Tag-Archive for » Winston Churchill «

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)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Do YOU Learn Anything from History or Make the same Mistakes…Again?

famous quotes, famous writers, history, poetry, Bukowski, Churchill          I looked up this quote to be certain I quoted it with accuracy and low and behold!  Today is the day that Winston Churchill  (you all know how much I love him)   and Charles Bukowski (you know I am obsessed with him) meet. Considering it’s my blog I guess it was inevitable.  

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest ‘coiner of phrases’ that the world has ever seen.  He said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’ back in the early 1900’s.  Not much has changed and it seems that we are, indeed, doomed to repeat and repeat.

Ironically, Bukowski wrote this prose back in the early 1950’s.  It could have been written yesterday;  we’re still at war, the politicians still suffer from the malady of greed and power. Government still disregards the weak, the old, the impoverished, the helpless……..famous quotes, famous writers, Bukowski, Churchill, famous men

putrefaction ©  (Bukowski)

of late
I’ve had this thought
that this country
has gone backwards
4 or 5 decades
and that all the
social advancement
the good feeling of
person toward
person
has been washed
away
and replaced by the same
old
bigotries.

we have
more than ever
the selfish wants of power
the disregard for the
weak
the old
the impoverished
the
helpless.

we are replacing want with
war
salvation with
slavery.

we have wasted the
gains

we have become
rapidly
less.

we have our Bomb
it is our fear
our damnation
and our
shame.

now
something so sad
has hold of us
that
the breath
leaves
and we can’t even
cry.

‘Oh no!’ you cry, ‘Trish is going all political on us’.  Not at all.  It’s still about the writing and the wordsmiths of our time.
I just found it so poignant that these two great men,  so very different in their calling and their craft would come to the same philosophical place decades apart.  One man was a great statesman, a world leader and a wordmaster at the highest level. The other man, a dissolute, drunken, promiscuous, wild genius of a writer.  One pronounced wisdom in a pedantic, clear statement, leaving nothing to interpretation or misunderstanding. The other’s rantings makes you see it, breath it, taste it, feel it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS!    “The Writer’s Corner”

In addition to my twice weekly blog I will also feature an interview with another author once a month. These authors have already responded and you can read their interviews by clicking on their name: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal,  Karen Robards, Mark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Tasha Alexander, Patrick Taylor, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Cathy Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Raymond Benson, Andrew Grant, Heidi Jon Schmidt, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!   Jeffrey Deaver was October’s author and Patrick Taylor will join us in November.  Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. Loretta Chase will be featured later this year. Raymond Benson is my January author.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

Don’t miss the final segment with best selling author!

interviews, best selling authors, fiction, new fiction  This coming Tuesday will conclude our interview with Susan.  Her newest book, “His Majesty’s Hope” will be available for sale on May 21st.

This has been a fascinating and funny interview and I know you join me in wishing Susan great success with her new book.Susan_Elia_(c)_Lesley_Semmelhack

‘For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past.’

MacNeal’s publishers, Random House have asked me to review it so look for that in May.

Coming Soon! April 2nd will start off my interview with Mark Childress whose books were made into movies!
(Crazy in Alabama!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen, Mark Childress, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sue Grafton, Amber Winckler, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert MacCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

The Writer’s Corner… an Interview with Susan Elia MacNeal (part 2)

               Part II **  An Interview with Susan Elia MacNealinterviews, authors, writers, Winston Churchill   (Part I * March 5th)

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

A. I do love a good cup of coffee, I must admit—milk, no sugar. No rituals, but if I get anxious about starting, I’ll often just open the document and run spell check—that way, I usually get over any stress. Occasionally, I’ll put on NPR or some sort of talk radio in the background for company. And generally I have a cat or two nearby.

Q. What is your mode of writing? (long hand? Pencil? Computer? Etc.)

A. I like writing directly into the computer, and I particularly love my laptop. Sometimes I’ll do notes or outlining on a yellow legal pad with a pen or pencil (but mostly because we have yellow legal pads around at home, not because of any ritual!).

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

A. I like to write first thing in the morning. I think that time in between dreaming and full waking is really good for fiction. So I usually write early in the morning and then do editing and reply to emails and whatnot in the afternoon. That is, until 3 p.m. — then I’m back in the mommy role.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long?

A. Yes, and it’s the most amazing experience in the world when that happens! Usually I find it a hard state to achieve when first starting a novel, because I don’t know my characters and settings as well. But later on, usually when I’m more than a hundred pages in or so, it’s really fun to “get lost” with my characters. That’s the absolute best part of being a writer.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

A. I’ve always loved writing, but I first started taking myself a bit more seriously when I was an editor at Dance Magazine, and then became a staff writer as well. I did a lot of pieces for the magazine and also for the web site. It was at Dance Magazine that I started to think of myself as a professional, and I thank then-editor Richard Philp for taking a chance on me and then giving me so much freedom to pursue and write stories.

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. Well, when Dance Magazine moved to San Francisco, I, with the rest of the New York staff, lost my job. I’d just gotten married, so I had health insurance. So, that was when I decided to freelance. I did a lot of magazine pieces and editing, and wrote two non-fiction books – one about weddings and one about cocktails. But I was always working on fiction.

Q. What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like? 

mysteries, Winston churchill, history, best sellers, authors, interviews         A. Hmm, well, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary took more than ten years, and each subsequent book has taken about two years. (Random House held Mr. Churchill’s Secretary until Princess Elizabeth’s Spy was pretty far along, so they could publish them back-to-back.)  I guess it takes me a few months to immerse myself in research, then a few months to write a beginning, then additional time to realize I hate the beginning and delete it—then back to the drawing board to rewrite.

About nine months later, my editor, the amazing and patient Kate Miciak gets it, and she takes a pass through and gives me an editorial letter. I work on it some more, and it goes back to Kate, who either okays it or sends it back to me, which takes a few months. Then it goes through a six-month period where it goes through a number of passes of copy-editing, then an Advanced Readers Edition, and then, finally, the finished book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part III of this fascinating interview will post on March 12th.  Don’t miss it!!                             http://www.susaneliamacneal.com/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” 

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen, Mark Childress, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

Mr. Churchill’s Cat….research can be a joy!

                      Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

I had just finished reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and his 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, silently observed the general hysteria of dogs, from high on a side table.

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.  Winston Churhill, Nazi,spies,WWII, mysteries, short plays

“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!!

Recommendations: DVD  “Into The Storm” starring Albert Finney as Churchill.
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill by James C. Humes  (paperback)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start your Month Off right!  with MY NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” INTERVIEWS with other BEST- SELLING AUTHORS!   Early February we shall visit with Jo-Ann Mapson, best selling author of “Solomon’s Oak”, “Blue Rodeo” and new release, “Finding Casey”.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog.  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on join my blog“.  You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ .  Thanks!

blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction