Ode to Feet (not in a creepy way)

Sorry if you’re grossed out by feet but I feel the need to comment on these vein-popping feet of mine. E feetI’m on my feet a lot. I run to keep in shape. I walk to exercise to my dog. I scurry to stay busy at work. I bolt when my child needs me. I leap with joy when my family is home. These feet have had a tiresome time lately. They hurt. They ache. They’re numb in certain toes from constant use.

I felt the need to let these feet of mine be free today. No socks. No shoes. Nothing holding them back from experiencing the relief of the cool, wet earth beneath them. I walked through the grass of the field behind me and was renewed with each step. I didn’t have socks binding my toes and arches. I didn’t have cushions, material, and laces encasing them from the harsh concrete, wood, and tile I’ve stood upon all day. I gave them the tickle of grass, the child-like humor of mud, and the chill of rain from the night before.E feet mud

My feet that I abuse daily, seemed to heal from their aches and pain the more I shuffled through the elements and let them be what they are – the two strongest parts that support me. They deserved the love. I deserved the love and with it came the solace that nothing can change my peace of mind (or feet) but me, taking that moment to relax.

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Fiction Friday: The Titanic

I thought I’d do something a little different today and give you one of my very first public historical fictions ever. I knew early on that I wanted to be an author. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I started out writing New Kid on the Block “fan fictions” back in high school with my best friend, Dawn Taylor. For our senior project in school we illustrated and wrote a children’s book together. I was supposed to be the illustrator, since art was where my project originated from, and the writing was Dawn’s for her English class. But we both ended up writing the book (and I still did the drawing too).

As I continued into college, writing became my first and foremost priority over art (my original major). I never was an English major though, I studied history and usually had anywhere from 3 to 5 or more papers a week to write. I never tired of constantly writing and continued to write my side fictional stories for fun too. When it came time to write my history senior thesis, a 50-page heavily researched historic paper, the professor, a wonderful man named Dr. John Leopold, asked what I wanted to write. He mentored everyone this way at the beginning and then it was up to us to finish the work on our own time. I remember our conversation quite vividly. I was wishy-washy about what non-fictional subject I wanted to tackle. I suggested the 1920s, or something in Ireland, or maybe something on the Titanic.

He stopped me and said, that the Titanic was an interesting topic, but what was my approach on finding out something new about the Titanic that hadn’t been done before? (that was one of the instructions for the project, we had to research and find out something new about our subject).

I did mention that there was a lot of research on the first class and the lowest class of passengers, but it was the middle class that was often forgotten.

It was Dr. Leopold’s turn to hmm and haw, and finally he said to me, “You write fiction, don’t you Miss LaPlant?”

To this day, I don’t know how he knew that, but I said, “Yes.”

He, in turn, said, “I will let you write a historical fiction on your topic, if you back it up with your allotted amount of research.”

I flipped out! I was SO excited and at one point, later on in the semester, I asked if it could be more than 50 pages. I was told a big fat no on that one, because it would force me to keep within the requirements like a true author would in the job world. Like I said, he was an awesome professor. He knew what he was molding me for, and I’m so grateful for his guidance.

Fast forward to the end of the year, and we, not only had our papers evaluated by the students, but by the team of professors in the history department. I had students coming up to me in the bathroom saying they cried during my paper and thought it was so good, but I still wasn’t sure how the professors would like it. What if I were graded poorly since it was fiction? What if they thought I took the easy way out?

I worried and shook like a leaf in a rain storm the day Dr. Leopold handed out the final evaluation to all the students in my class. Like a good teacher he handed them face down so other students wouldn’t see the grades and let the individual person turn it over when they were ready. He then added that he only gave out one A. And as he stood at my desk with my paper in hand, he stared down at me and said, “Congratulations Miss LaPlant,” and set my paper face up with the A on the very top. Everyone clapped and to this day, it will go down as one of my favorite moments in my life.

So, without further ado, I’d like to share this short story with you. Mind you, I wrote this when I was 21 years old and didn’t have the knowledge of true formatting and proper fictional writing like I do now. But please – enjoy!

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Bunnies & Leprechauns & Reindeer… oh my!

With Easter around the corner, I wanted to dive into some fiction… not fan fiction or one of my novels, but the origins of the fictional characters related to holidays.

I grew up, and still believe, Easter should be celebrated as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, but many don’t and as a curious person I wanted to know where the other origins came from.

Easter Sunday –  Easter Bunny 

EB for BlogThe Easter Bunny seems to have been started in Germany, during the 17th century in reference to the Germanic goddess named Ēostre. Before Christianity, the time of Easter was a celebration of Spring. The goddess was associated with new growth, fertility, and dawn. There were feasts in celebration of her until Christians started using this time to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ.

In 1835, Jakob Grimm (yes, one of the Grimm Brothers authors famous for fairy tales), wrote a tale about sacred animal of Ostara or Ēostre. A hare was the goddess’ companion of choice who carried eggs to children. Why eggs? Eggs, of course, being a symbol of new beginning and fertility as well.

So, why do we paint or dye hard boiled eggs and hide them? One origin comes from the Orthodox churches giving up eggs for Lent. In order to keep them from being wasted, they were boiled or roasted and hiding them away until it was time to finally eat them. They were painted or dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ.

St. Patrick’s Day – Leprechauns

leprechaunWhat is St. Patrick’s Day without the image of a little man with a fluffy red beard, dressed in green? Leprechaun’s typically didn’t have anything to do with St. Patrick or his rid of snakes from Ireland which evoked St. Patrick’s Day in the first place, but because those little impish fairies are from Celtic lore and ancient Ireland, the line between St. Patrick’s Day and Leprechaun’s faded.

The word leprechaun comes from the 8th century Celtic word Lú Chorpain or luchorpán meaning little body. It was further corrupted to the word lubrican in 1604, where it was first written into an English play entitled The Honest Whore by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker. The line from the play states: “as for your Irish lubrican, that spirit who by preposterous charms thy lust hath raised in a wrong circle.”

Leprechauns are thought to have been one of the many types of inhabitants in the fairy forts or fairy rings in ancient Ireland. The merry tricksters may have been a modern incarnation of the Euro-Celtic god Lugh (pronounced as Luck), the god of patron arts and crafts.

Valentine’s Day – Cupid

cupidCupid – the winged baby who carries a golden bow and arrow and shoots unsuspecting people in need of love – is from Roman mythology. Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. He is known as the god of affection and those arrows of his are magical, golden tipped arrows that have the ability to pierce the hearts of individuals who he deems ready to fall in love. In the original lore, Cupid actually has two types of arrows, the sharp ones to “inject” love, and a blunt tipped one to make two people fall out of love.

But how did Cupid become associated with the lovey-dovey holiday? Well, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry thanks to a Roman edict decreeing married soldiers did not make good warriors. Priest Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it as a symbol of love so soldiers recognize him. And, in a precursor to greeting cards, he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.

Christmas – Santa Claus and his reindeer

St. NickBring on the big guy. Of course, many of us know Santa Claus stems to a monk named St. Nicholas all the way back to 280 A.D. St. Nick was originally from modern-day Turkey and known for his kindness, as he had given away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.  One of his best known stories of giving was how he saved three destitute sisters from being sold into slavery/prostitution by their father by giving the girls  enough of a dowry so they could be married instead. As his popularity spread there were feasts giving in his honor on the anniversary of his death, December 6th.

How did St. Nick’s name turn into Santa Claus though? Well, fast forward to the 18th century in New York. A newspaper reported there were a group of Dutch families who gathered to celebrated the December 6th anniversary of St. Nicholas’ death, but they, of course, used the name Sinter Klaas which is Dutch for Saint Nicholas. In 1804 a man from the New York Historical Society named, John Pintard, distributed woodcuts of Sinter Klaas  or Santa Claus (now Americanized) wearing a blue three-corned hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings, and included Santa filling stockings with toys and fruit hanging over a fireplace. It wasn’t until 1822 with the publication of The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore (though written by Henry Livingston – a huge story for another day), where Santa is known as the jolly old elf, both rosy and rotund, became the image of the Santa Claus we know today.

names-santa-claus-reindeer_de8347f8c5b7bfd9And how does Santa Claus get around? By reindeer, of course! In 1812, American author, Washington Irving  referred to Santa Claus as “riding over the tops of trees in that self-same wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children,” but he never mentioned what propelled that wagon. It wasn’t until 1821, with the publication of a sixteen-page booklet entitled, A New Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve Number III” The Children’s Friend (phew, long title!) by an anonymous author, printed by William Gilley, did it mention reindeer: Old Santeclaus with much delight, His reindeer drives this frosty night, O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow, To bring his yearly gifts to you. 

In 1822, Mr. Gilley was questioned by New York’s Troy Sentinel about why reindeer, and his response was: “Dear Sir, the idea of Santeclaus was not mine, nor was the idea of a reindeer. The author of the tale but submitted the piece with little added information. However, it should be noted that he did mention the reindeer in subsequent correspondence. He stated that far in the north near the Arctic lands, a series of animals exist. These Hoover and antlered animals resemble the reindeer and are both feared and honored by those around.”

An Honorable Mention – Not Associated with a Holiday

The Tooth Fairy

MouseWithTooth-copy-279x300Like most of the mascots mentioned, the origins of the tooth fairy come from some ancient folklore. The tooth fairy is no different. Early Norse and European traditions practiced that when a child lost a baby tooth, it was buried to spare the child from hardships in the next life. The idea of using these teeth for payment stemmed from Vikings using a tand-fe or a tooth fee before leaving for battle. Baby teeth and other items from their children were said to bring them good luck.

The more general tradition of a good fairy coming for children’s teeth was created out of fairy tales and popular literature as the centuries went on. The most popular version of a ‘tooth deity’ is the image of a mouse, who would enter children’s rooms and remove baby teeth. These traditions are more often seen in Russia, Spain and many Asian countries like China. More recently, when the 6th tooth fell out, the child was rewarded with a gift in many northern European countries. The reason for the mouse being synonymous with so many culture’s tooth fairy tradition is the fact that rodents continue to grow their teeth their entire lives. Anthropologists consider a type of ‘sympathetic magic’ a way for believers to transfer good luck or traits to the child who lost the tooth.

 

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I learned a thing or two researching this article today. I hope it was as interesting to me as it was to you. I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend whether it be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, the joy of the vernal equinox, or just a beautiful Sunday with your family.

 

The Past Isn’t Now

Lately, I’ve been noticing how people on the internet have been “shaming” entertainment works that weren’t made recently and taking offense with things in those shows, songs, and movies. Now, normally I wouldn’t say anything about this thing because people are going to think what they think, but when one of my all-time favorite movies ever, Gone with the Wind, was criticized, I had to say something.

To begin, though, I need to say that I think of myself as a proud, strong woman. I delight in women’s right, and love seeing how women are finally punching back to things that have been wrong in the past. I’ve been a victim of men’s superiority and have been pushed around and not taken seriously for being a woman. I’ve been grabbed, squeezed, kissed when I didn’t want to be kissed and it’s not fun. But here’s the thing… you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. And this is where I take a stand on history.

So, this thought process started when I was reading an article in the New York Times where it mentioned how movies in the past romanticized women being taken advantage of. No consent was given before the men in the movies simply grabbed them and kissed them. Some of the movies that were mentioned were Gone with the Wind, The Quiet Man, Blade Runner, and surprisingly, Baby Boom. I get it, I do – Rhett kisses Scarlett arrogantly, she struggles against him, but gives into the kiss after a moment, draping her arms around his neck and holding him tight. He was an ass… it was even mentioned it in the movie:

Scarlett: Kathleen, who’s that?
Kathleen: Who?
Scarlett: That man looking at us and smiling. That nasty dog.
Kathleen: Why, dear, that’s Rhett Butler. He’s from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation.
Scarlett: He looks like… like… he knows what I look like without my shimmy [clothing – a slip].
Kathleen: Scarlett, my dear, he isn’t received. He’s had to spend most of his time up north because his folks in Charleston won’t speak to him. He was expelled from West Point, and then there’s that business about that girl he wouldn’t marry.
Scarlett: Did he… (The girls whisper)
Kathleen: No, but she was ruined just the same.

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With that all, have we forgotten this movie was made in 1938-39? Not only that, it’s based in the 1860s. Yeah, it’s going to have forceful, superior, egotistical white men. It’s going to have slavery. It’s going to have men taking advantage of women. We were just as much property as slaves were and mistreated similarly. Slaves, of course, were treated worse. Gone with the Wind is a glimpse into the past. We have come a very long way since then. Even still, the women that worked on this movie, Vivien Leigh, Butterfly McQueen, Hattie McDaniels, all of these fantastic women were so strong and so beyond their years. Vivien – Scarlett O’Hara, hated kissing Clark Gable. She didn’t hang out with him in between takes, she refused to do many a scene because she plain and simple didn’t want to. Ms. Leigh had a huge voice on set. Butterfly and Hattie did too.

In a time, when civil rights were still in their infancy, both women, who played slaves, refused several scenes such as being hit, certain lines, and other demeaning things they would not do on principle alone. Hattie McDaniel went on to be the first African American person to win an Academy Award ever! She won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress over fellow GWTW actress Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes).

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Hattie McDaniel, Best Supporting Actress 1940

Back to my point, yeah there are some crappy ways women were portrayed on film, but that’s what happened back then. We can’t judge the movie and television on today’s standards. I also have read in some comments about shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and M*A*S*H, being racist, sexist, agist…etc so on and so forth. Good Lord, what would they say about Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, All in the Family or Three’s Company? Back in the 60s through the 90s, entertainment was based on those things being funny. No one was sensitive to jokes in those decades, people just laughed. Yeah, they were crass, racist and definitely sexist, and today it wouldn’t be tolerated. But my point is still – you can’t change those shows now, so in that sense you can’t complain about them now either.

It’s the same with songs. Over Christmas this past year there was a lot of hubbub about the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside. People wanted it banned and have it taken off the radio because it romanticized rape culture. This is where I first started shaking my head about the comments I had heard in the public. People, the song was written in 1944! It’s a song about a couple being coy. The woman in the song wanted to stay but knew she would get in trouble with her parents or her public reputation would be ruined if a woman stayed out past curfew with her boyfriend. Listen to the words, she wanted to stay. The man was giving her reasons to stay. Society back then would’ve pegged her as an easy woman if she had stayed. She was not her own woman and yet she wanted to be independent and say, ‘hey yeah, I’ll stay with you’. This is picked up by the line, I ought to say no, no, no, siree, but at least I’m going to say that I tried. She was limited by her family, by her neighborhood, by society. If anything, be upset about that, not about the fact that the guy was giving her reasons to stay if she wanted to.

Oh and the line, “Uhh what’s in this drink?” She wasn’t getting roofied. The way Bette Midler sang this song in For the Boys, accurately depicts what that phrase meant back in the day… the guy had skimped on the alcohol and she wanted more. You can hear in the inflection in her voice that she was doubting there was much alcohol in the drink she’d just asked for.  Remember, it had only been recently in 1944 that the Prohibition had been repealed. People wanted strength in their drink. It was sarcastic. Kind of like, ‘have some coffee with your milk’, to people who like really light coffee – it’s barely coffee. Take a listen:

And speaking of Prohibition, imagine what the old Victorians thought about the flappers in the 1920s?

