You know you’ve hit upon a good idea when the concept comes to you fully formed. That happened with Sam, Ann, Grace and my Spanish Civil War mini-series. Recently, while reading an item about the Second World War the idea for a mini-series came to me, fully formed. The central character, themes and events are clear in my mind. Now, I need to do more research and develop the characters. Then I can add my new idea to my writing and publishing schedule 🙂
And speaking of research… Currently I’m reading The White Mouse, Nancy Wake’s autobiography. It’s a remarkable story, an example of the tremendous courage people have shown throughout the ages in their fight against fascism.
Another excellent translation from Laura. This is the fourth book she has translated for me. I look forward to working with her in 2020 on new titles. Meanwhile, here’s an example of our partnership 🙂https://hannah-howe.com/translations/francais/
Many thanks to my readers in Australia for placing seven of my books in the top 💯 alongside greats such as Robert B Parker. And here’s a curiosity, the Italian version of Betrayal is #1 in Australia.
A startling graphic highlighting the global climate crisis.
And a moving graphic from Remembrance Day.
I’ve been updating my Amazon author page and discovered that I have sixty-nine books listed. Many thanks to my readers, publisher friends, author friends, translators and narrators for making this possible.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Delighted to announce my publishing schedule for 2020. It’s an ambitious one with the following books in the pipeline.
Snow in August: Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 16
The Olive Tree: Roots: A Spanish Civil War Saga Book 1
Looking for Rosanna Mee: Sam Smith Mystery Series Book 17
The Olive Tree: Branches: A Spanish Civil War Saga Book 2
Another beautiful translation from Cristina. Available soon 🙂
Recently, I visited a series of caves in west Wales where I learned about the Red Lady of Paviland. The Red Lady of Paviland, pictured, is an Upper Paleolithic partial skeleton dyed in red ochre and buried in the Goat’s Hole Cave 33,000 years ago. William Buckland discovered the skeleton in 1823.
The Red Lady obtained her name because of the red ochre dye and jewellery found at the site. However, later analysis proved that ‘she’ was a man.
This incident will feature in Snow in August, out soon.
The joy of research is it will often lead you to items you were not originally looking for.
While looking for books to place on the Europe by Book website https://europebybook.com I discovered the story of Nancy Wake, a remarkable woman.
“Nancy Wake (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) worked for the Pat O’Leary escape line and the Special Operations Executive in France during World War II.
After the fall of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Wake became a courier for the Pat O’Leary escape network. As a member of the escape network, she helped Allied airmen evade capture by the Germans and escape to neutral Spain.
In 1943, when the Germans became aware of her, she escaped to Spain and codenamed “Helene,” joined the Special Operations Executive.”
I intend to learn more about Nancy Wake and use elements of her story in a novel I’m currently researching.
Struggling to find the right presents for your children this year? Here’s fun for all the family! The aim is to become a tax-dodging millionaire. If you fail, you lose!
In a recent study, Buckets, Trapnell and Paulhus sought to examine the dark personality traits of Internet trolls. The researchers explored trolling in 1,215 participants and compared this to the dark personality triad, which is the dark triad – narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy – plus sadism. They discovered that all forms of dark personality were significantly higher in individuals who troll with sadism the strongest factor.
So many good people do so many wonderful things. Our political leaders pale into insignificance in comparison.
A year ago, we launched Mom’s Favorite Reads and I’m delighted to say we are still going strong 🙂
It’s been an exciting challenge to produce a magazine on a monthly basis and a great pleasure to work with so many loyal, talented and creative people.
We have featured some big names over the past year – check out our back issues for the full list – along with many exceptional newcomers. We have also showcased a number of young authors and their contributions have been a pleasure to read.
Stay tuned for our exciting Christmas and New Year plans. Meanwhile, here’s our Fall issue.
In our Fall issue…
Articles, short stories, recipes, travel, interviews, poetry, young writers, activities and book reviews. There is something for everyone in Mom’s Favorite Reads. Enjoy your copy, FREE, today!
In Britain we are facing a General Election in December. Meanwhile, this week in the House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, wore a green tie as a mark of respect for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy where 72 men, women and children died. With the relatives of the victims looking on from the public gallery the Conservative MPs laughed and mocked him and his tie. Make of that what you will.
Thanks to Suzan, we are making excellent progress with the audiobook version of Victory. This story is based on a remarkable top secret assignment conducted during the Second World War.
This week, I stumbled across a link for the Humanists on Twitter. Out of interest, I completed their questionnaire and discovered that I am “100% Humanist”. This did not come as a surprise because Dr Alan Storey, one of the main characters in my Sam Smith Mystery Series, follows Humanist principles as a psychologist. I believe in Humanist principles because I think they are good for the world. Equally, I have no problem if people choose to follow a religion. As the late, great comedian Dave Allen used to say, “May your god go with you.”
Many thanks to readers in France, Germany and Italy for supporting my Sam Smith Mystery Series with more sales in those countries this week. Also, many thanks to readers in Germany for placing my Ann’s War Mystery Series in the top thirty 🙂
Views of Llanmadoc, a location featured in my Sam Smith Mystery Series.
More thanks, this time to Adriana for her wonderful translation of Invasion. I’m delighted that she’s now working on Blackmail, book three in my Ann’s War Mystery Series 🙂
Authors I admire: Ronesa Aveela. Ronesa writes about mythology, in particular Bulgarian and East European mythology. I am fortunate to have a number of Bulgarian friends so Ronesa’s books are of great interest to me. I am also fortunate to count Ronesa amongst my friends, but I say without any bias that her books are truly excellent. Here are some examples. Please check them out.
