Illumination in Blue

A new year, a new decade. And I re-emerge, once again, from the void that swallowed me in the last months of 2019. A year that I could not wait to see the end of. The theme for my 2020 is “Illumination”. Enough of the darkness for a while.

The long period of creative dormancy was a perfect opportunity to reassess my writing. I’ve finally begun to submit my memoir, Wish I Were Here, to agents. I am grinding away, slowly, on a new blog post. I’ve unearthed my novel, Blue, from the vault. I’ve decided to re-edit it and re-submit it to agents and publishers. It’s not Pulitzer material, but I’m confident that it deserves a wider audience than it received. A few years ago, I posted an excerpt – “What I Was Doing in Guam” – on this blog. It was featured on Freshly Pressed. How many of you remember the pre-Wordpress Discover days?

Blue was published in 2006 by Murphy’s Law Press, a Canadian micropress which no longer exists. The story is about one young woman’s journey into the vibrant, but shadowy world of exotic dancing. How she uses it to take back her power after sexual assault and other trauma. Some of you may know that I worked as an exotic dancer (stripper) for a couple of years in the mid-1990s. The novel is not autobiographical, but some of the characters and scenes are based on my experiences in that world. For a few years, there were copies of Blue available on Amazon. But even those have disappeared, hopefully into appreciative hands. To begin this new year/new decade, I’m posting the prologue and chapter one. Some caution for more sensitive souls – the beginning of the novel is dark and somewhat explicit, so you may want to skip this one.

Prologue

In an industrial neighborhood of San Diego there is a lonely, forgotten lot guarded by nothing more than a chain-link fence. Little remains of the establishment that reigned here, or of the painted ladies who once graced its stage.

Stiletto heels protrude from the seared earth like tawdry tombstones. Sunlight glints off a garden of broken mirrors and scattered rhinestones. Sparkling apparitions flit about in the breeze. They are specters of the dancers who have been scattered like some lost tribe of Babylon.

Amid the rubble one thing remains intact: a blue sequined mask.

 

Chapter
1

When I was eleven years old, Christine told me the story of how I came to be. I walked into the living room to find her sitting on the floor, a faded pink boa around her neck, cabaret music blaring from the stereo. Clippings, faded costumes, and photos were spread out around her. The flotsam of a past life I never knew about.

I turned the music down and sat beside her. I wanted to reach out and pluck the false eyelash that hung precariously from her swollen eyelid, but I was afraid she’d slap my hand away.

“If irony were a color it would be blue,” she said as she gathered me to herself. Tequila fumes wafted at me, but I didn’t look away.

I stiffened, unused to her affection. Something was wrong.

“A color so profound can only lead to melancholy,” she said as she stroked my slumped shoulders. She took my face in her hands. “It’s time you knew where you came from. You got a right to know. But don’t ever ask me about it again, you hear?”She picked up a high school yearbook. Swaying a bit, she riffled through the pages. “Here he is,” she said. “Kip Caruthers, your father.”

I looked at the black and white photo of the man who I was told had died in Vietnam. He was not what I imagined. He looked like a poster boy for the Aryan Nation. A frat boy. He wore an ascot in the photograph, for crying out loud. Be a good boy, Kippy, and fetch mummy another martini. This man never stepped one foot in Vietnam.

“It was all a lie,” Christine said. “I met him at a spring dance at a country club in Scottsdale. He saw me dance and, supposedly, that’s what caused him to approach a girl he wouldn’t have otherwise spit on. People threw money at me when I danced. That’s how good I was. Are you surprised?”

“I don’t know.”

“I was going to be a Vegas showgirl after high school. My parents hated this idea. But they knew better than to hold me back.”She paused, and took a deep breath. “Kip got me drunk and ended up forcing himself on me. I fought with everything I had, but it wasn’t enough. I marched back to the dance all torn and dirty and caused a scene. I expected help, but all I got were looks of disgust. Only sluts dreamed of being showgirls. I got what I was asking for.”

I sat silent, stunned. I was the offspring of rape. A vile joke. I didn’t deserve to live.
Christine took another swig of tequila, “When I started to show, I stalked Kip. I went to his football practices. I strutted right by those snotty cheerleaders and took a seat in the bleachers. I’d pat my fat belly and call out, ‘Little Kippy says hi too’. After a couple of times Daddy Kip got involved. He paid me to shut my mouth and go away. I had no choice but to take the money. There was no longer any hope for me to be a dancer. Abortion was illegal back then and damned if I was going to ruin my body and give the child away. I know it’s not a pretty story, but you need to learn how to take honesty if you’re going to survive in this world,” she said. “Sugar-coated words aren’t worth shit, baby Blue. Look where they got me.”

They got her saggy tits, stretch marks, and me. And I got Kip’s blonde blandness. Every time she looked at me she saw him.

She stumbled down the hall to her room.

I sat amid the tattered remnants of her dream. I fished out a pair of white gloves and a rhinestone choker. I modeled them in the mirror, but couldn’t bring myself to meet my own gaze. Why didn’t I somehow abort myself and make it easier on everyone? Clenched within that claustrophobic scarlet cocoon, I was toxic. That’s what she should have named me: Scarlet. The color of blood-boiling rage.

But some part of me knew that I was destined for great things. I knew that someday someone would see the spark hidden inside me and nurture it to flame. It made me want to live as revenge on her revenge, but I was never able to muster up as much rage as she did. I was born seeing scarlet, yet my tendencies deepened into blue.

I made it a point to disappear from Christine’s radar. We wandered ghostly through each other’s lives like two phantoms trapped in adjacent realities. Most of the memories from my youth are as faded as the desert in the noonday sun. I know that I was an honor student. I won gold stars for perfect attendance. I was unseen, not even interesting enough to be picked on. I was a nice, quiet girl who didn’t make waves. The girl nobody remembered.

I awoke one morning when I was seventeen to find a strange man sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee while Christine made scrambled eggs and bacon. I stood in the doorway, unsure if I should enter.

“Oh, hi, honey,” Christine said. “I made you some breakfast, too. George, this is my baby Blue.”

I slid into the seat opposite George. His eyes lit up when he saw me. He had short black hair with a long, skinny braid that curled up under his collar like a rat’s tail. I shuddered. “I’m what you’d call an optimistic fatalist,” he said and flashed a crooked smile.

“George has a degree in Psychology,” Christine said as she set his plate before him. She sat beside him, beaming at each mouthful he ate.

“I’m planning on going into Psychology,” I said, trying to make conversation. “Right now we’re studying the philosophies of Freud. You know, the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. It’s fascinating.”

His face was seized by panic, and then he brushed my words aside with a sneer. “As if any of these theories make a difference in the grand scheme of things.” He had no idea what I was talking about.

He wasn’t blatantly insulting, but I would have preferred that to his self-righteous arrogance. It took all my will to be polite. If he stopped coming around because of me, there’d be hell to pay.

I was in the final weeks of high school. Close to freedom from both school and Christine.“Once you’re eighteen you’re out the door,” she had said so many times, as if she’d have to force me to leave. I had a job as a waitress at a coffee shop. It was a dismal little place on Main Street. The customers were year-round desert rats who had nothing better to do than to blame me for their withering lives. I saved every cent toward my escape. I was fed up with living in a place where people came to die. All the trailer parks and wheezing geriatrics.

When Belinda Black walked into my life, I knew that my life was about to dramatically change. One day, she was there at the counter, a dazzling jewel amid the dusty fossils. Her green gaze was as direct and piercing as a cobra’s. Her dark skin and those shimmering eyes paralyzed me.

“My mother is Haitian,” she said, as if reading my thoughts. “You get some strange genetic combinations down there.”

