Category Archives: video
I was a doughnut dolly.
Back in the day, I served with the U.S. Army in Livorno, Italy. My job was to make coffee and play pool with the troops, set up entertainment and gourmet tours.
And make cookies. I whipped up hundreds and hundreds of cookies. Chocolate chip.
And doughnuts, too. I got help from the mess hall sergeant, a bespectacled guy from the Midwest who let me commandeer his big pots. Along with my Italian liaison, Maria, we’d cook up hot doughnuts and top them with powdered sugar we got from the PX, a sweet favorite with the boys.
Those were the days.
So on this Veterans Day I think about all the Doughnut Dollies who helped bring our servicemen and women a touch of home.
Especially on this 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day when the treaty was signed in a railcar in the French forest on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour.
God bless all those who have served our country. Thank you.
PS — For fun, I put on my old uniform with U.S. Army Service Clubs patch. And yeah, I lost the hat years ago somewhere in Italy.
For this Veterans Day, my Civil War time travel romance is on sale for 99 cents!
She wore gray…he wore blue…but their love defied time
How many women soldiers fought in the Civil War?
And check out this audio/video excerpt from Chapter 1 of my WW 2 sweet romance.
American soldier and an Italian nun in war torn Italy dare to fall in love…
The captain thinks he’s found Shangri-La until he realizes there’s stolen art, Nazis and a whole lotta snow
The way to a rogue’s heart is through his…
Well, not exactly. At least for this handsome, dashing rogue from Rome.
Find out how a pretty signorina catches his eye on National Pasta Day!
(my poem as written on the graphic)
The ROGUE from ROME
There once was a rogue from Rome
Who wandered far from home
A pretty wife to find
To make pasta divine
Such was his desire
To light his fire
But the girl who caught his eye
Couldn’t cook or bake or fry
What she could do I don’t have to tell you
Needless to say They went out for pasta every day
And made passionate love all through the night
Our virile rogue al dente when out went the light…
If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:
She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
Happy Halloween!! — EROTIC ROMANCE:
I love Halloween and dressing up in a pretty costume. Especially a can-can outfit with a white petticoat and layers of ruffles and black stockings. Imagine if you could go to Paris and dance the can-can at the famous Moulin Rouge.
You can…with the help of a little black magic.
Meet Autumn Maguire in “Naughty Paris“ She’s jilted at the altar and uses her pre-paid honeymoon tickets to go to Paris. She’s turned on when she sees a full-size painting of a sexy, lost Impressionist named Paul Borquet in a studio in the Marais District…
Here is an audio/video podcast of two short scenes from “Naughty Paris“ where Autumn hears the laughter of the scandalous artist…and she’s transported back to 1889 Paris.
Find out what happened to Autumn Maguire in “Naughty Paris.”
A Soldier’s Italian Christmas: Video Excerpt from Chapter 1 of a forbidden romance during WW 2 in war torn Italy
“A Soldier’s Italian Christmas” ***FREE today Saturday October 14, 2017***
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.
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.
“A Soldier’s Italian Christmas” ***FREE today Saturday October 14, 2017***
Sooo thankful to everyone who nominated my Kindle Scout book The Magic Christmas Train . . . it wasn’t chosen and I wanted to do something to say “Thank you,” so for Friday and Saturday, Oct 13 & 14, my WW II Christmas novella “A Soldier’s Italian Christmas” will be FREE!
It takes place around the same time — Dec 1943 when the Allies were pushing north in Italy . . . when an American captain makes a wrong turn and ends up in a bombed out village . . . and meets a beautiful nun.
Art stolen by the Nazis figures predominately in my romance novella “A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”
Sister Angelina discovers what the Nazis are up to and risks her life to save the art treasures. Here she is in the Monastery of Monte D’Oro Rose.
Sister Angelina and Capt. Mack O’Casey are spying on the brutal Nazi major in this scene through a peephole from their hiding place:
The library was filled with drunken Nazis.
Angelina focused on the outrageous behavior of the German officer with the pretty brunette on his lap. Ines. “Oh, my Lord…” she whispered, and then blessed herself. Major von Arx sat at the long table where the monks prayed, running his fingers up and down the girl’s shiny, smooth stockings. Silk. Ines let out a breathy sigh when he parted her thighs and his hand dove under her skirt.
Embarrassed, the young nun looked away from the spy hole.
Oh, the shame. What would the captain think if he saw her watching them?
“What is it, Sister?”
“Nothing but the devil at play,” she said, her cheeks flaming.
“Your words intrigue me.” The captain put his eye to the peephole and smirked. “Are you certain he doesn’t know we’re watching him?”
“Yes, but we must be careful he doesn’t see us. The peephole was hidden by priceless Renaissance paintings,” she said, wishing she’d never brought him here. “Until the Nazi major stole them.”
“Yes. The German officer ordered his guards to remove the paintings and ready them for transport. For the Fuehrer, he said. Two days ago, I hid in the tower and watched his men leave through the narrow passage and head down the mountain with mules packed with wooden crates.”
“Men died trying to climb these mountains, Sister,” said the captain, not trying to hide the raw edge to his voice. “Good men. Brave men. The mud, the stench of death all around us, but we kept going. For what? So this Nazi bastard could steal from the Church?”
His eyes glowed a vibrant blue more intense than a cloudless sky. Angelina felt deep into her bones here was a man of faith who could be trusted. A man who stirred her soul with the desire to feel his strong arms around her. Sweet yearnings to feel skin against skin that tore her apart. Especially at night when her small cell was dark and her cotton chemise stuck to her body drenched in sweat, feelings she didn’t understand tormenting her. The captain brought those feelings to the surface.
He was dangerous to her.
Dear God, why must you lead me into temptation?
“We must return to the orphanage so you can rest before it’s time for you to leave,” she said. It saddened her to send him on his way, but she must. “I will lead you through the secret passage down the mountain. From there you can take the road north to Rome. I will see to it Marcello brings you the abbot’s finest wine to take with you on your journey.”
“Do you think God would approve?” he said with a grin.
“Yes, though He doesn’t always approve of what I’ve done.”
“Are you telling me the sweet angel before me is not what she seems?”
Angelina blinked. Had he guessed her secret?
What is Angelina’s secret? Find out in A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”
Coming up on Saturday: an extended video excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.”
Titanic: Iceberg and the Sinking
On April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. and sank at 2:20 a.m.
Would you have survived?
What were your chances?
Find out in my post today as we experience what it was like that night through the eyes of a first class lady, a second class gentleman, and an Irish family in steerage class.
You might be surprised.
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.
First Class Lady
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.
Second Class Gentleman
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?
Steerage Class Family
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, though I shan’t walk her decks or open doors to her cabins.
No, 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. We 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.
Tomorrow I will pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Titanic and answer your questions.
I pray you will join me.
My Titanic romance “Titanic Rhapsody” is available on:
US: Amazon Kindle and Amazon KU http://a.co/1wSE0rb
UK: Amazon Kindle and Amazon KU http://amzn.eu/75Lw9NS