COVID-19 Cannot Cancel Earth Day


Earth Day Flag (public domain image)

Regardless of where you live, your life has almost certainly been drastically affected by COVID-19. Whether you’ve fallen ill, lost one or more loved ones, lost a job, have begun working or studying from home, and/or lost countless hours of sleep worrying, nothing will ever feel quite the same when this pandemic is over. And if you’re a first responder or healthcare worker, I can’t even imagine how you get through the days, and can only offer heartfelt gratitude.

Collectively, however, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the best scientific minds on the planet are working tirelessly on vaccines, reliable testing, and effective treatments for this horrific virus, and that at some point in the not-too-distant future, life will slowly start returning to something resembling normal.

For most of us, that day can’t come soon enough. The ability to share physical space with friends, family, classmates, and work associates sounds like a huge luxury. And hey, now that we’ve witnessed the significant atmospheric results of burning less fossil fuel, we’ll even be inspired to drive less and walk or use public transportation more often. What a silver lining it would be if these dark months of COVID-19 actually taught humans to take proper care of the earth. Time will tell.

On the other hand, it’s almost definite that when we start getting out and about again, we’re going to want to celebrate, and when humans celebrate, we often dress up in new clothes. So in the spirit of Earth Day, here’s something I hope you’ll consider: try to buy at least one of your “new” garments secondhand.

Now, if you know me, you may know how much I enjoy thrift shopping. But my initiation into the world of used clothing didn’t spring from any great desire to save the environment; it was strictly financial. In other words, when I, as a college student, attended a semi-formal dance party in a faded khaki jumpsuit purchased for a song at the local Army-Navy surplus (and accessorized with lots of thrift-shop jewelry) it wasn’t because I liked it better than the more typical outfits other women wore. But the price was right.

Over the years, though, I developed an appreciation for well-made, vintage and unique garments. Thrifting became a hobby for me, as did transforming old jeans into skirts, and sewing funky, homemade patches on worn-out items. But until recently, I bought most essential clothing and gifts at traditional retail outlets.

Then, in the fall of 2019, I re-entered the conventional workforce after almost twenty years of freelance writing and parenting. As you might imagine, that decision invoked a fair amount of personal anxiety. Which only increased when I landed my first job interview and realized I didn’t own a single pair of professional trousers. So I headed for the mall. But every pair of slacks I liked was also quite pricey. I had a bit more luck at Nordstrom Rack, where I found and bought the one pair of pants that fit both my taste and budget. But, of course, I knew I’d need more slacks when I actually started working.

Luckily, a few days later, I came across an online ad for and checked it out. Wow! In a few clicks, I was staring at the exact same pants I’d recently purchased—gently used—at a far lower price. The site made it super easy to search for brands, sizes, and colors too, and I ordered two pairs of trousers on the spot, which arrived on my doorstep about a week later. I found the entire shopping experience simple, rewarding, and enjoyable.

But the reason I’m writing this post is because of a letter from James Reinhart—founder and CEO of thredUP—which was included in the shipment. It talked about the tremendous amount of waste generated by the fashion industry, and the disastrous effects waste is having on our environment. It went on to say that if every American bought just one used clothing item in 2020—in place of something new—we could eliminate nearly six billion pounds of carbon emissions.

Of course, I did more research, and was most distressed by what I learned about so-called “fast-fashion.” This is trendy clothing (usually made from synthetic fibers) designed to last one season at best. After several washings, fast-fashion garments tend to fall apart and lose their fresh look, so they end up in the trash and then in landfills (along with millions of tons of other discarded textiles), leaching dye and other chemicals into the groundwater. And if these garments are incinerated instead, they release CO2 into the atmosphere. The fashion industry alone is responsible for a huge amount of the emissions responsible for climate change.

