Tonight I got hit by a double whammy.
9/11 and Dachau.
I watched two TV shows back to back… the first dealing with the fabulous documentary on CNN by French filmmakers and brothers, Gédéon and Jules Naudet, and firefighter James Hanlon. on 9/11 and the New York Fire Department… exceptional and gripping filmmaking.
And next a story about World War 2 shot in color by Hollywood director, George Stevens, and what he filmed when he visited Dachau in May 1945.
What do they have in common?
Well, this story will post on 9/11 on the 20th anniversary and I can’t not take a few moments to stop and ask for a moment of silence for all those who died… and those who survived who still have nightmares and heavy hearts. It’s something we do every year and this year it’s especially important.
May we never forget.
The second TV show has to do with the toughest book I ever had to write. It’s about a beautiful perfumer who fights the Nazis, is arrested and sent to Dachau… I won’t give away the story except to say my heroine’s ability as a ‘nose’ or perfume creator gives her a different perspective on what survivors of the Holocaust experienced. Her talent puts her in a unique situation to tread on a different plane when she’s sent to the infamous concentration camp near Munich, Germany.
And how she survives…
Doing the research for my book was a soul-searching experience that makes me grateful for every day lived, every meal I enjoy…. every night of blissful sleep. No one coming for you… no beatings, degradation and humiliation (especially the treatment of women by SS guards) no rationing of the simplest things, no privacy, and for so many, no hope.
What sent me into tears tonight was when I saw the liberation of Dachau in color… the camp prisoners’ striped ‘pajamas’, the beetle-green German uniforms, the pure white snow… scorched red brick buildings… the hot yellow flames still burning in the crematoriums.
It was chilling.
What made this book so tough to write goes beyond just reading about the horror these people endured. I tried on a very small scale to experience the physical and mental emotions… wearing the same sweats and socks for a few days, not leaving the house, rationing my food to a bare minimum, deactivating social media to cut myself off so I’d have no idea what was happening the world. Setting my alarm to wake myself at odd hours to get a feeling of the uncertainty of life.
I was a mess in a few days.
I want to emphasize what I did was on an extremely small scale compared to the reality of the camps, but the hunger and feeling unclean and the loneliness became very real to me. It gave me a better perspective on how quickly lives changed when innocent, hard-working good people were rounded up — Jews, Roma, LGBT, political dissidents… even German citizens who simply spoke out against the Reich.
How some were sent to their death immediately, while others went to labor camps, a slow death. (‘You don’t come to Auschwitz to live,’ they said, ‘but to die’.) The prisoners in the camps endured unspeakable conditions for months… years.
So many were lost.
But so many did survive.
And it’s their stories I listened to, watched in documentaries, read in first person accounts. I urge you to do so, too.
We must never forget the Holocaust.
And unite in a sisterhood of remembrance. And never, ever, let it happen again.
My new Paris WW 2 novel is called THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS and is up on Amazon for pre-order. I don’t have a cover yet, but here’s a graphic I put together and the blurb:
‘I will never forget what the Nazi did to me. Never‘
1940, Nazi-occupied Paris. A powerful story of love, tragedy and incredible courage, about one woman whose life is ripped apart by war and risks everything to seek justice. Brand new from the bestselling author of The Resistance Girl.
As Nazis patrol the streets of the French capital, Tiena is alone, desperate and on the run. After defending herself against the force of an officer, she must find a new identity in order to survive.
An accidental meeting with members of the Resistance gives her a lifeline, as she is offered the chance to reinvent herself as perfumer Angéline De Cadieux.
However Angéline will never forget what happened to her, and will do everything she can to seek revenge. But vengeance can be a dangerous game, and Angeline can only hide her true identity for so long before her past catches up with her, with some devastating consequences…
Paris, 2003. When the opportunity arises for aspiring journalist Emma Keane to interview world renowned perfumer Madame De Cadieux about her life during World War Two, she is determined to take it. There are secrets from her own family history that she hopes Angéline may be able to help unlock.
