Sunday, July 23, 2017

Damian Fontaine Has Returned

Damian Fontaine has returned for a third time to share his thoughts about another of his missions. This time we'll be talking with him about Hayley Vincent's story, MISSION INEVITABLE.

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a fallen angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INEVITABLE is book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series, release date July 21, 2017. Hayley Vincent and Ward Dawson—friends with benefits. But Hayley wants so much more. She wants his love for a lifetime. Can Damian help commitment phobic Ward realize that the girl next door is the one to fill that emotionally empty spot inside him? The one who will make his life complete? And Damian has his own problems as he wrestles with his confusing feelings toward Rhiannon, a witch of the ancient bloodline who has been his lover for the last four centuries

Good morning, Damian. I appreciate you taking the time from your schedule to stop by and talk with us again.

Good morning to you, Samantha. Thanks for having me on your blog for the third time. I'm honored.

Before we talk about MISSION INEVITABLE, the third book of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series, I'd like to talk about you.

Me? What would you like to know about me? I'm not all that interesting.

An immortal—a fallen angel banished to earth who has participated in 800 years of human history. Someone who has first hand knowledge of pivotal events that have led to the world stage as it exists today. I find that a fascinating subject.

Well, I must admit that MISSION INEVITABLE does contain a few crumbs of information about my past experiences on earth not connected to my missions. To blend in over eight centuries without arousing suspicion, I've had to constantly reinvent my outer persona as it relates to humans.

Do you mean you've been able to change your physical appearance?

No, not that. I was born 1,134 years ago. My human existence died at the age of 34. I was an angel and traveled between earth and the hereafter for 300 years until my…uh, shall we say 'misdeeds'…resulted in me being permanently banished to earth. I looked like this at the time of my death. At 6'2" I used to be taller than almost everyone, [extends a teasing grin and a wink] and now I'm not. During the last millennium, humans have gotten taller. During the last 800 years I've been many things from the highest to the lowly including royalty, a carpenter, a soldier, a wizard, an adviser to a king, and even a teacher.

A wizard?

Yes, even though I have been banished to earth, I still have many of my mystical powers.

And a teacher? What did you teach?

[laughs] The obvious—I taught history.

Why did you choose Hayley Vincent as one of your missions?

The waves of vibrations carrying her desires kept reaching out to me. She was not sexually repressed, quite the contrary. She had a healthy sexual relationship with her next door neighbor, Ward Dawson. Sexually fulfilling, but it was one of unrequited love. She desperately wanted him to return the love she had been carrying for him for three years. She wanted a lifetime relationship with him, a commitment from Ward that exceeded their current situation of Friends With Benefits.

She did not need her hidden sexual desires released. She had already found the man she loved and wanted to be with for the rest of her life. That seems like it would be a simple task for you to fix. Why did you select this particular situation as a mission?

It was basically a straight forward task—determine Ward was the right man for her, make him jealous, get to the cause of his commitment phobia, put him in a position where he finally realized exactly what he would be losing if he allowed Hayley to move on with her life and no longer be available to him when he was between girlfriends.

Why did you select such a simple mission this time?

[pensive expression covers his face] That's difficult to answer. It has to do with my limited ability to actually experience human emotions. I understand them intellectually but am not able to actually experience them as a human would.

Is that important for your missions? [pauses to consider what she's just said] I don't mean that emotions aren't necessary to your missions…love, emotional fulfillment, and lifetime happiness are vitally important to humanity. I mean, why are you struggling with this problem at this time? And for that matter, why is it a problem?

Rhiannon, an immortal who is a witch of the ancient bloodline, has been a participant in my existence for approximately 400 years.

A participant in your existence? That seems like an odd choice of words. I recall her being involved with MISSION INNOCENCE in helping you secure a happy future for Sarah Downing. I know she's been your lover and closest friend for 400 years. Is there more?

That is the question I can't answer. Or more accurately, don't know how to answer due to my fleeting ability to actually experience human emotions, to be able to feel them for myself. It's a troubling problem that I'm trying to work out.

That sounds as if your next mission might be your own story.

[flashes dazzling smile] Who knows what the future will bring.

Thank you, Damian, for talking with us about MISSION INEVITABLE and also for sharing a little it of insight into your personal situation.

Once again, it was my pleasure, Samantha.
BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Advertising executive Hayley Vincent believes Ward Dawson, her ridiculously hot best friend and sometimes lover, would be the perfect man if he didn't have a severe case of commitment phobia. She's been in love with him for years. Then a steamy new neighbor moves in across the hall, and she has to wonder if it might be time to move on...or at least try to spark some jealousy and change her status with Ward from friends with benefits to something permanent.

While Damian works toward completing his current mission, he begins to question the meaning of his centuries-old relationship with Rhiannon, a witch with a sexual appetite as veracious as his, and the sudden stirrings of mortal emotions. Has he been on Earth too long or is there more at hand?

Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):  https://wildcatalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-erotic/5163-mission-inevitable.html
Also available at other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from MISSION INEVITABLE, from my other Fallen Angel Chronicles books (MISSION INSECURE and MISSION INNOCENCE), as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

MISSION INEVITABLE—Book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

This week I'm presenting MISSION INEVITABLE, book #3 of my erotic fantasy series, Fallen Angel Chronicles, scheduled for release July 21, 2017. Hayley Vincent and Ward Dawson: friends with benefits. Hayley—unrequited love for Ward Dawson.  Ward—major commitment issues due to a past tragedy. Fallen angel Damian Fontaine—wrestling with emotional issues of his own while working on his mission of bringing Hayley and Ward together for a lifelong loving relationship.

G-Excerpt #1: (publisher's excerpt)
"So, that's our new neighbor. When did you meet him?"

Hayley made no move to enter her apartment or invite Ward in, a situation that obviously surprised him. Ward and Damian—both very handsome and incredibly sexy, yet very different. Ward took her for granted. Damian seemed thoughtful and considerate. There was one similarity. Ward was an incredible lover, and Damian exhibited every indication of being equally talented.

She quickly dismissed the inappropriate thoughts and returned her attention to Ward's question. "We met at the grocery store today. I was doing some shopping on my lunch hour."

Ward glanced toward Damian's front door. "Seems like a nice enough guy." His words might have been innocent, but she caught the slight edge of irritation in his voice, and for some unknown reason, it pleased her. "What was that he was saying about the tennis court and theater tickets?"

She shot him what could almost be described as a challenging look. "Damian is going to give me some tennis lessons."

"Tennis lessons?" Genuine surprise covered his face. "I told you I'd be glad to teach you how to play."

