Tag Archives: Mystery Fiction

Dear Reader #31

Dear Reader,

A lovely week for my books with Sam’s Song reaching #2 on the private investigator’s chart. The book has already reached #1 seven times, which is beyond my expectations 🙂

Great to see that Snow in August is still a Hot 💯 New Release sitting alongside New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben 🙂

This week I completed the first draft of The Olive Tree: Roots, a Spanish Civil War Saga. The editing of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen is also going well. Both books are available for pre-order.

My research this week centred on Eve’s War, my Special Operations Executive series. I’m studying the lives of twenty-one female agents. Here are the remarkable stories of two of them.

The exact number of Special Operations Executive agents who served in France isn’t known, but the female branch is estimated at forty. The two female agents in my Eve’s War series are a composite of twenty-one of those agents and my stories are based on their real-life experiences.

Giliana Balmaceda

Giliana Balmaceda was the first female agent the SOE sent to occupied France. Born in Chile c1910 she worked as an actress in Paris where she met Victor Gerson, a British citizen and a dealer in fine rugs and carpets.

The couple married and on 18 June 1940, at the signing of the armistice, they escaped to Britain where they joined the SOE.

Victor Gerson suggested creating a network of helpers to assist the entrance and exit of SOE agents assigned to France and Giliana volunteered to assess the possibility.

In May 1941 the SOE sent Giliana into occupied France. She returned through Spain in late June 1941. During her three months in France Giliana travelled freely in Lyons and Vichy, ostensibly on holiday, her Chilean passport securing her passage.

With a large haul of intelligence, contacts and administrative documents, such as ration cards, Giliana returned to Britain. There, the SOE reproduced the documents and subsequently agents used them on their clandestine missions.

Sonya Butt

Sonya Esmée Florence Butt, also known as Sonya d’Artois, was the youngest female SOE agent to serve in France. Born on 14 May 1924, Sonya worked as a courier for the Headmaster network under the code name Blanche.

Sonya Butt

Sonya’s role of courier brought her into contact with German check-points. The SOE preferred female agents as couriers because when travelling around the district on bicycles they were less likely to attract attention compared to males of military or working age.

Sonya joined the SOE, aged 19, on 11 December 1943. Her training included soldiering skills and stamina development, plus specialist skills for her life in occupied France. This training regime was new to women at the time. However, the training was familiar to men, including a French-Canadian army officer, Captain Guy D’Artois, whom Sonya met and later married.

Sonya Butt and Guy D’Artois

On 28 May 1944, the SOE parachuted Sonya into Le Mans to work as a courier. She arrived nine days before D-Day. A fellow agent who landed with her was shot, so Sonya took on his role of weapons instructor. As a courier, she carried money, delivered messages and maintained contact with fellow SOE agents and the French Resistance.

After D-Day, the Allies liberated Sonya’s district. However, before then two German soldiers detained her for questioning. Thankfully, her cover story and false papers withstood the interrogation and she was released.

Sonya Butt

In October 1944, Sonya returned to Britain. She married Guy d’Artois and the couple lived in Canada where they raised six children, three boys and three girls.

Sonya died on 21 December 2014 at the age of 90. It is a remarkable fact that of the twenty-one agents who form the background for my two SOE characters two-thirds of them lived well into their eighties and nineties.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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

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

Dear Reader # 25

Dear Reader,

In Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, Sam meets a family of otters. Otters often partner for life, their young stay with mom for a least a year, past maturity, and they like holding hands. Cute 🙂

I’m currently writing chapter nineteen of thirty-three and the book will be available early next year 🙂

Very proud of the wonderful authors at Mom’s Favorite Reads for coming together to support our charity of the month Christmas for CAMHS https://www.christmasforcamhs.org.uk Please visit their website and lend your support.

My Amazon top ten for November. Delighted to see that Ann’s War has proved so popular and that Saving Grace is back in the top ten. Also that Sam is represented with books from various stages in the series. Many thanks to all my readers for their interest.

Of course, I want people to read and enjoy my books. But some things are more important…

What have foreigners ever done for us?! Quite a lot actually…

I could do with him in my house…

A new word for the Oxbridge English Dictionary…

A British citizen this week.

“It’s 5pm. I walk out of Soho restaurant. On the cold pavement is a huddled bundle, young enough to be be my granddaughter. Too hopeless even to beg. I get her a coffee, give her my change. Does it make her feel better? Does it make me feel better? No. This is my country, 2019.“

Government sponsored austerity is brutal. It must end.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #22

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 🙂

ANN'S WAR ESCAPE MASTER ITALIAN

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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So many good people do so many wonderful things. Our political leaders pale into insignificance in comparison.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #19

Dear Reader,

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.

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Chapter one of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen is complete. Here’s a clue…

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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.

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Chapter three of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, sees Sam at Caswell Bay where she meets her new client.

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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.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #17

Dear Reader,

This week, I completed the first draft of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. Snow in August is set in a small coastal village in wild West Wales, a new location for Sam.

Readers of the series might be in for a surprise when they start this story. I won‘t give the details away now, but the book will be available for pre-order later this month.

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Over the past year I have had the honour of being editor-in-chief of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine. With twelve magazines published I would like to thank our talented group of contributors and the skill and dedication of our editorial staff. I’m very proud of our achievements with Mom’s Favorite Reads and look forward to scaling even great heights in our second year.

Here’s the blurb for the latest issue.

The September issue of our popular eMagazine!

In this Back to School issue:

Young Writers, Humour, Poetry, Travel, Short Stories, Puzzles and Articles including:

What is Adoption?

Power Animals

What is Happiness and How Can We Find It?

Read or download your copy FREE!

https://issuu.com/momsfavoritereads/docs/vol-2_iss-9_momsfavoritereads

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Delighted that Sandra, who translated the five books in my Ann’s War series, has offered to translate Saving Grace into German 🙂

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A lovely quote from screenwriter Ernest Lehman when discussing writing the script for North By Northwest. I am sure most authors will identify with this.

”Typical of a writer, I was stalling, losing myself in yet more research.”

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Sam’s Song is moving towards the top of the Amazon charts again this weekend , but I have mixed feelings about that in light of continued reports of workers being mistreated by the company. There is a brutally about Amazon that makes me feel increasingly uneasy about contributing to its profits.

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Photo by Tobias Dziuba on Pexels.com

“Clear as the dew it kindles on the spray

Across the shadows of each shelving lawn,

The rising sun, with low and level ray

Scatters the cold, grey phantoms of the dawn.

Like ghosts, they flee, like dreams expire

Within the elemental fire

Of our first calm October day.”

John Jay Chapman

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx