The most romantic place I've ever visited is Venice, Italy. When you get off the train, walk through the
station, and open the doors, it’s like stepping into a fairy tale. The streets
are all canals, and ornate ancient bridges span the canals, including the
famous Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners gazed upon the city for the last time
on their way to be locked up. On our last trip to Venice, I planned the trip to
coincide with the full moon. When darkness fell, my husband and I had dinner
and walked around. No moon yet. We stopped at a café and had gelato and
cappuccino. No moon yet. We crossed a bridge and strolled some more. Still no
moon. Finally, at 11:30, it rose, glowing and sending shimmering moonbeams over
the canals. So I hadn’t figured what time that full moon was supposed to
In 2006, I decided to combine my love of Lincoln
and the paranormal. I began researching A NECESSARY END, my paranormal twist on
John Wilkes Booth's insane plot to assassinate President Lincoln. It contains
no fictional characters.
Abraham Lincoln has fascinated me since I was eight years old. I don’t know
what got me started, but it might’ve been a book which I still have titled The
Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1, written in 1895. When I was in 3rd
grade, in the mid-60s (which shows how long I’ve been a Lincoln nut), my
teacher asked us to bring a book to school from home, for a show & tell. My
mother suggested I bring this Lincoln book, which even in 1966 was in bad
shape—yellowed, stiffened strips of Scotch tape barely held the covers to the
spine. With the wisdom of an 8-year-old that sadly, all of us outgrow, I
demurred, saying, “This old book? She’ll think we’re poor!” My mother corrected
me: “No, she’ll think we’re rich. Books like this are rare.” Then she proceeded
to tape it up some more.
Those 47-year-old Scotch tape fragments adhere to the
book’s spine and pages to this day. My teacher, Miss Cohen, was duly impressed.
I treasure that book to this day, and it’s one of many on my “Lincoln shelf”
which holds books about our murdered president, his wife Mary, his assassin
John Wilkes Booth and his family, the “Mad Booths of Maryland” and the
conspirators who faced the gallows or years of hard labor because Booth, their
charismatic leader, sucked these poor impressionable souls into his insane
writing 8 historicals set in England and New York City, I wanted to indulge my
passion for Lincoln-lore. I began researching in depth about Lincoln’s life,
his presidency, his role in the Civil War, and Booth’s plans to first kidnap
him, and then to assassinate him. A NECESSARY END combined two genres I’m
passionate about—history and paranormal. I joined The Surratt Society, based in
Maryland, and attended their conferences and tours. Through the Surratt Society
I met several Lincoln/Booth/Civil War experts. One lady I’ll never forget
meeting is Marjorie “Peg” Page, who by all accounts except definitive DNA
testing, is John Wilkes Booth’s great granddaughter. My trips to Lincoln's home
and tomb in Springfield, Illinois, Gettysburg, Ford’s Theater, and the house he
died in, Petersen House, brought me close to Mr. Lincoln’s spirit. My travels
also acquainted me with Booth’s brother Edwin, the most famous actor of his
time, and his unconventional family. A
recording of Edwin’s voice reciting Shakespeare on one of Edison’s wax
cylinders still exists at http://www.britannica.com/shakespeare/browse?browseId=248018
My paranormal experience includes investigations at several haunted homes,
restaurants and graveyards. I investigate with a group from Merrimack, NH, led
by CC Carole, www.ccthehuntress.com. I’ve never seen a
ghost, but I’ve received responses to my questions with my dowsing rods.
Wishing I had my recorder with me, I made a ghost laugh at the Jumel Mansion in
Harlem, New York City, (see the story and photos on my blog, www.dianarubinoauthor.blogspot.com)
we’ll never hear Abraham Lincoln’s voice. But his spirit lives on. In my book,
which is fiction--but we all know that novels are fictionalized truths--I gave
Booth what was coming to him. He got his justice in real life, but in A
NECESSARY END, he also got the paranormal twist he deserves.
I enjoyed sticking it to him!
paralleled the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar in this story because in the
play, Caesar was known as a tyrant to the Senators, who feared losing their
power, as Booth feared losing the Confederacy. Booth always considered Lincoln
the tyrant, hence his proclamation ‘sic simper tyrannis’ (be it ever to
tyrants) when he jumped to the stage after shooting Lincoln.
Senators, Brutus and Cassius among them, conspired to stab Caesar to death on
an appointed day. Booth recruited a group of like-minded disciples to aid him
in his insane plot, at first to kidnap Lincoln, then to kill him.
By day, Booth was a Confederate spy and courier, taking dangerous
missions so that his beloved South could fight the North in the war that tore
the nation in two. But in this story, an even darker secret plagues him–he
believes he’s the reincarnation of Brutus, the man who slew the tyrant Caesar,
and Booth’s destiny in this life is to murder the tyrant who’s ravaged the
South—Abraham Lincoln. In obeying the spirit of Brutus, Booth devises a plot to
assassinate the tyrant.
wrote it as a paranormal instead of a straight historical novel because spirituality was extremely popular in
1865 and all throughout Victorian times. Mary Lincoln was a staunch
spiritualist. So stricken with grief after the deaths of her boys Willie and
Eddie, she hired mediums such as Nettie Maynard to visit the White House and
hold séances in attempts to contact her boys from beyond the grave.
extent of séances, table-tapping, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and otherworldly
activities in this era fit perfectly with the story I wanted to tell. We could
never enter Booth’s head, but his insane behavior begs the question: was he
truly haunted by a spirit who drove him to his heinous act that changed history
was he simply insane?
“And I am
Brutus, Marcus Brutus, I; Brutus, my country's friend; know me for
Brutus!" Booth declared to the proud reflections in his three facing
The center mirror clouded over.
Puzzled, he leaned into it to peer closer. His
reflection faded as if the mirror were clear glass, and another human
form took shape, becoming sharper as the mist faded. He was astonished to be
looking into the face of a man whose eyes bored into his, pinning him with an
unnerving stare. Booth took a step back, glancing to the left, then to the
right, but his own reflections were moving right along with him. He focused
once more on the stranger in the center, the Roman nose giving the weathered
features distinction. He’d seen this face before, but where?
The head nodded and the hint of a
pleased smile curled the thin lips. Without so much as a word, the figure faded
into the mirror’s eternal depths, and Booth was once again looking at his own
“Damn you! Who are you?” He pounded
the mirror and it wavered, his image jerking back and forth with the moving
Exasperated, he turned away.
“I’ll find out who you are if I die
doing it.” He twirled around to face the mirror, seeing only his three
When researching my biographical novel about Aaron Burr's last wife Eliza Jumel, I came across a quote about Aaron: "He was catnip to women" attributed to historian Ray Swick. I wanted to include that in my book, and figured he'd been one of Aaron's buddies who lived in the 19th century or even earlier, during Aaron's salad days as a ladies' man AND catnip (he was very good looking! Take a gander, below)
I asked one of my Aaron Burr Association friends, Marty Kakuk, who told me that Ray Swick is very much alive and living in West Virginia! She put me in touch with him, and I asked his permission to use his quote. He graciously obliged. The book went on sale, with Ray's quote, and he sent me this message just last week: Do you believe that confession is good for the soul? I trust you will, because mine is about to descend upon you. For many years, since I coined the phrase about Aaron Burr being "catnip to women", I labored under the illusion that it was an original thought that had descended on me one day courtesy of Clio, the muse of history. But lo and behold, not long after I dispatched written permission to you to use the expression in your book, while sorting through some of my books while downsizing my library, I happened across some old copies of the American Heritage magazine. I was scanning through the stack to see if I should save any of them, when my eye lit upon an article in the August 1965 issue. About Rudolph Valentino, it is entitled, "The Overloved One". In an early paragraph there appears a line that almost made me drop my upper plate: "H. L. Mencken...described the Sheik as 'catnip to women'. So you see, quite unwittingly, I am a FAKE! I can only suppose that, decades ago, I read the article and the phrase lodged in my subconscious. I am going into such detail in case some voracious reader will come across the American Heritage piece and then accuse you of misquoting the catnip phrase. So all I can say is, Forgive! Please Forgive!!! Ray, you are forgiven, and I hope my readers will forgive him, too!
About Susan Susan has always loved dragons and magic, so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also had to throw in a telepathic cat to the mix in her The Elemental trilogy. In addition to her trilogy, she has published The Search, a short story prequel to the trilogy and The Heir to Alexandria, a full-length standalone fantasy adventure. Her latest fantasy, Blood Bond, was released February 6, 2018. When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children, three cats and two Cocker Spaniels in Texas. About BLOOD BOND
Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary. Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon that saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them. As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army. An Excerpt from BLOOD BOND Soren scrambled to his feet as the golden dragon, Rakkah, landed near him. For a moment, they stared at each other. “You shouldn’t be bonded to Reddex.” Her voice reverberated within his head as she flicked her tail. “It wasn’t by choice,” he said, speaking directly into her mind. He didn’t like the feeling of being trapped with the tree behind his back and stepped away from it. He carefully kept Rakkah in front of him as he moved. “That matters not.” She walked around him. “Definitely not worthy to be a dragon rider.” Pride had him lifting his chin. “Maybe not but Dex said I was the one to help bridge man and dragon.” “Is that what he told you? Did he tell you about the others?” She studied him, before chuckling. “I can tell by the look on your face, he didn’t. You weren’t the first one he approached you know. There were others. He settled for you.” Soren shook his head. “No that isn’t true. He said he had a feeling I was the one.” “A smooth line if I ever heard one. I’ll let you in on something. If he said that, it was him manipulating you. There were others who turned him down. He was under time pressure, so he settled for you. And it is only by accident he is now linked to you. I am sure he would rather not be. I know I would.” She flicked her tail. “Take Warnox up on his offer. It will be better for everyone.” He shook his head. “I don’t…” Before he could continue, Rakkah’s words sunk in and his bewilderment turned to anger. His heart pounded, and his shoulders shook. And then Dex was there. The red dragon faced Rakkah, slashing his own tail. Soren couldn’t hear anything but was sure words were exchanged between the two as they circled each other, their eyes locked. Suddenly, Rakkah leapt into the air and flew back to the other dragons. Dex turned to Soren. “I don’t know what Rakkah said to you, but I could feel your confusion…and your anger.” “Tell me the truth,” he said, his fists clinched. “Was I your first choice?” “My first choice? Choice for what?” “To help you approach the King.” Dex stared at him for a moment before looking down. “You weren’t the first I approached, but Soren…” He didn’t wait to hear any more. Soren walked over to Warnox. With each step, his anger grew. He could still hear Rakkah’s taunting voice. She had been right. He wasn’t Dex’s first choice. He had lied to him about being the one the dragons needed. He shook his head as if to clear the thoughts away. But they persisted, and he quickly covered the distance to the other dragons and to his freedom. “Take me back to Ballinger,” he said to Warnox. The brown dragon regarded him for a moment. “You can ride on Barth. Mount up. It is time to go.” Soren briefly recoiled at the thought of riding without a harness but reassured himself it would only be a short distance. Barth bent down, and he scrambled onto his back. “Soren?” Dex asked, his voice cautious. He didn’t respond or even look at Dex as Barth took off, following the other dragons into the air. He grabbed for the harness before realizing it wasn’t there. His hands searched for something to hold on to but found nothing. As Barth leveled out, Soren resisted the urge to look at the ground far below. "Are you sure this is what you want?" Barth asked. Soren hesitated. "Yes. It is for the best. I am not meant to be a dragon rider." “Can you sense Reddex from here?” Soren felt unsettled but couldn’t determine if it was his own feeling or if it came from Dex too. As he concentrated, he could feel Dex’s anxiety. “He is worried,” he admitted reluctantly. “You shouldn’t be able to connect with him at this distance. He told me how far apart you two have been when you have communicated. It is farther than any other linked pair.” Soren watched Warnox and the other dragons disappear before his eyes, Blinking back to the City of Ballinger. He knew Barth would follow suit in a moment and felt a twinge of regret. “You shouldn’t be doing this,” Barth said. Suddenly, he dove toward the ground, flipping over in the air. Soren’s fingers tried to grasp onto Barth’s back but there was nothing to hold. He fell through the air. He saw Barth above him and then nothing but the blue sky as Barth Blinked. Purchase BLOOD BOND on Amazon
Diane combines her love of
mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction.