 

They went from high collared, long skirted fashion to thigh high skirts, frayed up to the waist, and low cut, spaghetti-strapped dresses. Those flappers’ parents must’ve been outraged, but there was nothing they could do about it. Times had changed.

It’s the same way now, but in reverse. Instead of not being able to control the future, we can’t control the past. Please don’t take offense over things in the past that we can’t change. What you can do is learn from it. Take what people did wrong then and make it better from here on out. No more racist jokes, no more pushing women aside in the work place, no more grabbing and kissing us without permission. This is where we teach our children that stuff like this isn’t done anymore and we need to fix it.

 

With Illness Comes Understanding

Over the last two weeks, thanks to a trip a waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells, I’ve been suffering with a severe and aggressive case of viral conjunctivitis. My right eye was scarlet red, leaky, painful, and swollen. I looked like the losing side of a boxing match and it wasn’t pretty.

Besides looking like a mess, I felt like a mess. The virus set off my lymph nodes all down the right side of my head which made me ache everywhere in my head and neck. I could barely sleep. I was treated, and treated myself like a leper, washing constantly so not to pass in this illness to anyone else. Goodness, I even had a system for tissues and which hand touched which eye, so I didn’t cross-contaminate myself. And even though I was super careful, it crossed to my good eye (though not as severely) and both eyes were blurry even with my glasses on. I felt like a walking bomb of germs with a hair trigger setting. To say I was miserable, was a mild description… I was downright awful!

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From the first day to today                       A 13 day span

 

Though the whole time I had to keep going for my family’s sake. My son was recovering from a tonsillectomy and his well being always comes before mine. Once he was settled, then I could take care of myself. But while all this was going on, no matter how pathetic I felt about myself, I tried to pick myself up by saying, “This is nothing compared to what some people have.”

I was brought to a place of humbling understanding thinking about how many people out there have illnesses completely worse? How many people are born with complication and deformities they won’t get rid of in two weeks? These people suffer ten times more than I did and for far greater a time. My stupid eye virus is nothing in the scheme of things.

I felt a sympathy for those with a live-life need for medical attention. If my eye was as miserable as it was, imagine what it’s like to live with Apert Syndrome. The little girl I raised money for this past summer, Hannah “the Warrior Princess” Donnelly, had this affliction. She’s disfigured, breathes with the help of a ventilator, and is constantly in the hospital. If she gets so much as a cold, she’s in a life or death situation. Yet, this is her life, she makes the best of it the best she knows how, and she has a smile in every photo I see of her. Her outlook is so beautiful and yet, here I was sobbing because I looked like (and felt) Rocky Balboa for a couple weeks.

Thinking this way put things into perspective for me. It helped me cope and get through this hiccup, because illness has a way of making one feel pathetic and weak. What I was able to do instead of continuing that downward-spiral thinking was pray for those who have illnesses and disabilities worse than I did. I prayed for their peace, for their mental and physical state, and made sure to check in on them. Even if you, the reader, aren’t religious, by simply reaching out to those with critical needs you’re giving them support and acknowledgement. Perhaps they had been in a bad place mentally and your words hit at the right time. No matter what the situation, hearing from a friend is always a good thing.

Coming Soon in Eryn’s World

Good morning readers, I thought I’d give you a little update on some of the projects I have planned this spring and in the year to come. Writing… writing… writing…. that’s the biggest activity going. My plate is super full of new work. Currently, I’m writing the sixth book in the Falling for Heroes series entitled Falling for Strength. In this book will take place between the end of Falling for Sacrifice and its epilogue. It’s both Miguel and Rowan, Isabel and Alexander’s brothers, stories. Being that both guys were minor characters in Falling for Hope and Falling for Sacrifice, I had an idea to go with dual protagonists for Strength and combine their stories. My lovely story editor, Liam Cross, worked with me over Christmas perfecting the two storylines so they worked fluidly together, and I’m happy to report that this one is going to be AWESOME! I can’t wait to really get into it now that I can handle myself better.

Second and third big project coming later this year: I am very happy to say that I have received the publishing rights to my first two books, Beneath the Wall and The Blue Lute, back! At the start of my career, I was signed with a small publishing company. They gave me the break I needed to get started to where I finally came into my own through independent publishing. But as the years went on so did the interest in those books. They are still amazing stories and excellent books. Beneath the Wall reached #7 on Amazon’s paid list (which at the time was higher ranked than The Hunger Games 1st book – can I get a woohoo!). Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 7.51.47 AM (1)
The Blue Lute didn’t do as well, but I don’t believe it was from the story, but the lack of promotion. Well, we’re going to give those two a new lease on life later on this year with a full revamp – including top-notch editing, extra scenes, and new covers. They babies are going to shine like a bright, new diamond by the time I’m finished with them.

Lastly, hopefully by Christmas I’d like to release a novella prequel story to the Falling for Heroes series. I have a great outline and popping ideas for a story but I’m not sure if it will be a full novel or a collection of short stories catching up on the Hannels and their family and what started them all – the knight and lady who began the whole clan. I still have a ways to go on that one but my idea is to have it out by Christmas.

I hope you’ll stayed and follow me on here and all my social media outlets (just click on any of the icons or links on the side) there’s always so much to explore in the world of Eryn. Thanks for all your support and interest all over you have given me through out these years as being an author!

Fan Fiction Friday – A Star is Born – Perhaps

This very short story came to me after watching the performance of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga on the Academy Awards this past Sunday. Everyone in the media has been speculating whether or not these two actors were indeed a couple, but when I watched them sing… I didn’t see Bradley and Lady; I saw Jack and Ally from A Star is Born. From there I wondered, if this was part of the movie, how would it actually play out.

At the piano, Ally sat in front of an audience of celebrities dressed to the nines. It was the Oscars –The Academy Awards—a place she never thought she’d ever be, with a song she sold to a movie called A Star is Born…a song she and Jack wrote together at the beginning.  She’d worked hard to be here; she’d been through the best and worst times of her life to make it to this moment.

Jack—oh Jack, you’d love to see me here, she thought, taking a breath and placing her fingers against the cold ivory keys.

No, no he wouldn’t, she heard in the back of her mind. He was a drunk who ate prescription medicine like tic tacs. He had jealous fits of rage whenever she was on stage, living in the spotlight like he used to in his heyday. It was what killed him, leaving her alone and shattered.

Ally shook away the devil and angel whispering in her ears and focused on the lead-up to her vocals.

A hand touched her shoulder. She looked away from the mic.

“Jack?” she said aloud, it came out in a breathy rush into the microphone.

He sat next to her on the piano bench.

Awe-struck, Ally moved over.

“Sing.” He spoke into her ear, kissing her diamond-studded lobe.

LGBC2Ally closed her eyes and sang their song from the depths of her heart, feeling him so near to her. His arm drifted behind her, caressing her lower back before settling on the crook of her waist. She leaned into his cheek, the rasp of stubble was familiar and warm. Her belly fluttered at the touch.LGBC

He sang harmony, blending his notes with hers effortlessly. Her breath was in her chest, her thoughts no longer on the song, but on him… only him.

The last notes—power notes—came deep from her soul erupting from her voice box with every bit of angst she’d held inside since the moment Jack died. She sang for him… she sang for herself… she sang for the love they could no longer share.

She opened her eyes as the tune trailed to an end. The cushion beside her was empty. The seat was cold. He was there, but not really—and not ever again.

A tear as fat as the diamond around her neck, fell to her cheek. “I love you, Jack,” she said.

The audience stood, applauded and as Ally scanned the crowd, many were drying their eyes. Why are they crying? Had they seen him too? Perhaps they did… perhaps they did.

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