I stared at her, coffeepot poised in mid pour. She had spoken to me! With a quick glance around at the other customers, I refilled her cup and set the pot down. The dinner rush was over and I deserved a break.

“You go to my high school,” she continued. “I’ve seen you around. I don’t talk to anyone there. They’re a bunch of flatliners, but you’ve got a real spark in you. We should go out sometime.”

I nodded, dumbfounded. And so our friendship began.

 

“I haven’t lived at home in three years—since I was fifteen,” Belinda said as she put the finishing touches on my makeup. We were going to a high school party, something she would normally never do, but she wanted me to try out the man catching skills that she had painstakingly taught me. “Too many rules and not enough rewards. I’m out of here after graduation. Off to LA. Why don’t you come along? We’ll make our fortune in Hollywood.”

“Ok, I guess,” I said, trying to hide how thrilled I was. It wasn’t like I had any other plans besides to get away from Mesa. I was sick to death of looking at five hundred shades of brown. I wanted to be somewhere green, where things blossomed. California sounded so full of possibilities.

“Voilà, you’re finished, my dear,” she said as she turned me toward the mirror. “See how good you look with just a light touch of makeup? You don’t need a lot, but you do need a little help. You’re too plain without it.” I nodded, grateful for her attention.

“I’m going to be a movie producer,” she said as we pulled up to the party. “Push It” by Salt ’N’ Pepa blared out of the house. A boy barfed in the front hedge as we approached the front door. “I know I’m beautiful enough to be a star, but I want to work behind the scenes. I’m going to be the one that recognizes the talent hidden inside an unknown. I’m going to nurture it and make it shine. And grow filthy rich.”

Belinda was the only female I knew who smoked cigars and drank Armagnac. She conversed on topics such as stock options and world dictatorships.

“An educated woman who can also fuck like a whore is a gem,” she said as we made a circuit through the house. “She can name her price.”

I watched her work the room, scoping out the most promising conquests. The jocks pretended not to notice her; they rough housed and made fun of each other to hide their nervousness. What would it be like being worshipped like that? Women like her always get what they want, I thought. They’re all so sure of themselves too: Oh, I’m every guy’s type. When I tried it, it came across as desperate.

“Over there,” Belinda said with a tilt of her chin. It was Brett Banks. He was one of those boys who fit into every group and none at all. And for that every girl wanted him.

“Can’t we try someone less intimidating?” I begged.

“He’s looking over here. At you, not me,” Belinda insisted. “Go on. Remember, just stare deep into his eyes and pretend that anything he says is the most fascinating thing you’ve ever heard.” She gave me a little push.

I did what she said and it was working. We had just begun to make out when Belinda turned around and snatched him right from under my nose.

“Almost, but not quite,” she said with a patronizing smile as she led Brett away from me, toward a vacant back bedroom.

My heart wilted. I settled for the dorky friend, a boy with a face and name I didn’t know. I willingly laid down for him as I had for so many others. There was really no reason not to, and the boys all seemed to want it so badly. I didn’t see what the fuss was about. The contorted faces and strangled moans. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. At least someone got some satisfaction out of it. All I got out of it was soreness and disappointment.

Boys were nothing more than amusement for Belinda. Diversions. She always had at least two flings going at once, usually with rich old men from the various country clubs in Scottsdale.

“You always gotta have at least two,” she said. “That way they sense that something’s up. It keeps them interested.”

She knew about my father and thought it would be a hoot to nab him. She never got a chance to penetrate Kip’s inner circle of cronies, however. My home life shattered for good, and Belinda was there to gather me up and whisk me away.

 

I should have paid heed to the unease that I felt whenever I was alone with George.
I came home from work one night to find him on our couch, whisky in hand, his flabby arm outstretched, inviting me to dance.

What the hell? I thought. Maybe I’d been too hard on the guy.

“Have a drink to celebrate your graduation,” he said. “Soon we won’t get to see your pretty face around here anymore.” He fixed me a drink. I downed it in one swallow.