Hayley wrestled with the nature of the conversation and the slight tension that suddenly filled the air. "Yes. You told me several times, but that's as far as it went. Every time I brought it up, you said you'd teach me, but then you never seemed to have the time. You made it clear you really didn't want to so I finally decided to drop the subject." She paused a moment, then continued. "I know how hectic your schedule is, so this will work out for both of us. I'll finally get my tennis lessons, and you won't need to rearrange your busy schedule just to accommodate me."

Uncertainty darted across his handsome features and clouded his turquoise eyes. She had finally gotten his attention with something.

"I…I didn't realize it was such a pressing matter."

She offered a casual smile. "No problem. Don't worry about it. But since we happen to be discussing tennis, could I borrow one of your rackets?"

He wrinkled his brow into a slight frown as if he didn't comprehend the nature of her question. "Borrow one of my rackets?"

She tilted her head and raised a questioning eyebrow. "Is that a problem? I don't want to invest in a good racket until I have a lesson or two, in case I discover that I don't like tennis as much as I thought I would."

"Uh, no, no problem at all." He paused as if searching for the proper words. "I can teach you to play tennis. You don't need to impose on our new neighbor."

"I didn't ask him. He volunteered. And…" She shot Ward a purposeful look. "He even set a specific day and time, eight o'clock Sunday morning, rather than leaving it as some unspecified future date, a time referred to as sometime." She glanced at her watch and quickly moved to terminate their conversation. "Well, it's late and I'm tired." She extended a friendly smile, but not a personal one. "See you later."

With that, she entered her apartment and left Wade standing all alone in the hall. Guilty pleasure flooded through her. The startled look on his face pleased her. It seemed that she had truly gotten his attention, even if only for the moment.

MISSION INEVITABLE—book #3 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series available Friday, July 21, 2017, in ebook from The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press)
and other online vendors

Additional excerpts and information available on my website www.samanthagentry.com

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Advertising executive Hayley Vincent believes Ward Dawson, her ridiculously hot best friend and sometimes lover, would be the perfect man if he didn't have a severe case of commitment phobia. She's been in love with him for years. Then a steamy new neighbor moves in across the hall, and she has to wonder if it might be time to move on...or at least try to spark some jealousy and change her status with Ward from friends with benefits to something permanent.

While Damian works toward completing his current mission, he begins to question the meaning of his centuries-old relationship with Rhiannon, a witch with a sexual appetite as veracious as his, and the sudden stirrings of mortal emotions. Has he been on Earth too long or is there more at hand?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Who is Damian Fontaine? A conversation with a fallen angel

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INNOCENCE is book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series, release date June 30, 2017.  Sarah Downing—a young woman leading a miserable existence in a small town under the thumb of a tyrannical father and cold mother. Can fallen angel Damian Fontaine help her find someone who will love her and she can love in return? Someone with whom she can build the happily ever after future she yearns to have?


This week I'm welcoming Damian Fontaine for a return visit to my blog. Good morning, Damian. It's nice to see you again.

Good morning to you, Samantha. Thanks for inviting me to participate in a second conversation.

Let's talk about MISSION INNOCENCE, the second book of the Fallen Angel Chronicles erotic fantasy series. Sarah Downing is the subject of this mission. How or why did you choose her?

As I explained last time I was here, all human vibration and thought travels through the universe. I tune into those waves of energy, refining and sorting until I've zeroed in on the person I feel is most in need of my special type of help at that time—help in achieving the hidden sexual desires and fantasies that fear, inhibitions, intimidations, cultural restrictions, or simply embarrassment has kept secreted away.

What was there about Sarah that grabbed your attention and made you decide to answer her need in particular rather than the others?

It was a combination of several things. Her overwhelming loneliness and despair came through loud and clear. As I focused in more closely on her situation, I became aware of her deplorable home life. She lived in a very small rural community, trapped with no viable means of escape. A tyrannical father who controlled everything around him with a dictatorial iron hand and a cold mother who didn't seem to care about anyone, certainly not her daughter. Even though her parents were not physically abusive, they more than made up for it with the emotional and psychological abuse they heaped on her. To give you an example of how repressed her life was, at the age of twenty-two her first real kiss was mine.

That type of home situation would most likely make someone incapable of functioning on her own…starting over in a strange place, not knowing anyone, making her own decisions for the first time, and learning how to determine who she could trust and who she couldn't. How was Sarah able to manage the changes you introduced into her life?

She was intelligent. And once she got over her initial shock, she was eager to learn. But most important…against all odds, she had a surprisingly strong inner strength. Once she was released from her shell, she quickly took control of her life and stood up for herself.

Obviously Sarah couldn't continue to live in the small community where she had spent her entire life. What did you arrange for her future and how did you accomplish it?

[amused chuckle] Really, Samantha…you know the answer to that one, don't you?

Ah, yes…the ever popular 'you will have to read the book' response. Fair enough. Thank you for being with us again, Damian. I hope you'll be able to return in a couple of weeks when your next story, MISSION INEVITABLE, is available.

It will be my pleasure, Samantha.

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Twenty-two year old Sarah Downing leads a life of quiet desperation in a small town. She has lived under the control of a domineering father and a cold mother. She longs for the freedom to expand her horizons, to experience life, and to find someone who will love her. When a handsome and mysterious stranger appears seemingly out of nowhere, he claims her silent pleas for help summoned him. He wants to help her explore her hidden desires.

Will her father’s puritanical teachings keep her imprisoned or will the mesmerizing stranger teach her to fly?

Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):
Also available at other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from Mission Innocence as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, July 2, 2017

MISSION INNOCENCE—Book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series. Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INNOCENCE is book #2 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series is now available.  Sarah Downing—a young woman leading a miserable existence in a small town under the thumb of a tyrannical father and cold mother. Can fallen angel Damian Fontaine help her find someone who will love her and she can love in return? Someone with whom she can build the happily ever after future she yearns to have?

G-EXCERPT #1 (publisher's excerpt)
“Hello, Sarah. I’m glad to see you. I was beginning to think you had changed your mind.”

She climbed the three steps to the porch as she offered a shy smile. “I’m sorry. My father…”

“I understand. There’s no need for you to explain and certainly no need to apologize.” He held the door open for her, then followed her into the living room.

He took her hand and slowly pulled her toward him. The wariness in her eyes and the slight tensing of her muscles said one thing, but the fact that she once again made no attempt to withdraw from his touch said something else. “I’ve seen this cabin often, but this is the first time I’ve ever been inside. You said you were just passing through, only staying for a few days?”

“Yes, that’s true. I’m here because you summoned me. Your cry for help traveled on the air until it reached me. I’m here at your request, Sarah. I’m here to help you…to teach you…to introduce you to the world you long to experience.”

“I summoned you?” She shook her head as she furrowed her brow in confusion. “I don’t understand. I haven’t phoned anyone—”

BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Twenty-two year old Sarah Downing leads a life of quiet desperation in a small town. She has lived under the control of a domineering father and a cold mother. She longs for the freedom to expand her horizons, to experience life, and to find someone who will love her. When a handsome and mysterious stranger appears seemingly out of nowhere, he claims her silent pleas for help summoned him. He wants to help her explore her hidden desires.

Will her father’s puritanical teachings keep her imprisoned or will the mesmerizing stranger teach her to fly?
Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):
Also available at Amazon and other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from Mission Insecure as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

NEXT WEEK (posting on July 9, 2017): another interview with fallen angel Damian Fontaine. A month ago when he visited my blog, we talked about MISSION INSECURE. This time he talks with us about MISSION INNOCENCE.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

8 PEOPLE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF WHO CHANGED HISTORY

As children, we're told we can grow up to be anything we want.  We can grow up and change the world.  However, the reality is that when we grew up we hopefully had a positive impact on our family, our jobs, our surroundings and hopefully our community.  But not many of us have actually ended up changing the world in massive ways merely by working hard, thinking quickly or simply doing our jobs properly.  Many of these people were lost to history for a number of reasons—cultural differences, minority status, military secrecy and, in a few cases, just plain modesty.

THE GHOST ARMY
It's World War II, the Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, also known as the Ghost Army, played a major role in putting a halt to Hitler's advances through Europe.  In reality, the Ghost Army consisted of 1100 soldiers who were artists, illustrators, sound technicians, and other creative types who used their brains and specific creative skills to win battles.  Their mission was to trick the enemy into believing there was a huge military presence where one didn't exist.  They created the illusion of air fields with hundreds of planes, harbors with large navy vessels, trucks and tanks ready to roll—all decoys that looked very real to enemy aerial reconnaissance.  Through the use of fake inflatable tanks (pictured above), trucks, and weapons in conjunction with war noises through huge military speakers, and buildings that were basically movie sets, the Ghost Army played a major role in helping America's Ninth Army to cross the Rhine River deep into German territory.  The Ghost Army pulled off more than twenty such missions, all of which remained classified until 1985.

Watergate Office Building 
FRANK WILLS
Security guard Frank Wills was making his rounds when he noticed a small piece of duct tape on a door of an office complex.  Wills removed the tape, but found it there again on his next patrol of the night.  He immediately called the police.  The date—June 17, 1972.  The location—an office complex in Washington D.C. named Watergate (Watergate consists of several buildings—the office building, apartments, and a hotel). Minutes later, five middle-aged men were caught ransacking the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee thus launching the scandal uncovered by Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein—a scandal that would eventually cause President Richard Nixon to resign.  Woodward and Bernstein's book, All The President's Men, became a movie of the same name starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.  Sadly, Frank Wills' life took a turn for the worse after that.  He quit his job at the Watergate after being turned down for a raise (wow…if you don't give this guy a raise, who are you going to give one to) and found that many places were too afraid to hire him as a security guard allegedly because they feared retaliation by Republican politicians.  He ended up in prison, then destitute, before dying of a brain tumor in September 2000.

JOSEPH WARREN
Even though he's generally unknown to all but the most dedicated Revolutionary War aficionados, there are thirty-eight towns and fourteen counties named after him.  A Boston doctor who performed the autopsy on Christopher Seider, the first American killed by British troops in the Boston Massacre.  When things between the colonists and the British became even more heated, he put together a military unit and participated in the "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" Battle of Bunker Hill (which was actually fought on Breed Hill) where he died from a British musket ball through his brain.

ROSALIND FRANKLIN
We all know some facts about DNA such as you can extract it from fossilized remains to bring back dinosaurs and it can be altered to create ninja turtles.  But seriously…Rosalind Franklin, physical chemist and pioneering x-ray crystallographer with a PhD from Cambridge, was born in London, England.  The new technique of using x-ray crystallography on things that weren't actually crystals aided in accurately recording the structure of DNA.  Even though her work provided the linchpin of James Watson and Francis Crick's articles establishing the double helix theory, she was mostly ignored and brushed aside as far as being given credit for her work.  She died in 1958 at age thirty-seven from ovarian cancer.

MARY ANNING
Highly intelligent, a fossil collector and paleontologist at the beginning of a century marked for tremendous advances in the practice and philosophy of science, she was royally screwed over from the beginning.  She had three strikes against her—she was poor, a religious minority, and (gasp—worst of all) a woman.  She was officially shunned by the British scientific establishment even though she had discovered the world's first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton when she was only twelve years old.  Soon, geologists and paleontologists across the Western world knew her by reputation despite receiving almost no formal education and barely having enough money for journal subscriptions.  She died in 1847 of breast cancer.  She received an eulogy from the Geographical Society of London (where women weren't admitted until 1904), a glowing article by Charles Dickens in 1865 [I double checked this because my first thought was "they must have meant Charles Darwin the scientist rather than Charles Dickens an author of fiction," but Dickens was correct], and a 2010 mention by the Royal Society as one of the ten British women having the greatest impact on history.  And there was a tongue-twister about her day-to-day business of selling marine fossils.  We know it better as She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.

ABU L-HASAN 'ALI IBN NAFI' (ZIRYAB)
One of the most significant people in Islamic culture remains nearly anonymous in European history even though he single-handedly set the groundwork for traditional Spanish music.  Ziryab was a highly educated North African slave in the approximate year of 800.  In addition to his strong point of music, he invented numerous dyes and chemicals for clothing, makeup, and hygiene.  He introduced the idea of seasonal fashions, came up with the structure of the traditional three-course meal consisting of soup, entrĂ©e, and dessert.  He also popularized shaving and short haircuts as a way of beating the fierce Mediterranean heat.  It's also said he invented the world's first underarm deodorant and an early type of toothpaste that was both effective and also had a pleasant taste.

LA MALINCHE/DONA MARINA
Dona Marina (as the Spanish called her) was one of twenty slave women given to the Spanish as the spoils of battle in 16th century Mexico.  Her skill with languages made her far more valuable than merely being Cortes' mistress.  She was instrumental to the small Spanish army's eventual victory by interpreting intelligence information and cultivating allies among the many tribes fed up with being kicked around by the Aztecs.  She's a controversial figure today.  Some argue that she was working in the best interests of her native people by aiding the Europeans and convincing Cortes to be more humane than he might have been.  Others think she was a traitor and her name is almost a curse.  Either way, without her the Cortes expedition might not have succeeded and history would have been changed forever.

