Category Archives: blog hop
Crossing the English Channel has always held a wildly mystical attraction for me, whether it was war-weary soldiers returning home from battle or long-suffering French aristocrats escaping Madame Guillotine. There was something brave and noble about standing on the deck of a ship with a fierce wind blowing in your face, angry waves crashing against the hull and sea spray wetting your lips with a briny taste.
Or so I believed. I had my own narrow escape from the ravages of the cold sea on such a trip. I never forgot it.
Boarding the ship at Oostende, Belgium with only my backpack and naïveté for company, I was eager to get to London to visit a friend studying there. So what if the ferry was overbooked and the weather was stormy? I was tough, I could take it.
I nearly froze to death when I lost my balance as the ship rolled on the swell of the sea and I slid across the deck like a greased seal. I ended up cold and wet and hanging onto the rail for dear life.
I never forgot my youthful folly and many times while writing about the sinking of the Titanic, I pulled up those emotions to try to understand what my characters were experiencing on that fateful night, April 14, 1912, when the ship hit an iceberg.
Bitter cold, calm sea and freezing water.
Let me recreate the scene for you at 11:40 p.m. that night.
Contrary to what some films and TV shows have depicted, most passengers were asleep or reading in their cabins when the Titanic hit the iceberg. They were not enjoying a party-like atmosphere in the dining saloons drinking champagne and dancing. The public rooms closed down around 11 pm in all classes. It is true that diehard poker players like my hero in Titanic Rhapsody, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, were busily engaged in a game of poker or bridge whist in the smoking room.
The Titanic glided as smoothly as a haughty swan over the sea on that starlit night. No moon. Which is why it has been speculated that the two lookouts didn’t see the one-hundred-foot tall iceberg until the last minute (they had no binoculars—a ship’s officer was transferred at the last moment and took the key to the locker with the binoculars with him).
“Iceberg right ahead!” shouted the lookout into his telephone to the bridge. He rang the bell three times.
For thirty-seven seconds the two lookouts waited as the ship appeared to be heading straight for the iceberg. The ship’s first officer tried to avoid the berg and ordered the ship turned to port (left). What happened next no one saw coming…
The Titanic was cruising close to top speed in spite of the iceberg warnings. This was not unusual. According to the thinking of that time, Captain Smith was justified in getting through the ice region as quickly as possible. What he didn’t know was that the ship was on a direct collision course with the berg, a huge mass of ice that had traveled farther south than was ever thought possible.
The cold Labrador Current swirled around the iceberg to form a protective layer, which insulated it from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream and prevented it from melting.
Pushing the iceberg into the shipping lanes.
The Titanic never had a chance.
The White Star Line ship smashed into the iceberg along her starboard (right) side, slashing open a 295 foot gash that doomed the ship. The passengers snug in their beds or enjoying a hot whiskey and water in the smoking room had no idea that five possibly six of her sixteen compartments were flooded.
Or that the mail hold down on G deck was rapidly filling with water. Or that down in the boiler rooms the air was heavy with steam as the engineers tried to pump out the water in boiler room 5, praying the bulkheads would hold. (The hull plates of the Titanic were held in place with 3-lb. rivets—three million rivets total.)
Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer, did a quick assessment of the damage—the Titanic could float with two, three, even four of her first watertight compartments gone, he said, but not five. The ship had an hour, no more than two to survive.
After conferring with Mr. Andrews, Captain Smith ordered the wireless operator to send out the distress signal CQD (the British landline operators’ signal “CQ” was for “all stations” with the addition of “D” by the Marconi company for added emphasis—danger ). He added an “SOS” (adapted because of its distinctive Morse Code pattern of three dots…three dashes…three dots) with the Titanic’s call letters: “MGY.”
Where are Katie and Jack, my heroine and hero in Titanic Rhapsody, when first class passengers feel a “jar” in their staterooms? Or when the steerage passengers are tossed about in their bunks only to find seawater seeping in under their cabin doors?
I wish I could tell you…but I can’t or I will spoil the romance. I will say that Katie and Jack experience all the fear and dread of the passengers that night when the Titanic hits the iceberg.
To give you a feeling of what happened during those last hours, we’ll go through what a first cabin lady experienced, then a second class gentleman, and finally, a family in steerage.
If you’re a first cabin lady, you’re most likely asleep in your cabin where it’s cozy and warm with the electric heater going, the lights dim, when suddenly something jolts you awake. Strange, you think, but nothing to be alarmed about. You try to go back to sleep until you realize the engines have stopped. Here, in the middle of the Atlantic?
You’re curious, but not worried since everyone says the ship is unsinkable. You throw a heavy coat over your nightdress and peek outside, running down the corridor in your soft satin slippers. Others are about, gossiping, yawning, until the bedroom steward in a very nice manner tells you to put on your lifebelt and go up on deck.
In this cold? you ask him. Yes, he tells you, though he assures you it’s merely a matter of precaution. Begrudgingly, you tell your lady’s maid to help you put on your corset, then fasten on the lifebelt made of six squares of cork. All the while the girl frets about, saying you’re all doomed. At the last moment, you grab your gloves and hat and scarf and join the other ladies and gents on the Boat deck.
Ah, there’s nothing to worry about, you decide, relieved. The ship’s musicians are playing a lively ragtime tune and everyone is chatting about the chunks of ice on the forward well deck—then a ship’s officer orders you into a lifeboat. Yes, orders you, like you’re a common servant. Why, the nerve of the man.
Women and children first, he says. What about the gentlemen? You hear someone whisper men are being allowed into the boats on the starboard side, but not here. Why get into the boats at all? you wonder, believing you’re safer on the ship than that small boat.
Then someone says the Titanic is sinking…
It can’t be that serious, can it? you wonder, not believing it possible You wait with your maid on the port side of the ship, watching the ladies being separated from their husbands and put into the lifeboats. Boats not even half-filled. No need to hurry. You hear someone say they’ll be laughing about this over breakfast.
Really? You start to shiver from the bitter cold…frosty puffs of air come out of your mouth when you speak. Unbelievable noise fills your ears. From the boilers, someone says. Ladies screaming as they’re pulled from their husbands’ arms. Then you notice the ship is listing heavily to one side. Well, what are you waiting for? Get into the damn lifeboat!
You don’t protest when a seaman tosses you into a boat. Then your maid. After all, you’re the lucky ones, you realize as the boat is lowered over the side and hits the water. The lifeboat pulls away from the ship so as not to be pulled down by the suction when the ship sinks…yes, it is true. The Titanic is going down.
You put your shoulder to the oar and row…listening to the whispers that a rescue ship is on the way…the Carpathia. Will it arrive in time?
Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…
You’re anxious to get to New York and start your new job—and thrilled to be on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Who would have thought you’d find yourself walking the second class promenade deck late at night, your hands in your pocket, your mind on the pretty girl you met earlier in the day? Still, you’ve no time for romance. You’ve got family back in England needing the money you’ll send home to them. It’s nearly midnight. Time to turn in for the night.
You head for the second class staircase when—
Wait, what was that? Did you feel a bump?
You rush to the starboard side—good God, was that an iceberg? Did we hit it? you wonder. No alarm sounds, though you don’t find out until later the Titanic has no PA system and relies on the three hundred stewards to alert the passengers to put on their lifebelts and go topside.
You wait, noting the other passengers seem calm and no one is in a hurry to get into the lifeboats. Then you spy the pretty girl you had your eye on over on the port side. She’s trying to convince her aunt to get into a lifeboat. She’s grateful when you charm the older woman and talk her into getting into a boat with her niece following her. Then you see the girl waving at you as the boat is lowered over the side. She’s smiling. Tears in her eyes.
You’ll never forget that smile.
No time to waste. The chap you share a cabin with finds you and tosses you a lifebelt. The grim look on his face tells you that you’ll both need more than a lifebelt to make it. No men are allowed into the boats here on the port side, so you do your duty and assist the women and children getting into the boats.
It’s been more than two hours since the Titanic hit the iceberg and she’s listing heavily.
The last few minutes are chaotic. Men rush the lifeboats, then a shot rings out—they’re pushed back. You help a woman get into a boat, then someone hands you a baby. You give it to the woman before the boat is lowered.
No more wooden lifeboats left. You try to help the ship’s officers launch one of the four collapsibles when suddenly there’s a thunderous explosion. You’re blown clear of the ship, but after swimming long, hard strokes, your hands swell up, your legs go numb and your back feels like it’s breaking in two.
Cries, screams ringing in your head, people clinging to you, clutching you around the throat, dragging you down underwater. You can’t breathe, you’re choking. Then the cold…the bitter, freezing cold…
The last thing you remember is the pretty girl’s smiling face…
But what if you can’t get topside? It is time to speak of the steerage passengers, who until now have waited patiently for a steward to bring them up on top to get into the lifeboats.
Well, not all the third class passengers have been patient.
How could you be if you’re a good wife and mother and your family’s lot depends on you getting to the lifeboats?
Holy Mary, you’ve had time of it since you boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. Getting the two little ones, Mary and Bridget, settled in their bunks with Danny, a lad of ten, wanting so to follow his da around the ship.
And then there’s Patrick, your man. A strong, blustering bloke with strong hands and a big heart. Him always ready to enjoy a pint after a hard day’s work and eager to give you a hug and a kiss when you’re weary from toiling from dawn till night.