“That’s a girl,” he laughed. He scratched his hairy belly and lurched toward me.
I backed away, already feeling woozy. “Thanks for the drink. I’m going to my room.”
The last thing I remember is walking down the hall, George on my heels, his clammy hand upon my arm. I tried to shrug it away as everything faded.

I don’t know how long I was under. Sometimes I wish I had stayed under forever. But consciousness gradually returned. When the shadows came into focus George was on top of me, slick with sweat, pumping away.

“Oh no!” I wailed. “Get off of me!”

“What, baby? You were digging it a minute ago. Let’s have some good sex. Your mommy doesn’t need to find out.”

“Oh, oh God,” I sobbed. I got up and ran into the hall. Streaks and sparks whizzed in front of my eyes. The Grateful Dead music that had once sounded sensual now seemed sinister. I nearly passed out again. I huddled on the floor of the bathroom sick with shame. How could I have allowed this to happen to me? Especially after I knew what had happened to Christine. I should have seen the signs.

Then Christine came home. Her harsh voice bounced up the stairs and down the hall, edgy as shattered glass.

I took off my window screen and climbed into the garden. She would never believe me. It was best to just leave. I threw on my work clothes that smelled of grease and sweat. Whatever drug he had given me wore off and I felt like filth. I didn’t have time to grab my shoes.

I went to Belinda. There was no place else to go.

“God, nasty old George,” she said. “He must have slipped you that date rape drug. Well, at least he didn’t finish off in you. Did he?”

“No, I’m pretty sure he didn’t. But you know what the worst thing is? When I didn’t know it was him, it felt good.” I shuddered.

“You give him too much power. All he did was stick his dick in you. Breaking your nose is worse. Think about it.”

I could have sworn she looked secretly pleased that I had nowhere else to go.

She continued, “Well, I guess we have no excuse to stick around these parts anymore. First thing we gotta do is go get your stuff.”

My work shoes were on the front porch when we arrived. They were lined up neatly, the toes pointed away from the door. Next to them a suitcase, my clothes folded neatly inside. Christine had even put my favorite stuffed animal, a pink bunny, next to the suitcase. That touch of finality, most of all, made my heart wrench. I sat on the steps and sobbed. It hadn’t been much of a home, but I could never again go back to it.

 

One evening, soon after, Belinda set me up with one of her country club connections. “You have to be practical. You have no money. You have to use what God gave you to survive. Anyway, it’s just a couple of times and then we can split for LA.”

The man, Alan, was seventy and made his fortune with high-quality hair products. When I met him he was wearing spandex bike shorts and a tank top. “I was just making a protein smoothie. Want one?”

I nodded and settled back onto the couch. “Pump up the Jams” by Technotronic blared from the speakers. He danced toward me, smoothies in hand. His flabby, gray-haired breasts swayed. I sighed with resignation and leaned my head against the back of the couch.

He launched into small talk. “How about this wacky weather? Monsoon season is so early this year!” He paused to get into the groove of the song. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?  You can never go wrong with a degree in Business Administration! That’s what I did and I’ve never regretted it!”

I took a deep breath and shut him up with a kiss. His mouth was wet and soggy. As appetizing as a fallen soufflé. I got up and walked into his bedroom. It was decorated like a lair. Animal prints, foliage, and in one corner there were giant plumes in a floor vase.

He rubbed his stiff weenie against me and bleated, “Oh, Blue, please hold me.”

I undressed and stretched out on the leopard-print sheets. He pumped away on me, watching us in the wall mirrors, while I clenched my teeth against the pain. Just a few more times, I thought. Just this one man. I tried to remember what Belinda had told me: I gave the physical act too much power. Nothing could defile me without my permission, and so on. I ended up crying silently, wishing he’d just finish.

He mistook my sobs for shudders of ecstasy, “Oh yeah, you like that don’t you, baby? No young man can hold out as long as I can.”

As if that were something I should cherish: a whiny old man banging me until the end of time.