Sobering, for sure. But the good news is, we can start improving on this situation right away, if we’re willing to change our attitudes a bit. Many of us were raised with the belief that special clothes (and gifts of clothing) are best when they’re brand new. We Americans have a love affair with “untouched” and “unworn” items. Perhaps it’s a cleanliness thing. But let’s be honest: as soon as clothing or shoes are worn on the street—much like automobiles—they’re no longer new. But that doesn’t mean they’re not fabulous!

So, as you prepare for post-COVID reality, please join me in a pledge to purchase at least one secondhand clothing item instead of a piece you’d normally buy new. You’ll do the planet a favor, save some cash, and probably have a little fun as well.

Posted in Earth Day, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

LIVING BY EAR–3rd Time Charm

livingbyearebookAfter I “finished” writing Living by Ear in 2012, I “self-published” it in 2013.

Little did I know that LBE was not complete. And “self-published” was far from an accurate term, because so many amazing people were involved in that endeavor. Without the members of my original writing group—who became the manuscript’s initial editors and cheerleaders—I never would’ve moved forward with the writing. Nor would I have known the first thing about sending a book out into the world without the lovely people at IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England), who selflessly provided essential publishing advice. And I’ll forever be grateful to Cate Barr, who designed LBE’s first cover, and my mom, Joanne Rowen, a one-woman marketing force in my hometown of North Andover, MA.

About a year later, I met my wonderful literary agent April Eberhardt at the Grub Street writing conference in Boston. By then, I was shopping a second manuscript (Leaving the Beach), which April brought to a hybrid publisher. That publisher offered a contract for Leaving the Beach, and then, shortly thereafter, published a revised version of Living by Ear as well. Once again, I believed LBE was complete. But no. Although I made dozens of terrific friends—authors, editors, marketers, and designers—at that publishing company, it closed its doors in 2016, and my books went out of print.

2016, however, brought about far more significant changes than the closing of a small book publisher. And, like so many other Americans, I began focusing a good deal of attention on matters of national and world politics. Then, in 2017 and 2018, my family and I faced several unexpected health challenges. Thankfully, we’re doing better now. Here’s to excellent doctors, great family, friends, and faith.

My writing has been given another opportunity too, thanks to Dave Lane and Evolved Publishing. Evolved kindly offered a three-book contract for Leaving the Beach, Living by Ear, and a brand new novel called It Doesn’t Have to be That Way, which is due out in April, 2020. So these days, I get to work with brilliant editor Jessica West, and phenomenally gifted and generous cover designer Kabir ShahLiving by Ear is now in its third incarnation, and I really do hope it’s finally complete. What a journey! I’m truly grateful for every twist and turn.

But I’d be nothing without the angels who were in my life before Living by Ear existed: my amazing parents, siblings, in-laws, extended family, and friends. And of course, precious Mike, Walter, and Maggie. I love you all.

Posted in books, books about music, Leaving the Beach, literature, living by ear, marriage, music, new fiction, novel writing, Uncategorized, women, women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments


leaving_the_beach_evolved_cover final_for_pubReaders, I have some exciting news to share: after being out of print for almost three years, my novel Leaving the Beach is available once more, thanks to the wonderful people at Evolved Publishing. Leaving the Beach took an unplanned vacation when its previous publisher shut down, but it’s back now, freshly edited and sporting a gorgeous new cover.

I couldn’t be more grateful to Dave Lane at Evolved for believing in this novel enough to give it a second chance. And for the warm welcome I’ve received from Evolved’s amazing community of creative individuals. I’m beyond thrilled to be working with editor Jessica West and cover artist/designer Kabir Shah. And if that’s not enough, in September, Evolved will release a newly edited, newly designed version of my other previously published book, Living by Ear. Then, over the winter, they’ll publish It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way, my newest novel. If you see me out and about today, please pinch me. I really do feel like I’m dreaming.

Here’s little more info about Leaving the Beach from its Amazon page:

“This is an outstanding novel… Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)

Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she finally meets a rock star in the flesh?

Erin’s a lonely misfit with an eating disorder and a wild imagination. She believes she was born to save—and love—at least one tortured musician, and is willing to risk almost everything to fulfill that destiny.

“…gracefully grapples with several important issues, including alcohol and drug addiction, loss, grief and sexuality… There are also many entertaining pop-culture references to offset the weighty themes… An intriguing novel that looks at the ways that people cope with the pain in their lives.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

So if you enjoy contemporary fiction and novels about regular people learning about life through lots of trial and error, please check out Leaving the Beach.

Thanks so much! And do stay tuned for news about readings and other events. I hope to get some dates on the calendar soon.






Posted in books, books about music, Leaving the Beach, life, new fiction, novel writing, publishing, read, reading, summer, summer reading, Uncategorized, women, women's fiction, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s That Book? Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

Many, many thanks to book blogger extraordinaire, Book Club Mom, for this generous, thoughtful review of my novel, Leaving the Beach. I highly recommend checking out the Book Club Mom site if you’re looking for something new to read.

And while we’re on the topic, I’d like to announce that a brand new edition of Leaving the Beach will be published in early summer, 2019. Please stay tuned for additional news on that–and more–soon!

Book Club Mom

TitleLeaving the Beach

Author:  Mary Rowen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol…

View original post 235 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where Would You #Read, If You Could Read Anywhere?

I was a tomboy as a kid. It was the 1970s, and my neighborhood friends and I played outdoors whenever we could. My grass-stained knees and shins were usually dirty and covered in scrapes and bruises; I adored all the local cats and dogs; frogs, mice, and bugs didn’t gross me out. I’d never heard of Lyme disease, and couldn’t understand why anyone would use sunscreen. I mean, how could something as awesome as lying on a sunny beach be bad for your health?

But I was also anxious about lots of things. I was hesitant to try new activities, and shy around strangers and people I didn’t know well. At night, I’d often lie awake in bed worrying about fires, war, car accidents, and waking up in the morning and discovering my whole family dead. I may have seemed laid back to the casual observer, but deep inside I was anything but.

So on summer days when my friends weren’t available to play, reading was my escape. About once a week, I’d bike to the library and borrow a new stash of novels and mysteries. Then I’d go home and read in my favorite spot: under a big oak tree in the back yard. I’d fill my camping canteen with water, stretch my legs out on the grass, and lean back against the wide tree trunk.

All the fears in my head would evaporate as I’d lose myself in the story. And there were very few potential distractions. The phone was in the house—attached to the wall—and if I heard it ringing, I’d never run inside to grab it. Most of the calls were for my parents, and if nobody picked it up, it was no big deal. We didn’t have one of those fancy answering machines like Jim Rockford, but hey, if the call was important, the person would try again later. Right?

Fast forward to 2017. I’m an adult now—married with two teenage kids—and although life’s a lot different these days, I still worry about all kinds of things. And I still love reading. Sure, we’ve seen some of the most amazing advances ever in science, medicine, and technology during the past fifty years, but there’s still something magical about relaxing in a comfy spot with a good book.

But rarely, if ever, do I sit outside on the ground and read. For starters, my eyes, back, and legs aren’t what they once were. I’ve also learned through experience about the importance of sunscreen, and Lyme disease has become a serious threat in New England. And if I accidentally look directly into the sun or some other bright light, I often end up with an ocular migraine. Fortunately, these migraines don’t usually cause me pain, but I get weird visual disturbances that can make reading unpleasant, if not impossible. So the bottom line is that I usually read indoors.

I love reading on the couch with my feet up. It’s pretty great—especially when one of our cats snuggles with me—and I’m not complaining. But what would be ideal? Well, I guess my fantasy reading spot would include one of those comfy, curvy chaise lounges that’s wide enough to curl up on with a book, a cat or two, and maybe even the dog.

And since I prefer tea, coffee and seltzer these days to water from a canteen, it’d be good to have a table nearby for a drink and a snack. And, of course, my phone. Because whether I like it or not, it’s almost impossible—and perhaps even irresponsible—to disconnect completely these days.

