Friday, February 27, 2015

Pssst... Don't tell anyone yet, but the KINDLE version of 'David Porter, Philadelphia & the Barbary Pirates' broke free and launched itself. Something to do with the wrong button getting pressed. Anyhoo...she's out there now, undergoing self-imposed sea-trials...prior to a few tweaks to the rigging; relaunch and the paperback version soon after. Check it out - a cock-up on the chapter-heads layout on smaller screens - otherwise text looks good. How's it read?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Visual Up-Date on Progress of Next Book

The Beta Readers are sending their zingers back to be mulled over, before the line-reading edit by a pro.

The current session is to ensure the cast of characters (you don't want to know) doesn't have a eye-color shift, a hair-change and new name somewhere with the 2-300 page saga.
For those who have not been paying attention, this is book Two of a planned Seven based on the epic nautical struggles of David Porter from Midshipman in America's War of Revolution  against George III's henchmen, to the cusp of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and his role as Ambassador in Constantinople.

Porter, along with 305 other American sailors, were captured, held hostage and enslaved at Tripoli in1803. Sound's familiar, eh?. All will be revealed in 'David Porter, Philadelphia & the Barbary Pirates'.  If you'ver ever wondered where that line " the shores of Tripoli" came from, in the USMC the book. Out soon in Kindle and paperback.

Here's a preview of the unadorned cover as a copy of the 1803 etching - and one I goosed with with some color tinting.

Guess which one I'm going with ...

Pssst...the next book is based on events surrounding the involvement of the yacht America in the Civil War. Hope to launch her in time for the America's Cup Race in Bermuda, 2017.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Memorable Date For Me Marks A Remarkable Review for Midshipman David Porter

Was most happy to receive this 'gift' on my birthday, Nov. 16, in the form of a book review written by Marie Vernon, which appeared in the Living section of the St. Augustine Record, daily newspaper.
Although  Midshipman Porter did not call into St. Augustine, the oldest city in the new world was on the front lines of every conflict in its centuries old history. It has known the footsteps of conquerors, conquistadors, pirates, privateers, buccaneers in the era of sail - and is still in the combat zone for cyber hackers, smugglers of dope, contraband and illegal immigrates of many nationalities - friend and foe.
These are early days in the young adventurer's career, but the dastardly practices performed by evil scoundrels were  ancient before man set out to explore the seas and conquer the world. Book two in the saga in on the slips, fitting out  and eager to be launched. It bears many similarities to current events, despite the passage of time.

Cruelty and greed have no expiration date. But hopefully bravery and heroism will keep it in check.



Book review "Midshipman Porter: In Harm's Way"

Q&A with Jack Owen

Posted: November 16, 2014 - 12:08am

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sea Spectres Live On in 'The Jekyll Island Enigma'

Please accept this gift - can be read during the hall-time show - as a teaser to tempt you to read the full, expurgated story...later.

Except from 'The Jekyll Island Enigma' by Jack Owen
(gift-read between plays)
Bremen Departs

Konig wrinkled his nose at the acrid smell of burning oil and cordite filtering into the grimy, camouflaged car as it approached Lorient.
This is worse than my cigar, eh ?” he rubbed sleep from his eyes, peering at shipyards smoldering from another English bombing raid. Dockyard workers ignored the car bumpily edging through their midst. German uniforms and military vehicles were a common sight to battered and bewildered Frenchmen following the country’s defeat in June, 1940.
Konig glanced back toward the other passenger, Gerhardt Muni, perched on the back seat with him. He braced himself when the car swayed to skirt bomb craters which had turned the road into a perilous patchwork of holes.
Muni merely nodded and shrugged, following an established pattern to Konig’s friendly conversational attempts. Muni only voluntarily spoke once during the long drive, to protest when Konig lit up a cigar.
Is that necessary ?” Muni asked petulantly, winding down his window. The draft disturbed his carefully coifed flaxen hair, depositing dust motes, which he fastidiously flicked off the surface of an immaculately pressed new navy uniform.
Yes.” Konig said curtly. “When you have spent most of the war under water, breathing in the stench of hot machinery and unwashed bodies, you seize every opportunity to enjoy the little comforts life has to offer.”
Muni coughed delicately into a fresh linen handkerchief extracted, like a magician, from the sleeve of his uniform jacket. “That may be, but put it out,” he ordered.
Konig’s eyes narrowed briefly and a slight tremor flecked his cheek. He drew a deep breath, slowly shaking his head before he exhaled and tapped the single gold stripe on Muni’s arm before glancing down at the two gold rings of command on his own sleeve.
I suggest you read up on Naval insignia, and rank, if you’re going to wear the uniform,” Konig said softly.
Muni’s mouth opened to reply before he saw Konig’s lopsided smile was not reflected in his dark eyes. Muni clamped his mouth shut and shifted to the far end of the seat. Konig took advantage of the hours of chilled silence to doze, not waking until they reached Lorient.
In the distance Konig saw the mouth of a tunnel leading to the protected submarine pens, beyond the gauntlet of civilian road laborers and dockyard workers.
One of the French workers casually glanced up from his mundane task of sizing cobblestones at the curb-edge, closely observing the car’s occupants when it swept past. He noted their uniforms and rank, turning his head slowly to follow the direction of Konig’s pointed finger.
The submariner was oblivious to the workman’s curiosity.
His attention was riveted by the sight of three sea-going tugs maneuvering a badly shelled half-submerged U-boat, into a fortified basin containing several other battered Boots.
Mein Gott, look at that!” Konig cried.
You won’t find what you’re looking for there Captain.”
Muni spoke up from his corner, carefully straightening his double-breasted jacket to fasten the buttons.
I think I can recognize my own boot, Leutnant, even in that scrapheap. I can’t imagine what dumpkoff left those boots out in the open like sitting ducks for air-attack.”
Konig spun around to face Muni who was busy adjusting his high-peaked cap at a jaunty angle. “You can forget your mission now, I think.”
I think not Captain. What you are looking for is not there.” Muni responded haughtily, adding smugly, “Admiral Canaris will no doubt be amused at your description of him. He ordered the pens emptied for my mission.”
That wreck is my boat!” Konig, ignoring the comment, thrust a leather-gloved finger at the submarine being supported, pushed and towed by the tugs.
Your command is in the bunker, safe beneath 15-feet of reinforced concrete and steel.” Muni curled back his lip in a smiling sneer at the puzzled look on Konig’s face. “You’ll see.”
Konig clenched his fist so tightly his knuckles threatened to burst out of his gloves. Muni represented the power and authority of a man held in high esteem by Der Fuhrer, and Konig obeyed orders. But that did not mean he liked it.
The French workman’s eyes followed the car’s progress until it reached the tunnel entrance, while his hands automatically maintained their mechanical task. Beneath the shabbily dressed, unshaven man, a mind schooled in the minutia of espionage logged the non-incident to memory for his next intelligence report to England, along with the damage caused by the air-raid, and number of trucks entering Lorient’s marine arsenal.
Artificial light emphasized the strained lines etched on Konig’s face when the car entered the tunnel. If the wreckage of U-122 was not his to command, he wondered which of the Type IXD Class boats he had been assigned to.
While his brain engaged in matching captains to supply boats, his eyes narrowed at the sight of the submarine which filled his view. It looked like a steel anachronism from his youth: a dull-gray fat cigar-shaped hull with a plumb bow, canoe-stern, and an open catwalk raised along the length of its upper deck.

                      Deutschlander, sister-ship to lost Bremen, unloading in New London, Connecticut,1916

Wh-what in God’s name...?” He muttered.
Your new command, the late Great War blockade runner Bremen.” Muni indicated with a disdainful hand gesture.
Konig stared, mouth compressed into a thin tight line, at the ghost of the legendary merchant submarine Bremen. He vaguely recalled her reported disappearance with all hands shortly after sailing from Germany in the summer of 1916.
When Konig stepped out of the car the spectral ancient hull solidly blocked his horizon.
He turned to face Muni, dozens of questions poised to pour out in a torrent.
Not now Captain, please. Your crew and command await.”
Muni waved his hand imperially.
Konig squinted against the lights illuminating the cavernous submarine pens so they were brighter than a sunlit day. The uniformed men assembled along the dock were his own crew. He swallowed hard, bracing his shoulders and stepped forward to greet his First-Lieutenant, Oberleutnant zur See Walter Cremer.
Several hours later, after the formalities and inspection of crew and boat were completed, Konig sat in the small wardroom with his second in command, and Muni. A bottle of schnapps miraculously appeared on the small table, with three squat stainless-steel thumb-sized tumblers.
Konig poured with a steady hand while he directed questions at Muni. “Why was I not warned about this tub? Didn’t think I’d take it, eh ?”
You would have been shot if you had refused. You knew too much. Danke!” Muni matter of factly answered. He grasped his tumbler, raising it in silent salute and downed its contents in one gulp.
The others followed his lead.
Konig refilled the glasses before firing off his next round of questions. “Where in the world did she come from ?”
He looked about the cramped cabin with its stark furnishings. Pipes and valves jammed overhead and along the inner hull.
Her maiden voyage through the British blockade was almost her last trip, “Muni said. “When she approached New York harbor on the surface she was spotted by a squadron of American frigates. They refused to accept her as a legitimate Merchant vessel. Bremen’s commander submerged to escape capture, but was depth-charged. He managed to escape by leaving a decoy of oil and personal items - including a lifering with Bremen’s name on it - to fool the Americans.”
Muni spun his tale in a bored, monosyllabic tone to the two submariners straining forward to listen.
Once Bremen was far enough out in the North Atlantic, off the convoy routes and away from enemy patrols, she re- surfaced and made a run for Spain, a less aggressive ‘neutral’ country. Bremen was presumed lost at sea, and Naval Intelligence used her loss to enlist the sympathy of pro- German factions in America. Protests against the brutal and ‘cowardly’ sinking of the unarmed Merchant submarine proved to be a better propaganda weapon than her survival.” Muni shrugged, holding his tumbler out again.
Konig hesitated before pouring again. “Her survival could have been embarrassing to the High Command, I suppose. So Bremen remained hidden from sight in Spain for two decades and no one said anything ?”
It took a bit of persuasion, and a lot of palm-oil to keep it quiet.” Muni stroked one hand across the palm of the other.
And the crew ?” Cremer, the pudgy, older First Officer, asked.
They had a long holiday in German East Africa patrolling Lake Victoria on an armed steamer. Until a maniac Englishman sunk them with a home-made bomb mounted on the bow of his piddling little boat, the ‘African Queen’. He, and the English slut with him, perished in the explosion.” Muni smiled with satisfaction. His death’s-head insignia signet ring rattled against his tumbler impatiently.
Konig glanced briefly at Cremer, involuntarily shuddering at the fate of the Bremen’s crew, before pouring another round of schnapps.
During the next 48-hours Konig absorbed every facet of the ancient submarine he could. It was a weird experience to tour a boat presumed ‘dead’ for 25 years. He felt as though he had suddenly been given command of a salvaged ‘Titanic’.

Teaser Ends..

Available in paperback or Kindle - you know where...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Time Television Apparance - A Classic Event with Joan Rivers

Sad to hear about the passing of Joan Rivers, a pro who still performed, beyond her prime.
The clips below are TV-stills taken from 'The Joan Rivers Show', recorded in New York, November 16 (my birthday), 1992, which launched my book "Palm Beach Scandals - The First 100 Years". I was flown up there along with Count Jean De La Moussaye, ex-boyfriend of Roxanne Pulitzer, for a show focused on SCANDAL.
It was a classic.

During it, Joan got into a hissy-fit with Jessica Hahn [Google it] - off-set via satellite in California(?), which ended with Joan's riposte: "Well, at least I don't have to wear knee-pads to get invited to parties."
Fade-out, panic behind the scenes, hilarity amongst the audience and tears in California, according to eye-witness and next guest; Zsa Zsa Gabor.

A launch I'll never forget!
RIP Joan, a true showbiz trooper.

[pics clipped from tape of Joan River's Show - forwarded to me later]

Friday, May 9, 2014

A stone in the pond

 Far Flung Consequences

 Just heard about the death of Canadian writer Farley Mowat, at 95.
I'm amazed he lasted so long at the rate he expended energy and intensity, from conservation of the environment to resuscitating boats beyond their sell-by date.

 Back in the mid-70's during that Watergate summer, I was on the west-coast weekending in Seattle while working on a Post-Intelligencer Sunday magazine story [African Queen in Oregon - I think] and was weathered in a a girl's parents house (don't ask). That is one rainy city.  Found a book with the intriguing title 'The Boat Who Wouldn't Float', inhaled it and wrote Mowat's publisher pal Jack Stewart of McClellend & Stewart - THE Canadian Publishers - querying a coffee-table art book based on Canadian maritime artist Jack L. Gray.
Lot of Jacks here, eh.
I'd met Jack Gray living aboard 'Gypsy Queen' in Palm Beach Marina one season when he was gargling Liebfraumilch by the crate, between trying to finish oil paintings of an East Ironbound dory-man sculling and hauling cod, to be viewed by the caviar-set at The Worth Avenue Gallery .
One sure way to determine if a painting at a gallery-opening was a genuine Jack Gray - just touch it.
That led to my first book-contract, a drive across Canada via the TransCan Highway from Seattle to Lunenburg, months of work, followed by midnight-oil writing/assembling, followed by second wifey's demand for bigger slice of royalty, followed by deep-six of project by publisher.
So, yes, Farley Mowat had more of an impact on me than the average author !
RIP, indeed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Combined Talents:

      When One + One = ONE

The pen-name of writers Judy Habeck Weber and Marie Vernon who combined forces to produce a whodunnit written by Amber Adams, was a pragmatic inspiration.

It stemmed from the reality of the alphabetical fiction listings by-author in all genres at most book-shops. Their target readership, “women of a certain age” will not, and some cannot, get down on hands and knees to scour for books on the bottom shelf.

Judy Weber explains how she and co-author Marie Vernon keep from killing each other –
to a roomful of 'Sisters in Crime' Florida'

A little background. 
Judy had a New York career in Ad-space-sales during the era of liquid lunches and reality 'Mad Men' in Manhattan's Madison Avenue heyday. She later edited and wrote for a building trades magazine, based in the fast-growing South Florida real-estate boom, before retiring onto a boat at a marina with her hubby. That's when she considered testing the fictional waters, joined FWA (Florida Writer's Association), won writing awards, became a judge then Queen of England...( carried away).
Marie's writing career began as a freelancer with feature-stories in national newspapers Her non-fiction books included colonial history of Maryland; then hard-crime tomes co-authored with her late husband forensic psychologist McCay (Mac) Vernon, about serial killers. Her fascinating with an extreme fan of Elvis Presley, and that ilk, lead to the fictional book Graceland. It is currently being adapted as a stage play.
So, not novices, but neophytes in the roles they have grown into.And this is how they did it – without becoming victims in a murder mystery
Amber Adams' creation Day McKelvey, a lady of a certain age, is a newspaper reporter investigation the death of a university president who's body is found at the foot of the 'World's Tallest Cross' (208 feet high) at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, St. Augustine. The prime suspect is a student she mentored.
Marie's strength is her ''stick-to-intuitiveness' attitude, which has carried her through six published books; but she is liable to fall in love with words. 
Judy helps keep the storyline on track. 
An example from the Book Two in the series they are working on; one of the subject/suspects Day McKelvey interviews, has a parrot. Marie was totally taken with the pretty polly on a perch who didn't just speak but, was bi-lingual. Wonderful. But editor-writer Judy gave that colorful distraction, the bird. He was terminated. The story-line moved forward toward its objective, bringing a killer to justice.
Judy says she appreciates the eloquence of Shakespearean verse and soliloquys such as Hamlet's “To be, or not to be”. But prefers to stick with the 'nuts and bolts' of constructing stories which will stand up to scrutiny.Her point of view is, flowery decoration is the icing on the cake. 
Marie confessed: “If the house was on fire, the first thing I'd save would be the thesaurus.”
They barely knew each other when, by some alchemy following a meeting at FWA they began discussing a joint venture. They don't live close enough for garden-fence gossip, but the convenience of social media via email,eliminates a lot of travel. And bloodshed.
“We've learned to read between the lines of our messages. If either one of us uses extremely diplomatic wordage to accept a version the other has written, its pretty sure they think its terrible,” Judy said.
Separation when either reads a new draft, eliminates spontaneous outbursts like: “Oh no,” and “I hate that idea. That's really dumb.”
They agreed on the timeline and storyline, the foundation of the book during initial kneecap to kneecap sessions, then submitted progressions for consideration, work-over, rewrite,inclusion. 
“You have to lose your ego, to co-operate,” Judy said. Their different personalities, work habits, strengths, weaknesses, had to adjust to compliment each other without losing sight of their final target, the reader.
When Judy first attended writer groups and submitted manuscripts for feedback and criticism, it was an uncomfortable period of adjustment.
“Every word was my baby. I had to realize there were alternatives, some of which improved the writing and story. We will respond, respectably,” she glanced at a smiling Marie, “to each others suggestions.”
Then added.
“Of course. That was Vol. 1. Who knows who's going to say 'idiot' first, in Vol. 2 ?”