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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #46

Dear Reader,

A reminder that I have extended my participation in Smashwords’ Authors Give Back sale until 31 May.

All my books are listed as free or 0.99.

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https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/hannahhowe

Many thanks to the readers at Many Books for voting Betrayal the best mystery-thriller for March 🙂

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https://manybooks.net/articles/books-of-the-month-march-2020

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I’m sure all book lovers can identify with this

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My Author of the Week, Grant Leishman

Grant is a very imaginative, multi-genre author. Along with his writing talent, he is also very supportive of his fellow authors. All his books are worthy of your attention, especially Love Beyond, his finest book in my opinion.

https://www.grantleishman.com

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My Pinterest profile. This will become my main social media outlet in the near future.


My latest translation, Victory into Portuguese. Many thanks to Adriana for her wonderful work on this series.

ANN'S WAR VICTORY PORTUGUESE

I’m delighted to see that Estripador is gathering five star reviews on Google Play 🙂

This is one of sixty-six books I have available through Google Play.

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Google Play Hannah Howe

A ship off Pink Bay and Sger Beach this week

Porthcawl Seafront and Rest Bay at seven o’clock in the morning


An excellent podcast from the Paris Institute For Critical Thinking

A Schoolmaster’s War

A wonderful book and a wonderful interview. Harry Ree was a fascinating man, a true hero, although he would probably hate that label. Jonathan Ree has done his father, and the literary world, a great service by producing this book. As I wrote elsewhere, it is a book that should be taught and discussed in schools so that young people can gain an insight into the SOE and its role in the Second World War and, more importantly, learn that heroes and heroines take on many forms. While politicians soak up all the glory it is people like the retired school mistress who sacrificed their lives who deserve our greatest respect.

Saint-Leu-d’Esserent is notable for its 3,000 metres of mushroom caves under the Thiverny plateau. In the summer of 1944, SOE agents made an astonishing discovery in these caves, a discovery that had a significant impact on the war. That revelation will appear in Operation Sherlock, book five in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series.

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In the autumn of 1940 a German arrived at a school in Alsace to suppress the use of the French language. At the end of his ‘lesson’ he ordered the class to shout, “Heil Hitler!”

However, twelve-year-old Colette Fouillette and her friend shouted, “Drei Liter!” (Three litres).

By 1943, Colette was active in the Resistance, delivering messages by bicycle, and she remained active until the Liberation, a shining example of youthful courage.

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Image: View of Église Saint-Martin (Wikipedia)

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE

Yvonne Jeanne de Vibraye Baseden, later known as Yvonne Burney, was born on 20 January 1922 in Paris. Her father, a First World War pilot, crash-landed in France at the home of the Comte de Vibraye. The Comtesse invited him to dinner, which turned into a romantic occasion because he fell in love with the Comte and Comtesse’s daughter. The couple duly married and, at the end of the First World War, lived in France.

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Later, Yvonne’s parents lived in various countries within Europe. She was educated in Britain, France, Poland, Italy and Spain learning several languages as a result.

On 4 September 1940, aged eighteen, Yvonne joined the WAAF as a clerk. From there, she worked for the RAF in intelligence where she captured the SOE’s attention.

Recommend by fellow agent Pearl Witherington, Yvonne joined the SOE on 24 May 1943. On 18 March 1944, aged 22, she became one of the youngest female agents to parachute into France.

Under the code name Odette, Yvonne arrived in the village of Gabarret where she linked up with the Wheelwright network. Travelling to Eastern France, she worked for four months as the wireless operator for the Scholar network under the cover of Mademoiselle Yvonne Bernier, a shorthand typist and secretary.

On 26 June 1944, the Gestapo trapped Yvonne and seven of her colleagues in a cheese factory. They shot her organiser, Baron Gonzagues de St Genies, while Yvonne was arrested and interrogated. War is brutal, but Yvonne’s story reminds us that war as practiced by the fascists plunged unacceptable levels of barbarity.

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Female prisoners at Ravensbrück, 1939

By September, Yvonne was in the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp. While at the camp, she became ill with tuberculosis and was transferred to the hospital where she remained, with 500 other women, until the closing days of the Second World War when the camp was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross.

The Swedish Red Cross ensured that Yvonne reached Malmö where they deloused her. She spent her first nights of freedom on a mattress on the floor of the Malmö Museum of Prehistory, sleeping under the skeletons of dinosaurs.

