Book Journeys – The Lusitania

The Lusitania

I’ll get back to my Book Journeys tour of The Biltmore next week, but since it’s the 102 commemoration of the sinking of the Lusitania this week AND since my debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, features this ill-fated vessel, I thought we could feature it today.

The Lusitania -

On May 1, 1915, the largest ocean-liner on the seas set sail from New York harbor on it’s way to England. Built in 1906, The Lusitania, had been one of Cunard’s longest running ships and it boasted some of the newest innovations in transatlantic crossing, such as lifts (elevators for us Americans), a wireless, electric lights, and…turbine engines – which also made it fast.

The Lusitania was referred to as a floating palace for many different reasons. Passengers enjoyed 50% more space in their glamorous lodgings (even third class had nice accommodations compared to other passenger ships), a two-level dining saloon, a first class lounge with marble fireplaces, and even a veranda café, where passengers could enjoy the views of outdoors from the protection of a roof.

Let’s look at a few of the features of this glorious palace of the seas.

RMS Lusitania's first class dining saloon.:

Here is a picture of the dining saloon with his dome-shaped ceiling. Can you imagine eating your choice of Roast Mallard Duck, Boiled Codfish with Oyster Sauce, Roast Beef, or Corned Pig’s Cheek (yummy…ugh). Not to worry, other options were cheese and crackers, Plum Tart, and even ice cream.

Perhaps, later in the evening, we could enjoy sitting to hear a concert in the First Class Lounge with its ornate glass ceilings.

The Lusitania, 1905-1907. First class lounge and music room. Love the way this looks. Would be a nice dance/party/lounge room for events.:

With all the glamour, beauty and even, speed, the Lusitania seemed to have it all – but speed wasn’t going to help this floating palace when it surged into war-torn waters.

On May 7th, a single torpedo from a German U-boat (U-20), hit the ship and in a feat that still marvels researchers today, the colossal ship sank in only 18 minutes, taking over 2000 lives. This single event would be a part of the catalyst that would spurn America into joining the world war across the ocean. Because among the dead, there were about 128 American citizens.

The Lusitania Sinking, 1915:

Seen as a brutal attack on civilians, Germany was accused of ruthlessness. However, it was later confirmed that despite the fact the Lusitania flew a ‘neutral’ flag, it carried munitions to Great Britain to help with the war effort.

Many people, like the Titanic only 3 years before, died of exposure in the cold Atlantic waters, but hundreds of bodies were never recovered.

TheThornbearer 500x750 (1)Though the Titanic’s story is more well-known, The Lusitania’s tragic ending is just as devastating.

You can find out more about my debut novel, The Thorn Bearer HERE.

Have you heard of the Lusitania before?

Lusitania at the bottom, By Ken Marschall:

Interviews and Bookmarks! The Grand, New Adventure

TTBbookmarksTime is closing in on my debut novel’s release day!! I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away!

This week I had two FIRSTS to lead up to next month’s release.

My very first radio interview as an author!!


The arrival of my bookmarks.

Now I have to say, Dianne Barker with Spirit FM was so sweet and eased my nervousness with her kindness. Interestingly enough, about five years ago, Dianne and I had enjoyed lunch together in Johnson CIty, TN and discussed the aspect of trying to get published. For her, it was an attempt to reenter the publishing world. For me, it was a dream of finally getting published.

Funny how we had the opportunity to reconnect after all those years for this interview. I’m in constant awe of God’s weaving past moments and present ones together in surprising ways.


Since my personal writing funds are in short supply at present, I had to design my own bookmarks, which is a daunting task. When they arrived on Tuesday, I was so tickled with the outcome – and they provided the first ‘tangible’ momentum of the publishing journey!

So…the countdown has begun for the release of The Thorn Bearer!

As a writer, what are some things you’ve done to prepare for a book release?

As a reader, what sorts of things have you seen authors do for their book releases that you enjoyed?

Historical Note: The Lusitania, A Princess of the Seas

firstclassdining Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My upcoming novel, The Thorn Bearer, begins with my characters boarding the ill-fated Lusitania. This ship, a bit smaller than its predecessors like The Titanic, was in many ways just as elegant. The First Class Dining Saloon took up two decks and was topped with a fantastic white plaster dome, decorated with frescoes.

Vote Best Beginning – The evolution of a Novel

I’ve been working on a historical romance for 10 years.

That’s right. TEN!

Not to say I’ve been writing it for ten consecutive years, but the story idea started 10 years ago in my preschool office in Charlotte, NC. Since then, I’ve rewritten the entire novel three times, rewritten the first six chapters five times, and rewritten the first chapter (counting today) EIGHT times.

Rewritten, not edited. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve edited the thing.

When I look at my very first page from 10 years ago, I laugh (and cringe). Oh dear, I’ve come a long way….but so has the story.

I’m going to show the evolution of my novel, The Thornbearer, by showing the beginning paragraph of each rewrite (or the latest five rewrites). You vote. Which one do you like the best and why. I’d LOVE your opinion.

Do you have a similar story, where your novel has grown over time?

FIRST VERSION (actually third, because the first version was written on a typewriter. LOL)

Who would ever want to be married in the rain? Ashleigh Kavanaugh tucked the last few garments into her trunk and snapped the lid into place, distracting her heart with thoughts of her trip. England.

            The rustling of her skirts blended with the pelting rain against the window and she almost smiled. Rain today, of all days, made her feel better…less regretful. She glanced at her bedside clock, an ornate little thing passed down from her ornate big sister.

Half past nine. Right on schedule.

Her gaze flickered to the window and her body followed, drawn by the consistent drumming of cool April rain to steady her heart. Her weary heart.


The Lusitania’s four massive funnels loomed over Ashleigh Dougall, piercing into Manhattan’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum. A surge of energy flickered in the center of her chest. Soon she’d be free of America and all its hateful memories. She leaned against the window of the hired Model T, barely waiting for it to roll to a stop before she bolted out the door, her boots clinking a staccato rhythm against the pier.

The Lusitania’s advertisement did not do this “palace of the seas” justice. It towered overhead, a mammoth of black paint and billowing smoke, lined with hundreds of people bidding their farewells. She held the top of her hat to scan the ship, a cool spray of salty air sprinkling over her cheeks and promising freedom.


 She desperately needed to run away.

            Ashleigh Dougall leaned out of the hired Model-T to catch a glimpse of the famed Lusitania, her very own agent of rescue. Salty sea air misted her face as the massive liner came into view, a goliath among the crowded piers of New York’s harbor. Its four funnels loomed overhead and pierced into Manhattan’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum. She clamped down on the top of her hat, craning her neck as far as the auto car’s window would allow. A smile stretched across her face. If this couldn’t get her across the Atlantic at record speeds, nothing could. The ‘Palace of the Seas’ it was called, a stronghold of black paint and billowing smoke to wisp her back to England and away from memories.


Ashleigh Dougall stepped from the hired Model T to catch a glimpse of her rescuer. The Lusitania. Its massive funnels pierced into Manhatten’s morning mist like charcoal pillars of an enormous coliseum.  She steadied her broad-rimmed hat and craned her neck to view this ‘Palace of the Seas’, a looming goliath above Cunard’s dock offices.

“It’s huge.” Sam, her closest friend and escort, stepped to her side. “I had no idea it’d be so big.”

 Few men secured her complete confidence, but few men were as constant and genuine as Samuel Turner – even if he treated her like a perpetual twelve year old. “I had no idea it’d be so big.”

“We Brits are keen on making a good first impression, you know.”

“So that’s a fancy way of saying you’re show offs?” He crooked a bro and the wave of warmth his smile produced in her heart.


There is a distinct difference between marrying a man you don’t love, and knowing you’ll never marry the man you truly do. As Ashleigh Dougall looked across Manhatten’s crowded dock into Sam Turner’s familiar face, the sting of that truth stripped her of any doubt. She had to run away.

If she’d known all along she was in love with the wrong brother, she’d never agreed to marry Michael. Never subjected her heart to his ruthless betrayal.  Youthful blindness was her only excuse, and perhaps the fact Sam only saw her as Catherine’s little sister.  Dear Sam, ever-faithful, and forever Catherine’s. Her sister didn’t deserve his affections.

Ashleigh looked away from him, as he approached. The glint in his eyes warming much more than a smile on her face. His tender way of breaking down her defenses and striking a place in her heart held a surgeon’s precision. Some inexplicable connection existed between them– a beautiful friendship, and one she wouldn’t sacrifice to an impossible romantic fancy. He loved her sister. Heat drained from her face. Or the woman he thought her sister was.

Personally, I’m having a hard time choosing between version 3 and 5. What’s your opinion?


Above photos courtesy of: