Monday, February 18, 2019

Mystery Monday: Who was Claude Aveline?

Mystery Monday: Who was Claude Aveline?

In further exploration of what my characters might have been reading in France during WWII, I discovered, Claude Aveline who was a prolife writer. His credits include poetry, screenplays, articles, and mystery novels.

The pen name of Evgen Avtsine, Claude was born in Paris in 1901 of Jewish parents who had fled Russia in 1891 because of racial segregation and persecution. They became French citizens in 1905. In 1915, at only fourteen years of age, Claude volunteered as a medic. After WWI, he moved to Cannes to begin his college studies but experienced severe health problems and had to drop out of school.

Several of his poems were published, and he was introduced to Anatole France who became his mentor. Three years later, Claude founded his own publishing house (does that make him the first indie author?!). His mystery novel released in 1932, La Double Mort de Frédéric Belot,” was a huge success, and his 1936 novel Le Prisonnier even more so.

Interesting to note is that his Wikipedia biography refers to Aveline’s membership in the French Resistance in one short sentence. What they fail to mention is that he intentionally left Paris and moved to Lyon where he shared a house with journalist Louis Martin-Chauffier that was a major center of Resistance activities. In addition, Claude founded the underground newspaper, Combat.

After the war, he moved back to Paris and continued his writing career, winning awards and recognition, especially for his radio works. He published a psychological mystery, Carriage 7, Seat 15, which many scholars consider a classic. In addition to his fictional work, he wrote his memoirs.

Claude passed away in 1992.


A prostitute, a spy, and the liberation of Paris.

Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp?

Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city?

Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. Available on Amazon.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The OSS and the Liberation of France

The OSS and the Liberation of France

World War II has been studied by scholars, students, and history buffs since the day the guns fell silent and surrender documents were signed. Over the years I have read hundreds of books and watched thousands of hours of interviews and documentaries. The more I study, the more I realize I’ve merely scratched the surface of the conflict.

As time passes, more information comes to light as documents are declassified and people decide to tell their stories before they die. A topic I recently researched to ensure accuracy in my book Love’s Rescue, is the liberation of Paris. It has been interesting to discover who was involved and who was not.

I was sure the British were there. After all, France is just across the English Channel. Turns out the British didn’t arrive until several days after the City of Light was freed from the Germans. Also turns out the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), precursor to the CIA was heavily involved, prior to and during the liberation. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The OSS is a spy agency, and intelligence, subterfuge, and espionage played a crucial part in the event.

My search of documents from the National Archives and the CIA provided fascinating insight into the thoughts and activities as the war neared its end. One report indicated that having worked in league with the French Resistance, the OSS’s role came to fruition once the liberation of Paris occurred. Another report estimates that nearly eighty percent of the intelligence received prior to D-Day and the subsequent liberation was thanks to the 225 OSS agents stationed in France. Activities included:
  • Messages answering specific inquiries by the Allied Fleet HQ and the Seventh Army were radioed directly to the command ship of the invasion fleet en route to France;
  • Plans for the defense of Marseilles were forwarded to the appropriate military leader;
  • Information regarding the fortifications of Lyon was sent ahed;
  • German defense plans for St. Nazaire and Lorient were captured;
  • Downed U.S. airmen in enemy territory were aided; and
  • Agents served as guides for the Allied forces reaching their areas.
Once France was safely back in the hands of its leaders, the OSS could focus its sights on the remaining European Theater of Operation and the Pacific war which would not be over for another eight and eleven months respectively.

Love's Rescue is now available! Pick up your copy today of this tale of faith and hope inspired by the biblical story of Rahab and set during the liberation of Paris in August 1944. Available for a limited time for only $0.99 from these fine retailers:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Gail Sattler!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Gail Sattler!

Linda:  Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release The Other Neighbor. Where did you find your inspiration for the story?

GAIL: The Other Neighbor is actually based on a true story. Back in the prelude to Y2K (who remembers that?) my husband found out the hard way that a customer of his  - he owned and operated a web design business - planned to bomb part of the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline at midnight December 31, 1999. The FBI caught him in time, and he is I believe still in jail. But his company, with the arrest and conviction of the owners, went into bankruptcy owing my husband’s company a lot of money. I, of course, changed the story to make it a romantic suspense, but the antagonist and his plan was real.

LM: Wow! Truth really is stranger than fiction! You are a prolific writer – are you a planner or a “pantster,” and what is your favorite part of the writing process?

GAIL: Definitely a plotter/planner. I outline everything. My favorite part of the process is when I write a scene that just works, and when it’s done, I think, wow, I loved that.

LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. Have you ever stumbled on a tidbit you just knew had to be included in your story?

GAIL: That actually happened on this book. When it happened, I thought the premise would make a good book. And here it is.

LM:  In addition to being a full-time writer, you are also an active musician. How do you balance the two activities in addition to your roles as wife and mother?

GAIL: I don’t do housework. That’s my husband’s job, and it has been for a couple of decades. Gotta love the man. We own a vacuum cleaner. I just haven’t touched it for 20 years. 

LM: What a wonderful gift! J What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

GAIL: Study the craft and join a critique group. Learn the basics about POV and Show vs Tell. I have read a lot of books that people write and put on Amazon themselves without having done that. There are a lot of very terrible books out there.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite food: Butter Chicken
Favorite vacation spot: Tofino, BC
Favorite actor or actress: Sandra Bullock

LM: What are you currently working on?

GAIL? I’m rewriting an old book, Secret Admirer, that’s gone out of print and I got the rights back. I’m redoing it for a more general market to reach more people, and I’m also making it longer.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Blog - What Goes On In The Mind Of A Writer:

Book Blurb:
Cheryl Richardson doesn't know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb-but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Collaborative Code Breaking

Wartime Wednesday: Collaborative Code Breaking

With the 75th anniversaries of WWII occurring over the last several years, Hollywood has produced multiple movies highlighting everything from efforts on the U.S. home front (“Hidden Figures”) to battles (“Dunkirk”) and key leaders (“Darkest Hour”). Some of the films are better than others, but all have served to bring history to the general public, and to many who might never explore the past.

Disappointingly, none of the movies and few of the books I’ve read talk about collaborative efforts made among the Allied forces. But without the passing of information and discoveries to each other, progress would not have been achieved as quickly and perhaps even hindered.

One area that seems to be skewed is code breaking. Most people are familiar with Bletchley Park and the strides the British made in breaking the Enigma code from this location in the English countryside. From the outside, it appears the British succeeded single-handedly, but as with nearly every aspect of the war, they had help.

Recently, I was surprised to find out that Polish cryptanalysts were working on codebreaking long before the Germans overran their country. In fact, they had managed to construct an Enigma machine complete with internal wiring. Polish mathematicians and cryptologists hosted a meeting in a bunker-like building in Pyry, Poland (outside of Warsaw) with French and British colleagues. Turns out the Poles’ cipher bureau was running out of money, and they realized cooperation was the only way to complete the project.

Plans made to work together were cut short with the German invasion of Poland. Members of the cipher bureau escaped into Romania where they went to the French embassy in Bucharest. Given travel visas, they made their way to France where they would ultimately be caught in the German occupation.

Unable to do much from Vichy France, these Polish scientists waited out the war, but Bletchley certainly benefited from their early work.

Love's Rescue releases tomorrow! Pre-order your copy today of this tale of faith and hope inspired by the biblical story of Rahab and set during the liberation of Paris in August 1944. Available for a limited time for only $0.99 from these fine retailers:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Traveling Tuesday: French Forces of the Interior

Traveling Tuesday: French Forces of the Interior

 “The rapid advance of my army through France would have been impossible without the fighting aid of the FFI.”
Four-star General George S. Patton, Jr.

“The help given by the FFI from the Mediterranean landings to the arrival of U.S. troops at Dijon, was equivalent to four full divisions.”
Three-star General Alexander M. Patch

High praise from highly-placed senior officers in the U.S. Army. Who were these men and women? According to an article written by Sgt. Bill Davidson, Yank Staff Correspondent:

“The French Forces of the Interior, better known as the FFI or the Maquis (from the brush country in which they hide and operate), are not a collection of picturesque hit-and-run guerrillas led by a Hollywood character resembling Errol Flynn. They are a highly-organized, well-disciplined army of some 500,000 French men and women, divided into divisions and regiments, with rifles, mortars, pack artillery and even tanks, and fired with tremendous resolve to re-establish their homeland among the free, respected peoples of the earth.”

He goes on to say, “The Maquis are mostly young, tough-looking guys between the ages of 17 and 25, although there is a good percentage of women and older persons.”

One intriguing anecdote tells of a group of five FFI members who walked into a restaurant, hung their rifles on the hat rack, and sat down to have lunch with their wives. Having just finished a mission that killed some Germans outside the city, they discussed domestic issues with the women, finished their meal, then headed out in a captured German staff car marked with the cross of Lorraine.

Prior to 1942, the FFI was a relatively small and disorganized force. They worked underground, appearing long enough to conduct acts of sabotage and providing intelligence to Allied leaders. By 1944, the group had grown and were unified under the command of French General Marie Pierre Koenig. Absorbed into the French regular forces, the FFI were used as light infantry and continued to use their own weapons and wear civilian clothing with an armband marked “F.F.I.”

As liberation progressed, the FFI took control of bridges and flushed the Germans out of villages and towns all over France. It is estimated the Maquis liberated approximately 50,000 square miles of the country, including Paris. They served as scouts for the Allied armies and slowed down enemy troop movements.

