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Research Can Unearth Some Surprises!

Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

After reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary I was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and hisChurchills.Cat.BookCoverImage cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, sat high atop a side table. Silently observing his human and the general hysteria of the dogs.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual’.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “…..an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral. 

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times).

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

(Originally published 2013)
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Sacred Oath of Office

I try to keep any political commentary from my blog, as DIFFICULT as that may be at this time. I am bursting!  So instead, I shall keep my commentary to WORDS. WORDS MATTER! 

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Parents! Teachers! Need to teach their children that the words in the oath MEAN SOMETHING. It is an oath swearing on each person’s honorable pledge.
A man’s (or woman) oath, followed by a handshake with the person/s receiving the oath was a pledge of honor that would be defended by (extreme measures) death of the oath giver if said oath was violated or not kept.  Are parents teaching their children that if they say they will do something (implicit oath) and don’t, there are consequences?  Are civil studies teachers teaching that OATHS mean something quite serious and if broken, there are consequences? 

If it were up to me, each person taking the oath would be asked, “Do you understand your rights and obligations as described  within this oath?”

History:  The Constitution contains an oath of office only for the president. For other officials, including members of Congress, that document specifies only that they “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.” In 1789, the First Congress reworked this requirement into a simple fourteen-word oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

For nearly three-quarters of a century, that oath served nicely, although to the modern ear it sounds woefully incomplete. Missing are the soaring references to bearing “true faith and allegiance;” to taking “this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;” and to “well and faithfully” discharging the duties of the office.

The outbreak of the Civil War quickly transformed the routine act of oath-taking into one of enormous significance. In April of 1861, a time of uncertain and shifting loyalties, President Abraham Lincoln ordered all federal civilian employees within the executive branch to take an expanded oath.

It appears that several congresspersons, senators, and law enforcement people didn’t 1) not understand the WORDS that they were swearing to, or 2) didn’t care, or 3) just heard “Blah, blah, blah” I got the job!”

WORDS MATTER!!  PROMISES MATTER!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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Celebrating Black History Month!

Billie Holiday, black history month, African-American, people of colorBillie Holiday, jazz singer,one woman cast,segregation      A Tribute to Billie Holiday, in celebration of Black History Month.  It’s always a joy to hear Billie’s music again.

Scent of Magnolia” by Trisha Sugarek.……’tells the story of a young woman who rose above poverty, rape, bigotry, prostitution and imprisonment to become one of the most memorable and celebrated artists of the twentieth century. The one woman show portrays the life of a black jazz singer in America during the 30’s. The script does not dwell on the sensationalism of her addiction to alcohol and drugs but chooses, rather, to celebrate the whole woman and her music.

Billie tells not only her story, but our nation’s story. She interjects her tale with her most famous music as well as some of her more obscure songs. In her own words, she talks about her struggle to succeed in spite of the segregation of that time and the billie Holiday, black singers, musicians, jazz,difficulties she experienced singing with the great bands, most of which were white musicians. Without self-pity , she talks about the

(Note: Original song written by Gary Swindell, for this stage play.) daily slings and arrows that are a part of bigotry. Billie takes complete responsibility for her life, her choices, and her actions. Her triumph was her music and her songs that will live on forever.’                                          

Billie Holiday, jazz, stage play, one act play,

Latrelle Bright as Billie – 2004

black history month, billie Holiday, people of color,…….Ben Rafuse as the ‘piano man’

 

We have much to celebrate this year with people of color serving our country in the   military abroad, serving the community and nation in the political arena.  The many musicians who gave ‘birth to the blues’.

The giants and philosophers, playwrights and politicians…..authors, writers, Walter Mosley

It’s taken us over eighty years to evolve to this point, t williamssince Billie Holiday struggled as a black woman to survive in this country. …….we still have a way to go but we, as a nation, have much to be proud of. Did you miss the post about Savannah’s black orphan kids

James Baldwin, writers, authors

(Hank Aaron,  Kamala Harris, Corey Booker,

Tennessee Williams, Walter Mosley,Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee,   James Baldwin, ) and thousands of others who fill our world and our history. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~black musicians, jazz, Billie Holiday, music

 

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS! March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 

 

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
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Happy Father’s Day…..

Dear Dads and Grandads,

As you sit with your children or grandchildren today, eating Bar-B-Q or enjoying a picnic or having a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixin’s….

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Look across the table at the little ones….now picture them torn away from your family/parents and segregated (by gender) and placed in concentration camps.  YOU don’t know where they are, you may not able to find them…ever.  Picture your six year-old daughter or granddaughter in a cage, alone, with 100 other little girls. Hard to imagine, huh?

Put ethnicity, skin color, legality aside for a moment. LOOK at your kids and picture them in concentration camps, locked up, defenseless…..alone. 

How does that feel?  What would your precious children be thinking? Feeling?  What level is their terror?

 

One news report stated that in order to get the children away from their parents, ICE told them the kids were being taken for ‘showers’.  That sent a chill up my back….at the German Camps the human line that was to be exterminated were told that was the line to go to the showers. But instead of water coming out of the nozzles, deadly gas was released.

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Read your history….this is how it all started in 1938 in Nazi Germany.

‘Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. (Sound familiar??) He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the constitution that permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces — the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers (SA), and the SS — murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (Communists, socialists, and liberals).’
(credit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/1933-1939-early-stages-of-persecution/)

Who’s next?  Your Jewish children? Your Asian children? Your Muslim children? Your Catholic kids?

My purpose, with this post, is to make the food STICK in YOUR THROAT!

 Is this our America?  A country built on the backs of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Africans, Germans, Jews….all immigrants. With the exception of the Native Americans, there isn’t a person who lives in this country today who cannot trace their lineage back to ‘the old country’. We are all immigrants! Even our Beloved Leader, Herr Trump.

(I thought to myself: Gee, maybe I should apologize to my followers for digressing so far off my mission…to write about writing. But, no, I can’t. The idea of little precious children being placed in camps with an excellent possibility of never seeing their parents or siblings again STICKS in MY THROAT.)    

Honoring All Veterans, Fallen and Still Fighting!

Our politicians could take a page from the young men and women who are, TODAY, fighting for our country or defending smaller, weaker spots around the globe. Brave, honorable, honest, with integrity, they are making the world a better place.  Giving selflessly of their time, dedication to country, and sometimes their lives. 

I would like to honor and name the people in my family who have served.

Gerald Guyer  (WW1 Normandy)
William J. Woods (WW2, South Pacific)
John W. Cable (WW2, South Pacific)
Jack D. Borden (B52 Bombers/23 years USAF)
Doris B. Gill (US Marines) 
Jack Henderson (USAF Enowitach Bomb testing)
Robert Berry (Navy Seal. Korea, Vietnam)
  John W. Sugarek (US Marines, Vietnam)

 

 

 

 

 

For more stories

Motivational Moments….for Writers! #4

2A.girl.write..mouse_1Writers! Jump-start your day with more Motivational Moments!

If you are a relatively new writer, start by writing about something you know.  Maybe a family story.  Talk to your grandparents about their life experiences.  My mother and her 12 siblings have been an endless reservoir of stories for me.  The length doesn’t matter when you first begin to write.  Be a good storyteller.


“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a
good children’s story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis

If I hear an adult chuckle when reading my children’s books, I know I’ve done a good job. 

 

 “I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams.” ~ Van Gogh  Dream your story and then write it!

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~ e  e cummings

 

‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!

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That Magical Space Where You Write…

writers, fiction, create, authors, children's books, art, painting

this author’s studio

I think one of your tools, as a writer, should be a special work space.  Do you have an extra room? Even, if its all you have, a large closet will serve.  Somewhere you can call you own, a space that will, I promise you, become a creative oasis. Where no one enters except  by invitation.

And it can change from day to day. I have interviewed many authors and they write on the beach, a coffee shop, on the train, in a lonely cabin in the mountains.

An author's work space... the train

An author’s work space… the train

I’ve always had the luxury of a spare bedroom to call my studio.  On my walls I am surrounded by my own water color work, framed letters from my publisher, photos of theatre productions. In one corner is my desk and a comfortable chair.  My desktop computer has the place of honor as I do all my writing there.  I simply can’t write long hand as I cannot write fast enough when the spirit is on me!  I type seventy five words a minute and sometimes that’s too slow.  more »

The Trans-G Kid, a New Short Play

NEW in my collection of ten minute plays for the classroom or drama department.

Trans.G.BookCoverPreview.doThe Trans-G Kid

I was inspired recently, watching celebrity transgender headlines, to add to my collection of ten minute plays for the classroom. The media has put a ‘better late than never’ and much needed spotlight on the teenagers who are seeking their ‘true selves’. In the process, these teens have been living in fear, confusion and depression, having to hide their feelings. Alone, with a huge secret, many of them look to suicide as a permanent solution to end their pain and uncertainty. The suicide statistics in the teen transgender community is staggering.

The Trans-G Kid was born. My short plays for the classroom cover teen issues in real time. Bullying, cutting, running away, teen dating violence, suicide, drugs, and broken families. If my play opens a single dialogue between student and teacher or child and parent I will consider myself a success! more »

Tom Clancy * Under Fire by Grant Blackwood * A Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing Rating: 5 out of 5 quills A Review  UNDER FIRE by Grant Blackwood
for Tom Clancy

When I interview Grant Blackwood later this year, my burning question will be:  ‘how do you write so well that we believe the iconic Tom Clancy is really the one putting pen to paper?  These authors who write after the death of a beloved writer, like Ludlum, Parker, Fleming or Clancy, are really talented.  To be able to put their unique ‘voice’ on the shelf and write so successfully for another author?  It boggles this writer’s mind!

I’m the first to admit that espionage, shoot ’em ups are not my favorite pleasure read.  But UNDER FIRE engaged me from the start with its beautiful balance of modern politics, terrorist groups, and organizations like the CIA and even more covert groups. The story moves at a good clip and I didn’t want to skip ahead.  more »

Slavery Isn’t Such an Ugly Word….

Rape, pedophile, shit, faggot, nig–r,….now those are ugly words.  You can taste the filth in your mouth if you say them.  You are repulsed when you hear them.  Slavery‘ doesn’t sound ugly enough.  The word is bland, safe, and doesn’t make us sick in the way that other words do. Dear Reader, please understand that I’m not writing about what the word represents….I’m talking about the actual word. What happened in this country, during the 1800’s,  when a whole people were enslaved is emotionally unimaginable…..unless and until you read,  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk-Kidd.  Available now.

A Review    reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quillsThe Invention of Wings

The story is of the Grimke sisters; Sarah and Nina, high born, white, plantation girls.  Based upon a true story, the author tells how the slave owner’s lives intertwine every day with their slaves.  The very slaves who are a part of the family if you talk to the owners.  A prison full of punishment if you were to speak with the slaves.  more »