Evidence of autumn. Our liquid amber, now a teenager, has held on to its green leaves longer this year.
Why do authors write? Apart from the elite 1% there is no money in writing, so unless you are in that 1% or churning out words to order money isn’t a motivation. Fame? Fame is shallow and does more harm than good. Some authors want to be famous, and good luck to them, but fame isn’t for me. Praise? It is rewarding when readers appreciate your books, look forward to them and write nice comments. Kind words mean a lot. That said, writing isn’t the best occupation if you are looking for praise. Even if you are a mega-bestseller the majority of people will ignore you or dislike your work. So, why do writers write? I believe it’s because we are blessed, or cursed, with story ideas and we need to express those ideas to find a level of contentment and peace of mind. We need to release our creative energy through writing. Of course, finding readers is rewarding and satisfying, but the main motivation and enjoyment comes from turning a blank manuscript into a story. There is something magical about creating a story that is unique.
Chapter one of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen is complete. Here’s a clue…
Caerau Hillfort and the ruins of St Mary’s church, pictured, get a mention in chapter two of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. These landmarks are on the road Sam takes to her office houseboat.
Chapter three of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, sees Sam at Caswell Bay where she meets her new client.
Five more translations published this week, three in Spanish, one in German and another in Portuguese. Many thanks to my talented team of translators for all their hard work and for sharing my stories with the world.
I rediscovered Twitter this week. Like all of social media, Twitter is mainly a talking platform, not a listening platform. That said, I have found it useful for accessing information from experts who have greater knowledge about certain subjects than I have. Twitter, like all of social media, is not a good book promoting platform so I’m not sure if I will use it to any great extent. However, if you would like to connect there my Twitter link is on the sidebar.
This week, we started work on the audiobook version of Victory. This will complete the Ann’s War series. The series is also available in a number of languages, with more to follow. I wrote the books as an experiment, which has turned into a great success. This has encouraged me to follow a similar pattern with my forthcoming Spanish Civil War series, The Olive Tree.
The audiobook version of Escape is nearly ready for publication. It’s been a while since I wrote the story so I’ve managed to listen to it with fresh ears. I love the story. This has nothing to do with the quality of my writing, but is based on the remarkable series of true events that make up the story.
Many thanks to Graciela for her excellent translation of Boston, which will be available soon 🙂
From my research… In 1939, there were more movie theatres in America – 15,115 – than banks – 14,952. More than 50 million Americans went to the movies every week and there were 400 new movies a year to watch. Annually, the movies were the nation’s eleventh-biggest business in terms of assets netting $529,950,444. Although synonymous with Hollywood, the financial aspect of the movies was controlled by New York.
Movie executives were amongst the richest rewarded, ranked second in terms of percentage sales and profits while leading actors and directors, on short-term contracts, could earn $40,000 a week. In comparison leading writers earned $350 – $1,000 a week.
North by Northwest is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. Released in 1959, the movie tells the story of advertising executive Roger Thornhill, a man mistaken for a non-existent spy.
The story, written by Ernest Lehman, is breezy entertainment, a series of stylish set-pieces. The central plot revolves around a roll of microfilm. However, that microfilm – a McGuffin in the words of Ernest Lehman – is largely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the movie.
Ernest Lehman made the story up as he went along and he freely admitted that occasionally he painted himself into a corner. However, he always managed to extricate himself, and his characters. The finest example of this is the scene where Eve Kendall, Eva Marie Saint, pulls a gun on Roger Thornhill, Cary Grant. If you look closely, in the background you will see a young boy, one of the extras, as he places his fingers into his ears before the gun goes off. Clearly, this was not the first take and the boy was anticipating the noise. Nevertheless, Hitchcock selected this take for the final cut of his movie.
North by Northwest developed from a series of conversations between Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman. Hitchcock wanted to make a movie that included a chase scene across the famous faces at Mount Rushmore, an idea Lehman liked. Another scene that developed from Hitchcock’s fertile imagination was the aeroplane chase scene across a barren landscape. For the best part of eight minutes nothing happens in this scene, but it is gripping nonetheless.
The casting is excellent with James Mason and Martin Landau suitability menacing as the villains. However, it’s interesting to note that Jessie Royce Landis, who played Roger Thornhill’s mother, was only one year older than Cary Grant at the time (!)
The star of the movie, in my eyes, is Eva Marie Saint. She doesn’t appear until a third of the way into the movie, but from then on her combination of beauty, elegance and vulnerability is enchanting. One of her first lines is, “I never make love on an empty stomach.” However, the censors changed this to, “I never discuss love on an empty stomach.” Watch her lips in this scene and you will notice the subtle difference.
While directing Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock offered the following advice, “Lower your voice, don’t wave your hands around, and when you speak always look into Cary Grant’s eyes.” Advice that, in the movie, works to stunning effect.
North by Northwest was the working title for the movie. At one stage the title of The Man in Lincoln’s Nose was suggested, but thankfully that was rejected.
The movie includes many of Hitchcock’s trademarks, including a cameo appearance by the director at the very start of the film and his generous use of subtle lighting and overhead shots.
The film isn’t perfect, and the Studio worried that it went on for too long. The drunk driver scene at the start was inserted for humour, but it isn’t funny and it does go on for too long. The dramatic cliffhanger at the end, classic Hitchcock, is spoiled in my opinion by an abrupt ending and a cut that placed the characters on a train. That train then disappears into a tunnel in a metaphor for sex that was a cliché even in the 1950s.
Overall though North by Northwest is fine entertainment, and if you haven’t seen it you are in for a treat.