Friday, May 31, 2013

Lady Almina

I’m a total fan of Downton Abbey and the Edwardian time period. For years I’ve been fascinated with the Edwardian era. So much was changing and so much was happening. The world was getting ready face it’s First World War. The Titanic was going to sink and society as we know it was getting ready to change.

I’ve started doing research for my latest historical novel set in England right before the outbreak of WWI. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve consumed some really interesting books and one of my favorite is Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey written by The Countess of Carnarvon. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Downton Abbey the television series, the story is set in Highclere Castle which is also family seat for decades for the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Within this book we get to know Lady Almina a very spirited woman who lived her life by her rules and societies and managed to put her mark on the war effort and how hospitals were formed and the various ways wounds were treated and how wounded soldiers were treated. It’s really an eye opening read and one I encourage readers to pick up. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Kiss

I realize that Memorial Day has come and gone but I wanted to share with you one of my favorite stories from WWII. War no matter what decade, no matter what reason is behind the confrontation, war is a sad and heartbreaking thing. There are always losses on each side, heartbreak, struggle and frustration. But, in times of great struggle and frustration wonderful things can also happen. This iconic photo has always inspired me and for the longest time I wanted to know what the story was behind this picture. I've found it and I want to share it with you today...

Tuesday, August 14, 1945, started off for Greta Zimmer in the same manner as did most weekdays during that year. Hurrying to get ready for work, she showered, dressed, and pinned her hair up tightly to keep her long locks from covering her ears and neck. Before leaving her Manhattan apartment she grabbed a quick bite to eat, reached for her multicolored, small purse, and rushed out the door. When running late, Greta walked briskly toward the subway station to catch a train that could get her to work on time.
Her destination was the 33rd and Lexington subway stop, approximately three blocks from Dr. J. L. Berke’s dentist office. Greta had worked as a dental assistant at the Manhattan office for several months. While she hoped to someday design theater sets and pursue other vocations in the arts, work as a dental assistant bought her some independence and took her mind off a prolonged war.
When Greta arrived at the office on the morning of August 14, she changed into her working uniform. If it were not for her place of employment, she could have been easily mistaken for a nurse. Her white dress, white stockings, white shoes, and white cap did not distinguish her from thousands of other caregivers in New York.
While Greta performed her dental assistant duties that Tuesday morning, many patients burst into the office short of breath and beaming. Excitedly, they informed the staff and patients that the war with Japan had ended. Most patients and workers believed them. Greta wasn’t so sure. She wanted to trust their reports, but the war had rained more than a fair share of misery upon Greta. Her defenses remained high. She opted to delay a celebratory mindset that could prove painfully premature.
During the later morning hours, patients continued to enter the dentists’ office with more optimistic news. While Greta tried to ignore the positive developments, the temptation to flow with the prevailing winds challenged her reserve. As the reports became more definitive and promising, Greta found herself listening, contemplating, and growing eager.
When the two dentists returned from their lunches after 1:00 pm, Greta quickly finished the business before her. Soon after, she grabbed her small hand purse with the colorful pattern, took off her white dental assistant cap (as was customary before going out in public), and set out during her lunch break for Times Square. There the Times news zipper utilized lit and moving type to report the latest news. She wanted to know for herself if the claims that had been tossed about over the past several hours were misleading hearsay, or if, on this day, the reports would finally be true.

When Greta arrived at Times Square, a holiday atmosphere was taking hold. While the celebration was subdued compared to what would follow later that day, Greta sensed a vibrant energy in the air. Suited businessmen, well-dressed women, and uniformed soldiers and sailors entered the pandemonium from all directions. Some ran with no determined direction. Others walked with purpose. Some remained stationary, as if waiting for something big to happen. Greta paid no one particular person much attention.
As she proceeded into the square she moved by several recognizable landmarks: the 42nd Street subway stairwell, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and a large statue of Joe Rosenthal’s famous picture from a few months earlier. After walking a few paces beyond the 25-foot model of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, Greta spun around and looked in the direction of the Times Building. She focused her sight just above the third-floor windows where the scrolling lighted letters spelled out the latest headlines. Greta read the racing and succinctly worded message quickly. Now she knew the truth.
On the last day of his leave, Petty Officer First Class George Mendonsa paid no attention to the day’s newspaper headlines and worried little about his Japanese enemy. After almost two years in World War II’s Pacific theater, his mindset was that the war would unfold independent of his blessing or curse. On the morning of August 14, 1945, his thoughts focused primarily on Rita Petry, an attractive Long Island girl he’d met a few weeks earlier in Rhode Island.
George woke up that Tuesday morning alone in a bedroom at the Petry family’s Long Island home. After breakfast with Rita’s family, he leafed through The New York Times looking for show times in New York’s theaters. He and his new girlfriend decided to take in a matinee at Radio City Music Hall. They thought the 1:05 pm showing of A Bell for Adanowould give them plenty of time to make it back to Long Island by early evening. George was scheduled to depart for San Francisco that night. In a few days he expected to board The Sullivans and prepare for what he hoped would be the last battles of World War II. He knew an invasion of the Japanese mainland was imminent. While he did not welcome the looming chain of events, he thought finishing off the Japanese in their homeland would be a fitting bookend to a war that had commenced almost four years earlier with the empire’s surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor. But all that was in the future. He still had one day left to enjoy in New York.