“You’ll have a better life in America,” he promises you, after buying passage on the grand ship. And now look at the lot of you. Huddling in the stairway down here on E deck like drowned rats after the seawater came flooding into your cabin. The ship hit an iceberg, they say, split her open where you’re quartered in the fore part of the ship in the married couples section.
And would you believe the likes of them stewards shouting and hollering to put on lifebelts that don’t exist? Only through the help of the good Lord did Patrick find belts for you and the children. And now they won’t let you through the gate to go topside?
“Have you no heart, man?” Patrick yells to the steward, asking him to let his family through. No, he tells him, you have to wait. Then you put your hands over the girls’ ears when Patrick lets go with a barrage of expletives and his fists. He pushes the steward aside and bangs on the barrier. With help from the other men, down it goes with a loud crash.
Then Patrick picks up the girls, one in each arm, and orders you to grab Danny and go ahead of him. Up the stairs you go, the companionway taking you up to the next deck. Then someone says go through the second class door and somehow through Divine grace you find your way up on top.
Oh, such chaos you’ve never seen. People yelling and rushing about like frightened mice with their tails caught in the jaws of a hungry cat. Patrick, good man that he is, doesn’t stop. From boat to boat he goes until he finds one that will take you and the girls. And Danny.
But not him.
“Women and children first,” orders the ship’s officer, shaking his head. Patrick nods. He knew all along there’s no place for him, but he didn’t let anything stop him until his family was saved.
God bless him.
“A kiss to you, lass,” he says, brushing your lips with his, then he tosses you into the boat and it’s lowered away. You huddle in the lifeboat with your children close to you. The sea is so calm, so smooth, the piercing screams and pitiful pleas for help sound sharp and clear in your ears, but you can’t cry. That will come later. Now you have to be strong. For the girls and Danny.
Patrick would want it that way.
And there you have it. A trio of passengers and how they fare on that fateful night. Then at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the Titanic breaks in two and sinks into the North Atlantic, a pale gray vapor hanging like smoke over the spot where she disappears.
For the passengers and crew, cold and freezing in the lifeboats, it will be hours before the rescue ship Carpathia reaches them. Then it’s on to New York. Between twenty and thirty thousand people crowd Chelsea Piers when the Carpathia steams into New York Harbor around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 1912.
Even the aftermath of the Titanic is dramatic. Reporters hire their own tugboat to try to get to the passengers first and buy their exclusives stories; the newspapers blast the headlines for days about the society folks on board (third class passengers don’t fare as well—they’re sent to homeless shelters and their names don’t appear on the survivors’ list); and the U.S. Senate subcommittee holds hearings at the Waldorf-Astoria, interviewing first class passengers and crew.
We’ve come to the end of our journey on the Titanic and a grand tale it is. Before I go, I want to take one last look at the ship of dreams.
I want to take one more walk down her sweeping Grand Staircase with the great glass dome overhead like Katie O’Reilly, my heroine, does in Titanic Rhapsody. I see the stars peeking through, heavenly witnesses to all that is elegant and romantic.
A place of enchantment where everything is unique to this time, this place. Katie can’t believe she’s really here and neither can I.
I quicken my pace and leave the ship, knowing the Titanic will stay with me always.
Come Fly with Me on New Year’s Eve . . . with a sexy billionaire as we count down to midnight #NewYearsEve
The holidays are all about family…and the gorgeous hero in COME FLY WITH ME, my sexy New Year’s Eve contemp, doesn’t have anyone…poor baby, I mean, billionaire. Jace Chantiers is a sucker for a pretty woman, so when he overhears Kacie Bennett begging the airline ticket agent to get her a seat…any seat…on the last flight out of London on New Year’s Eve, he buys her a first class ticket home.
The woman was trouble. An itch up his backside he shouldn’t scratch, but he did. Strange, but Jace was enjoying himself more than he had in a long time. She stoked a fire in his belly that didn’t go straight to his dick but to his brain. She issued him a challenge he couldn’t ignore and it was killing him.
When he heard her talking earlier on her cell, her voice cracking as she tried to find out what happened to her sister, he’d pulled the ticket agent aside and used his influence to find out more about her. Her story got to him. Desperate to get home, credit card limit too low for anything but economy. Baby sister in trouble. What else could he do but buy her the last empty seat on the special midnight flight to San Francisco? In first class. Next to him. She wasn’t his type, but she sure had a saucy attitude and confidence that took a man off his edge. Made him practically beg her to accept the damn ticket.
Jace had never done that for any woman. He’d always taken what he wanted. An old habit he couldn’t shake since he was growing up in a gritty beach town in SoCal and discovered no one would give a kid with no name a break. He never did get the smells of hot tar, dead jellyfish, and overripe trash out of his lungs and spent his life always one knockout punch away from the next fight.
