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TITANIC Week Day 3: Katie O’Reilly and how Titanic was born in Ireland

TITANIC Week here on “Once Upon a Story.” Day 3: Katie O’Reilly and how Titanic was born in Ireland

Today April 11, 1912, the Titanic stopped in Queenstown, Ireland to pick up passengers including my heroine, KATIE O’REILLY, in TITANIC RHAPSODY.

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Let’s go back to 1907 and a time when Katie O’Reilly, the heroine in my novel, Titanic Rhapsody, was fourteen years old and living with her da and mum and her older sister, Mary Dolores, near Queenstown in Southern Ireland. She was filled with curiosity and yearned for a better life, which often got her into trouble with the local sisters at the Catholic school.

While Katie was discovering that a poor Irish girl had as much of a chance to better herself as a prize pig did of escaping the butcher, up in Belfast an enterprising gentleman named Lord William James Pirrie had grand plans to help Irish girls like Katie find their dreams.

Now mind you, this was a time when more than a million people a year emigrated from Europe to the United States. Before the great steamers made the crossing, the steerage or third class passengers had to bring their own food and spent the week-long journey in cramped, unsanitary quarters. Those lucky enough to get a breath of fresh air on the upper deck shared it with chickens in poultry coops.

You can be sure when the emigrants arrived in America, they wrote to the folks back home: “Smelly, dirty trip on the ________ Line. Get a ticket on another ship.”

But what if the emigrants raved about the crossing? Good, hot food at every meal that included oatmeal and currant buns. Clean cabins with running water and nary a chicken feather in sight. Can you imagine the stampede to book passage on that ship?

Lord Pirrie, chair of Harland & Wolff, major shipbuilders, did. According to the oft-told tale, the idea for Titanic and her sister ships came about over coffee and cigars in Lord Pirrie’s fancy London town house. There he convinced J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman and Manager Director of the White Star Line, that he could build two ships—the Olympic and the Titanic and later the Britannic—bigger and more luxurious liners than his competitor, the Cunard Line, had. Ships that would hold more passengers and raise his company’s profits substantially.

He convinced Mr. Ismay he could also increase profits by catering to the society crowd traveling across the pond on a regular basis and doing the grand tour. They were willing to pay big bucks to be pampered as if they were staying in a fancy hotel.

Who could resist such an offer? A new era in trans-Atlantic passenger ships was born. New slipways were constructed in Belfast to build the Titanic and three thousand workers hired to get the task done (450 were injured and 17 died during the construction). By the end of March 1909, the keel was laid down and on May 31, 1911 the Titanic was launched at 12:15 p.m. with great fanfare. Tickets were sold to the public with all the money raised going to charity.

Now the real work began to get Titanic ready for the posh passengers and eager steerage emigrants who would marvel at her interiors and wander up and down her long corridors. Also, we can’t forget the second class passengers, many of them tradesmen (including a perfume salesman whose sample bottles were retrieved from the wreckage) who relied on crossing the North Atlantic to keep their connections on the European continent current.

On April 2, 1912, the Titanic started a series of sea trials to prove her muster to carry passengers. All the while, my heroine, Katie was going through her own trials.

Her parents have died and she’s toiling in service in the grand manor of a fussy earl and lucky to have it. Katie got the job through the efforts of Mary Dolores, also a housemaid. A fine job it is for a lass like her, but Katie has dreams of bettering herself and yearns to be free to choose her own path in life.

Until the jealousy of the earl’s daughter is her undoing. When her ladyship’s beau is more interested in Katie than her, she accuses the Irish girl of stealing her diamond bracelet. That brings the law down on Katie. She swears she’ll not go to prison for something she didn’t do.

Next begins a wild chase through the streets of Queenstown to the docks with Katie doing her best to avoid the constable. She’s more determined than ever to sail on the ship of dreams. The White Star liner promises her a new life in America. If only she can grab onto it.

Not an easy task for a poor Irish girl. Hard to understand today, but people accepted the separation of the classes back in 1912 as an undeniable part of life. A time when clothes did make the man. This was also an era when upper class females were called “ladies” and all other females were termed “women.”