As for lighting, I love natural light, and defer to it whenever possible. But at night, I use the overhead lights in our home. They’re efficient, and because they’re on the ceiling, the cats and dog can’t knock them over. However, if we’re talking fantasy here, I’d love a sturdy table lamp with a shade (like the one below), because it looks cool, and would probably prevent some of my ocular migraines as well.

How about you? Where do you like to read, and what would you include in your perfect reading nook?

Posted in books, cats, health, read, reading, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Two Oars Cutting the Water

The great Duke Miller writes about love. Wow. Reblogged from Tin Hats.

tin hats

(Dedicated to Teresa and Marshall.)

I have never loved until now.  For years the word scarcely escaped my lips.  Women would wait and still they waited until I was no more.  In my family I only used it with my father, mother, and one of my grandmothers.  As to my sisters, the word just didn’t seem right.  Was a brother meant to love his sisters? Of course, but I was an idiot back then.  I could not see, since my eyes had been poked out with burned sticks at Christmas.

I spoke love to one of my grandmothers. Nanny was a religious woman, a piano player, and born of the depression and because I had asthma and the air was clean in the tiny town where she lived, I’d visit in the autumn and spring.  I could roam freely down the limestone rock streets.  Sometimes the tornadoes came and we…

View original post 446 more words

Posted in blogs, duke miller, life, life experiences, love, marriage, memories, mother's day, truth, Uncategorized, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments


dane cobainToday, I’m pleased to welcome Dane Cobain back to my blog. Dane’s an independent UK poet, musician, and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. He also enjoys reviewing books and sharing tips to assist people in their writing and publishing endeavors. Please be sure to check out the links below if you’d like to connect with Dane through his website or on social media.

Thanks so much, Dane, for this helpful and interesting post!


You’ve probably performed a vanity search before – even if you’re not aware of it. In fact, if you’ve ever gone to Google (or any other search engine) and run a search for your own name, you’ve performed a vanity search.

In the early days of the internet, vanity searching was considered to be taboo, an act carried out only by the egotistical. But nowadays, with so much of our lives revolving around the web, vanity searches have become a tool for good.

Think about it: Odds are that at some point, someone is going to Google your name. For ‘normal people’, this might only happen when they apply for a job or if they try to get a loan, but for authors it tends to happen on a daily or weekly basis.

Do you want to be left in the dark about what results people see? Or do you want to check what people are looking at so you can make sure that it accurately reflects you?

Introducing Google Alerts

Carrying out a vanity search is a good start, because it’ll give you a rough idea of what results are surfacing, but it can be time consuming to check as often as you should do. That’s where Google Alerts come in – you can receive automatic emails whenever a new webpage is discovered that matches your search term.

As an author, it’s a good idea to set up alerts for your pen name, your series titles and the individual names of your releases. This can help you to pick up on coverage that you might not otherwise have been aware of, from reviews and giveaways to promo pieces and more. Reviews are particularly important to discover, because you can take the time to thank your readers – and even to ask them to share their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

If there’s a problem

Of course, there’s always the risk that you could carry out a vanity search and see results that are either irrelevant or – worse still – that cast your writing career in a negative light.

Perhaps it’s a scathing review or a blog post that accuses you of being a talentless hack. Perhaps it’s a bunch of photos of you as a kid, or an old account that you used half a lifetime ago. Either way, you have options available.

If the search reveals results that are defamatory, you can file a right to be forgotten request to ask the search engine to remove it. But usually, removing a result is almost impossible, and so a better option is to contact the webmaster directly and to ask them to either remove the page or to update it with more accurate information.

If the search reveals old photos or blog posts that are no longer relevant, you can remove them yourself if you have the relevant access. Otherwise, your best bet is to focus on creating new, high quality content that will push the older results off the front page, where people are less likely to see them.

Reputation management

One of the most obvious reasons for doing all of this is for the purpose of reputation management. Even the average person on the street should take the time to audit what comes up when you search for them, and for creative types – from authors and bloggers to artists, filmmakers and more – it’s more important than ever.