Flying first class was one of the perks of getting out of that life. He preferred flying commercial over having his own jet. He liked watching people, seeing how they reacted to the world around them, not sitting by himself in a private plane. Alone.
Not bad for a punk who had nothing for wheels but a broken down skateboard when he was a teen. Now he was at the top of his game, a frequent flier and well-acquainted with the luxury of the airbus. So when this voluptuous babe with the golden-girl legs went on a verbal sparring match with him, it made him sit up and take notice. Women always wanted something from him.
He couldn’t let her go until he found out why.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!!
A Soldier’s Italian Christmas: Video Excerpt from Chapter One of a forbidden romance during WW2 in war torn Italy
“A Soldier’s Italian Christmas”
O’Casey Brothers in Arms 1
Two days before Christmas, Captain Mack O’Casey gets separated from his unit during battle. He makes a wrong turn and finds himself in a small bombed-out village called Monte D’Oro Rose. It appears to be deserted. It isn’t. A beautiful young woman is watching his every move…
Who is she? You’ll find out in this Video Excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
Excerpt from Chapter One of “A Soldier’s Italian Christmas:”
“American?” Her voice changed. “Oh, thank God,” she said in English.
Mack turned around slowly and saw a young woman holding a gun on him. She bent down and turned up the wick on the lantern sitting on the ground and light flooded the small courtyard. He didn’t breathe until he was certain she wouldn’t shoot him. Dark, beautiful eyes flecked with amber sucked the fatigue right out of him.
Here is my special video excerpt with lots of photos and my voiceover. It’s 11 minutes long–I cover the first few pages of Chapter One…it was quite a challenge.
I hope you enjoy it.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
O’Casey Brothers in Arms 1
He is a U.S Army captain, a battle-weary soldier who has lost his faith.
She is a nun, her life dedicated to God.
Together they are going to commit an act the civilized world will not tolerate.
They are about to fall in love.
Here’s how it works: Lynn Crain heads up this amazing blog every week with a new theme; it’s up to the authors to post 7 paragraphs, 7 words, or 7 sentences. Sexy, of course. Please visit the other authors, too.
This week’s theme from Lynn’s My Sexy Saturday website: this is where just once is not enough.
So, here is Sexy Twice as in — Two Sexy Brides. My two heroines are twins–they look exactly alike except for their hair color–but live 150 years apart. Liberty has traveled back from the 21st century to 1862, where she meets up with a brunette Confederate spy who is her spitting image. Wearing a dark wig, Liberty takes her place so Pauletta Sue can do her spying (against Liberty’s will, btw), but she doesn’t plan on falling in love with the woman’s fiancé, the handsome Major Flynt Stephens.
Flynt, however, is suspicious…
“Flynt, please, we can’t marry…not now.”
“What game are you playing with me, Pauletta Sue? Demanding I marry you, and then changing your mind?” he said, leaning down and brushing his lips against hers. He was tempted to carry her upstairs and peel off her clothes, working his way from her flimsy pinafore down to her silk drawers. He wrapped his hands around her waist. His move was brazen, but he was beyond caring. He had to know who she was before he lost his mind.She stiffened, drawing back. He wanted to tell her what he suspected for weeks, but he had to be sure. “I should take you to my bed tonight—”
“I agreed to become your wife, Flynt,” she said, chin up. “Not your mistress.”
“You won’t push me away on our wedding night,” Flynt said, challenging her. “I want you as much as you want me.”
“You insult me, sir.” She raised her hand to strike his cheek, but he grabbed her wrist. She didn’t back down. “I shall pretend I never heard your indecent proposition, Major.” She pulled away from him. “I’ll see you in the morning when you’ve come to your senses.”
“This isn’t over between us, Pauletta Sue.”
“Isn’t it?” she said, miffed. Then she was gone. She ran toward the backstairs, her skirts rustling after her like an angry wind. She didn’t stop, didn’t turn around. He let her go. He had to. He’d lost his temper, let his dark desires override his reason. Fool. His need for her drove him to act like a madman. He prayed he hadn’t lost her for good.
She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
LOVE ME FOREVER is on Kindle Scout — you can read the first 5,000 words HERE. You’ll meet both my heroines and both my heroes in the excerpt. If you nominate my story and it’s published by Kindle Scout, then you’ll receive a free copy!
It’s a saga of love and romance and war. Believe me, I walked every road, fought every battle with my characters, even walked around in a hoop skirt to “get it right.”
This is a book of the heart…any questions? Please ask!!
I’ll be back tomorrow with more about LOVE ME FOREVER and the Civil War…
If anyone feels like sharing a vote…I’ll be forever grateful! I’d love to get back on the HOT list at Kindle Scout!!
Thank you for your support…
Thank you for stopping by…………..and don’t forget to visit the MY SEXY SATURDAY BLOG HOP for this week!
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