A lady back then spent a good part of her day being dressed and undressed by her lady’s maid. Which is why women’s blouses, dresses, coats, etc. have their buttons placed on the opposite side of a man’s similar garment—since she wasn’t doing the buttoning.

It was also an era when a lady or a woman didn’t wear her hair hanging down, but pinned up (only her husband was supposed to see her hair down). Which is why Katie’s hair flying around her shoulders and blowing in the wind like a beckoning sea siren causes such a stir to notorious gentleman gambler, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, watching her from the Promenade deck of the Titanic. Looking up from the deck of the tender to the grand ship, Katie is awestruck. She’s never seen such a man. Tall, muscular and possessed with an arrogance that intrigues her.

No wonder she’s fascinated with the pampering he shows her in first class, while trying to seduce her by offering her his protection. Quite a tempting proposition for a lass like Katie. Her God-fearing soul swears to resist him. But for how long?

Still, the Titanic offered unrivaled luxury to its passengers during the Gilded Age, a time when one million dollars worth of diamond jewels and paintings and gold dinner plates were not uncommon as wedding gifts. A time of diamond tiaras and titles, when ladies spent their days making calls and drinking tea and thought nothing of lavishing a small fortune on silk underwear from Paris.

And no income tax. With their husbands’ fortunes at their disposal, these elite ladies spent extravagant amounts on gowns, jewels and hats. Big hats. Like the one Rose wears when she boards the ship in the film “Titanic.” Plumes, jeweled hatpins and wildly provocative veils added a sexy, mysterious aura to an Edwardian first class lady embarking on the ship’s maiden voyage, especially the elusive Countess of Marbury…more about her later.

And here is our Katie on the dock at Queenstown, her plain black hat lost, her long glorious hair the color of a deep red sunset whipping about her shoulders and down to her waist.

When Katie takes a flying leap across the gangway and ends up on the tender, Ireland, ferrying passengers and mail to the liner, she helps out a young theology student ordered off the ship by his uncle, the bishop. What Katie doesn’t know is that he’s just taken the last pictures of the Titanic. Father Browne had no idea then his photos of the Titanic would become world famous.

Before Katie finds her way aboard the liner with the law at her heels, the White Star Line steamship makes stops in Southampton and Cherbourg to pick up passengers and mail (400,000 letters are stowed belowdecks). What a grand day it is for the Titanic. She is the biggest ship afloat with 1,324 passengers and a crew of 899. Can you smell the salty air and hear the sea gulls cawing as she leaves Queenstown? Hear her whistle blast three times?

It’s 1:30 p.m. on April 11, 1912 and the Titanic is on her way to New York. Our Katie is belowdecks…hidden out of view by Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn. I shan’t tell you where and spoil it . . .

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Check out my Titanic novel, “Titanic Rhapsody,” about a poor Irish girl who escapes the law for a crime she didn’t commit in a grand house in Ireland and becomes a countess aboard the Titanic…

Titanic Rhapsody is available on Amazon KINDLE & KINDLE UNLIMITED

Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.


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The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for #StPatricksDay

st_patricks_pot_gold

Glory be, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

A time to dream about that pot o’ gold while you’re at your computer and working at your job.

But what if you were a princess and had no job?

Meet The Princess and the Magic Shamrock:

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy St. Patty’s Day to you!

~Jina

==============

My latest projects:

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Love Me Forever is now available in Print for $19.99
=============

Southern Belle and Spy: Excerpt from LOVE ME FOREVER from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Featured Image -- 2069If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

 

 

RD_KindleWorlds

ROYAL DARE It ain’t easy getting clean. Even for a princess.

I first met Princess Violetta in Sariah Wilson’s story, ROYAL DATE.

I fell in love with the Monterra family, especially Violetta. I call her the “misunderstood princess.” She has everything—looks, money and a title—yet she fell victim to the seductive power of drugs. Why? I wondered. What led her down this path?

I was intrigued to answer that question, but more importantly, I wanted to know what happened to Violetta when she went to rehab.

How hard is it for a princess to get clean? And will she find her prince when she does?