VASILI ARKHIPOV
Vasili got his start in the Soviet Navy at the tail end of World War II and worked his way up through the ranks where he became the executive officer on the Soviet Navy's hotel class nuclear submarine K-19.  From there, he was dispatched to the Caribbean to command a group of 4 nuke-armed Foxtrot-class patrol subs.  And it was there that he made a decision that literally had a life and death impact on the future of the world.  He found himself in a sticky situation as his Foxtrot came under what seemed very much like an American attack (The US Navy saying it was only dropping practice depth charges in an ill-considered attempt to force the sub to the surface).  The Soviet sub's captain and political officer both demanded that they retaliate with nuclear torpedoes.  They hadn't had any contact with Moscow in days and didn't know if World War III had actually started or would start as soon as they fired back.  Vasili refused to authorize the launch.  The sub eventually surfaced and scampered away from the American task force with no further interaction.  Vasili advanced to vice-admiral, retired, and died in 1998.  It was four years later when former NSA head, Thomas Blanton, called him "the guy who saved the world."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

8 WORST AMERICAN TRAITORS

Benedict Arnold
Betraying the United States government is usually a bad idea, especially if you're an American Citizen. Sometimes we've been too hard on people who were forced at gunpoint to assist the enemy such as the case of Tokyo Rose, a Japanese American woman visiting a relative in Japan and trapped there when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It was later shown that she had been forced to broadcast propaganda for Japan. But on the other hand, sometimes we've been too soft on willing collaborators. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for providing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union yet others who did the same thing at the same time didn't even do prison time even though their activities were uncovered.

Here are eight Americans who let our side down, ranging from the Revolutionary War to present times.

8) BENEDICT ARNOLD
When your name becomes synonymous with the word "traitor" you can usually expect to have it pop up on a fair number of lists of famous traitors. You can also usually expect to have been executed by angry patriots long before you get to read any of these lists, but in Benedict Arnold's case, he was able to die peacefully in Canada at a safe distance from everyone who wanted to kill him. Arnold was actually on track to become an American hero of the Revolutionary War, scoring important victories at Fort Ticonderoga and Saratoga and often leading his men from the front lines. Unfortunately for him, his short temper and lack of understanding about the ins and outs of politics made him some powerful enemies and few friends in the political structure of the Continental Army. He was also deep in debt after paying for much of his soldiers' equipment out of his own pocket, so when he found himself relegated to military command of Philadelphia he developed contacts among Loyalist colonists and eventually started selling crucial bits of intelligence to the British spy service. When his handler was captured, Benedict Arnold officially joined the British Army as a brigadier general, leading several attacks on targets in New York before settling down in Canada, where he played a minor role in British military intrigues and shipping but was mostly remembered for being an incredibly bitter and unpleasant man. A foot note to his downfall has more recently come to light with the theory that it was his young and ambitious wife who actually led him into the world of espionage and ultimate downfall.

7) ALDRICH AMES
The most damaging mole in CIA history and believed to be the most damaging spy in American history in general (until the discovery of the FBI's Robert Hanssen several years later), Aldrich Ames first started working for the Russians in 1985. Nine years later, the CIA noticed that one of their analysts was a $60,000 per year desk worker who owned a $50,000 Jaguar and a $540,000 house, both of which he had paid for in cash, and credit card debt with a minimum monthly payment of more than his monthly salary. They belatedly realized that these just might be signs of a man with more than one source of income. After making sure that Ames hadn't recently inherited a fortune from some previously unknown relative, the CIA arrested him. He casually admitted that he had sold the Soviets information that had resulted in the exposure of over a hundred Western agents behind the Iron Curtain, several of whom had been executed based on his information. Ames pleaded guilty to dodge the death penalty and the American intelligence apparatus breathed a sigh of relief knowing that their worst leak had successfully been patched up…but that feeling of relief wouldn't last long.

6) ROBERT HANSSEN
A computer and wiretapping expert, Robert Hanssen rose to the top levels of the FBI hierarchy even though he was actively spying for the Soviet and Russian Federation governments for all but the first three years of his career. His work compromised hundreds of American counter-espionage investigations and earned him over $1.4 million from grateful KGB and GRU agents. Using a system of code names and dead drops to exchange information and cash, Hanssen maintained a much lower profile than Ames and would have never been caught if his brother-in-law (also an FBI agent) hadn't spotted a gigantic stack of money on Hanssen's nightstand during a visit. When arrested in 2001 after twenty-two years as a double agent, Hanssen is reported to have said, "What took you so long?"

5) EZRA POUND
American expatriate Ezra Pound was a revolutionary poet and literary critic, a personal friend to nearly all the American and British writers of the time, and a proud and committed fascist. Pound blamed the international banking system for World War I, which disillusioned and embittered him, and he felt that the experimental system of "social credit" that was needed to replace the banks could only be implemented by a fascist government. After moving to Italy and meeting Mussolini, Pound began working less on his poetry and more on his economic and social lectures and pamphlets, where he increasingly replaced the term "international banking" with "international Jewry" and his articles or letters would end with the salutation, "Heil Hitler." During the invasion of Italy in World War II, Pound convinced the government of Rome to allow him to make propaganda broadcasts to American troops, which were of dubious value as his voice was described as "like the sound of a hornet stuck in a jar" and there were few poetry aficionados in the army at the time to know who he was. Arrested in 1945 by partisan troops, Pound endured harsh conditions in an American prison camp outside Pisa, an experience that allegedly drove him insane (or more so, according to some) and left him unfit to stand trial. After his release from a Pennsylvania mental asylum in 1958, Pound returned to Italy to live out the rest of his days in bitterness and failing health.

4) FRITZ JULIUS KUHN
Born in Germany but living and working in America since 1928, Fritz Kuhn was the man in charge of the infamous U.S. Nazi group, the German-American Bund. An enthusiastic supporter of Hitler's ideas on racial purity and the fascist system, Kuhn was also a fan of Hitler's political style. Bund gatherings were known for dramatic outbursts of violence in a way America had never seen before. Ironically, Hitler wasn't much of a fan of Kuhn and his makeshift Nazi party—the dictator wanted Nazi influence in America to be powerful, but not so powerful that it might backfire and draw America into the war. The Bund's front-page antics weren't falling in line with that goal. Eventually, Kuhn was taken down by a New York City tax investigation that showed he had embezzled $14,000 from his own organization. When he emerged from that jail sentence, he was immediately arrested for being an enemy agent. Kuhn was released at the war's end and returned to Germany a bitter, broken man.

3) AMERICAN WAFFEN-SS VOLUNTEERS
One of the stranger details about Germany's Nazi-run Schutzstaffel (more commonly known as the SS) was that it formed a number of volunteer and propaganda divisions of decidedly non-German and sometimes even non-Aryan ethnicities. For years there were rumors of a so-called "George Washington Brigade" made up entirely of renegade Americans. The GWB turned out to be a myth, but it was a myth reinforced by the occasional discovery of SS troops with American accents or names, who often turned out to be not just naturalized citizens but born on American soil. It's impossible to know for sure how many Americans fought for the Nazis as records are unavailable after May of 1940.

2) MARTIN JAMES MONTI
One particularly noteworthy American SS was Army Air Force pilot Martin James Monti, who in October of 1944 hitchhiked and transferred his way to an Italian airbase, stole a fast reconnaissance plane and promptly flew it north into Axis hands to defect. Searching around for something to do, Monti made a few propaganda broadcasts under the name Martine Wiehaupt, but his radio voice was lacking and he eventually became an SS sergeant in the closing weeks of the war. Nobody is quite sure of Monti's motivation or why he chose to defect to a country that was clearly losing the war. He served a brief jail sentence before being released back into the Army, where he kept a low profile and managed to make sergeant by 1948 before the FBI caught up with him. He served the next twenty-five years in prison.

1) AARON BURR
Burr was vice president to Thomas Jefferson, back when the president and the vice president tended to be from opposing political parties. They spent a lot of time yelling at each other. He who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel. What most school history lessons don't really cover is that Burr became so unpopular after essentially murdering his political opponent that he decided his career was over unless he did something really dramatic. He formulated a plan to take control of the Texas and Louisiana Territories with groups of armed farmers and the help of sympathetic army officers and possibly even invade either Mexico or Washington, D.C. if he could talk Spain into the deal. Unfortunately for Burr, Jefferson had been keeping an eye on his former vice president, and various state district attorneys were busy collecting evidence of the so-called Burr Conspiracy.

The hammer finally dropped after Burr's co-conspirator, General James Wilkinson, sent Congress the deciphered text of a letter Burr had written of a planned attack on several important Mississippi River towns. Upon seeing his treasonous letter published in full in a New Orleans newspaper including a reward for his capture, Burr abandoned his tiny army and attempted to hide in the vast marshes of the Louisiana Territory. Aaron Burr was eventually captured by troops from Fort Stoddard and delivered to Richmond, Virginia for his trial at the Supreme Court. Despite Jefferson's desire to have Burr executed, a stubborn Chief Justice John Marshall eventually threw the case out based on technicalities. The case became one of the earliest tests of Constitutional law and the limiting of the executive branch. Burr briefly exiled himself to Europe, but returned later under an assumed name to try and start anew. True to form, he was pestering various governments with plans to conquer Mexico and installing himself as governor, even under his new identity. He died hounded by creditors from both his old life and the new one.

And this brings us to a recent headline story…Edward Snowden—American traitor or patriotic whistle-blower?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

11 FAMOUS FEMALE SPIES FROM HISTORY

Mata Hari
My blog from May 21 was about ten spies you probably never heard of, both men and women, ranging from the American Revolutionary War through World War II.

That was the first of a 4-part blog series interrupted by the release of MISSION INSECURE, the first book of my new erotic fantasy series, Fallen Angel Chronicles (blog weeks of May 28 and June 4). This week I'm continuing with my spy themed blogs with a list of female spies (in addition to the women who were on my May 21 blog list) from the Civil War, World War I and World War II.  And four of them were genuine celebrities, three of them at the time and one became famous later. All four were popular and well known for something other than being spies.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here's this week's list of eleven female spies.

11)  Violette Szabo—World War II
Ever heard of the video game Velvet Assassin?  The game was inspired by her story as a Special Operations agent.  Born in France, she and her family moved to London where she married a French soldier. When he was killed in battle two years later, she joined the service.  As a secret agent, she parachuted into France and planned the sabotage of a railroad, disrupted enemy communication, and passed along strategic information.  She was captured by the Nazis, tortured, and sent to a concentration camp where she was executed at the age of only twenty-three.  Her story became a book and movie titled Carve Her Name With Pride.

10)  Stephanie von Hohenlohe—World War II
She managed to insert herself into high society wherever she went.  An affair with a member of the Austrian royal family resulted in her pregnancy.  She was quickly married off to a minor German nobleman.  After the marriage ended, she became a fixture in the London social scene and later was a go-between for the Nazi regime and high-placed sympathizers in England.  She was often called upon to offer advice and services to Hitler in spite of the fact that she was Jewish, a fact Hitler knew.  She followed a lover to the U.S. where she was considered so dangerous that she was detained until the end of World War II.

9)  Noor Inayat Khan—World War II
Known by the code name Madeleine, Russian-born of Indian and American descent, she served as a radio operator in the French resistance.  When the Nazis raided her communication headquarters, she avoided detection but was later betrayed and interrogated.  She was transferred to Dachau where she was killed at age thirty.  A book about her life, Spy Princess, is being developed into a movie.

8)  Belle Boyd—U.S. Civil War
Known as Cleopatra of the Secession, she ran a hotel in Virginia.  As a girl she began working to defend the South, charming secrets out of Union soldiers stationed near the hotel then delivering them to Confederate officials.  Arrested, then freed, she eventually ended up traveling around the country telling her stories of espionage.

7)  Virginia Hall—World War II
Educated at Harvard and Columbia with a goal of joining the Foreign Service…until a shooting accident on a hunting trip resulted in a partial amputation on her leg and a limp when wearing her prosthesis.  She signed up for the British Special Ops and later for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA).  She discovered and passed along important military information and trained resistance fighters.  On one mission she was forced to escape to Spain in winter through the mountains on foot.  A book about her was released in 2008, The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy.

6)  Krystyna Skarbek—World War II
After the Nazi's invaded her native Poland, she volunteered for British Special Operations.  Under the name of Christine Granville, using her expertise as a skier, she transported information between Poland and Hungary through the mountains.  And she could be considered the original Bond girl—Ian Fleming is said to have based several of his femme fatales on her.  After retiring from Special Ops, she worked on a cruise ship and was killed in 1952 by a coworker whose advances she had rejected.

5)  Marlene Dietrich (movie star)—World War II
German born, she became a U.S. citizen in 1939.  She volunteered for the OSS and, in addition to entertaining troops on the front lines as did many celebrities, she also broadcast nostalgic songs as propaganda to German troops who were battle weary.  She was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

4)  Josephine Baker (nightclub singer/dancer)—World War II
From St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to France to escape the racial prejudice she had been subjected to in the U.S.  She became a French citizen.  As a popular and much loved entertainer in France, she used her celebrity working for the French resistance.  The Nazis were so dazzled by her that they allowed her freedom of movement without thinking to check her sheet music where French resistance secrets were written in invisible ink.  She helped to break down countless barriers for African-American women in her adopted country and also in the U.S. [she was an important figure in the U.S. civil rights movement].

3)  Julia McWilliams Child (TV's The French Chef)—World War II
She wanted to join the WACs or the WAVES but was turned down because of her 6'2" height.  So, she went to work for the OSS in research and development at their Washington, DC, headquarters.  She helped develop a workable shark repellent used by downed flight crews and later for the U.S. space missions with water landings.  She also supervised an OSS facility in China.  She handled countless top secret documents prior to becoming famous as television's gourmet cook.

2)  Hedy Lamarr (movie star)—World War II
Born in Vienna, Austria, she made her film debut in 1933's Ecstasy.  She fled the approaching storm clouds of war in Europe, landing a contract with MGM studios.  But she was more than just a pretty face and an actress.  She was also a brilliant mathematician with a unique ability in problem solving. In addition to using her celebrity to raise millions of dollars in war bonds, she was an inventor.  She teamed with Hollywood composer George Antheil and invented a frequency hopping method for steering a torpedo. Today, her invention is the basis for frequency hopping used for wireless phones in our homes, GPS, and most military communication systems.

And probably the most famous (or infamous) female spy of all time:
1)  Mata Hari—World War I
A spy legend so evocative that the mere mention of the name says it all.  James Bond certainly falls into that category, but he's a fictional character.  Mata Hari was real.  Born in the Netherlands as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle.  She responded to a newspaper ad seeking a wife, married an older man, and moved to Indonesia.  An unhappy marriage and a fascination with the local culture turned her into a performer named Mata Hari.  After her return to Europe, she became a sensation in Paris with her exotic dancing, skimpy costumes and sexy demeanor…wildly popular with some and scandalous with others.  During World War I she traveled freely throughout Europe and was ultimately accused of being a German spy.  She was arrested and executed by a French firing squad in 1917.  She claimed she was spying for the French, not the Germans.  Neither accusation (French spy or German spy) was ever conclusively proven but current theory says she was working for the French who decided she had become a liability.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A CONVERSATION WITH DAMIAN FONTAINE -- Mission Insecure/Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my erotic fantasy series. Immortal Damian Fontaine was permanently banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INSECURE, book #1 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series is available now (released June 2, 2017). Caitlin Montieth—a woman cruelly betrayed by a man she loved. Can Fallen Angel Damian Fontaine rescue her from a self-imposed isolated existence, restore her self-confidence, and return her to the passionate woman who at one time enjoyed a fulfilling life?


This week I'm welcoming Damian Fontaine to my blog. Good morning, Damian.

And good morning to you, Samantha. [extends his hand]

[accepts handshake] This is something different for me. I've interviewed an immortal before, Devon Bainbridge who is a witch and a high priest as presented in HIS MAGICK TOUCH, but never a fallen angel. Or do you prefer to be called an immortal?

Just Damian will do. I have a very close friend, Rhiannon, who is a witch of the ancient bloodline. We've been very close for about four hundred years. I must admit being interviewed is different for me, too. Public attention and recognition is not something I seek. Even though I've been immortal for over a thousand years and banished to earth eight hundred years ago, I try to always project an image of today in order to blend in regardless of the decade or century. I do not make my true identity known. My day-to-day interactions with mortals do not require me to divulge that I'm immortal.

You are not what I was expecting. I'm surprised—you seem totally flesh-and-blood human. About 6'2", dark hair, green eyes, a solid handshake, skin warm to the touch, you're not transparent, you don't glow—

[spontaneous laugh] Were you expecting something akin to one of your Halloween ghosts?

[joins his laughter] When I said you weren't what I was expecting, I guess I meant I didn't know what to expect.

As I understand it, you want to talk to me about my self-proclaimed missions. And today, specifically about Caitlin Montieth—the subject of MISSION INSECURE.

Yes, but let's start by clarifying your status as a fallen angel. It's my understanding that the charges against you consisted of continued illicit activities with both mortals and immortals, associating with unholy entities such as witches and vampires, wild excesses of the flesh, decadence without remorse. That the pronouncement in your case was no hope of redemption. Is that an accurate assessment?

In one word…yes. Since banishment is seldom reversed, I set about creating my missions as a way of coping with eternity on earth and attempting to make the human existence better for those I can help.

Let's talk about your missions, specifically Mission Insecure. Who is Caitlin Montieth and why did you select her for one of your missions?

All human vibration and thought travels through the universe. I tune into those waves of energy, refining and sorting until I've zeroed in on the person I feel is most in need of my special type of help at that time.

What type of help are we talking about?

I help people who need my assistance in achieving the hidden sexual desires and fantasies that fear, inhibitions, intimidations, cultural restrictions, or simple embarrassment has kept secreted away.

And Caitlin?

She was a bit different from my normal missions. A woman of forty, wealthy and beautiful, who at one time led a full life including a passionate sex life. A woman who, for the last ten years, had been withdrawn and isolated—by choice. She was engaged to a man who turned out to be in love with her money rather than her. The betrayal and emotional upheaval robbed her of her self-confidence and sent her into a hermit-like existence—constantly protecting her fragile emotions and ever fearful of someone taking advantage of her again.

How do you go about initiating your missions if you don't announce your status as a fallen angel and your purpose for being there?

I study my subject for a period of time, maybe just a few days and occasionally as long as a month—every place they go, everything they do, what they think and feel—then arrange a situation to initiate that first contact.

How did you orchestrate your initial meeting with Caitlin and what happened then?

[grins mischievously]  I can only say that it was a rainy day in Seattle that started with Caitlin hitting me with her car. I'm not at liberty to say anything beyond that. But, if you read the book, you'll know.

Fair enough. Thank you for being with us, Damian. I hope you'll be able to return in a month when your next story, MISSION INNOCENCE, is available.

It will be my pleasure, Samantha.
BLURB:
Fallen Angel, Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Wealthy Caitlin Montieth doesn’t fit that definition. But having once enjoyed an uninhibited sex life, she experienced a cruel betrayal of her love and trust. She has withdrawn to the security of a solitary life. She doesn’t trust anyone. She avoids meeting new people and social situations. And each day she sinks further into her self-imposed loneliness and isolation.

Can Damian restore her self-confidence and return her to the passionate woman who formerly enjoyed life to the fullest?

Available at The Wilder Roses (Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press):
Also available at other online vendors.

Stop by my website for excerpts from Mission Insecure as well as information about my other books.   www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MISSION INSECURE—book #1 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles

Fallen Angel Chronicles is my new erotic fantasy series from The Wilder Roses www.thewilderroses.com (the Scarlet Rose erotic line from The Wild Rose Press). The first three books are being released approximately one month apart.
Book #1—MISSION INSECURE release date 6/2/2017
Book #2—MISSION INNOCENCE release date 6/30/2017
Book #3—MISSION INEVITABLE release date 8/4/2017

Fallen Angel Chronicles details Damian Fontains's various missions involving mortals. Damian was banished to earth eight hundred years ago as a Fallen Angel. His transgression? A hedonistic existence. His self-proclaimed mission? To help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that has eluded them.

MISSION INSECURE—book #1 of the Fallen Angel Chronicles series, available June 2, 2017.

BLURB:
Fallen Angel Damian Fontaine was banished from heaven for too often indulging in sex with humans. He has made the best of his eight hundred years on earth by creating missions to help repressed mortals find the sexually fulfilling life that eludes them.

Wealthy Caitlin Montieth doesn’t fit that definition. Having once enjoyed an uninhibited sex life, she experienced a cruel betrayal of her love and trust. She has withdrawn to the security of a solitary life. She doesn’t trust anyone. She avoids meeting new people and social situations. And each day she sinks further into her self-imposed loneliness and isolation.

Can Damian restore her self-confidence and return her to the passionate woman who formerly enjoyed life to the fullest?

R-EXCERPT #3: (first kiss):
Almost as if he somehow knew her secret desire, his mouth came down on hers before she could say anything. A kiss that gave all…and more. It promised the world without making demands on her. A kiss that spoke loudly of what he wanted but made it clear the decision was hers.

He pulled her into his embrace, holding her body tightly against his. A body that was everything she knew it would be—hard chest with solid abs, strong arms and shoulders. A growing erection—inviting, impressive, and very exciting.

Her arms wound around his neck, an impulsive action she couldn’t have stopped even if she wanted to. He thrust his tongue between her lips, and she opened her mouth to welcome the invasion. The texture of his tongue meshed with hers, sending surges of delight coursing through her body.

His hand slipped down her back and cupped her ass cheek. At that moment, all thoughts flew out of her head. All but one.

With great difficulty, she broke off the kiss. “I can’t…this isn’t…” Her words came out in a breathless rush. “I must go. I’m sorry…I didn’t mean for this to happen. I don’t even know you.”

“It seemed to me we were doing a good job of getting acquainted.”

She pushed back from him. “Don’t patronize me. I resent having someone make fun of me."


Next week, my blog features an interview with Damian Fontaine. I've never met a fallen angel let alone interviewed one, so I'm not sure what to expect. Stop by to see what happens and what Damian has to say about the series of books sharing his missions.

MISSION INSECURE—Book #1 of Fallen Angel Chronicles, my erotic fantasy series from The Wilder Roses (the Scarlet Rose erotic line at The Wild Rose Press)

Check out my website for additional excerpts from MISSION INSECURE as well as information about my other books.  www.samanthagentry.com

Sunday, May 21, 2017

10 SPIES YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF

We've all heard of the famous (or infamous) Mata Hari, executed by the French in 1917 as a German spy. And Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary War spy who said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country," right before the British hanged him in 1776 at age twenty-one.

But history is filled with spies whose names are virtually unknown.  In most instances anonymity is vital to success—an unknown name and an appearance that blends in with everyone else rather than the flamboyance of the fictional James Bond.

I read a brief mention about a female spy from World War II who died in August 2011 at the age of ninety-eight, someone I had never heard of, and that led me to a list of ten spies who are not household names.

1)  Nancy Wake:  Flirted her way through checkpoints and karate chopped a Nazi guard to death.
This is the female spy mentioned above who survived her World War II spy assignments and lived to be ninety-eight years old. In the 1930s, a young Australian journalist went to Germany to report on the rise of fascism and interview Hitler. The atrocities she witnessed changed her life forever. She settled in France and with the Nazi invasion in 1940 she joined the resistance movement, helping thousands of Jewish refugees and Allied servicemen escape to Spain. In 1943, with the Nazis closing in on her, she escaped to Spain and later to Britain where she convinced agents to train her as a spy and guerilla operative. In 1944 she parachuted into France leading a band of seven thousand resistance fighters where she coordinated guerilla activities prior to D-Day. She rose to the top of the Gestapo's most wanted list. She killed a German guard with one karate chop to his neck, executed a female German spy, shot her way through roadblocks, and biked seventy hours through enemy held territory to deliver radio codes for the Allies.

2)  Boris Yuzhin:  Used a camera concealed in a cigarette lighter to leak KGB secrets to the FBI.
In July 1975, the KGB sent Boris to San Francisco where he posed as a visiting scholar and later as a news reporter. His indoctrination said America was the enemy, but to his surprise he felt right at home and eventually grew to question his own country's policies. By 1978 he had become a double agent, supplying information about KGB operations in California to the FBI. His career as a double agent ended in 1986 when Aldrich Ames, the infamous CIA officer who had been spying for the Soviets, identified Boris which landed him in a Siberian prison for six years at a time when Soviet traitors were almost always executed.  Boris is still alive and living in Santa Rosa, California, north of San Francisco.

3)  Marthe Cnockaert:  Healed Germans to help the British during World War I.
In 1914, German troops destroyed the small Belgian village where twenty-two year old Marthe lived. Although sympathetic to the Allies, she was desperate for work to support her family. She found a job in a makeshift hospital for wounded German soldiers and earned the German Iron Cross for her medical services. A neighbor approached her about spying for the British, a role she soon embraced. For two years she coaxed secrets from German officers, arranged the murder of a German who tried to recruit her as a German spy, blew up a German ammunitions depot, directed airplane strikes and helped POWs escape. She was eventually discovered and imprisoned for two years. She was later honored by Winston Churchill and wrote a book about her wartime experiences.

4)  Eugene Bullard:  Spied on Nazi officers who visited his Paris nightclub.
Eugene Jacques Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1894.  As a teenager, he stowed away to Europe and supported himself as a prize fighter and interpreter. With the start of World War I, he joined the French army and became the world's first black fighter pilot. He later married the daughter of a French countess, opened a nightclub in Paris, and socialized with Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, and Ernest Hemingway. He served his adoptive country again in World War II when he joined the French resistance movement. He used his fluency in German to spy on Nazis who frequented his nightclub. The Germans spoke freely in front of him, believing that nonwhites were incapable of understanding their language. He helped defend the city of Orleans, sustained serious injuries, and was medically evacuated to the U.S. along with his two daughters. While a hero in France, in the U.S. he finally found work as an elevator operator. He died in 1961 at the age of sixty-seven, just two years after France named him a Knight of the Legion of Honor.

5)  Anna Smith Strong:  Used laundry to arrange clandestine meetings during the American Revolution.
In 1778, George Washington instructed a young cavalry officer named Benjamin Tallmadge to establish a spy network to operate behind enemy lines on New York's Long Island. His spy group, the Culper Spy Ring, became the war's most effective spy operation. Anna Smith Strong became a vital link between agents on Long Island and Washington's headquarters in Connecticut. She would hang specific pieces of laundry on her clothes line at certain times to send messages and arrange meetings according to a coded system. [Interesting that a man whose reputation was one of honesty—I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree—was responsible for the formation of our first spy operation.]