After the war, the Allies arrested the SS guards at Ravensbrück, along with the female Aufseherinnen guards. Between 1946 and 1948, sixteen of the accused were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and were sentenced to death.

In September 1955, Yvonne became the first regular subject of the BBC programme This is Your Life, although later in her life she shunned the limelight. After her second marriage in 1966, as Yvonne Burney, she moved to Portugal before returning to Britain in 1999.

Yvonne died in October 2017 at the age of 95 another example of the remarkable longevity of the surviving SOE female agents.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

 

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #45

Dear Reader,

I have extended my participation in Smashwords’ Authors Give Back sale until 31 May.

All my books are listed as free or 0.99.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/hannahhowe

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I never imagined that readers would download over 400,000 of my books, but I have reached that number. Many thanks to everyone who has made this possible.

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My merchandiser was kind enough to supply me with a Hannah Howe calendar. Here’s the image for April, Paris in the spring.

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My latest translation, the Portuguese version of Secrets and Lies, which will be available soon. Many thanks to Cristiana for her wonderful contribution to this book.

SECRETS AND LIES PORTUGUESE UPDATED

Six new audiobooks are in production. Currently, I have fourteen audiobooks available and with the inclusion of my new Eve’s War and The Olive Tree series I intend to increase this number to forty-two.

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Exciting news. My books will soon appear on the Hive website. Hive is the largest supporter of independent bookstores in Britain. More details soon.

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A short stroll from my home, Kenfig Pool this week.

Hedy Lamarr’s controversial 1933 movie, Ecstasy, was playing in Eve’s local cinema in Operation Zigzag. Eve used the movie to distract a Gestapo officer who was following her.

Hedy Lamarr was a complex woman, with beautiful looks and a beautiful mind. In fact, physically she was too beautiful for her own good.

She fled Nazi oppression and became a Hollywood star. However, at night she was an inventor and created a weapon guidance system, her contribution to the war effort. The American military were interested in her invention, so interested that they stole her idea.

Hedy’s invention developed into Bluetooth so you can see what a ground-breaking idea it was and how brilliant she was as an inventor. This invention will feature in Eve’s War Operation Treasure.

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I’ve just completed the character profiles for Operation Broadsword, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book three. This book features a farmer and his family. Eve is staying with the family, at Le Bougain in a house similar to the one pictured, on the pretence of being a widow resting in the countryside to overcome nervous exhaustion.

The farmer’s family includes two young teenagers, Paul, who is deaf, and Kadia, a sister who is very protective of him. The teenagers are involved in a particularly dramatic incident in a later book in the series.

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In Eve’s War Operation Locksmith Mimi Duchamp can transmit Morse code messages at twenty words a minute, eight words above the average.

Yvonne Cormeau achieved this remarkable rate and you can read her story here https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/yvonne-cormeau/

Recognising Mimi’s talent, her SOE instructors train her as a wireless operator, arguably the most dangerous job of the Second World War.

When Eve asks Mimi how her training is going, Mimi replies, “It’s very intense. We learn Morse from dawn to dusk. I even dream in dots and dashes.”

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In Operation Treasure Heroines of SOE book four the RAF want to bomb a strategic factory, the local Maquis want to bomb the factory and Eve’s SOE partner Guy Samson also wants to bomb the factory. Guy’s motivation is to cause maximum damage while saving lives.

Eve also receives three dinner party invitations…from the third member of her team, Mimi Duchamp – it’s her twenty-first birthday – from the local Gestapo leader, Hauptsturmfuhrer Klaus Raab and from Guy.

This is an explosive episode in the series, in more ways than one.

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

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Through reading personal correspondence sent to the SOE agents who were in France you realise that they were held in great affection by the local people. Quite often the locals regarded these agents as ‘one of the family’ and these families often endured great suffering rather than betray an agent.

Of course, traitors existed, but these people were relatively small in number, soon identified and ‘dealt with’.

Often, whole villages would turn out to greet an agent upon his or her arrival, and feasts were held in their honour.

The correspondence that continued after the war was even more touching as memories were recalled, casualties remembered and remarkable incidents relieved.

Adversity forges strong bonds, and nothing can break those bonds.

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Occupied France, 1944

A seven-year-old girl was sitting with her mother in a tram. A big Nazi soldier got on to the tram and the girl noticed his belt.

“What’s that on his buckle?” the girl asked her mother.

”Gott mit uns.”

”What does that mean?”

”It means God is with them,” her mother explained.

The girl paused. Then she raised her head and smiled. ”Well that’s nothing, mother,” she said with pride, “we’ve got the Resistance on our side.”

My Women of Courage Heroines of SOE Series will continue next week. Meanwhile, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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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 #28

Dear Reader,

Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, is now available to pre-order from all major Internet stores, including Amazon. Here is the universal link 🙂

https://books2read.com/u/bpEv8J

As a teenager, Ros McCarthy offered Mark, her baby son, up for adoption. Now, as an adult and a successful author, she wanted to reconnect. With Faye at my side, our task was to locate Mark.

Along the way we learned about Ty Gwyn, a children’s home, and the people who lived and worked there. However, as we probed, some people became nervous and issued threats.

Then, unexpectedly, a murder. Was the murder and our investigation into Mark’s whereabouts connected, or merely coincidence? I suspected the former, then had my doubts as the maze became more complex.

Snow in August, the story of a village and its secrets, a tale of longing and regret, and the realisation on my part that you should always cherish the people you love.

Sam dominates my personal top ten this week. And a new number one, Boston, a story set at Christmas 🎄 

On behalf of Mom’s Favorite Reads I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Melinda Mullins. Melinda is a mult-talented actress and artist with Shakespearian productions, appearances in M*A*S*H and a starring role in Remember WENN to her name. She’s also led a fascinating life away from the television screen, living in the New Mexico wilderness away from the modern world, and now in rural France. In our interview Melinda talks about her career highlights and offers a revealing insight into her creativity and her personal life. The full interview will be published in January 2020, in Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Many thanks to Adriana for another wonderful translation. We have started the publishing process and the book will be available soon.

As editor of Mom’s Favorite Reads I’m delighted to support Christmas For CAMHS this Christmas. Learn more about this excellent organisation here https://t.co/CSEh8cHiRB?amp=1

Congratulations to my friend and Mom’s Favorite Reads’ cofounder Rebecca Carter (who writes as Ronesa Aveela). Her book about household spirits is referenced in Time magazine!

https://time.com/5753369/the-witcher-history-folklore

It’s believed that the first photograph of a snowman was taken in Wales by Mary Dillwyn (c.1853) one of the first female photographers in the world.

Me, in the bathroom, every morning 🤣

Merry Christmas!

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #27

Dear Reader,

I’m writing chapter twenty-five of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. Thomas Johnes gets a mention in this chapter. Born in 1748, Thomas Johnes was an MP, printer, writer, landscape architect and farmer. He owned the Hafod Estate where between 1796 and 1801 he planted 2,065,000 trees. In total he planted over three million trees, half a million of them in 1801. We could do with his like today.

Pictured: the Hafod Estate

Snow in August, will be available for pre-order soon. All forthcoming editions of my books will contain a charity page and that page will include this excellent organisation. Please check them out.

https://www.facebook.com/streetvet/

Delighted that Adriana has agreed to continue her translations of my Ann’s War Mystery Series. She’s an excellent translator and I’m honoured that she is associated with my books 🙂 Here is Invasion. Blackmail will follow soon, then Escape.

My personal top ten this week. Nice to see Stardust in there because that was a fun book to write.

This song seems appropriate this week…

Now they’re planning the crime of the century

Well, what will it be?

Read all about their schemes and adventuring

Yes, it’s well worth the fee

So roll up and see

How they rape the universe

How they’ve gone from bad to worse

Who are these men of lust, greed and glory?

Rip off their masks and let’s see

But that’s not right, oh, no, what’s the story?

Look, there’s you and there’s me

That can’t be right?!

Viva la revolución

Week one of Boris Johnson’s new regime and everything is going well so far…

Johnson, in the near future, quoting Kipling.

‘I could not dig: I dared not rob: 

Therefore I lied to please the mob. 

Now all my lies are proved untrue 

And I must face the men I slew. 

What tale shall serve me here among 

Mine angry and defrauded young?’

A friend went for a job interview. The interviewer said, “Describe yourself in three words.” She said, “Not good at maths.” She got the job 😉

Local views this morning.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx