Welcome to my blog. I hope you will return often for that second cup.

Writing has become more than a way to make lists or keep in touch with friends. It is a vital part of who I am. For the past few years I've been writing essays, devotionals, a memoir, and several novels. I invite you to join me on this site so we can explore ways together to improve our writings. Words can be beautiful or they can be hurtful - even devastating. The well-placed word or phrase, the choice metaphor, a fresh perspective - each can add to the reader's participation in sharing the thoughts of the writer. I invite anyone who wants to improve their work or even if you have never attempted writing beyond a grocery list to return often. Feel free to add your thoughts. There are no grades given - no critics to deter you. We do this as friends - chatting over their second cup of coffee. (or tea, if you prefer.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

 Popular Amish Series: The Zook Family Revisited
Available at Amazon in Paper or ebook

Monday, January 19, 2015

Newest Books from June Belfie

Book One of a three book series
Julia now available in paper or electronically through Amazon

Chapter One


Some scars are visible, while others remain unseen, but they are still there—silently eating away at the very soul of their victim.  

With eyes closed, Julia Montgomery lifted her head and allowed the flow from the showerhead to cleanse her. Oh, that it would wash away the haunting memories. Would they ever leave her? Oh, Robbie. Even after so many years, that horrible day was as vivid as it was when it occurred.

She shut off the water and reached for the oversized plush white bath towel—more like a blanket than a towel—and wrapped her shivering body in a cocoon of terry cloth. She knew better than to take a nap mid-day. That’s when the nightmares were most vivid, but she’d be out late tonight if all went well, and she needed to sleep first.

Ah, the evening ahead. Her foreign friends accepted her just the way she was. “Miss Perfect” could be herself. Tell jokes, laugh out loud, even use occasional slang.

First, she’d endure her meal. Dinner was served as usual in the family’s stately apartment overlooking one of Rome’s manicured parks. When she’d arrived nearly a year before, Rome had seemed too large and impersonal, but now it was a part of her psyche. How could she return to her sterile surroundings on Long Island?

Francesco, their servant, pulled out the ornate antique side chair as she approached, and then helped slide the chair under the table as Julia settled into it. She smiled up at him as she reached for her damask napkin.

Julia’s mother, Joanne, looked up from her latest novel, nodded, and then returned to her page. Julia looked over at this stranger who had given birth to her twenty-two years before. This woman who prided herself on being an American. Her absorption in her heritage meant more to her than any accomplishment attributed to her daughter or anyone else in the family. An ardent member of the Daughters of the


American Revolution, she believed all who arrived on the shores of the United States after 1776 were intruders or foreigners. Living a year in Italy was a great concession on her part. Julia tolerated her mother's intolerance, vowing never to be like her.

Silence prevailed as mother and daughter, each absorbed in their own worlds, took nourishment together.

“Francesco, I’ll have a little more bouillon.” Joanne remarked as she adjusted her reading glasses and wiped her mouth with the over-sized napkin. Julia glanced over as the house servant ladled more soup into her mother’s French porcelain bouillon cup. Her mother continued to read silently and barely glanced up. After a few moments Julia broke the silence.

“Mother, when is Dad coming back from the States?”

“I’m not sure. He has business matters to clear up first.” She closed the book after bending the corner of the page—a habit that infuriated Julia—a bibliophile.

“I’m going out after supper for awhile," Julia said, wiping her mouth. “I’ll probably be home late, so leave a light on, if you will.”

“This is the third night in a row,” her mother said as she took a sip of bouillon and reached for a roll.


Joanne grimaced as she was corrected. “Fourth then. Where do you go? You know it’s dangerous in Rome at night—especially for a woman. I should actually forbid you to go.”

“I won’t be alone. I told you before, I have tons of friends.”

“Isn’t it time I met some of these people?” Her mother looked over her reading glasses with a demanding expression, which Julia attempted to avoid.

“You wouldn’t like them. They’re just ordinary people.”

“Oh, please, Julia, don’t start that again.” Joanne rolled her eyes as she removed her glasses and laid them on the table.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that…well, they have different values and customs. You might find them coarse or loud.

“Very well. Point well taken. Quite frankly, I don’t understand your fascination with people like that. You’ve been brought up so differently. Just be careful you don’t get too personal with these foreigners.”

“I believe we’re the foreigners, Mother.” Julia tried to restrain her annoyance, but her voice had an edge to it that was not lost on her mother.

“I’m so weary of your sarcasm. I can’t wait to return to America. I only wish your father were here. I’m sure he would not like you going out at night by yourself.”

“I think he’d be pleased that I’m finally gaining some independence and self-confidence. By the way, did he do well in his interview?”

“I have no idea. But then, your father always does well, doesn’t he?” Julia knew her mother’s pride in her husband was founded upon his financial success.

Francesco removed the empty bowls and placed a sparsely prepared entrée before each of them. The large white dinner plate contained a small four-inch piece of salmon adorned by a creamy dab of sauce partially shadowed by a fresh sprig of dill. The only sound in the room was the light clicking of forks against the brittle china.

Julia checked her watch and rose from her chair, leaving her meal only half-eaten. “I’m going to have to leave, Mother. I promised to be—”

“Go—just go. Whatever.” Her mother waved as she would at an annoying fly, replaced her glasses, and returned to her novel.

Julia glanced at the mirror in the hallway on her way out. She tossed her long auburn hair behind her shoulders, removed her large Hermes purse from the marble-topped table which stood near the entranceway, and slipped quickly out the door. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Her steps quickened as she melted into the vibrancy of the Roman city. It was May, and she enjoyed the days as they lengthened. A warm gentle breeze, emanating from the Tiber River, caressed her cheeks. As the sun began its descent, it cast long shadows from the 17th century stucco buildings across the brick alleyways. The moon was visible in the darkening sky and as she passed fountains prevalent in this old section of Rome, she noticed the glimmering lights reflected in the pools of water. For Julia, the most enchanting quality of Rome was its robustness and vitality. This ancient city awakened an excitement and sensuality in her soul. She thought it strange—New York only irritated her and created stress. Why such a difference?

She headed down the Corso V. Emanuelle toward the Piazza Navona. Small groups of Romans gestured and laughed together. No one remained indoors; even toddlers in carriages added to the festivities. A warm glow refreshed her spirit, and she found herself smiling. “Buona sera,” she said in passing. People reciprocated her greeting with cheerful nods. How safe she felt in this huge history-filled city, though it was probably an illusion.

Julia approached the Fontana del Moro, south of the square. The art appreciation course she was taking covered Roman art in detail and she had sketched this fountain the previous week for an assignment.

She stood for a moment admiring the lovely antique-rose marble that created the basin. Two little boys about three years old splashed each other, cheered on by an older girl already damp from the fountain. Julia stood motionless for a moment, her heart pounding. No, not tonight. She wouldn’t allow her thoughts to surface again.

It was quarter after seven, and many of the small shops remained open, hoping to entice the tourist or native Italian for a last-minute purchase.

At last she arrived at her destination. For the past several months, Julia had met with a group of friends, mostly Italians, at a small café along the piazza. A girl from her art class named Angelica, had invited her to join some friends one evening, and Julia’s life had taken on new meaning. She attended their get-togethers frequently after that. There were no false pretenses; no one even asked what her father did for a living, as they did in the States. The fact she wore only designer clothing wasn’t even mentioned.

Julia felt accepted.

This time of year the group sat outside under the canopies. At least eight or nine friends congregated nightly for pizza and camaraderie. As Julia approached the crowded café, she heard a familiar voice.