6)  Juan Pujol Garcia:  Helped ensure the Allies success on D-Day.
Juan Garcia, a Spanish businessman, earned the trust of high ranking Nazi officials who knew him by the code name Arabel. They were paying him to run an elaborate spy network which included a Dutch airline steward, a British censor for the Ministry of Information and a U.S. soldier in England, all of whom were gathering information that Garcia would transmit to Berlin. In reality, Garcia was a British double agent named Garbo who supplied the Germans with secrets designed to distract them from genuine military plans. June 9, 1944, was Garcia's most important moment of distraction. He sent his German contacts an urgent message saying the D-Day landings were only a diversion, that the real invasion would be at Pas de Calais. As a result, Hitler kept his best units stationed in the Calais area instead of sending them to Normandy as backup where the Allies were turning the tide of the war. [I saw a documentary about this man that was absolutely fascinating. He had the Nazi brass so totally believing his spy efforts that when he reported one of his fictitious spy ring members had died, the Nazis actually sent money for the fictitious spy's fictitious widow.]

7)  Elizabeth Van Lew:  Led a spy ring for the Union during the U.S. Civil War.
Even though Elizabeth was raised in a wealthy slave-holding family in Richmond, Virginia, she developed strong anti-slavery sympathies after attending a Quaker school in Philadelphia.  With the advent of the Civil War, she went on her own to visit captured Union solders, helping some escape and gathering information from prisoners and guards about Confederate strategy. In 1863, Union General Benjamin Butler recruited her as a spy and she soon became head of an entire spy network based in Richmond. She sent coded messages using invisible ink and hiding them in hollowed-out eggs or vegetables. In 1865 when Richmond fell to the Union forces, she flew the Stars and Stripes above her home.

8)  John Scobell:  Posed as a slave to gather information behind Confederate lines during the U.S. Civil War.
A former slave from Mississippi, John worked for Allan Pinkerton as an undercover officer. Pinkerton headed the Union intelligence services [prior to starting the famous Pinkerton detective agency].  John completed many top-secret missions, often playing the part of a cook, field hand, or butler. He also persuaded members of a clandestine slave organization to act as couriers and report on local conditions. Pinkerton specifically mentioned John in his memoirs, describing an incident when John was pretending to be the servant of a female Union operative. When Confederate agents opened fire on them, he single-handedly fought off the Confederates, killing several and saving the female operative's life and his own.

9)  Yehudit Nessyahu:  Helped bring Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann to justice.
Yehudit was born in Holland in 1925 and moved to Israel as a young girl. In the 1950s she participated in a covert operation to smuggle Jews out of Morocco using the persona of a wealthy and eccentric Dutch transplant. In the 1960s she was the only woman on the legendary Mossad team responsible for capturing Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann who was living in Argentina under a false name. She died in 2003.

10)  James Rivington:  Printed a loyalist newspaper but secretly spied for George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
An English bookseller and publisher who relocated to New York's Wall Street after his London business failed. Was he a staunch backer of the British Crown or the American Revolution's most unlikely supporter? With the escalation of tensions between the colonists and the British monarchy, he denounced the rebels in his newspaper, Rivington's Gazette. In 1775, his articles incited a mob of revolutionaries to burn his house and destroy his press. Two years later he returned from a stay in England. According to recent scholarly discoveries, he had switched sides and worked as a spy for the revolutionaries. A coffeehouse located next to his rebuilt shop was a meeting place for high-ranking British officers. Documents from the period suggest the recent convert printer shared their secrets directly with George Washington.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quirky Questions Tourists Ask

Part 2 of my 2-part blog about travel trivia shares some quirky questions asked by tourists.

At one time or another when we were in school, we've probably all heard a teacher say that there are no stupid questions in an attempt to get us to express our curiosity about something without being embarrassed because we don't already know the answer.

However, as an adult that old adage doesn't apply to all situations.  The travel industry is filled with weird, quirky, and in some cases just plain stupid questions asked by tourists.  Here's a sampling of some from various sources.

Actual Questions Asked On Cruise Ships:
Does the crew sleep on board?
Is the island surrounded by water?
What happens to the ice sculptures after they melt?
What time is the 2 o'clock tour?
Can you see the equator from the deck?
I know that ships often serve smoked salmon, but I am a non-smoker.
Can the iced tea be served hot?
Will I get wet if I go snorkeling?
Does the outside cabin mean it's outside the ship?
Where is the good shopping in Antarctica?

And cruise ships aren't the only place that tourists seem to have absurd questions.  Here are some actual questions received by Australians from foreigners, along with some well-deserved replies given to the questioner.

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (question from the UK)
A:  We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q:  Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (question from USA)
A:  Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q:  I want to walk from Perth to Sydney—can I follow the railroad tracks? (question from Sweden)
A:  Sure, it's only 3000 miles, take lots of water.

Q:  Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (question from the UK)
A:  What did your last slave die of?

Q:  Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (question from USA)
A:  A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.  Aus-tra-lia is the big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not…oh forget it.  Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night at Kings Cross.  Come naked.

Q:  Which direction is north in Australia? (question from USA)
A:  Face south and then turn 180 degrees.  Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q:  Can I wear high heels in Australia? (question from the UK)
A:  You're a British politician, right?

Q:  Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (question from Germany)
A:  No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers.  Milk is illegal.

Q:  Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (question from Italy)
A:  Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q:  Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (question from France)
A:  Only at Christmas.

The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom put together an international list "of the most inexplicably simple queries fielded by tourism officials."
Are there any lakes in the Lake District?
Why on earth did they build Windsor Castle on the flight path for Heathrow?
Is Wales closed during the winter?
Why did they build so many ruined castles and abbeys in England?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?

And here are some tourist questions asked at Niagara Falls:
What time do the falls shut off?
How far into Canada do I have to go before we have to drive on the other side of the road?
How much does it cost to get into Canada and are children a different price?

And here are some goodies from Minnesota:
I'm coming in July and I want snowmobile rental information.
We want to tour the Edmund Fitzgerald. (the ship sank in a storm in Lake Superior in 1975)
One traveler asked to see the bridge in Minnesota with the arches.  She was shown various photos, none of which were the bridge she was looking for.  She finally identified a picture of the St. Louis Gateway Arch as the bridge she wanted to see.  She was given directions to Missouri.

And finally…these tidbits.
One tourist to Scotland asked what time they fed the Loch Ness Monster.  Another visitor to New York City thought they would end up in Holland if they drove through the Holland Tunnel.  A traveler in Miami asked a tourism official which beach was closest to the ocean.

So…I guess the bottom line is to maybe think about that question a second time before you actually ask it.   :)