Preparing for that day, George wore a formal blue Navy uniform that he’d had tailor-made while on leave in Newport. Rita liked how well fitted the new uniform appeared, but she’d also noticed that “he didn’t look like a usual sailor. He didn’t have those things [rates] on his shoulder.” She’d offered to sew on the chevron, but George had insisted he would take care of the matter with a crossbow hand-stitch he had perfected affixing rates on uniforms on board The Sullivans . He never got around to it, so, in the event the shore patrol inquired as to the whereabouts of his rating badge, George made sure to carry the chevron on his person when he and Rita set out for the city.

When they arrived in Manhattan at approximately noon, the city already buzzed with rumors of Japan’s anticipated surrender. However, neither Rita nor George listened much to people’s conversations. Intent on getting to the theater for the 1:05 movie, they made their way from the subway directly to Radio City Music Hall.
For all their rushing, George and Rita never saw the climax of A Bell for Adano , the movie they had come to see. After a few scenes of the film had played on the large screen, a theater employee interrupted the show by pounding on the entrance door and announcing loudly that World War II had ended. Radio City Music Hall patrons simultaneously leaped to their feet with a thunderous applause. Though President Truman had not yet received Japan’s official surrender, and the White House’s official announcement of Japan’s capitulation was still hours away, few raised the slightest objection to the premature declaration.

Seconds after the theater attendant’s announcement, George, Rita, and most other moviegoers poured out of Radio City Music Hall into a bustling 50th Street and 6th Avenue. As they merged into the frenzied scene, they fed off the contagious excitement that surrounded them. People yelled out news of victory and peace. They smiled and laughed. They jumped up and down with no thought of proper decorum. As if caught in a magnetic field, the historic celebration moved toward Times Square. People from other sections of the city were funneled to the same crossroads where they had gathered for celebrations in the past.
At the corner of 7th Avenue and 49th Street, George and Rita dropped into Childs restaurant for celebratory libations. As in other watering holes in New York, people walked, skipped and ran up to the jam-packed counter to tip a glass or two (or significantly more) to the war that they thought had finally ended. The scene at Childs looked much like that on 7th Avenue. Order and etiquette had been cast away. Rather than placing orders for a specific mug of beer or a favorite glass of wine, patrons forced their way toward the bar and reached out an arm to grab one of the shot glasses of liquor that lined the counter. A generous bartender continuously poured the contents of hard liquor bottles into waiting glasses. George grabbed whatever the server dispensed and did not ask what it was he drank. He knew the desired result would be the same whether the contributor was Jack Daniel’s, Jameson, or Old Grand-Dad. Even Rita gave over to the reckless abandon. After several minutes and the consumption of too many drinks, George and his date made their way out of the packed bar.
Emotions and alcohol-based fuel propelled them out into Times Square where victorious World War II celebrants continued to mass. George thought, My God, Times Square is going wild. And at that point, so was George. He felt uncharacteristically blissful and jubilant. As George moved briskly toward the 42nd Street subway station, the sailor fromThe Sullivans outpaced his girlfriend. For the moment, no one could corral George. And no one tried—not even Rita. The realization of a triumphant war created more vigor than his large frame could hold. He needed to release the energy. Rita did her best to keep up. At most points she trailed him by only a few feet. Although she enjoyed the folic through Times Square, she wondered if George would ever stop for a breather.

As the spirited celebration of Japan’s surrender grew, reporters from the Associated Press, The New York Times , the New York Daily News , and other well-known publications descended on Times Square to record the spontaneous merriment that was enveloping the world’s most important crossroads. Photographers added more bodies to a burgeoning impromptu gala. One of them represented Life magazine.

On August 14, 1945, the magazine sought pictures that differed from most others printed earlier in the war. On this day, Lifewanted its viewers to know what the end of the war felt like. The editors didn’t know with any degree of certainty what incarnation that feeling might take, but they left it to their photographers to show them—just like they had with other events over the publication’s nine-year history. Those unsupervised approaches had rarely led to disappointment in the past, andLife ’s editors trusted their photographers to deliver again today.

The magazine’s trust in its photographers was especially complete when Alfred Eisenstaedt was on assignment. He had photographed the people and personalities of World War II, some prior to the declaration of war and others even before Lifeexisted. As a German Jew in the 1930s, he had chronicled the developing storm, including a picture of Benito Mussolini’s first meeting with Adolf Hitler in Venice, on June 13, 1934. In another shoot he’d photographed an Ethiopian soldier’s bare cracked feet on the eve of Fascist Italy’s attack in 1935.

After the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States, Eisenstaedt focused on the American home front. In 1942 he photographed a six-member Missouri draft board classifying a young farmer as 2-C, indicating draft deferment because of his occupation’s importance to the nation. For another series in 1945, he visited Washington and photographed freshman senators performing comical monologues and musical numbers to entertain Capitol reporters. During World War II, Eisenstaedt showed the world what war looked like on the U.S. mainland.
On the day World War II ended, Eisenstaedt entered Times Square dressed in a tan suit, a white shirt with a lined tie, tan saddle shoes, and a Leica camera hanging from his neck. Despite his distinctive ensemble, he traveled stealthily amongst the kaleidoscope of moving parts looking for the picture. He made sure not to call attention to himself. He was on the hunt. He knew there was a picture in the making. Kinetic energy filled the square. Eisenstaedt wished for others to feel it, too. To create that sense, Eisenstaedt’s photo needed a tactile element. It was a tall order for the five-foot, four-inch photographer. He relished the challenge.