I answer this question and more in my Kindle Worlds “The Royals of Monterra” story, ROYAL DARE. You can meet see what happened to her afterward in rehab in ROYAL DARE.

==========================================

“The Princess and the Magic Shamrock” Video for St. Patrick’s Day

st_patricks_pot_gold

Glory be, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

A time to dream about that pot o’ gold while you’re at your computer and working at your job.

But what if you were a princess and had no job?

Meet The Princess and the Magic Shamrock:

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy St. Patty’s Day to you!

~Jina

I’m working at my job — and this time I’ve got a hottie vampire hero!! It’s part of the Kindle Worlds VAMPIRE GIRL world.

We’re having a Facebook party on March 30th! CLICK HERE for more info.

==============

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Love Me Forever is now available in Print for $19.99
=============

Southern Belle and Spy: Excerpt from LOVE ME FOREVER from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Featured Image -- 2069If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

 

Check out my Royals of Monterra Kindle Worlds Fairy Tale stories:

Twisted Tiaras series:

 

 

It ain’t easy getting clean…even for a princess…Violetta goes to rehab.

 

ROYAL BRIDE

 

Can a sexy prince give a girl a second chance at love? Zoey is a former addict afraid to fall in love.

 

ROYAL KISS

royal_kiss_500x800

 

Even a goody two shoes princess can get lost down the rabbit hole. Heather will do anything to save her BFF from the world of party drugs.

======================================

ROYAL MAGIC

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The magic is in his kiss…I’m not in Philly anymore.

===========================

 

It’s 11:40 pm on the Titanic: Relive a Night to Remember on April 14, 1912 #Titanic104

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.

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© Andreas Meyer | Dreamstime.com

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?

Will it?

Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…

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© Daniel Raustadt | Dreamstime.com

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?

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© Photodynamx | Dreamstime.com

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.

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© Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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© Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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These three photos show items retrieved from the Titanic © Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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.

~Jina

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Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

 

 

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for #StPatricksDay

st_patricks_pot_gold

Glory be, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

A time to dream about that pot o’ gold while you’re at your computer and working at your job.

But what if you were a princess and had no job?

Meet The Princess and the Magic Shamrock:

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy St. Patty’s Day to you!

~Jina

==============

My latest projects:

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Women Soldiers in the Civil War from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Love Me Forever is now available in Print for $19.99
=============

Southern Belle and Spy: Excerpt from LOVE ME FOREVER from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Featured Image -- 2069If you love Civil War romance and time travel and TWO hunky military heroes, check out my Kindle Scout winner:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

 

 

RD_KindleWorlds

ROYAL DARE It ain’t easy getting clean. Even for a princess.

I first met Princess Violetta in Sariah Wilson’s story, ROYAL DATE.

I fell in love with the Monterra family, especially Violetta. I call her the “misunderstood princess.” She has everything—looks, money and a title—yet she fell victim to the seductive power of drugs. Why? I wondered. What led her down this path?

I was intrigued to answer that question, but more importantly, I wanted to know what happened to Violetta when she went to rehab.

How hard is it for a princess to get clean? And will she find her prince when she does?

I answer this question and more in my Kindle Worlds “The Royals of Monterra” story, ROYAL DARE. You can meet see what happened to her afterward in rehab in ROYAL DARE.

==========================================

2 Days left in my Kindle Scout campaign: “Love Me Forever” could use some lovin’…

little_girl_read

Yes, I’m down to the last two days of my Kindle Scout campaign for LOVE ME FOREVER I’ll miss my daily rendezvous with everyone…checking the Hot list…fretting, and then cheering when I’m on it.

As fellow author Fiona Quinn so wisely tweeted: “It’s nail biting time…”

Ah, yes…and so with the brazenness of an Irish lass with her lilting brogue and a twinkle in her eye, I’m askin’ ya, if you like Civil War time travel romance, check us out now, will ya? And if it be pleasin’ you, toss us a vote!!

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

Love_Me_Forever_500x798

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…

~Jina

LOVE ME FOREVER

TITANIC: What you don’t know about that night…

Titanic_countess_1200

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. I never forgot it.

I boarded 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 as the ship rolled on the swell of the sea. No wonder I lost my balance and 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. Many times while I was 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 when the ship hit an iceberg.

April 14, 1912.

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 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 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 the mail hold down on G deck was rapidly filling with water. Or 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 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:

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. What? 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 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 in 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. 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?

Will it?

Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…

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…

STEERAGE CLASS

But what if you can’t get topside? It’s 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.

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.

============

Today only, April 15, 2015, All Romance Books is having a SALE: all ebooks are 25% off!

If you want to be swept away on the grand ship with a handsome hero and a feisty Irish heroine, check out my story:

Titanic RhapsodyTITANIC RHAPSODY

Katie O’Reilly runs away from the grand house where she is in service after being wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape—the Titanic. She boards the ship of dreams and runs straight into the arms of Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. If she takes off her clothes…

Captain Blackthorn is intrigued by the Irish beauty and has plans to make her his mistress before they reach New York. Only one thing stands in his way—the lovely Countess of Marbury, who is in love with Jack and engaged to his old friend, millionaire Treyton Brady.

The handsome gambler awakens a forbidden passion in Katie that tempts her to give up her dream of freedom…until the fateful night when the Titanic hits an iceberg. Tragedy strikes further when she’s separated from Jack, and Katie must make a daring choice that will change her life forever.

 If you big historicals like Titanic Rhapsody, check out my Kindle Scout submission:

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

Love_Me_Forever_500x798

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 later today with more about LOVE ME FOREVER and the Civil War…

If anyone feels like sharing a vote…I’ll be forever grateful!

Thank you for stopping by.

And thank you soooo much for your support — I’m on the HOT list at Kindle Scout!! This means a lot to me.

~Jina

A Princess makes an Elephant Fly on St. Patrick’s Day

My favorite Irish lass is back for St. Patrick’s Day!!

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

~Jina

National Roots Day…and the Irish

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Photo credit: Beautiful Mysterious woman in long dress at ocean beach. Fantasy woman. Water Goddess. Book cover. © Photos287 | Dreamstime.com

Like my heroine, Kacie Bennett in COME FLY WITH ME, my roots are Irish.

I was fortunate to go searching for my roots with my family. I remember the city of Belfast when it was filled with strife and the “Troubles,” a time when my da convinced the local authorities he was an American tourist and not the man they were looking for by pointing to his Made in the USA sneakers. And when my beautiful mum went to buy some lace and minutes after she left the shop, the street was blown up.

Another time we found ourselves stuck at a checkpoint behind a horse and wagon, and later on we feasted on the best breaded chicken dinner I’ve ever had.

This was Ireland on a cloudy day when the air was heavy with the smell of the earth fresh from the rain, when the blanket of green covering the land was so bright it made your eyes hurt. And when the wildflowers I picked made me think of sweet kisses from the handsome lad who’d winked at me.

I always say our roots are like the first chord of a lovely melody.

It’s a start, but it’s up to each of us to write the song of our life…

What are your roots?

Happy Holidays!!

~Jina
=============
Made your New Year’s Eve plans yet?

Why not check out COME FLY WITH ME and find out what happens on New Year’s Eve when a bad boy billionaire hooks up with a lonely girl at 30,000 feet in the air…Come_Fly_Me_Cover_Final_500x800

Titanic Rhapsody: Relive a Night to Remember April 14, 1912 on Spring Fever Blog Hop

Titanic Rhapsody

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.

dreamstime_xl_7601380

© Andreas Meyer | Dreamstime.com

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?

Will it?

Not if you’re a gentleman in second class…

dreamstime_xl_32288424

© Daniel Raustadt | Dreamstime.com

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?

dreamstime_xl_14221240

© Photodynamx | Dreamstime.com

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.

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© Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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© Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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These three photos show items retrieved from the Titanic © Igokapil | Dreamstime.com

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.

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Titanic Rhapsody from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

 

Leave me a comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of Titanic Rhapsody.

I’ll draw a name from all the comments on April 15th.

Jina

(PDF, prc, or ePub available)

 

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