Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wartime Wednesday: Combat Camera Units

Wartime Wednesday: Combat Photography Units

Much has been written about the war correspondents and photojournalists who covered WWII (and previous conflicts) for commercial publications. But did you know there were sixteen Army Air Force Combat Camera Units (CCU) that took still and motion picture coverage in every theatre of operation? The photos and movies were used for analysis, training, public information, and permanent historical records. Each unit was comprised of twenty-three men, fifteen of whom were on combat status.

One of the CCUs was the 166th Signal Photographic Company that covered General George Patton. Among their many exploits was the landing in Normandy. Members of their crews included many veteran professionals such as Russ Meyer and Stanley Kramer.

The 4th CCU was responsible for documenting the damage to Germany after V-E day. They filmed Herman Göring and captured images of the death camps in color.

The 8th CCU followed the 8th Air Force and the 25th Bomb Group, participating in 230 combat missions.

The First Motion Picture Unit was made up entirely of Hollywood professionals. They were primarily responsible for propaganda and training films.

Does this sound like a glamourous job? Perhaps, but by all reports, casualties in these units were high as they put their lives on the line to photograph the war.



Monday, October 17, 2016

Mystery Monday: Edwy Searles Brooks

Mystery Monday: Edwy Searles Brooks

Edwy Searles Brooks
Authors have always used pen names. Some do so for anonymity to protect their identity while others to write in another genre or topic. Edwy Searles Brookes was a British novelist who used countless nom de plumes: Berkeley Gray, Victor Gunn (perfect for a mystery writer!), Rex Madison, Carlton Ross, and Reginald Browne just to name a few.

Born in a suburb of London in 1889, Brooks found success early in life. His first publication, a short story titled “Mr. Dorien’s Missing £2000” was issued by the magazine Yes and No when he was 17. A 3,000 word piece, it was his first paid “gig,” and he earned thirty shillings. Three years later he was tapped by The Gem to write a serial named “The Iron Island.” The premise is that of a man who is marooned on an island by a gang of crooks. The man, Philip Graydon, manages to escape and return to England where he exacts revenge on the men who put him on the island. The story ran for two years!

Released from The Gem when the editor was let go, Brooks fumbled a bit to find other publishers who would take his stories. His personal papers includes numerous rejection letters from this time period. The following summer he was able to sell a series of Clive Deering detective stories to the magazine Cheer Boys Cheer, but sales for the next three years were intermittent.

Then came Nelson Lee and Sexton Blake. In 1915, The Nelson Lee Library was launched, and The Sexton Blake Library to his dossier. Brooks was a prolific writer, and he partnered with his wife Frances to complete each story. By all reports, he was a plotter, meticulously outlining each book. He created character “bibles” in order to keep an account of each one to ensure accuracy in any future references to them. An inveterate researcher, the shelves in Brooks’s office included train timetables and medical books – mostly about poisons.
At the time of his death, Brooks had written over one hundred books and more than two thousand stories!




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wartime Wednesday: The 1939 World's Fair

Wartime Wednesday: The 1939 World’s Fair

When I was in college, the 1982 World’s Fair was held in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a young adult, it was an amazing experience to see the hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe and to visit the eclectic displays. I must admit to being very wide-eyed each time I attended.
Those who went to the 1939 World’s Fair must have felt the same way. In a world that had struggled through a crippling depression, many people had been severely impacted by loss of savings accounts and jobs. Traveling was done primarily to find work, not take a vacation. But in 1939, life was improving. Roosevelt’s programs had brought the country through the worst of times, and U.S. citizens were guardedly optimistic. Little did they realize that six months later, Hitler would invade Poland and plunge the world in catastrophic conflict.
Held in Flushing Meadows on a site that had previously been a dump site, the fair opened on April 30th  to a crowd of more than 200,000 visitors. The grounds covered more than twelve hundred acres or nearly two square miles, and touted the futurist theme of “Dawn of a New Day.” Exhibits included Westinghouse’s time capsule that wasn’t to be opened for 5,000 years, a robot that talked, a science fiction convention, the introduction of nylon fabric, and early televisions. The structures at the fair were unusual, many of them considered architecturally experimental. The fair colors were orange and blue, and most of the building included one or both colors in their design. Only the Trylon and Perisphere, known as Theme Center, were completely white.
The fair operated for two seasons, from May to October in 1939 and 1940. Wikipedia said it best: “Although the U.S. would not enter WWII until the end of 1941, the fairgrounds served as a window in the troubles overseas. German was the only major world power that did not participate. The pavilions of Poland and Czechoslovakia did not open for the 1940 season, and the USSR Pavilion was dismantled after the first season, leaving an empty lot. Also in 1940 a time bomb exploded near the British Pavilion. When the fair closed, many of the European staff were unable to return to their home countries, being stranded in the U.S.”
Fairs continue to operate intermittently. This year’s event is a horticultural exposition in Turkey and will close at the end of this month. Kazakhstan will host Expo 2017 with a theme of Future Energy, certainly a hot topic.
Have you ever attended a World’s Fair or similar event?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Blog Tour: Time Trap

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

When problems arise during a field exam, Director Peter Matthews and Dr. Laura Nelson are sent through a time portal to investigate. While they search for their missing cadets, they encounter an enemy who is calculating and brutal—a mysterious nemesis who is holding a grudge against the TEMCO program. As Peter and Laura race to unravel clues directing them to their kidnapped cadets, their own survival comes into question. A deadly trap has been set, and they are forced to pit their wits against a serial killer who is intent on playing a deadly chess game through time itself.

My Thoughts

Time Trap is the second book in Danele Rotharmel’s The Time counselor Chronicles series. I didn’t read the first book, so I had a little bit of confusion in the beginning of the book trying to keep the characters straight. However, Time Trap can be read as a stand-alone novel. (I didn’t immediately realize the author included several glossaries, one of which was a character list.) The plot is complex, and the story is told through multiple viewpoints. Through the author’s use of vivid description I was able to visualize the location, people, and events. I would have preferred more showing and less telling, but the story moved at a fast pace which I enjoyed. Ms. Rotharmel does a great job of creating a very creepy villain, and I only guessed his identity shortly before it was revealed. There are regular incidents of violence, and although not gratuitous, they are somewhat graphic.

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

About the Author

Danele Rotharmel grew up with a love of the literary word, and by age five, she knew she wanted to be a writer. However, her life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a low-level carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace in her home was slowly poisoning her. This poisoning triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and partial amnesia.

During this time, the hardest thing she faced was a crisis of faith. She had to quit her job and stop going to church. She couldn’t write, couldn’t drive, and could barely remember who she was. To say she was upset with the Lord was an understatement. She began reexamining her faith in light of her illness, and eventually, she came to the firm conclusion that God is real, God is good, God is interested and involved, and God is trustworthy regardless of tragedy.

When her illness became even more severe, she was put into quarantine and could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window. This quarantine lasted for seven years. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.

Danele currently lives in Colorado where she continues to write. Although her journey back to health was long and difficult, it provided her with the opportunity to grow closer to God and to write her books. For that, she is forever thankful.

You can learn more about Danele by visiting her blog at

Guest Post from Danele Rotharmel

I’ve always loved to read, but I hate that horrible moment when a good book comes to an end. It’s torture saying goodbye to characters I’ve come to love. One of the best things about being an author is having control over your own stories. I wrote The Time Counselor Chronicles while I was extremely ill and enduring seven years of quarantine. During that time, I didn’t have control over many aspects of my life, but I did have control over my fictional characters. I found extreme pleasure in the fact that since I was the author, I didn’t have to say goodbye to the TEMCO crew—I could just write them another story.    

Time Trap is the second book in my series. It can be read as a sequel to Time Tsunami, or it can stand alone. Time Trap was written for one reason only—I was enjoying myself, and I didn’t want to say goodbye to the people I’d created in Time Tsunami. And that’s why the other books in my series were written as well. By the time I finally sought publication, I’d completed six books. Writing, for me, was an act of pure enjoyment. When I began, I wasn’t thinking about publishers or reading audiences, I was simply thinking about what type of adventure I wanted to write next. My books brought me joy, and that was all that mattered. For years, I didn’t let anyone know I was writing. TEMCO was my personal world—my escape hatch from illness and pain. I was afraid that if I let others into my imaginary world, it would crumble away. As it turned out, the exact opposite was true. Knowing that people were enjoying my stories filled my life with incredible happiness!  

I always fill my books with suspense, romance, action, faith, and comedy. I keep them clean, and I work hard to make them full of page-turning fun. Communication is such a wonderful thing. I love that fact that we can relay our ideas, hopes, and dreams to each other. My books are more than just stories, they symbolically chronicle the way I stood up to my illness and fought it. They speak about the value I place on love and friendship. They show that humor can be found even in the midst of great difficulty. And most of all, they demonstrate that a crisis of faith isn’t the end—it’s simply the first step to understanding God on a deeper level. Life isn’t easy, but I’ve learned that even in the middle of tragedy, God is faithful and trustworthy. That’s what each of my characters eventually learn, and that’s what I hope my readers will take away from my books.