At some point after 1:00 pm, Eisenstaedt took a picture of several women celebrating in front of a theater across the street from the 42nd Street subway station stairwell. The picture showed ladies throwing pieces of paper into the air, creating a mini-ticker-tape parade. While the photo had its charm, it was not the defining picture Eisenstaedt was searching for that day.
Shortly after closing the shutter on that scene, he turned to his left and looked up Broadway and 7th Avenue to where 43rd Street connected to Times Square’s main artery. As Eisenstaedt continued to search for a photograph that would forever define the moment at hand, he peered around and beneath, but probably not over, the sea of humanity. News of the war’s end had primed America’s meeting place for a one-in-a-million kind of picture. A prospect would present itself soon. Eisenstaedt knew that. So he looked and waited.
Greta Zimmer stood motionless in Times Square near a replica of the Statue of Liberty and a model of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. To Greta’s left was Childs restaurant, one of several in New York, including this establishment at 7th Avenue and 49th Street. But Greta did not come to Times Square to stare at statues or belly up to bars. She wanted to read the Times zipper and learn if Japan really had surrendered to the United States.

With the 44th Street sign and the Astor Hotel to her back, she looked up at the tall triangular building that divided one street into two. The lit message running around the Times Building read, “VJ, VJ, VJ, VJ . . .” Greta gazed at the moving type without blinking. A faint smile widened her lips and narrowed her eyes. She took in the moment fully and thought, The war is over. It’s really over.

Though Greta had arrived in Times Square by herself, she was not alone. While she continued to watch the motioning “VJ” message, hundreds of people moved around her. Greta paid little attention to the swelling mass of humanity. But they were about to take notice of her, and never forget what they saw. Within a few seconds she became Times Square’s nucleus. Everybody orbited around her, with one exception. He was drawn to her.
Fresh from the revelry at a Childs on 49th, George Mendonsa and his new girlfriend, Rita Petry, made their way down Times Square toward the 42nd Street subway station. Rita fell behind George by a few steps. Meanwhile, Eisenstaedt persisted in his hunt for the photo. After traveling a block or so up Times Square, he took notice of a fast moving sailor who he thought he saw grabbing a woman and kissing her. That sailor was heading quickly south down Broadway and 7th Avenue. Wondering what he might do next, Eisenstaedt changed direction and raced ahead of the darting sailor. To avoid bumping into people in the crowded street, he had to look away from the sailor he was trying to track. He struggled to regain his focus on the Navy man wearing the formal Navy blue uniform. As he did so, Greta looked away from the Timeszipper and started to turn to her right. George crossed the intersection of 44th and 7th Avenue, lengthening the space between him and Rita. The photographer, the sailor, and the dental assistant were on a collision course.

With a quickening pace that matched the surrounding scene’s rising pulse, the sailor who served his country aboard The Sullivans zeroed in on a woman whom he assumed to be a nurse. The liquor running through his veins transfixed his glassy stare. He remembered a war scene when he had rescued maimed sailors from a burning ship in a vast ocean of water. Afterward, gentle nurses, angels in white, tended to the injured men. From the bridge of The Sullivans he watched them perform miracles. Their selfless service reassured him that one day the war would end. Peace would reign, again. That day had arrived
George steamed forward several more feet. His girlfriend was now farther behind. He focused on Greta, the “nurse.” She remained unaware of his advance. That served his purpose well. He sought no permission for what he was about to do. He just knew that she looked like those nurses who saved lives during the war. Their care and nurturing had provided a short and precious reprieve from kamikaze-filled skies. But that nightmare had ended. And there she stood. Before him. With background noises barely registering, he rushed toward her as if in a vacuum.
Though George halted his steps just before running into Greta, his upper torso’s momentum swept over her. The motion’s force bent Greta backward and to her right. As he overtook Greta’s slender frame, his right hand cupped her slim waist. He pulled her inward toward his lean and muscular body. Her initial attempt to physically separate her person from the intruder proved a futile exertion against the dark-uniformed man’s strong hold. With her right arm pinned between their two bodies, she instinctively brought her left arm and clenched fist upward in defense. The effort was unnecessary. He never intended to hurt her.
As their lips locked, his left arm supported her neck. His left hand, turned backward and away from her face, offered the singular gesture of restraint, caution or doubt. The struck pose created an oddly appealing mixture of brutish force, caring embrace, and awkward hesitation. He didn’t let go. As he continued to lean forward, she lowered her right arm and gave over to her pursuer—but only for three or four seconds. He tried to hold her closer, wanting the moment to last longer. And longer still. But they parted, the space between them and the moment shared ever widening, releasing the heat born from their embrace into the New York summer afternoon.
The encounter, brief and impromptu, transpired beyond the participants’ governance. Even George, the initiator, commanded little more resolve than a floating twig in a rushing river of fate. He just had to kiss her. He didn’t know why.
For that moment, George had thought Times Square’s streets belonged to him. They did not. Alfred Eisenstaedt owned them. When he was on assignment, nothing worth capturing on film escaped his purview. Before George and Greta parted, Eisenstaedt spun around, aimed his Leica and clicked the camera’s shutter release closed four times. One of those clicks produced V-J Day, 1945, Times Square . That photograph became his career’s most famous, Life magazine’s most reproduced, and one of history’s most popular. The image of a sailor kissing a nurse on the day World War II ended kept company with Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. That photo proudly exemplified what a hard-fought victory looks like. This photo savored what a long-sought peace feels like.

Alfred Eisenstaedt was not the only photographer to take notice of George and Greta. Navy Lieutenant Victor Jorgensen, standing to Eisenstaedt’s right, fired off one shot of the entwined couple at the precise moment the Life photographer took his second picture of four. Though Jorgensen’s photo did not captivate audiences to the same degree that Eisenstaedt’s second photograph did, Kissing the War Goodbye drew many admirers as well.