But nothing can prepare Emma for Angéline’s story, and one thing is for certain – it will change her own life forever…
An absolutely heartbreaking, unforgettable historical novel of war, sacrifice and survival. Perfect for fans of Suzanne Goldring, Ella Carey and Catherine Hokin.
One of the best parts of coaching and podcasting is encouraging the person I’m talking to. It makes me happy to know I’ve given someone some extra energy and enthusiasm to keep going. I know a few people who are not writers who listen to my Encouraging Words episodes on the first Sunday of every month just because they like them. 🙂
In case you haven’t heard any of these episodes, here is the latest one asking a very important question no matter who you are — Are you focusing on the positive or the negative? I hope it gives you food for thought and gets your day and week moving in the direction that will change your life for the better!
Lots of love and hugs to you!
Date Published: 7/31/2020
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
It’s 1909, and Teddy Roosevelt is not only hunting in Africa, he’s being hunted. The safari is a time of discovery, both personal and political. In Africa, Roosevelt encounters Sudanese slave traders, Belgian colonial atrocities, and German preparations for war. He reconnects with a childhood sweetheart, Maggie, now a globe-trotting newspaper reporter sent by William Randolph Hearst to chronicle safari adventures and uncover the former president’s future political plans. But James Pierpont Morgan, the most powerful private citizen of his era, wants Roosevelt out of politics permanently. Afraid that the trust-busting president’s return to power will be disastrous for American business, he plants a killer on the safari staff to arrange a fatal accident. Roosevelt narrowly escapes the killer’s traps while leading two hundred and sixty-four men on foot through the savannas, jungles, and semi-deserts of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, and Sudan.
About the Author
James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short story, Aux Secours, was nominated for a Pushcart prize. His debut historical novel, HUNTING TEDDY ROOSEVELT won the Independent Press Distinguished Favorite Award for historical fiction, and was shortlisted for the Goethe Historical Fiction Award. His debut mystery/thriller, COLDWATER REVENGE, launched in April 2021 and is available wherever books are sold. Ross’s on-line stories and live performances can be found at: https://jamesrossauthor.com.
A man always has two reasons for what he does—a good reason, and the real one.J. P. Morgan
NEW YORK CITY
THIRTY-TWO YEARS LATER
J. P. Morgan stood at a window of his Manhattan townhouse and watched his two guests alight from separate horse-drawn carriages. Neither was aware he was about to help plan the assassination of the outgoing president of the United States.
Andrew Carnegie, aging steel tycoon and the wealthiest man in the world, emerged from his plain black coach accompanied by a grey-coated footman who brushed snow from the old man’s cape and lent an arm for support. Behind him, William Randolph Hearst emerged unassisted from a gold-trimmed carriage as large and gaudy as Carnegie’s was plain. Ignoring the wind and the cold, the newspaper publisher lifted his chin toward lower Manhattan as if to survey a tiny portion of his rapidly growing dominion. Then turning toward the townhouse, he mounted the snow-covered stairs two at a time.
Inside, a uniformed butler ushered Hearst and Carnegie into the library, while another brought hot cider in a silver pitcher to the teetotaler Carnegie, and a Cointreau to the newspaperman Hearst.
“Gentleman,” said J. P. Morgan when the butler had finished serving libations and closed the twenty-foot high mahogany doors behind him. “Our esteemed and soon to be ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt, has decided to follow George Washington’s example and not run for a third term. When he leaves office in a few weeks, he will lead an expedition to Africa to collect specimens of various game animals for the Smithsonian Museum and the New York Museum of Natural History.”
“Hear, hear,” said Hearst.
Carnegie fixed a rheumy eye on Morgan and said nothing.
“The museum sponsors will be content if our beloved president slaughters a sufficient number of beasts to fill their exhibit halls, but we, the financial and journalistic backers of the Roosevelt safari, have different measures of success. I’ve asked you here so that we might discuss what we hope to gain from our respective investments of money and newsprint, to help each other if possible, and, at a minimum, to avoid working at cross purposes.”
