Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Newest Historical, CROWNED BY LOVE, Book One of the Yorkist Saga, Now on Sale

After Richard III is slain in battle, a beautiful orphan finds true love and her true family, to her relief—and horror.
England, 1471

Beautiful orphaned Denys Woodville is thrust into the center of power politics when her guardian Elizabeth Woodville marries the new king, Edward IV. The Wars of the Roses finally seem to be at an end, with the House of York victorious over the House of Lancaster.

But not everyone rejoices in King Edward's victory. Elizabeth and her Woodville clan have clawed their way to power by switching sides throughout the Wars of the Roses. They are always on the lookout for a chance to advance their ambitions, even at the expense of the king's family and most loyal supporters.

Denys is delighted that the House of York has won, though she detests Elizabeth’s grasping nature. She considers King Edward and his youngest brother Richard, duke of Gloucester, the only real family she ever had. Elizabeth has never given her a hint of who her real parents might have been.

As the walls of the palace start to close in around her, Denys decides to flee the safety of the court in order to seek the truth about her real identity. She longs to find any living family of her own.

Elizabeth marries her off to Valentine Starbury, duke of Norwich, out of spite, but her feelings for him strengthen and bloom into love. He joins her quest to find her family, but with no reliable leads, it becomes hopeless. After King Richard’s devastating death in the Battle of Bosworth, Denys finally reaches her lifelong goal—she finds her family, in a stunning twist of fate.

Scene Three of CROWNED BY LOVE

Denys’s Aunt Elizabeth adopted her, then neglected her to passionately pursue Edward, England’s future king. Edward fell hard, and they married. The new bride had no need of a child, so she sent Denys to Yorkshire, far out of the way.

The childless duke and duchess of Scarborough raised her as the daughter they never had. When the duchess died, the duke sent Denys back to court, unwanted again. Despite having a king and queen for an uncle and aunt, Denys languished, a lost soul. Today, as reunited lovers surrounded her, she stood alone, unwanted. To add to her misery, the knight of her dreams appeared, only to vanish. Such was her life as an outsider.

Her lady-in-waiting entered, curtsied, and held out a folded parchment embossed with the royal seal. "A page delivered this from her highness the queen, my lady."

She dismissed the maid. "It can wait." Probably a summons to one of the queen's silly musicales, an excuse for court ladies to gossip.

Denys put the message out of her mind till that eve as her tiring woman stood behind her brushing her hair. She broke the seal and unfolded it—a summons, all right—but not to a giddy musicale.

It was a summons to a wedding—her own. Her heart took a sickening lurch.

Her intended was Richard, duke of Gloucester, the king's youngest brother, her childhood companion. Queen Elizabeth always married relatives off to the cream of nobility, and Richard was the highest ranking bachelor in the kingdom.

Far from her idea of a husband. A brother, yes. A husband—never!

A fastidious prude, he intended to wed his sweetheart Anne Neville.

Denys and Richard played together as children, and renewed their friendship when she returned to court. They played tennis, chess, cards—but play ended at games. Just the thought of kissing him made her shudder.

Now the queen wanted them wed on Christmas Day.

Seething with fury, she strode to the hearth and flung the parchment into the flames. They licked and charred it beyond recognition. She crawled into bed for a long, hard think.

By the time she fell asleep, she'd already thought of several ways out.

How I ‘Met’ Richard III

Every Ricardian has a story about how they discovered Richard III and became fascinated with him.

I started researching my first historical, THE JEWELS OF WARWICK, centered around Henry VIII and two fictional heroines, in 1990—with no internet (how did I do it?) I have a strong spiritual connection with late medieval England, which is the basis for my enchantment with this place and time. Jewels took 2 years to research and write, with no internet. It came very close to publication with several romance houses, but missed the mark for containing too little romance. 

When I finished JEWELS, I scoured the history books for another legendary figure to write about. While I browsed the Cambridge Library stacks, a book snagged my eye. Lying, not standing, on the wrong shelf was CROWN OF ROSES by Valerie Anand.. It drew me like a magnet. Richard III is a central character in the story, and the author thanks the Richard III Society for helping her. Already hooked on Richard, his tragic death at 32 and his reputation as a usurper and a murderer of his little nephews, I joined this Richard III Society. 