And then it was over. Shortly after the taking of V-J Day, 1945, Times Square , Greta returned to the dental office and told everyone what was happening on the streets. Dr. Berke had her cancel the rest of the day’s appointments and closed the office. Afterward, as Greta made her way home, another sailor kissed her, this time politely on the cheek. For this kiss Greta no longer wore her dental assistant uniform and no photographers took her picture. And as far she could tell, she had not been photographed at any point in time during that day. She did not learn otherwise until years later, when she saw Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a Times Square couple kissing in a book entitled The Eyes of Eisenstaedt .

George did not realize that he had been photographed, either. When George turned from the act he’d instigated, he smiled at Rita and offered little explanation for what had transpired. As hard as it is to believe, she made no serious objection. George’s actions fell within the acceptable norms of August 14, 1945, but not any other day. Actually, neither George nor Rita thought much of the episode and proceeded to Rita’s parents’ home via the 42nd Street subway train. Later that evening, the Petrys transported George to LaGuardia Airport for a flight to San Francisco that left at approximately midnight. Neither he nor Rita discovered Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day, 1945, Times Square until 1980.

Excerpt reprinted, by permission, from Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi, The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2012).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I just want to take a moment and wish everyone a very happy Memorial Day! This is a day we should all stop and pause to give thanks to those that have served this great nation past and present. It takes an incredibly amazing person to put something so great ahead of themselves. A military lifestyle is not an easy one. It's full of demands, and long hours, sometimes in conditions most of us wouldn't be able to stand an hour let along days, weeks, months and at years at a time. They leave behind loved ones, families, friends, children, wives, husbands, lovers...they leave it all in order to put on that uniform and stand a watch, drive a convoy, protect those that can't protect themselves. And most do it with a smile on their face knowing this is what they signed up for. They don't require thanks, they don't seek recognition, they don't seek fame. More often then not, they prefer no attention, they're just doing what they do. These are who are truly hero's.

So while you're having a fun today at picnic's, or BBQ's, while you're camping, or spending time at the beach, or just relaxing at home, please be safe and take a moment to thank those that have served, are currently serving and who are willing to serve in the military, protecting this amazing country, it's laws, it's history and it's beliefs.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I wasn’t always a published author. In fact although I wanted to write in the worst possible way (I had characters talking to me but I kept pushing them to the back of my mind…what did I know about writing) I had a serious reading addiction and that seemed to be more influential than sitting down and starting my first novel.

I confess in the beginning, I had serious attitude about reading historical romance. What can I say, I was incredibly short sighted. Okay, EXTEREMLY short sighted and as a result I know I missed out on a great deal of amazing reads. In any event I was a contemporary romance fan. That was it. I didn’t do paranormal, I had attitude about Sci-fi (still not a huge fan of that sub-genre…but I’ve read some really good books in this genre just the same) and as I already pointed out I eschewed the very idea of stepping back in time and reading a historical.

Why did I have this attitude as an adult? I have no clue. When I was fifteen I INHALED Gone with the Wind. I mean the moment I picked up that book during a family summer vacation, I refused to put it down, going so far as to carry it in my fishing creel when the family went out in our rented boat to fish.  I was swept away to the South (I’m a born and bred California girl) and I was captivated by the characters, the setting, the action, and the heartbreak…well basically the entire book. So you’d think I’d be good when it came to expanding my reading but yeah, not so much.

I graduated high school, went to college and eventually married and moved far away from home—to Mississippi. We were poor had there wasn’t a whole lot of spare cash, but I made sure I had my books. When we moved to military housing I met this amazing woman and we became great friends—and she loved to read too! So we got to talking one afternoon sitting outside in the warm southern afternoon and discussed books and before we knew it, it was decided a trip to the bookstore was immediately in order. We’d both buy two books and then exchange them. So we got into my little car and drove to the local Walden Books (I know dating myself here since they haven’t been in business for a while) and beat feet to the romance section. I started to browse the contemporary romance novels and my friend said, NO! Today you need to buy two books you normally wouldn’t ever consider reading. At first I thought she was crazy, why would I do that…but on the other hand I figure what could it hurt (at this point books weren’t that expensive) so I started to browse with an open mind. Well, by this time my friend had her two books. Johanna Lindsey had a new one out and she’d picked up a Judith McNaught book. I on the other hand scooped up Heather Grahams, One Wore Blue and One Rode West (this really began my inability to read a series in order lol) and went home. 

I put my books aside and got busy, and the next day, my friend came over and handed me her Johanna Lindsey book with the words “You’ve got to put anything your reading aside and read this one NOW.” As she stuffed Savage Thunder into my hand. “Okay,” I said and since I wasn’t reading anything at the time I opened it to page one and started to read….and read…and read…and hubby came home and dinner wasn’t made because I was still reading…and continued to do so…who could think of eating when I was gripped by what would happen next in the story. I inhaled this book in one night! ONE NIGHT! And my love of historical romance was born. I set that one aside and immediately inhaled Heather Grahams two books (I still have these two books on my shelf they’ve moved all over the world with me.) and rushed to the bookstore (because at this point I’d clued in on the fact I missed a book in between) and purchased One Wore Gray. My friend who was a JL fan brought me her entire collection (yes she had them all) and I inhaled them within a month. I couldn’t believe how awesome Johanna Lindsey was and mentally willed her to get another story out immediately.

What’s the point of all this…I just read an article and learned that Johanna Lindsey has her 50th book coming out! 50! This is an amazing milestone and I can’t wait to read her latest. I’ve loved all of her books (yes even her sci-fi’s) and admire her creativity. Which got me to thinking…what is your favorite Johanna Lindsey novel? Can you pick just one? I couldn’t but here is the list of my favorite which I still enjoy re-reading…share with me your list…
Captive Heart
Captive of my Dreams
Savage Thunder
And of course The Mallory series…
So what are your favorites? Which was the first one you’ve ever read? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bullying and Writing...

Bullies and writing…

Sadly these two things go hand in hand for some reason. Why? I have no clue. Maybe it’s due to frustration, or maybe jealousy, or maybe boredom, or maybe a twisted combination of all of this. Let’s face it; no author is EVER going to write that mythical novel that EVERYONE regardless of age, sex, reading preference, sexual heat preference, and genre preference is going to rave about. If one author managed to do that they would be at the top of the food chain in the industry and would own it. But that’s NEVER going to happen. There are a million plus readers out there…with a million plus ideas that make up a good story. I’ve read tons of stories/books that left me scratching my head and asking…and this was published why? Whatever the reason an editor, agent, combo of the both have found the things published, worthy of publication. They see something we don’t. And stories I’ve been less than thrilled with have been adored by other readers…again it’s a taste thing….

Authors for the most part (yes I’m speaking on behalf of all of us to a certain extent) try to write the best story they can in hopes of 1) seeing it published and 2) in hopes to entertain the reader. We agonize over every word, plot points, flow of the story, heat level (if it applies you don’t want to turn people off, but you don’t want to disregard those readers that love it steamy) and characters (their development, their personalities, their foibles, their journey…the whole kit and caboodle) and then we put it out there and hope for good feedback…It’s a long process from start to finish—meaning publication if one is lucky enough to get offered a contract. Does it hurt to get the bad review…well, of course it does. Especially, if it seems like the bad review comes from nowhere with nothing backing the bad review except spite from the author.

But bullies and snide comments are seemingly becoming part of the process the writer now has to deal with. For the record, several years ago I was caught up in the bullying in the blogosphere. It was a horrible experience. You’re being attacked by people that don’t know you at all, they have no clue exactly what has happened, or the circumstances of what is going on…these people just hop on the bandwagon of bullying and things get seriously out of control. Many were making judgment on only part of the story, not bothering to do their research, or worst yet, just getting involved because they could. I was called all sorts of names, and labeled. The low point or the scariest point came when I received a private email from someone with a Google street shot of my home with the words, I couldn’t hide. Yeah, let me tell you that caused me some serious pause.  And why was all of this happening you ask? I was a listed author with a publishing house with a dubious rep and it was decided that if you were published by this house you had to have the same thought process as all of the other authors. What they didn’t take into consideration was 1) I had a life outside of writing and 2) I wasn’t living online and wasn’t part of the whole nasty thing that was taking place. Again it didn’t matter, mob mentality set in and that was the end of that…until a big hitter in the industry got involved. You don’t know how quick things can change with a well know NYT Bestselling author takes up for you, or how quick the bullies back down.

This blog was generated because yesterday I got no less than three emails from friends about deleting my Goodreads account. Now, I haven’t experienced anything that I researched (and frankly I was shocked by what I was reading) and at the same time extremely frustrated. Here we go again I thought. And then the next thought that crept up was WHY? Why do people have to do this? Targeting writers, purposely leaving behind bad reviews for the sake of being nasty? WOW, just wow was my first thought…then sad, how sad that this is how these people chose to spend their time. And how much bile and energy it must take to be so mean.

Bullies sadly aren’t obviously a playground/park kind of element any longer and regardless if you’re a teenager, elementary school, or an adult, this kind of behavior is debilitating and hurtful. On top of that the new cyber world allows for this kind of thing to happen more often. There is anonymity online, you can blend and comment anonymously, or under a fake name. For the record once again, I’m not deleting any of my social network site profiles. I’m not going to hop on one side or another on this situation at Goodreads and frankly I’m sad that authors are being bullied over there that a bullying culture has developed. My suggestion to anyone being bullied is not to engage. 1) You’re not going to get your point across, those engaged in that activity aren’t interested in your POV, and for the most part they’ve made up their mind. 2) Put your writing to better use, write your stories. You’re not going to write a story everyone is going to love or appreciate; there are millions of readers out there with varying tastes and likes and not everyone is going to get you as a writer and not like what you pen…and guess what? That’s okay; you don’t need to strive to please everyone. If you get a bad review, learn from it. I’ve gotten less than stellar reviews, I read what the reviewer had to say and tried to “fix” that issue in the next story I wrote. And remember 3 star reviews aren’t bad reviews. It’s middle of the road, it’s an okay read, most review fall into this category. If you find yourself a target of a group of reviewers that are going to spam your page, report it of course but don’t stress yourself. It’s not worth it. And anyone with a brain in their head who really wants to read your book, will regardless of the review…

For those of you that find it okay to pick on people. Maybe take a step back and ask yourself how you’d feel if the situation was reversed. If you’re so unhappy with your life or your situation don’t take it out on anyone else, that’s not going to fix the problem. As for not liking a book, you don’t have to like it and you’re free to share those ideas and thoughts. However there is nothing wrong with doing that with tack and diplomacy…and guess what it’s a free country you don’t have to read that author again if you so choose. But, targeting writers is just plain mean and childish. And really, what do you gain from it? Probably not a whole lot would be my guess. I certainly can’t see going to bed feeling a sense of satisfaction for pulling people down simply because you can.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Gabrielle is now available in print!!! Download your copy or order a print copy now!

From the windswept plains of India to the tropical beaches of The Seychelles, to the glittering ballrooms of London Society….

Gabrielle Jordan has survived a bloody uprising in India and not without a great deal of loss. The death of her family in the British Garrison in Cawnpore leaves her shaking and wondering where her place in life really is. In the space of a heartbeat all her hopes and dreams are radically changed. Will she be able to find her footing and allow herself to find a happy ending amongst the ashes of what was once her life?

Devlin Reese, Duke of Kendrick arrives in Cawnpore, India unsure what he would find but praying the family he loves as his own will be fine. When he finds Gabrielle, his best friends sister amongst the surreal ruins of a once proud garrison he realizes his world will never be the same again. The young girl he thought he knew so well has forever changed and he will do what he must to make sure she realizes that dreams can come true and the he will not give up on her or on them.

Friday, May 17, 2013



Generally as a rule I have little trouble in plotting out stories or coming up with ideas for blogs. However, sometimes I do experience the complete blank page horror…and trust me for a writer a dearth of ideas or thoughts is worse than any nightmare you might conjure. Or at least it is for me. Immediately I start to panic (I know it can’t be that bad right?) Trust me, my biggest fear when it comes to writing is that the ideas and enthusiasm dry up and vanish.

When I do hit this wall I used to flip out (well, I still do but not like before) and now I take a deep breath, close my eyes and focus and then I get on the phone with my best friend who is also a writer or I hope on Facebook and reach out to my other writers friends and I brainstorm with them. NEVER, EVER underestimate the power of a good brainstorming session. 

But there are a few rules I follow when I do the brainstorming thing…since I’ve been burned in the past by people I thought I could trust—only to learn the hard way they weren’t terribly trustworthy.  

First, make sure that the people you talk to about your idea are people you can fully trust and are people that understand where you come from creatively. Two, make sure you’re open to ideas. The whole point of brainstorming is to come up with an idea that is true to your voice and writing style. Three, when you are done writing that story or blog, make sure you give credit where credit is due. A thank you in the acknowledgements is always a nice touch.

Brainstorming is a very useful tool for a writer and one that I think everyone should attempt to use, you never know what direction your story could go, or what kind of amazing journey you could end up taking that you normally wouldn’t consider. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Isabel Jay

Isabel Jay (1879-1927)

Brief details:
  • Born 17th October 1879 - Wandsworth, London (England).
  • Died 26th February 1927 - Monte Carlo.
  • 1902 Married African explorer Henry Cavendish (later divorced).
  • 1910 Married theatre manager Frank Curzon.
  • First winner of the Gilbert R. Betjemann medal for operatic singing.

Isabel Jay was born in Wandsworth, London, on October 17, 1879. She was the daughter of John Wimburn Jay, an Insurance Officer, and his wife Isabelle Clara (Wicks). Hailing from a musical family, her grandfather had been a musician and she had a great-aunt and uncle who were composers, Isabel started singing in public at the tender age of twelve. She was, from the start, an accomplished vocalist and in 1895 she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music where she came to be the first winner of the Gilbert R. Betjemann medal for operatic singing.

On leaving the Academy in 1897 she signed a three-year contract with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company performing Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operettas. Her professional debut was in a week-long trial at The Savoy in London singing the part of Elsie Maynard in 'The Yeoman of the Guard'. Her superb clear singing voice instantly won her a place as principal soprano in the touring 'B' company and in the following months she sang such classic parts as Phyllis in 'Iolanthe', Yum-Yum in 'The Mikado', Princess Lucilla Chloris in 'His Majesty', Aline in 'The Sorcerer', and Mabel in 'The Pirates of Penzance'.

Following the disbandment of the 'B' company, Isabel returned to join the main company at The Savoy in August 1898. Initially as understudy to but before long being given the first lesser role of her own, as The Plaintiff in 'Trial by Jury' (for which she received a favorable review in The Sunday Times).

Her big break came unexpectedly a little over a year later. When former lead Ruth Vincent was given a comparatively minor part in the new production of 'The Rose of Persia' to make way for newly signed American soprano Ellen Beach Yaw to sing the lead Sultana Zubeydah she rebelled and left the company. Isabel at first took over Miss Vincents role of Blush-of-the-Morning, but then when Miss Yaw proved unequal to the title role which required performing a high-note cadenza night after night and was released from the part that left only Isabel to step into the breach. That she did with some aplomb. She was an enormous success and would remain the company's leading soprano until she left in order to marry the African explorer Henry Cavendish in April 1902.

Cavendish had been a wealthy man until he signed away control of his estates to spiritualist tricksters, and was at the time fighting a sensational court battle to win it back (see my separate article). The following year Isobel gave birth to a daughter, Cecilia Claribel (Cavendish) on June 11th, 1903. Her stage career was by no means over however, and after only an eighteen month absence from the stage she joined the company at Daly's taking over the soprano role in a presentation of Lionek Monckton's 'A Country Girl' in October 1903.

Still in her early twenties, Isabel was now in the full bloom of her womanliness and standing on the very pinnacle of her stage career. She was not the most accomplished actress of her era, but she was a beautiful young woman with a fresh talent and bright clear voice that made her much loved by her audiences.
She was now constantly in demand and starred in one hit West End production after another. On 5th January, 1905 she was invited to sing before King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Chatsworth, where the Queen presented her with a brooch. 

Later that year she was signed up by Frank Curzon (former actor and now leading theatre manager) who would become a central figure in her life from that time forward. Her first role was Curzon was to star in the long-running hit production of 'The White Chrysanthemum' that opened at The Criterion in August 1905.

Both Frank and Isabel had already achieved numerous notable successes, but their partnership was destined to bring them many more. 

Unfortunately for Isabel, whilst her professional career was a towering success her marriage was not, and by the end of the following year she had broken from her husband.

For the next four years she starred regularly in Curzon's West End productions and he became an increasingly important part of her life on and off stage culminating in their marriage on July 28, 1910. The following year, after the last performance of the long-running 'The Balkan Princess' which closed on April 29, 1911, Isabel announced her retirement from the stage.

On September 20th, 1915, gave birth to her second daughter, Pamela Stephanie. Unfortunately, Isabel would not survive to see her second child achieve maturity. As the years went by her health began to deteriorate, and she passed away, aged only 47, in Monte Carlo on February 26th, 1927, having been on a cruise with her husband.

An illustrious career had brought her stardom in the comic operetta's of Gilbert & Sullivan, in modern opera, and in musical plays. In recognition of her talents, the Royal Academy of Music two years later instituted the Isabel Jay Memorial Prize.

"Reproduced courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright),"

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Tradition of the Hawaiian Leis

The History of the Hawaiian Lei

The lei custom was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian voyagers, who took an incredible journey from Tahiti, navigating by the stars in sailing canoes. With these early settlers, the lei tradition in Hawaii was born.

Leis were constructed of flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals. In Hawaiian tradition, these garlands were worn by ancient Hawaiians to beautify themselves and distinguish themselves from others. The Maile lei was perhaps the most significant. Among other sacred uses, it was used to signify a peace agreement between opposing chiefs. In a Heiau (temple), the chiefs would symbolically intertwine the green Maile vine, and its completion officially established peace between the two groups.

A Custom of Aloha

With the advent of tourism in the islands, the lei quickly became the symbol of Hawaii to millions of visitors worldwide.

During the "Boat Days" of the early 1900s, lei vendors lined the pier at Aloha Tower to welcome malihini (visitors) to the islands and kama'aina (locals) back home. It is said that departing visitors would throw their lei into the sea as the ship passed Diamond Head, in the hopes that, like the lei, they too would return to the islands again someday.

Today, visitors can easily bring back the nostalgia of old Hawaii by ordering a traditional flower lei greeting for their arrival at the airport. Greeters welcome visitors with a warm “aloha” and adorn them with beautiful fresh leis. It's a wonderful way to begin a Hawaiian vacation.

Lei Etiquette

There are very few "rules" when it comes to wearing a Hawaiian lei. Anyone can wear one, anytime - there need not be an occasion. It is perfectly fine for one to purchase or make a lei for themselves. It is common for locals to have a nut, seed or shell lei on hand to wear on special occasions. And hats are often adorned with flower, fern or feather leis.

There are, however, a couple of "unspoken rules" one should know when receiving a lei for the first time. A lei should be a welcomed celebration of one person's affection to another. Therefore, always accept a lei, never refuse. The proper way to wear a lei is gently draped over the shoulders, hanging down both in front and in back. It is considered rude to remove a lei from your neck in the presence of the person who gave it to you, so if you must, be discreet.

Lei giving is a regular part of any special occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations. It is not uncommon for a graduating senior to have so many leis around their neck that they can no longer see!

Lei or Leis?

The Hawaiian language does not distinguish between singular and plural. Therefore, the proper way to say the plural form of lei is actually just “lei.” However, on our website we have chosen to use the Anglicized version of this word to prevent confusion.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Gabrielle is a long time in coming! I started this story back in 2001. I know long time from start to publication. In truth this book has had so many different versions but each version made the book stronger and stronger. 

Gabrielle and Devlin were the very first characters to talk to me. I waited for years...literally before I screwed up the courage to write their story. Once I decided that I wanted to write, I wanted the absolute perfect storyline line for them. I waited until the Spring of 2001. I was living in England and came home from work and flipped on the telly. I had the UK version of the History Channel on and they were talking about The Sepoy Mutiny. I was shocked and horrified about the details surrounding this historic event...and instantly the storyline for Devlin and Gabrielle came to life. All my stories are treasured and mean a great deal, but this one...well, it was the first, it was the start to this career I've been enjoying. 

Here is an excerpt to GABRIELLE

Resting on her back, she floated for a moment. Fanning her arms at her sides, Gabrielle moved against the current of the river, fortunate this spot was free of a strong undertow. Her mind wandered from one thought to the next, like a butterfly flittering from flower to flower. Once she realized she’d drifted out further into the river than she wanted, Gabrielle stood. The bottom was slick and she slipped several times on her way to shore. When she had her footing, she stopped and gathered her hair and wrung out the excess water. A rustle of leaves startled her. She looked up on the bank and froze where she stood. Peering up she narrowed her gaze, trying to see into the dappled shadows. Her heart pounded furiously. She didn’t know what to do, should she drop into the water or boldly walk to the pile of toweling on the grass? Instead, she did neither of those things once her eyes settled on the man who intruded on her bath. Fury and excitement mingled inside her as she watched as Devlin moved down the small slope of land down to the water’s edge. A soft breeze brought the scent of horse, leather and Devlin to her. Closing her eyes she inhaled deeply. The knot in her stomach loosened. When she met Devlin’s gaze, the heat of his stare burned her. Licking her lower lip she said, “What are you doing here?” She moved through the water, closer to him and waited for his answer. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt your bath.” He ran a hand through his long dark hair, leaving it disheveled. “But I thought it too dangerous for you to be out here alone.” Gabrielle shivered. His voice was so deep, husky, and trailed like fingers of velvet over her nerve endings. As she stood, soaking wet, her chemise clinging to her body in front of a man she’d know her entire life, she was overcome with the need to reach up and kiss him. Not on the cheek, but on his mouth. A breathy sigh left her lips. Where were these feelings coming from? They were wholly unacceptable. Yet, this was the first time she’d felt even remotely alive since waking up to the fires and screams of the mutiny. Shaking her head, she motioned to the boulder Savita had placed her belongings. “Can you hand me the drying cloth?” She held her hand out and took it from him. Their fingers brushed and it was as if she’d touched hot embers. The sensations left her tingling. She gasped out loud and her eyes jerked back to Devlin’s. Emotions flashed across his face too swiftly for her to name any of them. It was enough to know he was as affected as she. He pulled back and a smile curved Gabrielle’s lips at seeing this strong man left off balance from a simple touch. 

Happy Friday...

Happy Friday dear readers,

This has been a very busy week for me. I had TWO stories release and it's been very exciting. There is nothing better than working hard and FINALLY seeing a result. I don't think I'll ever get used to the excitement of my book being released to the masses!

THE TROUBLE with BEACHES is the 6th installment in my Trouble Series. If you haven't read any of the previous titles it's all good. I have purposely written this series in a way that allows for a reader to jump in at the end or even the middle without being lost. For a series challenged reader such as myself (I generally start a series either at the end or in the middle) I wanted to make sure that readers never feel left out of the loop if they've missed one or two of the titles.

Beaches was so much fun to write. Here is an excerpt...

“Come, Anne. There is someone I’d like you to meet. I hope it’s okay but we’ve had a surprise addition to the tour. Of course we will pay any extra fees.”

Anne was in the process of saying it would be no trouble and then came to a dead stop when she saw him. All six foot plus, wavy dark hair, and intense eyes. Her stomach instantly tightened.

“Annie, dear, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite grandson, Dean Bryant.”
“I’m her only grandson,” Dean said as he smiled and held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
When Anne shook his hand, it immediately sent tingles up her arm as if she’d touched a live wire. Without thinking, she yanked her hand back and ran it down her thigh, trying to eliminate the sensation. She immediately regretted her impulsive action when she met Dean’s narrowed gaze.

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m glad you could join the tour.”

“Sure, sweetheart.”

Dean turned from her and she squeezed her eyes closed, moaning at her complete and total lack of composure. Could she have been ruder? This was so not like her; she never acted like such a twit when she was meeting a new person. This was not a brilliant start to her day at all and she, more than anyone, knew how important first impressions were, especially in a professional situation. Quickly, she looked around to see if anyone had had noticed her discourteous behavior but the ladies were occupied with checking wallets, cameras, and the itinerary. Thank goodness. She couldn’t let this happen again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013



I'm so excited to announce that there is another Trouble novella available! YAY, this one was so much fun to  write. I think the reason why I just loved this one is I take y'all back home with me to California and indulge some of my favorite things. The beach of course, romance and San Francisco. Here is a short excerpt. Please read on and then go and download this short but spicy read.

Anne was screwed.

Yup, there was no way to sugar coat it. She was going to jack this up in a big way—after all if you were going to do something, you might as well do it right. And Anne believed in excelling at everything she did, even if it was screwing up. Well, it couldn’t be said that she wasn’t going to be memorable.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this?” Meredith asked with a laugh.

Meredith was Anne’s best friend and she was currently home in Napa trying to run her family’s winery. “No, but I’ve got to start sometime and this shouldn’t be too hard. I hope.”

Anne had quit the rat race. Well, in so far as she didn’t go to an office and sit in a cubical all day and watch the world pass her by, that is. With help from her eccentric grandma, she was able to fulfill her dream of owning her own tour company and be a tour guide in her favorite city—San Francisco.

Her first tour group was arriving later that afternoon and she was at once both sick and excited. It was a horrible feeling. Since she really wanted Tours by Anne to succeed, she was putting an awful lot of stress on herself, and she parked that stress in her stomach.

Meredith patted her on the shoulder, “You know exactly what the group wants to see. You’ve made all the arrangements, paid for the fees where needed . . . things are going to be fine.”

Gunther, her van driver—a suggestion by Grammy and one Anne couldn’t say no to—strolled into the office and made his way over to the dorm fridge. He hadn’t left the 60s behind like everyone else. He was currently wearing a tie-died shirt sporting yellows, oranges and greens—bold colors to be sure—and his graying hair was pulled back in a ponytail. “Ya know, Annie girl, you’ve just got to let things roll, ya dig? Life is too short, man, to get all bent over the small stuff.”

Intellectually, Anne knew this and so far her dealing with Martha Bryant had been perfectly normal. Blissfully normal, actually. Anne really had no reason to feel so unsettled but she did. Like first day of school kind of nervous. No, it was not that. It was a sense that she was missing something, maybe didn’t have the facts kinda thing. She hated that. Really, really hated that.

Despite her misgivings, she was as ready as she could be. With the help of Martha it was determined the first day of the tour would be spent at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, and if time allowed, they would do a driving tour of local  tourist sites before they would go their separate ways for dinner. The second day would be spent at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and then they’d have free time for the few hours left before the group departed for Los Angeles—without Anne of course.

Before Anne could respond to Gunther, her grandmother came into the kitchen. “Good morning, dear.”
Anne walked around the butcher block table island to her grandmother. “Morning, Grammy.” She kissed her papery cheek. “What are you doing over here so early?”

Anne grabbed a mug and filled it with her favorite pumpkin spice coffee. She didn’t understand why it had to be a seasonal flavor, so when it was available she hoarded it and kept it in the freezer to drink throughout the year.

“Just wanted to be here before you left to wish you luck.”

“Thanks, Gram.” Anne turned to Gunther, “Are you ready?”

“Born ready, dude.”