that, you've got to find other ways and give a lot of freebies and sometimes pay big money to companies that will market your book for you. Either way, if you expect a huge return for your efforts, you're doomed to be disappointed.

I finally had to come to the hard realization that I had a choice here; a) Rewrite my book and make it "marketable" for the big-name publishers by limiting the word count and following the "rules" of making it more plot-driven and less character-driven, and leave out parts that I consider essential but that don't necessarily "further the plot", or b) Write it the way I want it, using all of the rich descriptors including adverbs and adjectives, develop the story around the characters rather than the plot, and use as many words as I deem necessary to tell the story. I chose "b", and I don't regret that, but it's still hard to swallow that there are infinitely inferior books in my book's genre that have big name publishers that are selling at ten times the rate that mine is.

All of this is to say that being a writer is hard. It's hard work and often thankless work. But in the end, I will never regret what I have written purely out of love for my subject and out of the love of telling a good story.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Religion is Kindness

One of my most vivid early childhood memories took place when I was six years old. As I sat in the backseat of my parents car, riding home from church one Sunday, I asked them a question pertaining to something I had just witnessed during the service that morning.

 Mom and Dad were Southern Baptists; staunch Southern Baptists, and because of that, we were in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. My parents both sang in the choir and I was active in Sunday School, GAs (girl's mission group), and our church's graded children's choir program. I liked going to church and I especially liked the music and following along in the hymnal while the lady I sat with every Sunday pointed to the words in each hymn as we sang. I credit my earliest musical education to our graded choir program, and between that and the private piano lessons that started when I was in the first grade, I was reading and singing along with the alto line of the hymns by the time I was in the second grade.

 On this particular Sunday morning, however, I was puzzled by something I witnessed that took place towards the end of the service. At the end of every Southern Baptist worship service is what they call an "invitation" or alter call. An "invitation hymn" is sung and during that time, people in the congregation are invited to come forward and make public declarations of faith, or renewal of their declarations of faith, or share decisions to go into mission service, etc. The people who went forward would register their decisions on a white card that they would hand to the pastor who was standing there to greet and counsel with them. Most of the time they had counseled with him previously, but sometimes the decision was spontaneous. After the invitation hymn was concluded, the pastor would invite the congregation to be seated while he shared the decisions that were made by the people who walked up front. Then, after the service was concluded, everyone in the congregation would file up front and hug and congratulate those who came forward during the invitation. It was all very warm and very welcoming. Sometimes people would cry, but they almost always smiled at the same time. Everyone seemed very happy when people went forward.

 That particular Sunday morning, we were beginning a revival service. The preacher that morning wasn't our pastor. I loved our pastor who had a gentle, soft-spoken, and kind way about him. Because I grew up in a college town, our church was filled with university professors who were educated and generally didn't prefer the country style fire-and-brimstone preacher that was found in the more rural churches and in smaller towns. Our pastor had a PhD in theology and he smiled a lot and spoke of Jesus' love. I thought Dr. Peterson was next to Jesus himself. This preacher, however, wasn't like Dr. Peterson. This preacher yelled from the pulpit.
He pointed his finger at people in the congregation and paced back-and-forth and shouted angry words like "hell" and "wrath" and called people "sinners". After he was done preaching, we stood to sing the invitation hymn and suddenly a man (I actually think he was a teenager, but to a six-year-old, he looked like a man), went running down the aisle weeping. He went up to the preacher (not Dr. Peterson) and leaned into his ear and spoke to him. I couldn't see what went on after that, because I was too small to see over all of the adults standing in front of me. After the hymn, Dr. Peterson stood in front of the congregation and introduced the young man and said that he had just asked Jesus into his heart. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I was more concerned that he had been crying so hard that his eyes were swollen and he didn't look happy at all. He looked sad. He looked very sad.

So I asked my parents about it. Why was that man crying? Did that angry preacher make him cry? And if so, why did he make him cry? Dr. Peterson never made people cry. Mom and Dad explained to me that the young man had just asked Jesus into his heart and that's why he cried.

"But I thought Jesus made people happy", I protested.

 "He was sad because of his sins and that Jesus had to die on the cross because of those sins," Mom replied.

I thought for a moment and then persisted in my line of questioning. "Do I sin?"

 "Yes, you do," she answered.

 More thought.

"But I don't have to go up the aisle, do I?"

"No," mother answered quietly. "You don't have to go up there."


"Will Jesus be angry like that preacher and send me to hell if I don't?"