That’s because, as an author, you make a living from your reputation. When people read your books, they’ll typically do a little research beforehand, by checking out reviews, by seeing what people are saying about you on forums and discussion sites, and by simply tapping your name into a search engine to see what comes up.

And that’s exactly why vanity searches are so important. You’re not doing it to boost your ego – you’re doing it as part of a practical, concentrated effort to secure your reputation. As an author, you need to know what people are saying about you, regardless of where and when they’re saying it. Vanity searches are a key way for you to do just that.

 Your Turn

Have you ever carried out a vanity search? If so, did the results surprise you? And if not, will you be carrying them out in the future? Let me know what you think with a comment!


More about the author:
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in building websites for authors to help them to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.

Find Dane on his website:





Posted in #MondayBlogs, books, dane cobain, guest blog, guest post, promotion, publishing, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why the Women’s Marches Were So Important


My daughter and I decided to go to the Women’s March in D.C. almost as soon as we learned of its existence. But just a day or two later, I found out that plans for the event weren’t going smoothly. The bottom line was that the white women organizing it had been unintentionally insensitive to some issues concerning race. And even when changes were made—and more diverse organizers were hired—the bad taste lingered in many mouths. In the days leading up to the March, the press seemed to be giving the conflict almost as much coverage as the actual event, and that disturbed me. I couldn’t help wondering if I was pulling my teenage daughter out of school and bringing her on a four-day journey, only to attend a poorly attended, primarily white event.


That fear was quickly quelled on the morning of January 21st. The Metro train from our hotel in Alexandria into D.C. was jammed with people of various genders, ages, and ethnicities, most wearing pink pussyhats and carrying some of the most creative protest signs imaginable. But when we reached the L’Enfant subway stop, a very different type of fear arose in me. There were so many people trying to exit the station, that police had to regulate flow of people, and that particular Metro stop was temporarily shut down. Had I brought my kid to something too big? Would we be safe? The riots of the previous day came to mind, and I tried to figure out what we’d do if violence erupted.

Fortunately, there was no violence at the D.C. March, nor at most of the sister marches around the country and world, and my daughter and I were safely back in our hotel by early evening.


Was everything amazing? Well, that depends on how you define amazing, and also on your health and physical condition. As everyone knows by now, the marchers in D.C. numbered somewhere around half a million. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a large, packed crowd. Meeting up with friends was complicated, and, in several cases, impossible. Also, moving through such a dense crowd was only possible around the edges. The sound system was fairly good, and organizers did a great job setting up Jumbotrons, but even so, we only saw about a quarter of the program, if that. We stood in one spot for four or five hours, and if we’d had to use the bathroom, getting there would’ve been a challenge. Also, because of the size of the crowd, marching was extremely difficult, as much of the designated “march” area was filled with people.

On the other hand, we contributed to history (or HERstory). As we watched the TV news in the hotel that night and saw the magnitude of the crowd, we were thankful that we’d had the opportunity to be part of such a thing.

Also, the current administration may not be doing much for feminists or liberal causes these days, but Mr. Trump has made it clear that he pays attention to crowd size, so seeing images of the crowds at the various marches around the world must’ve made some sort of impression on him.

Furthermore, it’s also almost impossible to attend such an event without wanting to stay involved in causes you care about, and obviously, there will be plenty of opportunities for involvement in the immediate future. I admit that my participation in politics has waxed and waned quite a bit during my lifetime, but since the Women’s March, I’ve been doing what I can to contact legislators, share factual information in the face-to-face world and on social media, and stay up to date on what our government’s doing. And based on conversations with many people, almost everyone’s doing the same thing. The Women’s Marches awakened the activists in many Americans—both those who attended and those who saw them in the media—and I doubt there’s been a time in the last thirty years when more people have been involved in the political process.