Richard fascinated me. I’d found the subject of my next novel! And it tied in perfectly as a prequel to THE JEWELS OF WARWICK. Titled THY NAME IS LOVE, it made the same rounds of publishers, remaining homeless after several rewrites and seven years.

In 1999 with the Internet making my life so much easier, I queried the many E-publishers that had recently set up shop, and British publisher Domhan Books responded in March with an offer for my two historicals. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meet Diane Burton and Maggie, the Main Character of her Romantic Suspense Novel NUMBERS NEVER LIE

Meet Diane

Diane combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

"Hi, Diana. Thanks for having me on your blog today. Finishing a new book is exciting. Finishing a book that started fifteen years ago is a wonder. LOL When you suggested a character interview, I thought about the ones I usually see on other blogs and wondered if I could do something different. My friends Nancy Gideon and Dana Nussio developed lists of rapid fire questions to get to know an author better. I thought it would be cool to ask Maggie, the main character in Numbers Never Lie those questions. I hope your readers get to know her better."

Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


“What do you mean no toilets?” Drew Campbell stopped on the dusty forest path, hooked his sunglasses on the placket of his golf shirt, and stared at his daughter.

“Dad-dy.” Ellen groaned. Was she only fourteen? She did exasperation better than his administrative assistant. “I told you we were camping.”

Not for a moment would Drew reveal that camping was not what he remembered her saying a week ago. She said she wanted him to come along on an outing with her little group of friends. He figured a hike, picnic lunch, and then home in time for supper.

After taking a call on his cell in the parking lot near the trailhead, he’d gotten his first surprise. That’s when he found out about the “no electronics rule.” No cell phones, no iPods. All were locked in the vehicles. Only the leader carried a cell phone, for emergencies only.

His second surprise came when he opened the hatch of the Navigator. Five backpacks. Five backpacks with bedrolls. He’d transported four girls. It didn’t take a law degree to figure out who the fifth backpack was for. He was in deep shit. But what could he say in front of Ellen and her friends?
“Of course, sweetie. I knew we were camping.” A lie to save face wasn’t wrong. Right?

“Yeah, sure, Dad.”

She didn’t believe him? What happened to the adulation that used to be in her eyes? The “Dad is perfect” look.

He tried again. “Camping, like KOA. You know, kiddo, shower buildings, restrooms, flush toilets.

Right now, I’d settle for a port-a-potty.”

Ellen groaned again. “Da-ad.”

If he didn’t know better, he’d wonder if she had a stomach ache.

As he’d done several times in the past three hours, he took out his handkerchief, looked at it in disgust, and tried to find a clean spot. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. It was hot and sticky, more like August in Michigan than June. Drew intensely disliked sweating. Clean sweat—in a gym—was all right. Not this . . . dirt. More than sweaty, he hated being dirty.

Considering the rain in early spring, he was surprised at how dry the path was. And how much dust twenty feet could kick up on a forest path. That, however, was not his first concern. He needed a john. Bad.

“C’mon, Ellen. Isn’t there a restroom nearby?” he asked quietly. “Even an outhouse?”

“Dad, this is Prim.” Ellen had mastered the art of eye rolling. As he’d learned in the past few months, that innate skill emerged in girls during adolescence.

“Prim? What is that?” Drew gave her the self-mocking grin that always made her laugh. “A new all-girl rock group?

Ellen wasn’t smiling. She lowered her voice. “It means Primitive Camping. We go in the bushes.”

“What!” He looked around, realizing that the other girls were staring at him. He hadn’t meant to sound so loud.

“You are embarrassing me.” She stomped away, kicking up more dust. Before she got to her friends clustered nearby, she shot over her shoulder, “I wish you’d never come. I knew it was a dumb idea to ask you.”

“Hey, come back here, honey. I’m sure this is a little misunderstanding. C’mon, Ellen.” In the year since his wife died, he and Ellen had had a lot of misunderstandings.

“I think she’s mad at you.”

Drew turned toward the quiet voice behind him. There she was, leaning back against a tree, her knee bent and booted foot propped against the trunk. Maggie Sinclair, Director of Camp Hell. He knew Jack’s sister was an outdoor nut, but he didn’t think she was this bad. Pissing in the bushes, for God’s sake.

Maggie was a tall woman, only a few inches shorter than his own six feet. She had the tan of a person who spent time outdoors, not a sunbather, though, with laugh crinkles around her eyes. Still, the rough-neck tomboy he’d grown up with. Who else would want to spend a summer day backpacking on dusty trails through snagging underbrush instead of out on a perfectly manicured golf course where you only ventured into the rough to retrieve an errant ball?

Despite the heat and humidity, Maggie’s white T-shirt, with its pink ‘Race for the Cure’ logo, was still white and her jeans, though faded, remained clean. With her dark brown ponytail pulled through the back of a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, she looked as cool as when they started on this trek three hours ago. That almost irritated him more than her awareness of friction between him and his daughter.

“Ellen? Mad at me?” He affected mock surprise. “Your powers of observation are amazing. Are you ever wrong?”

She cupped her elbow in her hand and tapped a finger against her jaw. “Let me see now. I was wrong once—fourteen years ago. That’s when I married Roger Dodger.”

Roger Dodger. An appropriate name for the jerk. The guy got out of paying alimony, in part because of Maggie’s inept divorce lawyer. It still pissed him off that she hadn’t come to him. Never mind he specialized in criminal law. He would’ve made an exception for her.

“Let me think. Have I been wrong since?” She continued the damn tapping then snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it. I was wrong to let Ellen’s city-soft lawyer daddy help chaperone this trip.”

Drew gave her the smile that prosecutors knew better than to believe. “And here I thought it was because nobody else would.”

Meet Maggie, the main character in NUMBERS NEVER LIE

1. Spa day or gym workout?
Definitely a gym workout. I’d never waste time pampering myself.

2. Night owl or early bird?
Early bird. I have to get up at 6 am to get in a run before going to school. I teach high school English.

3. Broadway or museum?
Neither. Ballpark, either 5th/3rd Park (where the West Michigan Whitecaps play) or Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers).

4. Five words you use to describe yourself.
Athlete. Camper. Loyal. Elephant (never forget). Determined.

5. If I had a free afternoon, I’d ______
Go to a baseball game. If I had a free weekend, I’d go camping.

6. Favorite books from childhood
Choose Your Own Adventures. Where the Wild Things Are. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (because I’ve had days like that, especially with my ex). A Wrinkle in Time.

7. What music do you listen to?
Oldies Rock & Roll. My parents used to dance in the kitchen to R&R. They’re both gone now and the music reminds me of better times.

8. Your first kiss . . .
Ahh. I was fifteen and had the world’s biggest crush on Drew (Andy back then) Campbell, my brother’s best friend. He told me I kissed like a guppy.

9. Disney Princess you’re most like?
Mulan. She dressed like a boy and took her crippled father’s place to fight for the Emperor. Family was most important to her. My brother, Jack, is the only family I have left. I knew he wouldn’t endanger himself then accidentally drive off a bridge. I had to find out what happened.

10. Favorite genre to read?
Young Adult (since I teach that age), science fiction romance (because I like it), biographies of athletes.

11. Merry-Go-Round or Roller Coaster?
Roller Coaster. The biggest, fastest the better.

12. Fishing or Swimming?
Swimming. Fishing is boring.

13. Baseball or Football?
Baseball. I played in high school, MVP my senior year. I’ve coached girl’s baseball for the past ten years.

14. Favorite movie?
The Pride of the Yankees. The story of Lou Gehrig who played first base. I wish they’d make a movie out of Al Kaline’s life. He played outfield—my position.

15. Favorite type of hero: Bad Boy or Mr. Dependable?
How about a Bad Boy who becomes Mr. Dependable? That’s Drew Campbell. He’s my main squeeze. You’d think we wouldn’t have much in common, especially since he hates camping and I lead a group of 14-year-old girls who love to camp—the more primitive the better. Their goal is to camp on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. When no other parent would chaperone, he did. He’s tall, dark, and oh-so handsome with a tight butt.

Purchase NUMBERS NEVER LIE on Amazon

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

BOOTLEG BROADWAY, a Story of Debauchery and Romance. Prohibition, booze, music, sex, murder… New York…what a time to be alive!


After FROM HERE TO 14TH STREET set in 1894, I needed to set this a generation later, which happened to be the 1930s—with Prohibition and the Great Depression as the backdrop. This is the first book I ever wrote where I created the characters first, with nothing to do yet. The plot developed the way it did because of who they are. My goal was to get the protagonist Billy McGlory into one mess after another. This era couldn’t have been more suited to Billy’s adventures, a few of which he barely escaped with his life.


In this sequel to FROM HERE TO 14TH STREET, Vita and Tom McGlory and their three children are struggling to make ends meet.

It's 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of Billy’s marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty "businessman" Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more. Fame, fortune, his own Broadway musical…it's all his for the taking, despite Pru's opposition to Rosie's ventures.

Meanwhile, Pru's artistic career gains momentum and their child is born. Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it's far too late…

Nicknames from real life:

As in FROM HERE TO 14th STREET, a lot of characters have nicknames like Piggy Balls and Dirty Neck Bruiso. I sat around the table with my surviving aunts and uncles who were then in their 80s and 90s, and they rattled off these nicknames from ‘the old days’ in Jersey City like they made them up yesterday. That was a standard Italian neighborhood custom, everybody had a nickname. Some were more descriptive than others. But you didn’t just ‘get’ a nickname. You had to earn it.  

Some more nicknames from the old neighborhood:

Bruno Chicken Body
Butta Jeans
Charlie Burp
Chick a la zoo
Dirty Dicky
Dirty Neck Bruiso
Frankie Butch Butch
Gravel Gertie
Hoo Hoo
Jazzy Lou
Jijji Balls
Johnny in for the pot

My fav passage from BOOTLEG BROADWAY (which made my aunt cringe):

Pru had kept closemouthed all day about what she was giving him for his birthday. He badgered and hounded her, but she wouldn’t give in.
As Ma began divvying up the rum cake, the doorbell rang, and Da came back with a long box. “This thing’s heavy. What’s in here, Pru? Billy’s tombstone?”
Billy cut the ribbon with the cake knife and slid the lid off. Wads of tissue paper filled the box. As he removed the last layer of covering and revealed what was inside, they all gasped—a sculpture of a naked man, in all his masculine glory—and fully aroused. He had one hand on his hip and one foot upon a pedestal on which was inscribed in bold letters, “BILLY.”
“Oh, crap.” His face turned red hot. 

Where Did I Begin?

This was the first book I ever wrote where I created the characters first, with no storyline whatsoever. All I knew was that it was during Prohibition, and I wanted to get the main character, Billy McGlory, into one mess after another.

Here’s a prime example of that, in this excerpt:

Heading south on Madison Avenue, I heard the siren. I glanced into the rearview mirror and saw the unmistakable Greyhound radiator ornament of the Lincoln behind me. Cop car. All the gangsters drove Lincolns, which had a top speed of 80, so the cops had to get Lincolns to keep up with them. I tried to get the hell out of his way—he must've been going to a robbery or a diner or something. I pulled over, and he pulled up next to me. Oh, shit. It was me he was after.
I rolled down the window and asked sweetly, "Yes, sir, what can I do for you, sir?"
"License and registration please."
"Uh—what's wrong, officer? Did I commit a traffic violation?" As the son of the ex-Chief of Police, I should have been real comfortable around cops, but to tell the truth, they scared the hell out of me. The cops my father knew weren't the crooked ones. They were the straightassed ones, just like him, who fought Tammany and made a career out of busting crooks. They didn't have a price, like the rest of them. Hardnosed bastards, some were frustrated politicians and not smart enough to get into law school, so they enforced the laws from behind their badges. Hell, I was all for law and order, but these guys sometimes took it too far. "Your back license plate is missing."
Relief drained me. "Oh, drat. It must've got stolen. You know this city—just crawlin' with thieves."
"License and registration, please," he repeated, in what passed for a more menacing cop voice. Now he assumed his cop stance, pudgy fists on meaty hips, waiting while I dug through the glove compartment, tossing aside all the crumpled up sheet music and junk crammed in there. Oh, that's where my emergency pack of cigarettes was, and that old box of prophylactics! But damned if I couldn't find the registration.
"Uh—I can't find it, but it's my car, honest. I mean, it was a gift to me, but it's been paid for, it's not stolen or anything. I can probably find it in my penthouse. You wanna follow me there? It's only two blocks aw—"
"Step out of the car, please."
Uh-oh. I felt my bowels burning. I had two briefcases bulging with two shitloads of money in the back seat.
He poked his head into the car. "What's in the briefcases?"
"Uh—I dunno. I'm doing an errand for somebody."
"Yeah, I'll bet you dunno. Step aside, please."
"Hey, you got a search warrant?" I demanded.
But demanding a search warrant from a New York City cop was like demanding a shot of Scotch from Satan in the middle of Hell.
I didn't want to look. I turned my head and flattened my palms on the roof of the car, like I was being searched. I heard the clicks as he sprang the latches and his not-so-surprised "mm-hmmm" as he checked out the contents.
"Who you doing this errand for, sonny boy?"
What was with the "sonny boy"? He wasn't much older than me. I knew he just wanted to put me down. Screw that. I've been called a lot worse by much better cops than him. He obviously didn't know who I was. "Uh—I'd better get a lawyer or something."
"You'd better come with me."
"Look, uh—you wanna just take a few bills outta there and forget it?” I asked, real generously. “I mean, uh—we're all in this mess together, ya know—"
"Bribing an officer of the law is a very serious offense, sonny boy. You'll have to come with me. Park your car there, please."
"Here? But there's a hydrant here. I'll get a ticket." 

 I CONSIDERED THESE TITLES BEFORE I CHOSE BOOTLEG BROADWAY (feel free to use any of these if you’re writing a book set during Prohibition or the Depression—it was a tough decision)

Headin' for Better Times
How Strange
If It Ain't Love
If I Had You
Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice
Opus One
Puttin on the Ritz
Say it Isn't So
See if I'll Care
Somebody Loves You
Take the A Train
Thanks for the Memory
Under the Moon
When Dreams Come True
Wherever you Are 


The Stork Club - Ralph Blumenthal
Once Upon a Time in NY - Herbert Mitgang
Incredible NY: High Life & Low Life - Lloyd Morris
The Night Club Era - Stanley Walker 


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Thursday, July 5, 2018

For Third Scene Thursday, Scene 3 of My New Biographical Romance FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE, Meet the Hawthornes, Visit Salem, and More...

In 19th century Salem, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s clairvoyant bride rescues her beloved husband from a perceived curse that spanned generations.

Meet Diana

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.


Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.

In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.

Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.

When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.

But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.

Sophia Peabody’s home next to Charter Street Burying Ground, resting place of Judge Hathorne, Salem, MA

Sophia suffered severe headaches as a result of childhood mercury treatments. She underwent routine mesmerizing sessions, a popular cure for many ailments. Spirits sometimes came to her when mesmerized, and as a spiritualist and medium, she was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.

Sarah Good’s son Peter had kept a journal the family passed down to the Peabodys. Sophia sensed his presence every time she turned the brittle pages and read his words. John Hathorne’s legitimate son John also kept a journal, now in the Hawthorne family’s possession. Living on opposite sides of Salem in 1692, Peter and John wrote in vivid detail about how the Salem trials tormented them throughout their lives.

Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Wanting nothing else but to spend the summer enjoying each other, we became Adam and Eve, alone in our Garden of Eden, Sophia wrote in her journal.

 The Old Manse, the Hawthornes' first home as newlyweds

As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. But the curse he believed Sarah cast on his family still haunted him. In the book he asks for the curse to be lifted.

The House of the Seven  Gables, Salem, MA, built in 1668

Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse. He told Sophia, “Writing it, and especially reading it aloud to you lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. I felt it physically leave me. I carried this inside me since my youth and couldn’t bring it out to face it. And I have you, and only you, to thank.”

But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.

Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.

John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. “You don’t have to say it out loud,” John said. “Just forgive him in your heart.”

Nathaniel whispered his forgiveness.

John, Nathaniel and Sophia went to Judge Hathorne’s gravesite to give the journals proper burial.


I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I'm a kid. I've always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, including the witch trials.

I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him. Nathaniel wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the 'w' to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.

I was fortunate to get a private tour of the House of the Seven Gables when I was writing the book; two of the guides, Ryan Conary and David Moffat, showed me around, and it was fabulous.

 From The Third Scene From FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

53 Charter Street, Salem, Massachusetts, 1837
Monday eve under a blur of stars, warm for mid-November

“O, Sophie!” My sister pounded on my bedroom door. My head throbbed with every strike of her fist. “Pull on a frock and come downstairs! Now!”

I squeezed my eyes shut. “Please, Lizzie, I have one of my headaches. Leave me be.”

Heedless of my request or of the fierce pain tearing my brain, she shoved the door open. Its rusty hinges screeched. “Oh, dear God.” I covered my ears.

She stomped up to my bed, nudging me. “Another headache? You poor dear.” Her tone indicated neither sympathy nor sincerity. “Take more hyoscyamus.”

“I have none left. I took an opium powder,” my muffled voice cracked.

“You need be mesmerized again. When is Dr. Fiske’s next visit?” She sat on the bed. The mattress sagged under her weight.

“Friday. But I know what brought this on. Mr. Allston lent me his edition of Flaxman’s ‘Greek Poets’ and I copied every outline drawing in it. That exhausted me and my head started to rage. Oh, what I won’t do for my art.” I drew my knees to my chest and burrowed under the covers.

“Then come downstairs. You’ll be cured in an instant. Guess who’s here! Nathaniel Hawthorne! That is, him and his two hooded sisters. At least he took his mantle off. It’s nice to see them out of their house.”

I lowered the blanket past my chin, opened one eye and peeked at Lizzie fussing with her cuffs. “What got the sisters out?”

“My visit to them on Herbert Street.” A smug grin accompanied her air of braggadocio. My ears perked.

“Nobody calls on them!” I raised my shoulders off the bed. “You went there? Why did you intrude? You know how reclusive they are.”

“I went to call on Ebe. I used to see her all the time but haven’t chanced upon her in a while. We always recited our lessons together. A brilliant little girl, so poetical with great sense and cultivated by reading. I used to think she looked as if she’d walked out of an old picture as she preserved the ancient costume. Now, now such a hermitess. Pity.” She paused, lips pursed. “I read stories in New England Magazine by a Mr. Hawthorne. Naturally I believed it was Ebe under a pen name. Wanting to help her publish in other magazines, I called at their house. But the other sister, Louisa, answered the door. ‘I believe Ebe a genius,’ I told her, and she corrected me presently—‘Oh, my brother, you mean.’ And you know who that is, of course.”

“Nathaniel.” I nodded. “They only have one brother.”

“None other. I made it clear that if her brother writes like that, he has no right to be idle. Not long after, he sent me his Twice-Told Tales. It delighted me, so I told him to write for the Democratic Chronicle. But he replied he has no interest in journalism. And now he sits on our chesterfield directly below you!” She grinned at her accomplishment, beaming in the dim gaslight from the hallway. “My newly discovered genius with both his sisters.”

“They have no interest in me,” I countered. “You, Mary, George, and Welly are the brilliant ones. I have nothing to offer the Hawthornes.”

She leaned over and swept wisps of hair off my forehead. “But, Sophie, you do. He wants to meet you. You were too young, but I remember him as a broad-shouldered little boy with clustering locks, springing about the yard. And now . . .” She fanned her face with her hand. “You never saw anything so splendid. He is handsomer than Lord Byron.”

Her gushing eased my pain. “Lord Byron? You don’t say.” I chuckled. “I think it rather ridiculous to get up. If he has come once, he will come again.”

Lizzie shook her head. “Nuh-uh-uh. He specially asked for you.” Her tone carried a hint of resentment.

I opened both eyes wide, intrigued, but not enough to dress up and drag myself downstairs. “Why me? Does he not know you want him all to yourself?”

She blinked, pressing her palm to Grandmother Palmer’s pearl necklace nestled above her bosom. “Of course not. I wouldn’t even hint at such a thing. I don’t want him all to myself. Not all the time.” She released a wistful sigh. “When I see him round town, we chat about his writing, news of the day, the latest with Mr. Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Susan Burley and the crew . . . idle chitchat. But he wants to talk with you about your Cuba journal. I gave it to him and he devoured it in two days.”

I sat up, shading my eyes from the gaslight, however weak. “That’s why he wants to meet me? I didn’t know you gave him that. Why didn’t you ask me first?” Always direct with Lizzie, I played up the annoyance in my tone.

She shrugged, tracing a pattern on my cover with her forefinger. “Everyone else read it.”

“Lizzie, will you stop trying to run my life?” I snapped. My muscles quivered as familiar outrage rose in me. “I know everybody read it. Without my consent. And you gave it to Nathaniel Hawthorne? Someone I’ve never met?”

“All your chiding was for naught then, and it is now. Everybody I gave it to devoured it, and now he’s fascinated with it.” Her voice lilted. “Says he feels he’s known you all his life and has become—” She cleared her throat. “intimately acquainted with your spirit and inner character.”

I narrowed my eyes, but not to block out light. “He read between the lines, then, if he thinks he knows me . . . intimately.” The word sent heat surging to my cheeks.

She flicked her wrist, her standard pooh-poohing gesture. “Well, it is sensual. He heard about it from others who’ve read it and begged me to see it.”

“Did he beg to see me?” Picturing the Byron lookalike perched on the sofa, eyes fixed on the staircase, awaiting my appearance, I almost forgot my head whirled like a top.

Lizzie raised her chins and shook her head. Her chestnut curls bobbed. “He doesn’t beg. But he did request your presence, and so politely. ‘Please fetch Miss Sophia for me, I most wish to make her acquaintance.’” She dropped her pitch to imitate his. “You’ll find endless topics to bandy about, when he’s finished raving about your journal.” Resentment crept back into her tone, confusing me.

“Why play messenger for Mr. Hawthorne, when you fancy him yourself? You never made a secret of that.” Mary and I teased her about it no end.

She let out a haughty whoosh. “Look, are you coming down or not?” She stood and stared me down, fists on hips.

I snuggled back under the covers. “Tell him thank you. I’ll come down next time, when I have no headache. But he needn’t know that. Give him my regrets. I’m bedridden for now.”

“He knows why you’re bedridden,” she retorted. “I told him of your invalidism—that is, your headaches.”

I opened an eye and glared. “Why did you feel the need to divulge that? Did you also share my toilette ritual with him?”

“Huffiness does not become you, Sophie.” That chiding quality of hers always gnawed at me and sent flames of irritation racing through my veins. “I qualified that by adding how your pain doesn’t embitter or even sadden the unspoiled imagination of your heart.”

“No, it just sends me abed when I’d rather be out walking, riding, flitting, flirting . . .” I mumbled into the pillow. Then inspiration struck. I lifted my head. “Lizzie, go to my center table there, take them the Greek Poets book so they can look through it.”

She fetched the book and backed out, her figure filling the doorway. “Very well, but I have him all to myself for now . . . who knows what can happen?” she taunted with a playful lilt.

“Oh, yeah, with the two hooded figures flanking him,” I harrumphed.

“I daresay next time he calls he will be alone,” Lizzie predicted from my doorway.

“Then next time he calls—alone—I’ll come down.” I bunched the pillow under my head.

“If you’re home and not out gallivanting. Feel better soon.” She shut the door with a click. As her footsteps receded, the room fell dead silent.

Curiosity gnawed at me. I craved a peek at him. Rubbing my hands together with mischief, I slipt from bed, opened the door and tiptoed out to the hall. I crept to the banister and peered over. There he sat, his imposing presence poised in profile. He chatted with Mary and Lizzie, his enshrouded sisters flanking him. They sat in shadow, but he glowed. His voice, most musical thunder, eased my pain, soothing me. “O’Sullivan asked me to write for his new magazine so I penned The Toll-Gatherer’s Day in a single night when I couldn’t sleep.”

Staring as if entranced, I placed my hand over my dancing heart. Oh, handsomer than Lord Byron, all right. But why did he want to meet poor, miserable, maimed, nerve-twisted, trembling me, with pasty face and ash gray eyes, disciplined and defined by chronic headache? He had free access to Lizzie’s company, flattery, and engaging discourse. Had my breezy Cuba journal sparked that much interest? As I focused on him, unblinking, my head ceased pounding. I drew a sigh, luxuriated in the absence of pain and mentally rehearsed our first meeting.

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