A happy New Year to you all and let’s start with a good story!
Finally, Francine, the bright and beautiful West Virginian, came down the mountain in, Francine – Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State. A corporate novel which heralds Francine’s meteoric rise at a New York-based international mining conglomerate, in spite of all odds. Kirkus Reviews, the reputed and critical Indie books reviewer, spiked it “A dramatically taut tale propelled by artful characterization and political relevance.”
“Why not solicit an agent for this fascinating story and have it traditionally published?” asked several reviewers of the manuscript. I may still do that but it simply takes too long. Count some 18 months before it is on the bookshelves, if ever. I don’t have that time!
How did Francine come to life?
That’s a great question. She was one of those fabulous young women growing up at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had good laughs when I met them in the midst of our daughter’s sorority circle, their sorority house, and the sunken garden.
True, Fiona of Enchanting The Swan was also born at William & Mary! Quite an inspirational college for a writer you would say. But it was the mountains of beautiful West Virginia that spirited Francine’s story. And the contrasting devastation of its coal country. How could such exaggeration of bad economic and environmental management destroy so many happy families, living in peace and suddenly thrown into desperation and suffering? A repetition of Upton Sinclair’s gripping tale of King Coal?
Francine is graduating first in class at William & Mary’s Mason Business School in 2010,
when she is confronted with the horrible mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine near Whitesville along Coal River in West Virginia. Twenty-nine miners lost their lives due to gross mismanagement of mine safety. It spurs her to forego a lucrative career in investment banking and join OHARA Mining Inc., the New York-based international mining company which has its roots in West Virginia. She will never forget the fate of those twenty-nine miners and attends the unveiling of their memorial in Whitesville in 2012 on behalf of her company. Her whole life will be dedicated to advance the lives of the company’s miners she works for.
Why place a novel about a promising girl in a mining company? Why not jewelry, fashion or music like A Coal Miner’s Daughter? agents asked whom I offered the story at Writers conferences. The question troubled me. Why not? Those agents did not want to get “their hands dirty.” They feared readers wouldn’t either. They worried about the novel’s support of the miners’ fight with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and overreaching environmentalists. It would choke off a certain group of readers. Well, so be it: Francine took up the fight, and she made it up in the corporate world. To their credit, Kirkus Reviews recognized her perseverance and the miners she stood up for, and gave the manuscript a resounding positive critique. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-schwartz/francine/
Born in Beckley, Francine’s journey in her international mining company takes her to many different places, in the U.S. and abroad. She’s propelled by the sight of closed mines along National Road 3 and in southern West Virginia. She vividly remembers the monument dedicated to the West Virginian miner at the Charleston Capitol.
Throughout the novel, she faces difficult issues, from fights in Congress and with a belligerent anti-coal EPA
to labor, financial and pollution problems with OHARA’s gold and bauxite investments in the Guyanas of the Caribbean.
Georgetown Guyana, Paramaribo and Suriname River, Suriname.
And she battles with China on corruptive practices. She participates in rallies of the United Mine Workers with Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Manchin speaking for miners’ rights for health care, and pensions.
But it was Sergeant Lanny A. Perdue of the Charleston Capitol Police who brought me onto Francine’s trail.
Charleston was not the place to start my search for her, he told me. Go down south, to Beckley. As of that critical moment, the search for Francine went on. I found her home in
Beckley, on Timber Ridge Drive,
visited Woodrow Wilson Highschool where she graduated
and admired the spectacular West Virginian scenery where she went trout-fishing with her father in the New River Gorge
And so Francine’s intriguing story developed, much of it playing in New York, starting with her troubled walk in Central Park.
Just one click takes you to a good read!
Picture: Audrey dancing ballet in Arnhem – 1946
In honor of Audrey and her Children’s Fund (www.audreyhepburn.com) I published a short story on how we met as children and thereafter at a chance meeting when she was a well-known and beloved actress, with many good movies on her repertoire. My favored Audrey movie is Roman Holiday, her first, when I heard at boarding school the girl I played with when I was 7 (and she 13) during World War II had become a movie star and an overnight sensation. The short story is on holiday sale for only US$5.99 plus shipping or equivalent in other currencies (Pound Sterling, Euro) and the proceeds go to help Audrey’s Children’s Fund. Be a little generous and receive a sweet memory in return, with a few rare pre-fame Audrey pictures included.
USA and Canada:
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!
The above picture is ‘pre-fame’ Audrey Hepburn when she was modeling in London in the early fifties, a copyrighted picture of the Audrey Hepburn family archive given to me by her second son Luca Dotti. Audrey (then 13) and I (then 7) played together in Holland during World War II. I wrote about it in my just-published paperback, entitled ‘Audrey – a Cherished Memory,’ which also includes some ‘pre-fame’ pictures, some given to me by her mother, Ellen Baroness van Heemstra, and others by Luca Dotti, also from the family archive. The paperback is a short story and you can read it in one sitting, with a coffee, a cup of tea, a scotch or a glass of wine. For Audrey lovers, it is a nice souvenir. I am sending the sales proceeds to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. Originally priced at US$8 or equivalent, I have lowered the price to US$5.99 or equivalent, to encourage more sales during the Christmas and New Year period.
Many charities are claiming your generosity these days but with this contribution, you also get a sweet Audrey story in return! So give it your best, and click on where you are buying from:
The booklet is sold by Amazon.com with the following links, in the various locations of the USA, Canada, UK (Europe), France, Italy and elsewhere. as listed below:
USA and Canada:
MAKE IT YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT! Audrey will be delighted.
For the cookerers among you, Luca Dotti produced a wonderful cookbook with Audrey’s recipes, including Dutch recipes, entitled Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen – http://amzn.to/2AqVPF1
Those who already purchased my Audrey booklet and want to donate directly to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, please do so by clicking on http://www.audreyhepburn.com
Ted and Frank discuss the latest events in the media world while having a beer in their favorite Hullahoo bar.
“I’m going to write a different Killing book, Frank. It’s called Killing Libido.”
“Oh my, why so drastic? Didn’t we all welcome the sexual freedom in the sixties after a century of Victorian torture?”
“Libido has become a monster and been causing havoc in our civilized world to such an extent that he destroys families, lives, whole organizations. No laughing matter.”
“Do you ever feel lust in the workplace?”
“Oh man! I lust the hell out of me, but I’m scared shit they’d say fuck off, or I’ll tell your wife!”
“How does Libido get killed? He’s been alive and well since Paradise.”
“Don’t be funny, Frank. I have an ironclad plan.”
“I hope it’s more innovative than what the priest said when I went to confession, ‘cut it off.’”
“Frank, trust me. It’s going to revolutionize the world.”
“Much worse. My lab friends have developed the Killing Libido Pill, the KLP for short, and it’ll be mandatory like Obamacare.”
“But people could still avoid signing up for Obamacare by paying a tax.”
“Men won’t be able to get to work or enter their office building unless they swallow the KLP first. Like punching the timeclock entering the workplace. If they don’t, they’ll get no salary or are suspended.”
“So what does this pill really do?”
“It kills Libido big time. A man’s interest in women declines to zero. Their private parts remain inoperative even under the greatest temptation. Shrinks the whole thing to a used rubber. Porn stuff goes bankrupt.”
“What about those guys working from home?”
“Depends on their wives.”
“But what happens when the guys come home from work?”
“Then they can take Viagra again, but only if the wife consents.”
“Gee, Ted, that does sound revolutionary. Women in the office will be so happy to be left alone again. Does that pill have no side effects, you know, like those medicines on TV ads that scare you stiff?”
“Nice figure of speech, Frank. If the guy has a flat longer than a day, even after taking Viagra, he must consult his doctor.”
“And what if the guy has a Viagra-induced erection that stays on until he gets to the workplace again?”
“The KLP will take care of that.”
“And what if guys travel and are away from their wives or partners? You know from experience that loneliness and empty beds drive guys wild.”
“The one thing they don’t know is that we have made the KLP addictive, like nicotine or marihuana. Once you take it your urge to take it again is like your former sex drive. You can’t stop swallowing it. The more KLPs you take, the more addicted you get. You don’t even know what’s happening to you. So, women on foreign soils or women colleagues on field missions will remain safe because the guys’ operative system stays flat. They won’t even ask the girls out for dinner.”
“What about the impact on social life, if women don’t feel wanted anymore?”
“Let’s solve the sex issue first, Frank. If women feel lonely, at least they’ll feel safe. There’s a price to pay.”
“Will insurance reimburse the KLP?”
“Have you been taking the KLP?”
“Haven’t you seen me ignoring all the gals at the bar today?”
“Yeah, now you say, you’ve been acting rather strange for your doing.”
“I urge you to do the same. The first bottle is free. Here you go.”
“Does it matter if you take them with alcohol?”
“It’ll work twice as fast.”
“I’ll give it a try right now.” Frank swallows a KLP with his beer.
“Hey you guys over there,” Ilene, a lovely blonde, yells. “You’re not offering me a beer anymore?”
“If you want to know,” Ted says, “My Libido is dead. It’s official healthcare policy now. I have no incentive anymore to buy you a beer.”
“And what about you, Frank?”
“Sorry Ilene, I wanted to but just swallowed a KLP, and now I’m out.”
“Gee, you guys are boring.”
“Sure,” Ted says. “But at least you can’t sue me when I’m 80 for having tried to intoxicate you forty years ago.”
Help the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund by ordering a copy of Audrey – A Cherished Memory at http://amzn.to/2BuYKw6
Only US$8 and all proceeds go to the Audrey Fund. Give Audrey a chance!
Soon to come on Amazon.com: Francine, Dazzling Daugther of the Mountain State:
A corporate novel chronicles a young woman’s meteoric rise at a coal mining company. A dramatically taut tale propelled by artful characterization and political relevance – Kirkus Reviews.