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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #50

Dear Reader,

Very excited to announce that Paula has agreed to narrate Mind Games, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eleven, The Olive Tree: Roots and Eve’s War: Operation Zigzag. Production will begin this week and continue over the summer 🙂

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The suitcase radio was a lifeline for SOE agents. However, it could also be a death trap because the Nazis could identify the source of a radio transmission in twenty minutes. Consequently, the life expectancy for wireless operators was only six weeks.

Yvonne Cormeau was the leading female SOE wireless operator. She sent more messages than any other female operator and her Morse code speed was a staggering twenty words a minute (the average was twelve words a minute).

As you can see, these radios were huge – an agent couldn’t hide them in a pocket, shoe or handbag. However, on at least two occasions cornered agents persuaded the Gestapo that their radios were X-ray equipment and filmmaking equipment. It was not necessary to possess a high IQ to be a member of the Gestapo.

BFBFA72E-63B3-43C9-A0A9-F8B8A62FC2C4The story of incredibly brave Norwegian SOE agents who wrecked the Nazi’s plans to acquire heavy water for the production of nuclear weapons. Includes interviews with the agents who took part in this daring raid.

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My friend Sally invited me to a barbecue. She’s a terrible ditherer, she couldn’t decide what to eat…the meat, the salad or the sweet treats. While she was trying to decide, she sat down, mistaking the grill for a chair. Yep, you’ve guessed it, she walked away with hot cross buns.
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Local views this week, the Bwlch, Pink Bay and Kenfig.

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From the Daily Mirror, 8 May 1945, the VE edition.
Jane, created by Norman Pett, was a saucy comic strip that ran from 5 December 1932 until 10 October 1959. A recurring theme of the comic strip was the variety of ways Jane found to lose her clothes.
In 1944, when Jane first appeared nude in the comic strip, she was regarded as ‘Britain’s Secret Weapon’ and was credited with ‘inspiring’ the 36th Division to advance six miles into Burma.
Originally, Pett’s wife, Mary, modelled for him, but in the late 1930s she abandoned modelling for golf (!) From 1939 nude model Chrystabel Leighton-Porter became the inspiration for Jane, whose full name was Jane Gay.
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I was shocked to discover that my cat was pregnant. I was double shocked to discover that she’d also eaten a ball of wool. But everything turned out all right. She gave birth to mittens.
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Song of the week, “A street in Paris in the rain, I shoot in black and white a hundred frames, I watch your make-up, Begin to run.”

In Looking for Rosanna Mee, Sam Smith Mystery Series book seventeen, Sam likens her friend Faye to a 1920s ‘It Girl’.
The phrase ‘It Girl’ gained in popularity in 1927 after Paramount Studios released the film ‘It’, starring the notorious Clara Bow.
The earliest literary reference to ‘it’ in this context can be traced to 1904 and a Rudyard Kipling short story, which contained the line, “It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It’.”
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A new language for my books, Afrikaans. Nelmari has started the translation and we will publish in the near future.
Versions of my books are now available in Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish 🙂
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This week, I had an idea for a novel about a French schoolteacher and her involvement with the Resistance on D-Day. I’m outlining the basic plot and will add the story to my ‘to be written’ list.

I always start with a character’s name. For my D-Day novel, I liked the sound of Colette for the central character. And when research revealed that Colette means ‘people of victory’ the choice became obvious. Sometimes, some things are just meant to be.

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Pearl Witherington’s story, as told by her official SOE file.

2 July 1943. Pearl impressed her instructors with her skills and personality. She struggled with the forward roll, but inspired confidence in others. Her reports were painstaking, an indication of her thorough and cautious character. Indeed, her financial accounts from the field were the most detailed the SOE had seen.

 

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17 July 1943. Pearl received another outstanding report from her instructors. Amongst many highlights is the comment, “Probably the best shot (male or female) we have yet had.”

 

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Over six days in August 1943, the SOE gave Pearl an ‘assignment’. As part of this ‘assignment’ as Pearl Wimsey she was to meet a contact, George Bluck. Unknown to Pearl, Bluck intended to trick her into revealing information through loose talk with a mutual acquaintance, Fifi. It’s alleged that Fifi used to seduce the male agents with the aim of extracting information. Clearly, the SOE took this training very seriously.

In the event, Bluck was late and Pearl, acting on her initiative, aborted the rendezvous. Instead, she went to the cinema where she viewed ‘Tarzan Triumphs’.

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Pearl performed other aspects of her ‘mission’ with competence. However, overall for the SOE and Pearl the exercise proved unsatisfactory, although doubtless she learned from the experience, which was the main point. In her handwritten report, Pearl admitted that she found it difficult to talk with strangers and that she was ‘cautious’ and ‘slow’. A year later she was performing acts of bravery beyond the call of duty, so her self-effacing comments are extremely touching.

You can read her report here https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/pearl-witherington-soe-reports/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

 

Formatting errors courtesy of WordPress. In June, they are introducing yet another new platform. Maybe this time they will get it right.
Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #49

Dear Reader,

Wow, this week a historian specialising in the Special Operations Executive congratulated me on my Heroines of SOE blog posts. Obviously, I’m delighted about that 🙂

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Amazing to relate, but over the past month the Bulgarian version of The Hermit of Hisarya was my most popular book on iBooks. Yesterday broke all records for the book with a 400% increase on the previous best.

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Well, that’s my evening sorted…
The Daily Mirror, 14 October 1943
Mrs Josephine Skrodenis, 25 of Chicago, was granted a divorce yesterday because she claimed her husband used her as a “corpse” in solving murder mysteries.
When she was looking forward to spending a quite night at home with her husband, he would glare at her from pages of the latest detective novels and order her to “lay on the ground and act dead.”

Then, while she played “the reluctant body” he would try to discover who had “killed” her she told the court.

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From the Daily Mirror, 8 May 1944, VE Day

Women in Work

Agriculture 1939, 67,000…1944, 184,000
Mining 5,000…13,000
Civil Service 123,000…495,000
Utilities 17,000…32,000
Transport 51,000…212,000
Building and engineering 16,000…23,000

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I’m in talks with a narrator about recording audiobook versions of The Olive Tree and my Eve’s War series.
Meanwhile, I was listening to an audiobook chapter of Digging in the Dirt today when my youngest son asked, “Did you write that?”
Wondering what was coming next, I offered a tentative reply, “Yes.”
He smiled. “It’s good isn’t it. It sounds like a real book!”
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I’m super excited! Last night, I wrote a song! About tortillas. Although, on reflection, maybe it’s a (w)rap…

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The most popular page on my website this week. Harry Rée was a schoolteacher who starred in a documentary-drama film. He also fought the war in an extraordinary way. An inspiration for my Eve’s War series his philosophies continue to enlighten our thoughts today. https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/harry-ree/

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Good news, I’ve got a new job washing dishes and the pay is excellent. Bad news, it’s at a radar station…

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Our local castle at Kenfig

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My song of the week. “But mama, that’s where the fun is…”

My Women of Courage Heroines of SOE articles will continue in the near future, with male agents included as well.

Meanwhile, here is the first episode in Pearl’s Witherington’s story, as told by her official SOE file.

Pearl Witherington was a remarkable woman. Her life story serves as an inspiration for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series.

In 1943, Pearl underwent training to become a SOE agent. Her file reveals a page of signatures where she practiced her new identity as Genevieve Touzalin, a secretary in a match company.

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This note is from the intelligence service M15 who looked into Pearl’s background when she volunteered for SOE training.

Initially. Pearl worked as a secretary for the British Embassy in Paris before making her escape, with her mother and sisters, from France. Her escape entailed many risks and adventures, which are not evident in this rather dry note.

Pearl showed great ingenuity in helping her family to escape and M15 concluded that she was a suitable candidate for training.

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From Pearl’s SOE file, her training notes on codes and cyphers.

Pearl’s keywords ‘fou tez moi la paix’ sound very much like her personal selection and offer a direct plea to her instructors to accept her as an agent…’give me a break’.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

 

Categories
Ann's War Sam Smith Mystery Series Saving Grace The Muse

The Muse March 2018

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The first draft of Saving Grace is complete. I have a month of editing ahead. Then the book will be printed and made available for pre-order on Amazon. This is a very exciting project and I am looking forward to publishing the book.

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Ornate ceiling and lighting in the Grange from my forthcoming Victorian novel, Saving Grace.

MOCK-UPS VICTORIAN KITCHEN

Florrie the maid plays a key role in my forthcoming novel, Saving Grace. Here is an example of her working environment, a Victorian manor house kitchen.


MOCK-UP ACCOUNTANT

I have now become a business with an accountant, tax forms, etc. This reminds me of a joke Detective Inspector Sweets MacArthur told Sam in Love and Bullets. “A company director is interviewing candidates for an important position and decides to select the individual who can answer the question, how much is two plus two? The first candidate is an engineer. He pulls out a slide-rule and shows that the answer is four. The second candidate is a lawyer. He states that in the case of Jubliman versus Jubliman two plus two was proven to be four. The final candidate is an accountant. When asked what two plus two equals the accountant slips out of his chair, looks under the desk, scans the room for hidden microphones and makes sure that no one is listening at the door. Then he whispers, “Did you have a particular number in mind?'”


MOCK-UP BETRAYAL 3

A wonderful weekend for Betrayal, book one in the Ann’s War Mystery Series. The novella reached #1 in Australia, #2 in Britain and #5 in America and Canada, on the historical mysteries charts. In addition, Betrayal is our ninth audio book production and it’s now available from iBooks, Amazon and Audible.

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Ann’s parents, in my Ann’s War Mystery Series, run a general store, like this one.


MOCK-UP MIND GAMES

Three of my books are in the top 100 in Germany, A Parcel of Rogues, Mind Games and Digging in the Dirt. Also, I am delighted to be featured in this article by Riffle Select


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My books are mysteries, but all are centred on emotional issues, the sort of issues we face as individuals or through family and friends. Therefore, I am delighted to announce my partnership with BetterHelp


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In case you missed it, here is my latest mini mystery for the Seaside News.


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And finally this month, bestselling novelist Ken Follett presents an excellent series of videos on how to write suspense, based on a history of the genre.

 

Categories
Hannah's Diary

Sam’s Humour

The Sam Smith Mystery Series combines a mystery with psychological and sociological aspects along with romance and humour. Here is an example of my sense of humour.

Bugatti

This morning, I turned to my partner and said, “My car won’t start; I think there’s water in the carburettor.”

“How do you know that?” he asked. “You don’t even know what the carburettor is.”

“I’m telling you,” I replied, “I’m sure there’s water in the carburettor.”

“We’ll see,” my partner sighed wearily. “Let me check it out. Where’s your car?”

“In the swimming pool,” I said.