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!
Oh! those beautiful swans! Ever listened to that wonderful Swan melody by Camille St. Saëns? It’s the core of the moving and heartbreaking story of Paul and Fiona, two lovebird musicians at the venerable College of William & Mary in Virginia – that beautiful State with the logo “Virginia is for Lovers!”- who form a duo in their last graduate year. Paul at the keyboard and Fiona playing cello. They fall in love when playing “The Swan.” And kiss for the first time on the famous Crim Dell Bridge in the W&M gardens.
And agree to get married after graduation. But then bad luck strikes and their future together seems doomed.
Fiona’s Belgian godparents who raised her – her parents perished while sailing off the Belgian coast when she was two – block the marriage because Paul is an American. She must marry a titled Belgian as her parents had wished, a nobleman and family friend she knew early on. When Paul lunches with Fiona at the Grand Place in Brussels, she tells him in tears she is forced to break up. Noblesse oblige…
Right: Bistrot Roi d’Espagne at the Grand Place
For Paul, it means a terrible psychological setback, for Fiona it means forsaking her love and hope of a life shared in playing classical music together.
Paul is offered a job in a bank in Geneva and takes the TGV.
but his life there is without light despite skiing and mountains. He falls for a selfish career girl. Then gets used by another in a bank fraud. His career seems doomed and he must return home. Through a sheer coincidence, he hears Fiona is back in the US and divorcing. A miraculous encounter at a house concert brings them back together, but Fiona is broken and has suffered severe abuse. Paul faces an uphill battle to win her back. As the trailer puts it, will they ever play the Swan again?
I wrote this book because I am a romantic, like Nicholas Sparks, or Barbara Bradford-Taylor; love romantic classical music, and adore W&M’s Department of Music. What this story tells is that luck is not a given and that it can be taken away from you; that you must fight to gain it back; that you must persevere; that you must learn to accept the changes that take place in your beloved and yourself. And that when you do all that, you may enjoy happiness again, but at a different level, one that is matured to accept life as it evolves.
What readers said about this story on Amazon.com:
MJM: “John writes beautifully – I found the book difficult to put down – an easy read, full of intrigue, love, passion, international travel and dubious banking business, and lots more – a must read.”
Dan: “John Schwartz has written a fine romantic thriller that doesn’t let go until the very end…”
Doris: “…I loved this book!…After only 3 chapters I was hooked…”
Neal: “…a beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world, and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie…”
Vera: “Enjoyed the book. Well written book. First book to read by the author, but sure will read more books by him in the future…”
So, would you not want to read it, too, at the special e-book price of $2.99, or spoil yourself with a nice paperback?
Give yourself a chance!
To get rid of his sour mind and keep his sanity, Paul plays piano at the Salle Delveau in the “Cité”. He is lucky that a guest speaker at his investment course is impressed with his mathematical skills and offers him a job at the Geneva branch of First Swiss Bank. So, deeply hurt Paul travels to Geneva with the TGV to start his career, completely the opposite of what he had hoped for with Fiona in New York.
View of the Mont Blanc from the Dôle on the Swiss Jura near Geneva where Diane gives Paul her bombshell.
A hasty departure for New York follows after Paul completes his internship successfully and, despite all what happened, with distinction. He is transferred to First Swiss Bank in New York in a managerial position.
And then by sheer coincidence he meets the son of Fiona’s aunt at an office party, who tells him Fiona is in New York, shattered by an abusive relationship and divorcing! They meet at a house concert at Fiona’s aunt…can they put humpty-dumpty back together again or not? A long struggle that ends up with a loud shot!
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