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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #43

Dear Reader,

My personal top ten this week with Ann’s War proving popular. This mini series has greatly exceeded my expectations.

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https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E/

April 1st was Sam’s birthday. I write the stories in ‘real time’ so Sam has a real age, thirty-seven, although believe me she still looks twenty-seven and in terms of attitude to life she’ll always be seventeen 😉

I‘ve been writing about Sam for six years and have enjoyed every minute. Sam is a writer’s dream, always full of stories.

At the moment, I’m storyboarding Looking for Rosanna Mee, book seventeen in the series, and have many more stories planned.

Happy Birthday, Sam! 

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Published today, Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine April 2020. As ever, there are some great articles and features included this month. Read or download your copy FREE 🙂

My latest article for the Seaside News

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To date, Imprint Digital have printed all my books. I’m delighted with the quality of their printing and it’s great to see that even in difficult times they are proceeding with the expansion of their printing plant, pictured here.

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My Imprint Digital paperbacks are available from my website at special reduced prices for visitors to my website store.

https://hannah-howe.com/mystore/

This lyric by Al Stewart could serve as a soundtrack to one of the chapters in my Spanish Civil War Saga, The Olive Tree: Roots.

While traveling northwards on a back country lane

I came on the village where first I grew

And stopped to climb up the hill once again

Looking down from the tracks to the gray slate roofs

I watched the village moving as the day went slowly by

In the fields we lay here, my very first love and I

Under timeless arcadian skies

Under timeless arcadian skies

The old canal lies sleeping under the sky

The barges are gone to a lost decade

On overgrown banks here, lovers’ footsteps went by

Long before ever the roads were made

And in our turn we passed here and carved our names on trees

As the days washed by like waves of an endless sea

Under timeless arcadian skies

Under timeless arcadian skies

Time runs through your fingers

You never hold it at all till it’s gone

Some fragments just linger with you

Like snow in the spring hanging on

I left the village behind in the night

To fade like a sail on the darkening seas

The shifts and changes in the patterns of life

Will weather it more than the centuries

And in another village, in a far off foreign land

The new day breaks out opening up its hand

And the sun has the moon in his eyes

As he wanders the timeless skies

As part of their psychological assessment, the would-be agents at the SOE training school were shown Rorschach‘s inkblots, including card nine, the card featured here. Most of the students interpreted this image as dragons, which coincidentally is my interpretation.

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Harry Rée is one of the inspirations for Guy Samson, my character in Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, therefore I was delighted to see that Harry’s son, Jonathan, has edited his father’s memoirs and published them recently.

I’m looking forward to reading this book 🙂

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This is exciting, for today at least Operation Locksmith is #1 in France, outselling James Patterson 🙂

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Operation Locksmith is now available for pre-order.

“I understand that you wish to return to France,” the man behind the mahogany desk said.

“That’s correct,” I said.

“Your motivation?” he asked, smoothing the corners of his moustache.

“To do my bit for the war effort,” I said, “to defeat the Nazis and to discover what’s happened to my husband.”

“It would be extremely risky,” the officious-looking man said, “suicidal even, for a lone woman to undertake such a venture. However, there is an alternative.”

“Alternative?” I frowned.

“Yes. We’ll parachute you in, as one of our people. Of course, you’d have to undertake training first. Rigorous training. Top secret training. If you fail, I’m afraid it will mean a spell in the cooler, possibly until the war is over.”

“The cooler?”

“But I trust it won’t come to that,” he said, ignoring my question. “When can you start?”

I began immediately. And during my training I met two people who would radically reshape my life – Guy Samson and Mimi Duchamp. I also discovered secrets about myself, abilities beyond my imagination. However, as the training heated up so the situations became all too real, until they reached a point where I had to kill, or be killed.

EVE'S WAR OPERATION LOCKSMITH MASTER

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE will continue next week, but this week I present Men of Courage Heroes of SOE 

Harry Alfred Rée was born on 15 October 1914. An educationalist, he was regarded by historian M.R.D. Foot as one of the best male SOE agents.

The son of Dr. Alfred Rée, a chemist who was from a Danish Jewish family, and Lavinia Elisabeth Dimmick, Harry Rée was a conscientious objector, ordered to work for the National Fire Service. However, in 1941 he re-registered for military service and was called up into the army. Later, he volunteered for the SOE. 

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In April 1943, as a Captain, and with the code name César, Harry parachuted into France to join the Acrobat Network. He argued against the RAF bombing targets in France because it turned public opinion against the Allies. Instead, he suggested that SOE agents should organise effective sabotage of factories on the ground. 

Harry convinced the director of a Peugeot factory at Sochaux to cooperate with the SOE. The director, a member of the Resistance, not only assisted in the sabotage, but also shared tactical information on Wehrmacht projects, including the V1 rocket. Due to this action, the RAF did not bomb the factory, saving many lives.

The Nazis tried to capture Harry. Indeed, he escaped a Feldgendarmerie group after being shot four times, swam across a river and crawled through a forest to reach Switzerland. In May 1944 he returned to Britain. 

Shortly after the war, Harry starred alongside fellow agent Jacqueline Nearne in the film Now it Can be Told (aka School for Danger), produced by the RAF Film Unit, which told the story of SOE’s activities in France.

In 1940, Harry married Hetty Vine. They had three children, the first of whom was born while Harry was in France.

Harry died in 1991.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

P.S. Apologies if the Issuu links do not load and for any formatting errors. This is entirely the fault of WordPress who, once again, have undated their platform at the expense of their customers. WordPress’ ‘improvements’ continue to make blogging and website management more difficult. When I joined them they were excellent, but now they provide a second-rate service.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #38

Dear Reader,

This week, Betrayal reached #1 on the Amazon charts for the ninth time while all five books in my Ann’s War Mystery Series reached the top forty. Therefore, Ann dominates my personal sales chart today.

My latest translation, another wonderful contribution from Adriana.

Operation Zigzag entered the Hot 💯 the day it was made available for pre-order and I’m delighted that the book is still in the Hot 💯 

The writing is going extremely well. It’s been fascinating learning about the mean streets of Marseille, the railway network and the social customs of the time.

I write the books I want to read and I can’t wait to write and read the next chapter 🙂

https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

Fort Saint-John in Marseille. Allied prisoners of war were held here.

In Operation Zigzag, set in December 1943, the Resistance ask Eve to spring Zigzag from this prison and escort him to the relative safety of Spain.

From 1940-2 the Germans and Allies had a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ whereby the prisoners were allowed to wander around Marseille by day as long as they returned to the prison at night. Both sides honoured this agreement. However, when the Gestapo arrived in Marseille in November 1943 fascist barbarity replaced civilisation.

My 2020 writing schedule includes two Sam Smith mysteries, two Olive Tree Spanish Civil War novellas, two Eve’s War Heroines of SOE novellas and Pearl of the SOE. These books will be published this year, starting in March, although Pearl of the SOE is scheduled for 2021.

This is a demanding, but exciting schedule. My notebooks are full of novel and series ideas, which I hope to develop in due course.

Along with translations and audiobooks, these stories will be my main writing and publishing focus for the foreseeable future.

The cover for my forthcoming dramatised biography of Pearl Witherington the only woman to lead a Marquis group (of approximately 4,000 men) during the SOE’s fight against fascism.

Unknown to the general public, the SOE’s offices were on Baker Street, home of course to the fictional Sherlock Holmes, and immortalised in this classic Gerry Rafferty song.

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Alix Marrier d’Unienville was born on 8 May 1918 in Mauritius. Her parents, wealthy French aristocrats, moved back to France, to a chateau near Vannes, when she was six.

In 1940, with her dual French and British citizenship, Alix escaped to Britain where she wrote propaganda leaflets in the Free French headquarters at Carlton Gardens, London.

Recruited by the SOE, Alix began her training in June 1943. On 31 March 1944, she parachuted into Loir-et-Cher from a Halifax aircraft with millions of francs to distribute to the Resistance.

Under the alias of Aline Bavelan, her cover story stated that she was born on the island of Réunion in 1922 (the SOE making her four years younger), moved to France in 1938 to study and now was the wife of a prisoner-of-war. Clandestinely, her main mission in France was to organise messages for the Free French in Paris.

Alix worked in Paris under the code names Myrtil and Marie-France. She was successful until 6 June 1944 when the Gestapo arrested her in Paris. At Avenue Foch, where she was interrogated, the Gestapo found her cyanide pill.

Held in Fresnes Prison, in solitary confinement, Alix pretended to be mentally ill in the hope that the Gestapo would transfer her to Saint-Anne hospital. However, instead they transferred her to La Pitié a place known for its brutal atrocities. There, she continued her pretence, drawing inspiration from a family servant who had suffered from psychological problems. The secret, Alix reasoned, was never to look people in the eyes.

Transferred again, to a prison camp at Romainville, Alix plotted her escape with another prisoner, Annie Hervé. Their plan was to escape over the prison walls using a rope made from black curtains. Alix abandoned her plan when the Gestapo deported Annie Hervé to Germany. 

Throughout her time in captivity, the Gestapo were deeply suspicious of Alix. Indeed, all the clues pointed to her being an agent, yet they never put all the pieces together. Although she existed in squalid conditions on merge rations, she remained physically and mentally strong, strong enough to continually outwit her enemy.

On 15 August 1944, with the Allies approaching, Alix was in the last convoy travelling from Romainville to Germany when she reached Marne. There, the Allies had destroyed the railway bridge, so the Gestapo ordered the prisoners to cross a road bridge. 

In the town square, the prisoners spied a fountain. They ran towards the fountain to drink while the guards ran after them to haul them back. Sensing her opportunity, Alix escaped. At first, she entered a house. The occupants were sympathetic and offered her temporary shelter. Later, she hid in a meadow and after that with a woodcutter and his family before the advancing Americans liberated her. Free, she returned in a jeep to Paris.

After the war, Alix was employed as a war correspondent for US forces in south-east Asia. Then she worked as an air hostess for Air France. Putting her dramatic life experiences to good use, she became an accomplished writer of fiction and nonfiction producing several quality books.

In keeping with many of the female SOE agents who survived the war, Alix lived into her nineties. She died in Paris on 10 November 2015, aged 97.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #35

Dear Reader,

My sales top ten this week with Saving Grace up to #2. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

My latest translation will be available soon, The Big Chill in Swedish. This is my third Swedish project with Jill, a wonderful translator.

Just published, Mom’s Favorite Reads February issue!

In this issue…

Valentine’s Day 
Leap Year
Mental Health 
Young Writers
Humour
Interviews
Hypnotism
And so much more!

Read online or download your FREE copy today 🙂

Before I write a story l like to know what the last line will be. My Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series will be twelve books, so at this stage it’s difficult to know exactly what the last line will be. However, I’ve just thought of the last significant action that will tie up all the threads within the series. It’s magical when that happens.

Local views today, Margam Park.

The alchemy always amazes me, how one line from research notes can transform into a story within minutes. I’ve just outlined Operation Treasure in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Even in war is it possible to shoot an unharmed woman in cold blood? Eve is about to find out.

Meanwhile, Operation Zigzag continues to climb the Hot 💯 Chart, rubbing shoulders with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Amazon #1 bestselling author Robert Dugoni 🙂

Here’s the universal book link for Operation Zigzag https://books2read.com/u/mKDDyv

Women of Courage, Heroines of SOE

Jacqueline Nearne was born on 27 May 1916 in Brighton. She was the eldest daughter of an English father and a Spanish mother. Her family moved to France in 1923 then when France fell in 1940 she made her way to Britain via Portugal and Gibraltar.

In Britain, Jacqueline applied to join the ATS, but was rejected due to her lack of experience driving in the dark and on the left-hand side of the road.

In 1942, Jacqueline was recruited into the FANYs, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. This was common for many female members of the SOE. During the summer of 1942 she trained as a courier for the SOE. Her younger sister, Eileen, and brother, Francis, also served in the SOE.

Jacqueline trained with Lise de Baissac, and the two became great friends. On 25 January 1943, after further training, as a radio operator, Jacqueline parachuted into France to work for the Stationer circuit.

Jacqueline’s fake ID card while serving the SOE

The SOE provided agents with tailored clothing to suit the French fashions. Nevertheless, Jacqueline noticed that French and British knitting was so different that the Nazis could recognise the stitching. Therefore, she decided to knit socks for her fellow agents earning the nickname ‘Jackie Red Socks’.

Jacqueline carried spare parts for her radios inside a cosmetics bag. The average life-expectancy for a wireless operator was only six weeks. However, Jacqueline remained in the field for fifteen months, returning to Britain on 10 April 1944 via a Westland Lysander, an aircraft commonly used to deliver and rescue agents.

After the war, Jacqueline spent some time nursing her sister, Eileen, also an agent who had suffered while in France. Then she moved to New York to work at the United Nations.

In 1946, Jacqueline played ‘Cat’, a character based on herself, in the RAF Film Unit’s production of Now It Can Be Told, which was also released as School for Danger, a drama-documentary about the SOE. As well as her daring exploits, the film also highlighted Jacqueline’s knitting.

Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series is now available to pre-order from Amazon.

Eve’s War is a series of twelve novellas. Each book contains approximately 20,000 words and a complete story. Kindly note that the price throughout the series will be set at the minimum level and that Eve’s story arc will be concluded at the end of the series.

Marseille, December 1942

“We’re in a fix,” Vincent said. “The Gestapo have captured a British agent, code name Zigzag. They picked him up through his false identity papers, only the thing is they haven’t discovered his true identity, yet. But they will. And he will talk. They all do in the end. And when he talks he will reveal secrets that will destroy the local resistance networks, including our own. But there’s a way out, through a guard. He’s open to bribes. We’d like you to meet the guard, bribe him, spring Zigzag from the Gestapo prison then escort him over the mountain pass into Spain.”

“Why me?” I asked.

“Because you helped to establish the escape network. And you know the mountain trails like the back of your hand. Furthermore, as the wife of respected industrialist Michel Beringar you are above suspicion.”

I glanced at Michel. From the stern look on his face, I could tell that he wasn’t pleased. Was this one risk too many? And as for me being above suspicion…the Gestapo were following me and they were tapping my phone.

As a child, I’d run away from home. As a teenager, I’d travelled the world, living on my wits. As a journalist, I’d witnessed atrocities inflicted in the name of fascism. As a member of the Resistance, I’d eyeballed fear and stared it down. For the past thirty years I’d lived a full life. I could do this. However, even as I voiced my agreement I knew that my life in Marseille, my life with Michel, would never be the same.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #34

Dear Reader,

Some big changes to my top ten this week with Ann at #1 and all five books in my Ann’s War series in the top ten. Saving Grace also features, at #9. Betrayal reached #1 on the Amazon charts this week, for the eighth time. Many thanks to everyone who supports my books.

A lovely review for the Spanish version of Saving Grace. Many thanks to all my translators for their fantastic contributions to my books.

5 out of 5 stars Una novela súper interesante bien narrada.

Es una muy interesante historia, narrada de forma que te atrapa rápidamente, se nota que la autora investigó bien la temática antes de escribir. Lo recomiendo 100%

Mom has been publishing monthly magazines since October 2018. As editor, I’m delighted to announce that you can now catch up with all our back issues. Simply visit Mom’s website for hundreds of pages of articles, stories, recipes, puzzles, big name interviews and so much more 🙂

I am reading over forty books as I research Eve’s War. All of these books tell remarkable stories. However, the stand-out book so far is Moondrop to Gascony by Anne-Marie Walters. Anne-Marie, only twenty when she arrived in France as an SOE agent, had a way with words. Indeed, after the war she became a translator and editor, and created her own literary agency.

It’s interesting to note the difference in the covers from the first edition to a recent edition. Writers have also added an introduction and notes to the recent edition.

Quite rightly, Moondrop to Gascony won the John Llewellyn-Rhys prize in 1947.

Women of Courage – Heroines of the SOE

Anne-Marie Walters was born in Switzerland on 16 March 1923. Under the code name Colette she served the Wheelwright network as a courier. Twenty years old when she arrived in France she was, after Sonya Butt, the youngest female agent of the SOE.

Anne-Marie was born in Geneva. Her mother was French while her father was F.P. Walters, Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations. The family left Switzerland for Britain after the outbreak of the war and Anne-Marie joined the WAAF in 1941.

The SOE recruited Anne-Marie on 6 July 1943 and after a period of training she joined the Wheelwright network in France arriving on 4 January 1944.

On 16 March 1944, Anne-Marie celebrated her twenty-first birthday. Her hosts provided a beautifully decorated birthday cake with twenty-one lighted candles. However, the candles soon emptied the room for they were pieces of detonating fuse painted pink by the group’s explosives expert!

After D-Day the French Resistance became bolder and the Nazis more brutal in suppressing any opposition. On 21 June 1944 an estimated 2,000 soldiers of the German army attacked a pocket of the Resistance led by Lt. Colonel George Starr. During the battle, Anne-Marie distributed hand-grenades to the Resistance and buried incriminating documents in a cave under a church. She also collected SOE money and took it with her when she and the Resistance withdrew from the village. 

During her time in the SOE, Anne-Marie clashed with section leader George Starr. Of him she later said, “He is strictly an agent and neither a politician nor a military strategist…the guerrilla action he commanded was most unsuccessful.” In turn, Starr criticised Anne-Marie. He said, “She wore high Paris fashion,” thus violating his principle that couriers should be inconspicuous. He ordered her to leave France adding that she was “undisciplined, indiscreet, very ‘man-mad’ and disobedient.”

However, Starr, a controversial character who faced a court of enquiry when he returned to Britain, acknowledged Anne-Marie’s courage and willingness to undertake any mission. 

Anne-Marie left France in August 1944 and travelled through Spain en route to Algiers. In Britain she wrote a report. In her report she claimed that Starr accused her of having an affair with a fellow agent and of spreading rumours that he was having an affair with a female SOE agent. 

In 1946, Anne-Marie published a book, Moondrop to Gascony, detailing her experiences in the SOE. Her book, beautifully written, won the John Llewellyn-Rhys prize in 1947.

Later, under her married name, Anne-Marie Comert, she established herself as an editor, translator and literary agent. She died in France in 1998, aged 75.

Local views around Ogmore this misty, moisty morning.

Meet Eve Beringar, narrator of Eve’s War https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/eve-beringar-background/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #29

Dear Reader,

Delighted to announce the launch of a new series, The Olive Tree.

Roots, book one of The Olive Tree is now available to pre-order 🙂 Book two, Branches, will follow later in 2020 while the series will conclude with Leaves, Fruit and Flowers in 2021.

Here’s the universal link and book description.

https://books2read.com/u/3yvAOL

The Olive Tree – A Spanish Civil War Saga

Set between April 1937 and December 1938, The Olive Tree is a mini-series of five novellas based on true events.

The stories in The Olive Tree – Roots, Branches, Leaves, Fruit and Flowers chronicle the lives of Heini Hopkins, a young nurse from an impoverished part of South Wales, and Naomi Parker, a wealthy author from a privileged background.

In Roots, Heini is home in Wales nursing her sick mother while Naomi is attending launch parties for her latest novel. The civil war in Spain seems a world away, until the fascists bomb and destroy Guernica, murdering hundreds of men, women and children. Heini’s boyfriend, Deiniol Price, a coal miner, feels he must rally to the Spanish Republic’s cause and volunteer for the International Brigades while Naomi’s paramour, Count Nicolas Esteban, a pilot, dreams of glory, fighting for the fascists.

Should the women leave the safety of Wales for the bloody battlefields of Spain? And if they decide to follow their men, what fate awaits them?

Day One of Snow in August on pre-order, and an early Christmas present for Sam. The book is a top 💯 hot new release, sitting alongside mega-bestseller Johnathan Kellerman 🙂

This is exciting, after one day of pre-orders Roots, book one in The Olive Tree, a Spanish Civil War Saga, is #15 on Amazon’s hot new releases chart 🙂

They do things with such grace and elegance on the Continent. Paris Opera’s ballet dancers protesting against austerity.

”Okay, Stan, here’s the plan. We’ll get all the lads from the steelworks to dress up in tutus…”

Could get messy. As with all of Johnson’s policies, I don’t think he’s thought this one through…

Dear reader, this will all make sense when you’re sober in the morning…

Santa knows me too well 🤣

Santa also delivered all these lovely books and DVDs, most to help me with my Spanish Civil War and Eve’s War series.

To my beloved…

Of course, I might be thinking murderous thoughts 😉

The top twelve countries for my books over the past quarter. Many thanks to all my readers for making this another wonderful year.

Happy New Year,

Hannah  xxx