Many members of the FFI are well-known, with streets, bridges, and parks named in their honor, but the majority of this organization slipped back into obscurity after the war and resumed their lives as unassuming men and women.

Love's Rescue releases tomorrow! Pre-order your copy today of this tale of faith and hope inspired by the biblical story of Rahab and set during the liberation of Paris in August 1944. Available for a limited time for only $0.99 from these fine retailers: 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Kimberly Rose Johnson

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Kimberly Rose Johnson

Linda:  Welcome back, and congratulations on your latest release The Sleuth’s Dilemma (book 2 in The Librarian Sleuth series). What was your inspiration for this particular story?

Kimberly: As I was writing the first book Anna’s story started percolating in my head. At the time I wrote these books I worked in a high school, so I think my daily life there also helped to inspire Anna’s story.

LM:  I love series. Did you set out to write The Librarian series, or did that come later? How many books are planned?

Kimberly: I set out to write this as a series. Three books are contracted, with an open door to write more. That being said, my schedule at this time doesn’t allow for more than the three books. But you never know.

LM: What do you to prepare yourself for writing? Do you have a process you must adhere to in order to be productive?

Kimberly: I like to ease into my day lol and that applies to writing too. For example rather than jump into my story world at seven in the morning, I’m choosing to work on this interview. J I have found this to be a helpful way to “ease” into writing. The one thing I need to do before I start my creative writing though is spend time with the Lord by reading my Bible. My day/writing goes 100% better when I take some time to be with Him first.

LM:  Do you write a part of yourself in any of your characters? Or how about friends and family? Are they in any of your books?

Kimberly: Yes. Most of my characters do have a piece of me in them, some more than others. I would say this series is the least like me of all my books, but I did use the high school aspect of my life in this book.

LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do?

Kimberly: Crochet. My mother-in-law had planned to teach me once I graduated college but her life was cut short and that never happened.

LM: Here are some quickies:

Favorite color: It depends on the day and what it’s for, but I’m often drawn to purples and blues.
Favorite actor or actress: Candace Cameron Bure
Favorite food: Avocados with a little salt. Yum!

LM: What is your next project?

Kimberly:  I am currently writing the third book in this series. J  After that I will be working on a Christmas screenplay. I quit my day job so I’d have time to pursue my other passion too—writing for movies.

LM: How exciting! Where can folks find you on the web?


About The Sleuth's Dilemma
Anna loves her job as a high school English teacher until everything goes sideways. The one bright spot in her life it Titus Gains, the school counselor, who is there for her at every turn. Titus' boss complicates his ordered world when she tasks him with running a meeting that changes everything. How had he not noticed Anna earlier? Someone is out to destroy her, and he can't let that happen.

As the head of the English department, part of Luke Harms' job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Things went haywire when Anna was put in charge of the big writing contest. Entries are missing, Anna appears to be in danger, and her job is on the line. Luke is investigating and wants to make things right for this woman he's starting to care about.

Can a trio of school officials along with Nancy Daley, the town sleuth, stop the saboteur before it's too late? And will Anna choose the right man, or lose them both?

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Wunschkonzert

Wartime Wednesday: Wunschkonzert

Early in the Third Reich, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels realized that radio would be extremely effective in disseminating Nazi messages on a wide scale. Citizens were already addicted to radio’s ability to broadcast music, news, drama, and comedy directly into their homes. However, not everyone owned one. They were expensive, and people were struggling under the economic depression. Luxuries like radios took a back burner.

Not one to be beaten, Goebbels worked with manufacturers to invent an affordable product, and within a short time the Volksempfänger was created. The “people’s receiver” was constructed with Bakelite (an early, low-cost plastic), cardboard, and cloth and cheap enough for even the poorest German to purchase. No one seemed to notice or care that the national arms in the form of an eagle and swastika on either side of the tuner unmistakably identified the unit as part of the Nazi’s advanced propaganda machine.

Even while the war was going well for them, Nazi authorities knew it was important to maintain the morale of people on the home front. Their brothers, fathers, sons, husbands, and others were away in combat. Food and other day-to-day necessities were either heavily rationed or unavailable. Media reports stressed the frightening aspects of war to say nothing of the actual bombing raids, the general public experienced. Uncertainty and fear hung over the country.

Thus began the Wunschkonzert (“wish concert,” or better “concert by request”) first transmitted on October 1, 1939. The program featured messages from soldiers at the front for their loved ones back home, interspersed with songs that listeners, whether at home or at the front, requested. The day after the broadcasting house put out an appeal for letters more than 23,000 arrived.

When the war began to go badly for the Germans, the program’s content changed to include a higher percentage of propaganda than music and entertainment. During bombing raids, the program would be interrupted by a two-tone signal that indicated Allied planes had been spotted. Music would resume, then then after another call, the announcer would provide locations of the air-raids. When Russian troops swarmed Berlin in April 1945, the program ceased.