Carnegie put down his cup of hot cider and waved a bony finger at Morgan. “We know what you want, Pierpont: Roosevelt out of the country for a year so you can work with his successor to undo all that trust-busting nonsense. If he should take up with some African princess and never come back, so much the better!”
Morgan inclined his head. “Indeed, Andrew. I believe our cowboy president to be a fool of the worst kind: capable, energetic, convinced of his own myopic wisdom, enormously popular, and damn near unstoppable. But as long as he intends to gift the country with a temporary respite from his overbearing personality, I would like to use that gift to good purpose. As do you.”
Carnegie drove the tip of his mahogany cane into the Persian rug at his feet. “Yes. To put those fine qualities you just listed to work for a higher purpose—peace and progress.”
Morgan cocked his head.
“Unlike you, Pierpont, I’m fond of our presidential cyclone. He doesn’t understand business. We all know that. But he’s a force of nature. Unstoppable. Once he’s out of office, I want to harness that force on behalf of progress.”
Hearst placed his Cointreau on the small rosewood table at his side. “What did you have in mind, Andrew?”
“World peace. As I’ve said and written.”
Hearst laughed. “Theodore Roosevelt? Cowboy, Rough Rider, builder of the Great White Fleet? He’s a warmonger, sir.”
“You should talk!” Carnegie snapped.
The self-assured young publisher seemed to enjoy provoking the older Carnegie, but Morgan needed both for what he had in mind.
Carnegie ignored Hearst and addressed himself to Morgan. “The Swedes gave Roosevelt their Nobel Prize for helping the Russians and Japanese mend their differences after Port Arthur. I want him do the same with the Kaiser, the French, and the British. To talk them out of their disastrous arms race. In exchange for my paying half the safari’s costs, our peace-loving president has agreed to stop in Berlin on his way back from Africa to meet with the German Kaiser. What I want, since you ask, are arrangements for his protection. I don’t care to spend a small fortune financing the largest safari in history, only to have some savage put an end to world peace with the point of a spear.”
Morgan exhaled a cloud of cigar smoke and watched it rise toward the Mowbray mural overhead. “U.S. Steel has the Pinkertons on permanent hire. I can arrange for them to guard President Roosevelt while he’s on safari. But is another European war such a bad thing? For America, I mean.”
Carnegie choked on his cider, glaring sideways at Hearst and then at Morgan. “Don’t tell me you’ve become a warmonger, too, Pierpont! I’ve spent half my life making steel and watching the god-awful things people do to each other with it. Do you know that there’s a cannon now that can hurl a hundred-pound shell thirty miles and level a whole city block? Guns that can fire a thousand bullets a minute? Modern war is insanity!”
Morgan exhaled a cloud of smoke and watched it rise toward the ceiling. “You misunderstand me, Andrew. I’ve read your books and I admire your principles. But the American economy is now as strong as any in Europe. If England, France and Germany get into another war and America stays out, that may be our nation’s chance to finally fulfill its destiny: to become the dominant global power and reap the rewards that go with it.”
Carnegie shook his head in disappointment.
Hearst rolled a cut glass tumbler between his palms and smiled. “An interesting point, Mr. Morgan. But I must confess that my newspapers are more experienced at promoting foreign wars than keeping us out of them.”
“A legacy I wouldn’t want to defend when my time came,” Carnegie muttered.
Morgan raised a hand. “What does Congressman Hearst see as a satisfactory outcome to the Roosevelt safari? Or Publisher Hearst, if you prefer.”
The newspaperman put down his drink. “They’re the same. Congressman and publisher both want an African version of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Ivory-fanged lions and dark African maidens. Not a word on domestic politics or global affairs. Theodore Roosevelt returns from Africa as famous as ever, but as a gaudy adventurer, not a serious politician. My newspapers will sell a million copies, and no one will consider Roosevelt a serious candidate if he decides to run for president again in 1912. Remember, his pledge was not to run for a third consecutive term. He left the door wide open for another nonconsecutive term.”
“Do you have someone else in mind for the position, Randolph?”
Hearst smiled and remained silent. Morgan knew perfectly well who the Hearst newspapers planned to promote as the next president of the United States—their owner and publisher, William Randolph Hearst.
Lighting his twentieth cigar of the day, Morgan tossed the cutting into a fifteenth-century Italian marble fireplace deep enough to roast several of Roosevelt’s African big game animals together. “Well gentlemen, our views of a successful African safari may differ, but our actions needn’t interfere with one another. I will arrange protection for Citizen Roosevelt to see that he comes to no harm before he can meet with the German Kaiser on behalf of world peace. I will use the coming months to educate the incoming administration on the benefits of a less hostile relationship with business. Mr. Hearst’s newspapers will provide ample coverage of African animal slaughter, but not a drop of ink about our former president’s idiotic views on global economics or business regulation. As long as we get what we want, Mr. Carnegie and I will continue to provide the Smithsonian with funds to pay for this enormous undertaking. Are we agreed?”
Hearst raised his tumbler. Carnegie nodded. Morgan suppressed a smile.
H.O. Charles is an Amazon Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy author of The Fireblade Array – a #2 best-selling series across Kindle, iBooks and B&N Nook in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy categories (#1 would just be showing off, right?) Okay, it did hit #1 in Epic Fantasy in all those places . . . BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE because no one likes a bragger.
Though born in Northern England, Charles now resides in a white house in Sussex and sounds like a southerner. Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and cut short writing a PhD in favour of writing about swords and sorcery instead. Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea. Walks with a very naughty rough collie puppy also take up much of Charles’ time.
Happy September and Happy Labor Day. I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. I apologize for replaying a post, but I’m on a deadline with The Good Girl Part Four. Interesting thing about this post is it talks about the series I’m working on…The Good GIrl. I’m also working on a couple of things I hope to share with you next month. Au revoir.
Happy September. I’m pretty sure you already know what I’m going to say…I can’t believe we are nineteen days away from the first day of fall.
Hope this makes you laugh. I was all set to talk about my experience with the review program at Hidden Gems. It wasn’t until I found my misplaced copy of my August post, did I realize that’s what I talked about last month. I had written three hundred plus words which I had to scrap. Now I’m stuck with either rehashing an old post or writing something new. I’ve opted for the latter, but find myself clueless.
The crazy that is going on in the world has sort of zapped my creative energy. I never expected I would still be working on my book. A few weeks into 2020, I had a writing plan or production schedule. I also inflicted a little self pressure to complete and publish it by a certain date.
Now that we are almost six months into the pandemic and shelter in place order, I find myself dragging. I love the subject of my book, except for the hole I think I plugged. It’s challenging continuing a series. Now that the book is complete and I’m doing another read- thru, I find myself referring to the other two books, when all I had to do was keep a series bible. Add series bibles to the long list of things I need to do.
Week before last, I reluctantly emailed my editor asking for a new editing slot. I’m pretty sure that was a given seeing I’d already missed the date.
This has been a challenge moving on to the next project. In my mind I’m already writing the next book, but that will have to wait until this one heads to the editor.
I really think what’s happening is I’m not sure this is the best time [or year] to release book with an alpha billionaire. Or is it? Maybe I’m overthinking that readers don’t want to read. Maybe readers really want to read romance where there are no health boundaries [i.e., Covid 19]? Maybe they want to escape to a world where things were like they used to be. I feel confident in admitting I haven’t got a clue how to write a romance with masks and gloves. Social distancing would be easy. That would involve traveling back to a time where manners and courtship were the basis for romance.
I believe it’s time for me to get out of my head and get my butt in the chair and write. I need to tell stories that make people feel good. So they can escape the crazy around them and fantasize about what was and how it might possibly be in the future.
Here’s my new plan as I head in to the fourth quarter. Send The Good Girl Part Trois to the editor by the end of this month. The second goal is to put the book up for pre-order on all platform except Amazon. This is a plan I can still live with.
Stay safe and see you next month,
Three books in one . . .More info →
Will greed prevail, landing the Vitality Gem in the hands of an unpure soul or will Johnny Tanzer stand in his way with the wrath of the Gods?More info →