 

“Adios, all you losers,” Belinda sang as we drove away from Mesa for the last time. The wad of cash from my visits with Alan was stuffed into the bottom of my backpack. As we left the desert behind I vowed to forget my past. All of it. My life begins now.

71 thoughts on “Illumination in Blue

  1. I enjoyed the book, found it immersive and fascinating as well as raw and honest. I’m so glad that you’re brushing it off and looking to bring it to readers once again. And when your book “Wish you were here” is ready, I’ll gladly read. Happy New Year, J.D., and Happy Writing!

    • Thank you, Peggy. It’s possible, but unlikely. It was published by a very small press so there weren’t many copies in circulation. You’re more likely to find it in hostels and guesthouses in offbeat places like Namibia and Moldova. 😉 I left a few copies during my travels.

  2. I have my autographed copy in my nightstand drawer. I’ll always treasure it!! I think I’ll read it again! Even back then, your writing was stellar…in my opinion! And you’ve only gotten better over the years! I just love, LOVE your work!!!
    -Shelly 🙂

  3. Good luck with agents, Julie, and welcome in 2020. My efforts drew a big fat blank zero, but I know the feeling of wanting to have something out there. Not for others, but for oneself.

    I’d personally buy Blue.

    • Thank you, Fabrizio. I think I mentioned to you that it doesn’t hurt to try again after some time has passed. There are always new agents. So much depends on the right place/right time/mood of the person reading your letter/samples. Blue is (obviously) different from my writing here. I’ve also got a third book on the back shelf. Historical fiction about someone you may very well recognize: the Countess de Castiglione. I did lots of research on Victor-Emmanuel and the Reunification of Italy. So much work still to do, but maybe one day I’ll have it in decent condition.

  4. A Happy New Year to you, Julie. You are starting off 2020 with some amazing fireworks with your goal of illumination, letting your light shine for all to see. Great writing, bringing together both sadness and hope ~ two powerful forces which can sweep a life into a great adventure. I’ve tried finding a copy of Blue online, but if all fails I’ll be first inline to buy your latest release when it comes.

    You have a spark within your writing, and this gift of yours ignites the sadness and hope found in this passage above. This, along with your experiences of the past decade+ and your growth of a writer, and I imagine the strength and freedom growing within you as you give us readers insight into a seedier/real world. A world quite different than any life imagined. The duality of darkness and light, understanding this brings greater understanding. Wish you continued illumination – and I look forward to reading more. You amaze. Take care ~

    • Thank you so very much, Randall, for your kind words of encouragement. I wonder if sadness can exist without hope or vice versa. Sadness has been a big motivator for me, and hope is always what keeps me going forward. In writing Blue, I tried to do justice to a world that I had once judged harshly. A parallel universe that captivated, horrified, and taught me so much. I wanted to shine a light on the humanity. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with realer people…well, except the Pinehurst 🙂 Wishing you a 2020 filled with many unexpected adventures.Take care of yourself, young man.

  5. I loved your style of writing Julie, you take the reader through the emotional stages of a world that is not so black and white. And it depicts a journey that for many holds such wounds who seek to be loved for themselves..
    Your book should be re-ignited, it deserves many more hearts to be touched by your words.

    Life for many often never unfolds perfectly, and I can already sense within Blue her inner determination and courage as her journey unfolds. One I think that may surprise us as it unfolds further..

    You have a great gift dear Julie in your writing and storytelling skills..
    The first Chapter has to capture my attention for wanting to read the rest of the book, and if this first chapter of your pre-published disappeared book, it does just that.. Sets the scene, and the reader wanting to know more about Blue’s story. Brilliantly sets the scene…

    I know as you set your own intention within 2020’s energy Julie, you will achieve great things..
    Your ability to tell a story with sensitivity and yet hold that rawness of reality is rare.. As well as your communication skills and compassionate nature you share with others..