Besides the science fiction romance
Switched and Outer Rim series,
she is the author of One Red Shoe, a
romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a
contributor to two anthologies: Portals,
Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband.
Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five
* * *
Wait. Mother’s Day isn’t until May, so why am I writing
about mothers in February? Mothers deserve more than one day or month to be
remembered. More than just remembered, appreciated. I was so blessed by having
three wonderful mothers in my life.
My mom proved that women can do anything they want to. She
was a pampered city girl, the baby of the family, transplanted to a mini-farm
in the middle of nowhere. Dad and his brothers built our house, but once the
drywall was up, separating rooms, he considered his work done. Mom learned how
to spackle seams and nailheads, paint, and lay tile—not the peel-and-stick
kind, the old asphalt tiles with a black sticky mastic that had to be spread
first. Why? Because she wanted to see more than bare drywall and plywood
floors. She did all that over a couple of years, while also having seven kids.
My mother-in-law knew that her future husband and his mother
were a package deal. Her MIL lived with them for twenty-five years. I can’t
imagine. Especially, having a strong-willed mother-in-law. My MIL had one
child. Since he took his own sweet time finding the right girl (moi), she
despaired of him ever getting married, let alone having grandkids. When our
first was a girl, MIL was ecstatic. I didn’t need to buy dresses, MIL couldn’t
find enough. But the best thing about her was that she never criticized. At
least, not that I knew.
MIL’s sister was my third “mother.” In their later years,
she and my in-laws did everything together. MIL didn’t drive, her sister did.
An independent woman for years, she didn’t marry until her middle-fifties and
only for less than ten years when he died. After my father-in-law passed away,
she organized trips for herself and her sister. They were in their early 90s by
this time. After the first trip to Europe, they invited my widowed mother to
join them. (Mom was the spring chicken in her middle 70s.) The three of them
traveled to Europe several times until age started taking its toll on the two
90+ year-olds, and Alzheimer’s began to rob Mom’s mind.
Mom lived to be 84, MIL 102, her sister 100. Our children
consider all three their grandmothers. I considered them my “Moms.”
Not everyone is as blessed as I’ve been. Mothers range from
doting to demanding, from prying to interfering to meddling.
In the 3rd book in the Alex O’Hara PI mystery
series, The Case of the Meddling Mama,
her boyfriend’s mother comes for a visit . . . and stays. After Alex’s father
and his business partner turned the investigation agency over to Alex, they
moved to Arizona. That allowed her to be her own person without them hanging
over her shoulder. Nice for her. Not so nice for the biz partner’s wife.
Although it was her idea to move away from the bitter cold Michigan winters,
she didn’t expect that her husband would get a mistress, one whose name is
spelled GOLF. After a year of losing him to that sport,
she gave up and moved back home. And in with Alex.
That put a big crimp in Alex’s love life. No way was her
boyfriend sleeping with her with his mother down the hall. Since his mother had
once been involved in the agency as secretary, receptionist, etc. and Alex’s
last receptionist had been carted off to jail, she appointed herself office
manager. That made her an integral part of Alex’s business and personal life.
That also entitled her to express her opinion on both levels. Can we spell
* * *
About The Case of the
Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries.
After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick
Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving
in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and
the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs.
Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship
with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s
boyfriend. Piece of cake.
“Alexandra, is that you?” Maria
Palzetti, Nick’s mom and self-appointed office manager, called out as I came in
through the back door of the agency.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“It is I,” Maria corrected as she bustled down the hall. Short and a
little on the plump side, she always looked stylish. Today, she wore a floral
infinity scarf over a soft lavender short-sleeve sweater and a gray skirt. Her
salt-and-pepper hair framed her face on which she wore light make-up. “Always
remember to use proper English.”
“Yes, Mother,” I said, hoping my grin would take the sting out of my
smart-aleck response. After Mom died, Maria had become the closest thing to a
mother, even though she never tried to take Mom’s place. Actually, she was my
mother-in-law—she just didn’t know it.
And I wasn’t saying.
The Case of the
Meddling Mama: An Alex O’Hara Novel is available at: