Does This Woman Look Like A Spy?

July 7, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

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What reader isn’t fascinated by the idea of women secret agents operating behind enemy lines during WW II? What we now know about these unsung heroines is primarily due to the 1995 opening of formerly classified archives on the 50th anniversary marking the end of that terrible conflict.

In early phases of Allied clandestine operations, many female secret agents played the role of “Honey Traps” and “Madam Fifis”–goodlooking women recruited to use their charms to ferret out information from the enemy in ways most masculine agents could not. They also employed their persuasive “feminine wiles” to uncover bad-risk Alled secret agents-in-training working for our side! If these men proved indiscreet and unable to keep a secret, they were subsequently removed from their assignments before going behind enemy lines and possibly getting other agents killed.

One of the most skillful of all these American Mata Haris was Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, an American former debutant (seen here as a young bride of British diplomat Arthur Pack) working undercover for British Intelligence in Washington D.C. before and after Pearl Harbor.

I became obsessed with her incredible real-life story and used her as a prototype for my fictional heroine, Catherine Thornton, in my lastest novel, LANDING BY MOONLIGHT, published in late 2019.

My book opens with a scene based on this extraordinary “lady spy” persuading a French diplomat to break into his own embassy in D.C. and help her steal crucial naval communication codes from the collaborating Vichy French government. This, against all odds,they managed to do, allowing the Allies to learn exactly what Hitler’s forces were up to in the Mediterranean prior to invasions not only at Normandy, but also, eight weeks later, on the beaches of the South of France. The Allies were then able to conquer the north of Africa and from there, invade Southern Italy and eventually land in France, pushing north to meet up with General Eisenhower’s troops heading south from the landings at Omaha Beach.

“Betty” Thorpe and a handful of American women secret agents performed many largely unknown, heroic deeds that helped the Allies win the war. Don’t you agree that it’s far past time their stories were told?

(LANDING BY MOONLIGHT is available in print and as an ebook from all major online retailers and in bookstores through the Ingram Catalogue).

That’s What Friends Are For…

February 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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collageFeb6-300x200A quite remarkable phenomenon is percolating among the community of multi-published novelists.  It’s more than a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”  book promotional network, but rather a curated, semi-underground system of authors who know, trust, and admire each other’s work and are willing to give a shout-out on their own book blogs and on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to a sister novelist who has a new book being launched by the author-as-publisher.url-3

This is especially true these days due to the fact that some very respected non-novelist book bloggers have thrown in the towel trying to keep up the the avalanche of new titles and have shut down their blogs that formerly trumpeted the wares of both experienced and novice novelists to the reading public.



A few bygone book bloggers cited the online abuse they encountered from some publishers and/or authors if they didn’t describe a new novel in the noblest of terms and award it with a “5 Star Review.” Cried one plaintively on her final posting: “For some, 4.5 stars was an insult. I just want to get back to what got me into blogging in the first place:  reading and writing about the books I love!”

Frankly, who could blame them?

Ciji at work in Portofino Office 4-07Meanwhile, an increasing number of established writers with many traditionally published books under their belts are now venturing into the world of “Independent Publishing,” declaring that they feel they deserve more than 7-15% of the profits when others involved in bringing their books to the public are taking a whopping 40-70% of the “take” on a book that has been created by the person who actually wrote it. For unnumbered scribes, it simply has become a case of “Do the math!’

And then there is something so satisfying to click the “upload” button and see the colorful cover of a novel like That Summer in Cornwall appear on the major online retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple/iBooks (by February 22).  In March, the print version is scheduled to debut via the usual online retailers and, hopefully, in a bookstore near you….

Frankly, it’s nothing short of shouting from the rooftops: “Look, Ma…I’m a Publisher!”

But, writing the book is only Step 1 and preparing it for release–merely Step 2. Step 3 is that no-man/woman’s/land of promoting and marketing an independently produced novel to the readers who might like it among virtually millions of other titles floating out there in cyberspace.

Back CameraSuddenly the author living the solitary life locked in a room with only a computer for company is thrust into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, and all the other “engines” designed to get the word out to an audience that one hopes actually wants the new novel on their bookshelves or electronic reading devices.

Which brings me to the title of this blog:  the extraordinarily generous novelists in my circle of friends and professional acquaintances who have been kind enough to invite me to “guest post” about That Summer in Cornwall on their blogs and other online outlets.  I offer up my deepest thanks to pals like Cynthia Wright, Julie Kenner, Michael Llewellyn, and Lauren Royal who have been big boosters of my first foray into independent publishing.  As blogs where I’ve been a contributor move on to newer topics, they’ve allowed me to re-post my “guest appearances” on Ciji’s Blog—which I will be doing in the next little while.Kenner Sequel Blog Post

Hey, what are friends for?

And I am more than happy to do the same, especially for these open-hearted, talent authors.  In this Brave New World, we have to forge new paths and alliances based on honesty and appreciation–and how better than to walk those paths than with people you like and trust?