Finally, on a personal note, the experience of going to D.C. and staying there for a few days allowed us to spend time in close quarters with people whose political viewpoints differed from ours. If you live in a swing state or an area where lots of left-wing/right-wing conflict exists, this may seem silly, but we live in a very liberal town, where very few people support Trump. (And those who do don’t normally admit it publicly.) For that reason, not only was Trump’s victory extra shocking for my family and me, but almost everyone I’ve spoken with since election day has been upset. But staying at a hotel in the area—especially on Inauguration Day—made it clear to us that we weren’t in the Boston area anymore. Guests in the hotel were a mix of Trump supporters (wearing pins and red hats), people there for the March (the pussyhats were a dead giveaway), and others there for business or tourism. And both nights that we were there, we attended the hotel’s evening reception. At first, we were a little nervous about how people might act, but what we experienced gave us some hope. Everyone acted respectfully, despite the fact that most guests were literally wearing their political sentiments on their heads. We held doors for each other, exchanged pleasantries, and made small talk in the elevator.

And so, my hope in America was renewed last weekend. Yes, at the Women’s March, but also at the hotel, where people were just people, taking time out of their regular lives to celebrate and work for what they believe in. It’s easy to get caught up in the actions of the current administration. And make no mistake: I’m strongly opposed to Trump and Bannon, and believe that if they’re not curtailed, America as we know it will be in grave danger. But I also have faith in the people who live here and love their country. I believe we have the ability to come together and preserve what’s truly important to us: a democracy that works. It won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

March If You Want To. Wear What You Like.


C’mon, people. Haven’t we had enough division already? So please, if you’re concerned about Trump and his attitudes toward women and women’s rights, stop saying divisive, disparaging things about the Women’s March on Washington.

I understand that the March got off to a bumpy start, but the intent was always good, and isn’t that the most important thing? As a writer and lover of words, I realize that names are important. I also know that the issue of race in America is a complicated one, and we’ve got a long way to go. But the organizers of this March have continually emphasized that all are welcome to participate, and I think all interested people should be encouraged to do so. The organizers have also just released a terrific, four-page document outlining the inclusive, intersectional goals and principles of the March.

Anyone who has the will and ability to show up on the National Mall on January 21st (or at one of the Sister Marches in another city) has a reason. That reason may be broad and altruistic, or it may be extremely personal. But it’s a valid reason. One of our most cherished American freedoms is the right to organize and demonstrate, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else. So please don’t make people feel uncomfortable about exercising their rights.

cat_hatIt’s also an American right to dress as we choose. So if you think a pink “pussyhat” will make a statement to the incoming administration, then wear one. If you don’t like the hats or consider them too “cute,” then don’t. Because let’s face it: if you’re not a fan of Donald Trump, chances are you think American women need more—not fewer—choices. So why attempt to influence anyone’s choice of headwear?

I’d also like to note that the Pussyhat Project has provided many people unable to attend the events a wonderful way to get actively involved. Supporters have been knitting, crocheting, and sewing the hats for weeks because they want to be represented at the marches. Let’s allow that to happen, then, and let’s applaud their amazing handiwork. Not to mention that since it’s January, warm hats will be appreciated by most participants. Women supporting women: who can argue with that?

See you at the March?


Posted in events, getting involved, politics, Uncategorized, women, Women's March on Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Music Tuesday! Guest Post by Julie M. Casey–Vintage Jazz and Blues: A New Orleans Treasure

Dear readers,

Music Tuesday has been on vacation for a while, but it’s back this week with a terrific piece by American writer and poet Julie M. Casey. You can learn more about Julie in her bio below, but first, I hope you enjoy her post. Thank you, Julie, for sharing!

julie_caseyI am a great lover of all genres of music, but I am thoroughly convinced I was born in the wrong era because of my obsession with vintage jazz and blues. Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, B.B. King, Otis Rush… The list goes on and on.