    May this year see your publishing skills expand and soar even further.. As you yourself have soared in your own expansion of self.. And that of self-love…

    Much love dearest Julie… You are one amazing lady.. Live in Beauty my friend, for that is what you are..

    Much Love Sue ❤

    • Dear Sue- thank you so very much for the kindness of your words. Indeed- life doesn’t unfold perfectly. Or at least in the “perfection” that culture imposes upon us. I will never regret those two years. I now believe that stepping through the doorway, into that vibrant, intense world, was the biggest catalyst for my growth. It taught me about the power of illusion. As you say, nothing is black and white. And, yes, so many that I encountered were on a journey into and out of the darkness, including myself. Some managed to transcend their wounds, others succumbed. I hope to breathe new life into Blue, re-ignite is a briliant way to put it. 🙂 I have come a long way as a writer since then. Thank you so much, again, for your support. It means a lot, dear one. Much love back at you. ❤️

      • I agree with you each experience in life moulds us into the beings we now are Julie, and I also give thanks for all of those negative ones, for they too made me who I am today..
        Much love your way and may you continue to grow as you share your wisdom through your words and insights.. Hugs ❤

  6. Blue is authentic, edgy and beautifully written – it deserves a much wider audience. I look forward to reading Wish You Were Here – let 2020 be the year we succeed. Very best wishes for the year ahead, Julie – Rx

  7. Julie, alert us here when your new book is published. I had no idea you had a published book already and I’m glad (for me) you are dusting it off and re-editing. I love the style of your writing and I love your authenticity as a person, which reflects in your writing. How you unfold a story is bar none, excellent! You are raw, real, and honest! And that strikes a chord to all who read your words for they resonate with us. You have a talent that must be expressed to a much wider audience then WP. I applaud your efforts and support you every inch of the way!!

    I’m glad for you that the darkness has receded and you are claiming Illumination for 2020. I am doing the very same! 2019 was a very difficult one for me yet this I can say. What is manifesting right now is beyond my dream for my life. Above all else, the Peace that is present every day washes over my weary Soul as bit by bit the tension abides and I observe me relaxing into my Soul. I’m not sure if you can understand that but I think you can. 2019 was so explosive and this year I “feel” smooth sailing.

    Sending much love your way!! I’m so happy to see a new post from you!! Keep on shining!! You are special, very! and I hope you know it!! (((HUGS)))!! xo

    • Thank you so much, my dear Amy. I will certainly announce any publishing success here. WP has been very, very good to me, but it is time to venture out a little. Move out of the comfort zone. I’m so pleased to hear that you are receiving beyond your dreams. I am starting to as well, in breathtaking and surprising ways. We had to transmute the darkness and let go of some things that we’ve held on to for too long. Now we have the space for miracles. I know the peace of which you speak. 😉 The silence and stillness and wonder. So much love to you as well. Shine on, beautiful.

  8. Good to hear from you dear J.D. As I’ve said before, you were born to write… with your photography running a close second. Wishing you all the best in 2020! Un abrazo desde Chile.

    Saludos,
    John

  9. I remember the “freshly pressed” column and I recall trying to find your book. Alas, it was not available. Writing is a cathartic exercise, which gives birth to a narrative that reflects a solitary journey, but welcomes a genuine community. Books take on a life of their own. I think it is because the writer and reader are present, together, as the story unfolds, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. To me, the connection is more about writer and reader, the story becoming the conduit that connects them. “Illumination” a wonderful word and well-chosen. As Paulo Coelho writes: “Nature itself journeyed, seeking illumination. Looking forward to our many conversations awaiting us in the coming months. Hugs and thanks for a wonderful post to begin this new year.

    • Books certainly do take on a life of their own. I loved hearing all of the interpretations of Blue, so many of which were fueled by the reader’s own perception. But I guess it’s like that for everything. 🙂 You gave me the idea of a theme for the new year. I was walking in my woods on a gloomy, beautiful day and a word drifted into my mind: illumination. Gotta love Nature. Warmest wishes to you, my friend.

  10. Ahh, I remember the Freshly Pressed days. The first time I was, I had just boarded a plane and wouldn’t have internet for about two weeks, which made for an interesting inbox!

    Anyhow, it was good to re-read your old post. Very best of luck with the publication endeavors! Your work deserves readers.

  11. Oh! Didn’t know any of it. What a surprising turn of events.

    Haven’t read the prologue and the first chapter yet but I wish to comment before you lock the comments (as you sometimes do before I manage to write mine), to thank you for sharing this and to wish you all the best to your writing and you as a whole in this 20/20 year. We are sure to start seeing things clearly if we haven’t yet.

    • Hello my dear – I never close comments on the latest post. 🙂 Thank you for your warm support and exuberant presence. Wishing you a magnificent 2020!

  12. 2019 was a rather tumultuous one for us, and am looking forward to an “illuminating” new decade hopefully. “Illumination’ ~ I do like that! Best of luck with your memoir… I am sure it takes a ton of perseverance and patience. A numbers game. Your writing is captivating, and left me wanting the next chapter….. Best of luck with finding an agent and wishing you a luminous new decade.

    Peta

    • 2019 seemed to be turbulent for many. Maybe one last cleanse before the light? Thanks very much for your kind words about my writing. Wishing you and Ben a new decade filled with light and laughter.

  13. I’ve read “Blue” and I really liked it. It’s so different from my world but I was moved by it.
    I really hope you’ll find a publisher because I’m impatient to read your memoir. Good luck and happy new year !

  14. Happy New Year JD! May it be as illuminating as you are hoping it will be. The blend of light and dark in your writing is always such a revelation to me. Thank you for your kindness and for providing me with such insightful portals.

  15. I feel like I know your story in many respects, having read nearly all (maybe fully all) of what you have written in the time since I encountered you … five years ago? But you have a great capacity for surprise. In this case, it’s not the stripping, or the darkness of sexual assault, or the unsavory characters you’ve both known and created. What caught me here, as well as in other writing of yours, is the unlikely sense of innocence and sweetness that lies beneath so much of what you write. It’s kind of like what I felt when I first heard your real-life voice in an Instagram post! Happy New Year to you, Julie – always hoping for the best for you!

    • Your words made my heart swell, Lexie. It’s so good to know that someone can sense innocence and sweetness underneath my words, which can be very dark. I was very cynical for many years. I was definitely entitled to be. I’m a lot less hopeless these days. 🙂 I like the idea of having a “great capacity for surprise”. What a compliment. Thanks so much for traveling along with me all these years. Wishing you a year filled with laughter and love.

  16. Oh oh oh this is so powerful. I would read this book. I hope it gets re-published. I want to know what happens to her.
    I remember Freshly Pressed of course. I was FP’d for a post on Bolivia.
    Here’s to 2020 vision all year long.
    Alison

    • Freshly Pressed was so good to many of us. It’s great to hear that you’re intrigued enough to want to find out how she ends up. Music to every writer’s ears. 🙂 Warmest wishes to you and Don! May you have many fabulous adventures in the year to come.

  17. That is quite the opening chapter to your book. An enthralling introduction, despite the nature of the “background” story. Your writing is always engrossing. Best wishes for finding a new agent/publisher to take on this work. I’m also trying to imagine what the cover illustration to “Wish I were here” would look like.

    Yes, it’s been quite a hiatus for you, but it’s good to read you again. I hope 2020 offers you what you need, and hopefully what you want. I’m sure you’ll grab it with both hands. Happy New Year.

    • I had a couple of long quiet periods in 2019 – only 3 posts the whole year. I hope to write more posts this year, but with editing “Blue” and other life stuff, not sure how that will go. I have ideas for the cover of “Wish I Were Here”, but that will ultimately be up to the publisher. I came up with the idea for Blue’s cover, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. That’s actually me on the cover. Monsieur Riso took the photo and I had someone do the editing on it. My publisher loved it. Thanks so very much for your support over the years. May your 2020 be filled with inspiration and adventure!

  18. Loved this! It’s great to revisit things now and again. Well done for starting to get your memoir out to agents. Best of luck, really am looking forward to when it get published. Absolutely love your wiriting ❤️

  19. I measure the quality of writers for how much I feel the characters as living beings. There are writers that can build amazing plots and narrate quite interesting events, but I never get to feel the characters, and the reading feels lifeless and mechanic. I liked very much to read you. I forgot the existence of J.D. Riso and got to immerse myself in fictions that feel as real as me and my neighbors. I wish you much success and for me to be able to purchase (I always purchase from my friends, I think is a best gift than be given their work for free) your book.

    • Thanks so much, Francis. So good to hear that the writing made you feel for the characters…and forget that I was the writer. Fiction is a creative escape that I may revisit one day. It’s fun to let the imagination run wild on the page. 🙂

  20. Welcome to 2020 and renewed creativity!

    Continue to love your words. The dark, the melancholy, the dirt, the fear, the queasiness.

    Such a talent to elicit such feeling!

    Hoping for a wonderful year on your side of the world

  21. I was sad to read that 2019 ended badly for you, Julie. I guess I always want the happy ever after for people (self included) though I’m surely old enough to realise how futile that is by now. Peace of mind is a good wish for the year ahead, isn’t it? 🙂 🙂 I hope you find it, and I wish you every success with your published writing. I don’t know many who write more compellingly.

  22. Bonne année Julie.
    Sorry to hear about the void of late 2019. I hope that is over for you. I guess we all have our moments of down… (The winter light or lack thereof might not help downs…)
    I lied Blue. Dark Blue really. You write well. Though the topic is dark. Has a true ring to it. Your personal experiences aside.
    Now your text made me wonder why so many young girls/women seem to have no other choice than to go the dark way. And so many get lost. Here, there, and everywhere. An sadly too, in saecula saeculorum… Let’s hope (in)(hu)mankind surprises us in 2020.
    Good luck with agents. You are right there are new agents being born every minute, but I still think they do not understand the new world they should be building. 😦
    Anyway, my very best wishes. And please do not let the void drag you down. (My mail is on my Gravatar, drop me a line if you feel like you need a listening ear… Though you have so many E-Friends, they should keep the Void away)
    Biz ma grande.
    B.

    • Merci, chér Brian et Bonne Année 2020! I very much appreciate your friendship. My online friends do indeed lift my spirits so much. Winters are tough where I live, but very beautiful, too. Lots of isolation and inertia. The void is receding. The wheel of fortune is turning. As it does for everyone.

      I’m happy that you enjoyed Blue, so far. The book business is tough, but it doesn’t hurt to try. 🙂

      May your year ahead be filled with magic, mon ami. Que la lumière soit.

  23. We hope, the best for you Julie its still to come, you are a talented writer, and know your next book it will be a great one, I did not knew about your first book, but for what you offer us here, and its a great story, and today, further along the road of life, with so much more experience, traveling, and writing, I will not want to miss your next one!

    Love, and best wishes. 🙂

  24. So pleased that you have already manifested light from your end-of-year darkness. I adore your writing on these pages and in Blue’s first words, so I am certain that you will find success with a publisher. I agree with Lexie about the innocence found in Blue’s voice, I am looking forward to seeing her story in print again, and your memoir as well.

    I think I will also have an illumination of sorts in 2020. At first, I fear it will be more like touching the sun and/or navigating with only the light of the moon and the stars, but in the end, the light will guide me to exactly where I need to go.

    Big hugs from Chiapas, Mexico

    • The varying intensities of illumination – blinding or barely enough to light the way – can appear to throw us off course. But it’s always guiding us exactly where we need to go. Not always easy to believe that. But we really have no other choice. Thank you for your encouragement and support for my writing. Sending love from the frozen north.

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