Blog Stops

October 6: A readers brain
October 10: CTF devourer
October 12: Pause for Tales
October 13: Blogging With Carol
October 14: Donna’s BookShelf
October 15: Carpe Diem
October 16: Petra’s Hope
October 17: henry happens
October 18: Vic’s Media Room


To celebrate her tour, Danele is giving away a package that includes an autographed paperback copy of both Time Tsunami and Time Trap, a Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord” journal, a lovely coffee cup, and a 4X4 picture frame. Click here to enter:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Mary, Chosen of God

To purchase your own copy, click here.

About the Book

Blessed are you, Mary, chosen of God.” Mary is ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter’s son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates the stars. But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news—and her life is changed forever. Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of prophecy in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even be crucified—and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith.

About the Author


Diana Wallis Taylor has written eight biblical novels, including Mary, Chosen of God, Martha, Journey to the Well, Mary Magdalene, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate, and Ruth, Mother of Kings. Well-known in the Christian book industry for her biblical fiction, her most recent five books have received over 3,000 ratings on Goodreads. Taylor is a former San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild’s “Writer of the Year” and her biblical novels have earned her a variety of awards. Diana lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. They have six grown children and ten grandchildren.

Blog Stops

October 4: Simple Harvest Reads (spotlight)
October 5: Proverbial Reads
October 5: I Hope You Dance
October 6: Book by Book
October 10: A Greater Yes
October 10: Back Porch Reads
October 11: The Power of Words
October 12: Book Babble
October 13: Mary Hake
October 14: Splashes of Joy
October 15: Bigreadersite
October 16: Henry Happens


To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a gift basket that includes Mary, Ruth, Whitaker House’s study Bible, and The Lord is my Shepherd candle from Abba Anointing Oil! Click here to enter:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wartime Wednesday: Manufacturing Awards

Wartime Wednesday: Manufacturing Awards

More than 85,000 U.S. companies were involved in war-related production during WWII. From bullet casings to tanks and airplanes, these organizations manufactured millions of tons of materiel. Less than five percent of the companies received the Army-Navy E Award for Excellence in Production.

Also known as the Production Award, the E Award was the result of merging three awards: the Navy E award created in 1906 during Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, the Army A award, and the Army-Navy Munitions Star award. The awards remained separated until mid-1942 when the War Department decided to create a single, service-wide award.

All factories involved in war equipment manufacturing, including government facilities were eligible to receive the award. The criteria were extensive:

  • Quality and quantity of production 
  • Overcoming of production obstacles
  • Avoidance of work stoppages
  • Maintaining of fair labor practices
  • Training of labor forces
  • Good record keeping with regard to health and safety
District procurement officers would recommend facilities, and an award board would review the recommendation and determine of the organization was award-worthy. The company was given a pennant, and each employee received a silver lapel pin.

Even now ore than seventy years later, U.S. manufacturing companies such as Hershey's, Westinghouse, Ford, and Jeep are proud of their awards and include the information in the history section of their website.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mystery Monday: Phyllis Bentley

Mystery Monday: Phyllis Bentley

Even though she was often compared to novelist Thomas Hardy, most of today's readers have never heard of mystery writer Phyllis Bentley. Born in 1894 in Halifax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, she worked in a munitions factory during WWI. After the war, she returned to Halifax where she taught English and Latin at a girl's school. But her first love was writing.

In 1918, she published a collection of short stories, followed by several novels, all of which did not sell well. Finally in 1932, she rose to fame after her publication of Inheritance in which she used her native Halifax and the growing textile industry as the setting. The novel became a best-seller, going through twenty-three printings by 1946. In 1967, the book was made into a movie, further expanding Bentley's fame.

Over the course of her career, Bentley wrote twenty-four short stories that featured the amateur sleuth, Miss Phipps. In each story, Miss Phipp's quiet life is interrupted by some sort of unusual event. Through her perceptiveness and keen deduction, she solves crimes that range from misdemeanors to murders. Bentley is one of the few Golden Age writers to feature a female detective, and her prim-and-proper character brings to mind Josephine Tey's Miss Pym and Dorothy Sayer's Harriet Vane.

Vehemently opposed to fascism, Bentley used her many contacts to use during WWII by working with the American Division of the Ministry of Information. She was proud of the fact that her books were banned and subsequently burned in Germany.

As a result of her writing, Bentley numerous awards: an honorary Doctor of Letters from Leeds University, a Fellow in the Royal Society of Literature, and in 1970 she was appointed an OBE. She passed away in 1977.