I don't remember my mother's reply. I only remember that on that very same Sunday night, I walked up the aisle and as I did, the angry preacher started moving towards me. But when I shied from him, Dr. Peterson, moved around in front of him and took me by the hand. He sat me down and spoke to me softly and asked me why I came. I told him that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and that I was sorry for my sins. What sins a six-year-old girl could commit, I wasn't sure, but they must have been very bad for Jesus to have to die on the cross so that I could be forgiven for them.

 I'm nearly 54 now and I am no longer a believer in that Jesus. Too many angry preacher-men and too many angry followers of Jesus have convinced me that love isn't something that is exclusive to Christianity, and that
having religion and "correct" doctrine is no guarantee that you know anything about love. I've met many loving and kind people who weren't Christians and many angry and unkind people who were. I still look back at that little six-year-old girl and believe in the Jesus that she believed in, and the Jesus that Dr. Peterson believed in, and I can be thankful that the Jesus we know loves everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe.

 My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. --The Dalai Lama

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I heard the song wafting from your window;
Maria, Juliette, Roxanne.
I swear you were standing there
only a note ago,
but when I ran up the steps to peek,
I saw your facade.

© copyright K. Lynette Erwin, 2014
Mag 207

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Haters and Other Cynics

My mother loved holidays. She loved them so much that every holiday in our home was decorated in the particular theme with ornaments and knick-knacks that she purchased and collected over the years. It didn't matter if it was a big holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, or a minor holiday like St. Patrick's Day or Lincoln's Birthday, she had decorations for it. Her two favorite holidays were Christmas and Valentine's Day. In our home, Valentine's Day sentiments weren't reserved for one's sweetheart. As with all our holidays, it was a time to celebrate family ties and the affection we had for one another. I can remember looking forward to going down stairs to the kitchen breakfast table and always finding a small heart-shaped box of chocolates from my dad, a card and a stuffed animal or sometimes even a pretty piece of jewelry from my mother, and beautiful cards with loving sentiments from my brother (when we both grew old enough to purchase and exchange greeting cards). Because this day was always so family-centered for us, I never thought of it as an exclusive holiday for lovers. Being someone's "Valentine", meant that you cared about them be they a family member, friend, or a love interest. It wasn't until after I got married that I realized that not everyone thought of Valentine's Day in the same "universal love" terms as I did. I'll never forget the year that my husband fussed at me over how much I spent at the Hallmark store on cards for my family and friends, as well as on the postage to mail all of them. I was cut to the quick over his chastisement and I didn't understand why $25 and much less than that on some postage made such a huge dent in our budget, especially when I was expressing to my family and friends how much they were loved and missed. He didn't see it that way. To him, Valentine's Day was a day you got your sweetheart candy and flowers and perhaps took her out to dinner--if you could afford it. (It's probably not a surprise that my first marriage ended in divorce after 18 years.)

When I was nearly 40 years old, I met the love of my life and it altered my view of Valentine's Day considerably. Suddenly I was thrust into Cupid's realm of hearts and flowers, kisses, singing birds, and more romance than I had ever known. I was so in love and so overjoyed that I wanted to shout it to the world. Valentine's Day suddenly became one of my favorite holidays and I was unreserved with my online public displays of adoration and affection for my partner, until Facebook. It wasn't until I joined Facebook in 2007 that I learned that celebrating Valentine's Day was politically incorrect, and those who didn't know this, and
who posted sentimental sayings and public displays of affection, or even general sentiments directed towards friends and family were deemed insensitive to those who didn't have anyone to love or who were loved by no one. I was surprised by the number of statuses from my "friends" expressing their disdain for the holiday as well as the cynical memes from atheist sites that explained the dubious origins of St. Valentine's Day. I began to question whether or not I truly was insensitive when I posted my enthusiastic sentiments for not only my love, but for my children and friends. So the next year when February 14th approached, I hesitated to say much about it and for several years I "overlooked" the holiday so I wouldn't be deemed a jerk by my Facebook friends.

 In the seven years that I have been on Facebook, it has probably taken me five years to come to the conclusion that there are entirely too many cynics and haters out there and that every last one of them are only too happy to drag you down into the mire with them. Cynicism is a spirit killer. It rejoices in gloom and doom and points it's angry, accusing, crooked finger at anyone and everyone who would let the smallest
glimmer of hope, happiness, joy, or love, into it's myopic, narcissistic existence. I finally unfriended most of the cynics on my list and the rest, I've hidden. I love Valentine's Day, and I love having a special day on the calendar to express that love (although I don't need a special day to do so), to my friends, family, and most especially to my dearest Steph. And most of all, I love the smile on each of their faces when I tell them that I love them on Valentine's Day. Thank you, Mother, for instilling in me an appreciation for the things that matter most, most especially for the genuine expression of love on the special days that we have set aside to do just that.