You might wonder how a girl from the Midwest, born in the late sixties, became so captivated by these musicians. Oddly enough, I have to thank the United States Navy for this amazing blessing in my life! Back in 1985, at the mere age of seventeen, I was stationed in the birthplace of jazz itself, New Orleans, Louisiana.

At first I was in somewhat of a culture shock, but soon realized that the Crescent City was indeed my very own Utopia. Jazz and blues are the roots of this iconic city! My first trip to the French Quarter was mind blowing. Street musicians playing this rich, soulful music I had never heard before. They were on every corner–amazing musicians I might add–and the people listening to them were dancing in the streets!

Before I knew it, my hips were swayin’ from side to side, my head was bobbin’, and my hands were clappin’ to the beat. My heart instantly fell head over heels in love with this music, these people, and this city!

I made my way up to Jackson Square where I found a plethora of street artists. Musicians, street performers, fortune tellers: you name, it they had it! And the smell of Cajun cuisine permeating from the countless restaurants. All I can say is “Oh my God!”.

Let me get back to the music though, because it is indeed the heartbeat of this city. It is what pulls in millions of tourists every year. It is what New Orleans is known for.

I want to take you back to June 12th, 1986. This was my 18th birthday, and I of course wanted to celebrate it down in the Quarter. I saw an older couple on the corner of Bourbon and Conti. He was playing a trumpet and she was singing. I stood there frozen. Their music had put me under some kind of spell.

At the end of their song, I decided I needed to meet these two incredibly talented human beings. I introduced myself and asked them what the name of the song was that they had just performed. Her reply, in her thick, southern, distinctly N’Awlins accent was “Oooh child, you’s probably too young to even know!” I nodded yes. She told me it was Careless Love Blues by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. It was a beautiful song they had both done justice covering.

She then went on to tell me that this was the very first song she had ever danced to with her husband when he was still courting her. My mind began to wander off, imagining that very moment. Their names were Nellie and Ray, and I will never forget them.

After that encounter I began going into vintage record shops searching for these old albums. It became my addiction. And to truly appreciate this classic music, you have to listen to it on those old vinyl albums with all their imperfections. There’s just something about those hints of scratches and slightly warped vinyl that can literally give you goosebumps when you listen to it melodically and perfectly blended into these magical tunes.

Ninety-nine percent of my writing is done while listening to these mesmerizing songs. They help me relax, and they definitely get the creative juices flowing within me. At this very moment, as I write this blog, I’m listening to Billie Holiday’s album Songs For Distingue Lovers. Undeniably in the top ten best blues albums of all-time, and my favorite by far.

If you’re not familiar with this genre of music I implore you to give it a listen. Surf YouTube for Vintage Jazz and Blues, and I know you will get lost in it for hours on end. Pandora has a wonderful station called Delta Blues that I adore. I guarantee you will be googling vintage record stores before you know it to start your own obsessive collection.

This music and these artists are timeless. Every generation needs to be, at the very least, introduced to it. It has been my passion, and my own personal therapy for thirty plus years, and will continue to be until my ashes are sprinkled from the Canal Street Wharf into the Mighty Mississippi for one last serenade, and hopefully it will be Louis Armstrong’s It’s A Wonderful World!

Julie Casey is an American writer hailing from the Midwestern city of Bloomington Illinois. Born June 12, 1968, she is the youngest of eight children. Julie is also a devoted mother and grandmother herself. She has been writing poetry for nearly four decades. Recently she has decided to delve into the erotica genre of her creative outlet, and with that, has found an immense degree of satisfaction and success with the transition into the more deviant aspects of her art. She has had her work featured in Little Raven Publishing*, Rebelle Society*, and Horror Sleaze Trash. She also has impending work to be featured in The Pleasure Loft Fall Edition*. Her writing is definitely her passion, and with the support of fellow writers, along with family and friends, she has finally made the courageous leap to share her work with the rest of the world.

* julie-casey/




* love/

Posted in #musictuesday, guest blog, guest post, Julie M. Casey, live music, music, music tuesday, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments