Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cover Reveal : The Bridge of Deaths by Author M.C.V. Egan


"M.C.V. Egan twists truth and fiction until you question your perceptions.. it is a story of real love, triumph and search for self." - Beckah Boyd @ The Truthful Tarot

On August 15th, 1939, an English passenger plane from British Airways Ltd. crashed in Danish waters between the towns of Nykøbing Falster and Vordingborg. There were five casualties reported and one survivor. Just two weeks before, Hitler invaded Poland. With the world at the brink of war, the manner in which this incident was investigated left much open to doubt. The jurisdiction battle between the two towns and the newly formed Danish secret police created an atmosphere of intrigue and distrust.

The Bridge of Deaths is a love story and a mystery. Fictional characters travel through the world of past life regressions and information acquired from psychics as well as archives and historical sources to solve "one of those mysteries that never get solved."

Based on true events and real people, The Bridge of Deaths is the culmination of 18 years of sifting through conventional and unconventional sources in Denmark, England, Mexico and the United States. The story finds a way to help the reader feel that s/he is also sifting through data and forming their own conclusions.

Cross The Bridge of Deaths into 1939, and dive into cold Danish waters to uncover the secrets of the G-AESY.

Learn more about this book and the special 75th anniversary re-release at

Join us as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the crash of the G-AESY and the start of World War II with a month-long history-laden event that will entertain, educate, and enlighten you! As part of this event, a revised version of The Bridge of Deaths, this award-winning and highly-acclaimed account of the events of that fateful day in 1939, will be re-released.

If you would like to be a part of the month-long anniversary event from September 1 to September 30, please go here: :

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M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Vergara Egan. Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. From a very young age, she became obsessed with the story of her maternal grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo--mostly the story of how he died. She spent her childhood in Mexico. When her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. in the early 1970s, she moved with her entire family to the United States.

Catalina was already fluent in English, as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award, despite being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977.

She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France, at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (the Swedish kind, not the football player kind), Catalina moved to Sweden, where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She then returned to the USA, where she has lived ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son who, together with their five-pound Chihuahua, makes her feel like a full-time mother. Although she would not call herself an astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in the subject.

She celebrated her 52nd birthday on July 2nd, 2011, and gave herself self-publishing <em>The Bridge of Deaths</em> as a gift.

Find M.C.V. Egan and The Bridge of Deaths at>.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Mynarski Lancaster

If you don't already know, there are only two airworthy, flying Lancaster Bombers in the world. Here in England, we have one of them. It's stationed at RAF Coningsby and is flown by our very own RAF team, used mainly for fly pasts and air shows. The second, is based in Canada. It's known as the Mynarski Lancaster, dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski, a Canadian gunner serving in the RCAF during the Second World War.

During the war, thousands of Canadian airmen and ground crew served with the RAF and RCAF Lancaster Squadrons throughout the UK. Meanwhile, back home in Canada, many Lancasters were being produced by workers at the Victory Aircraft factory in Malton, Toronto.

So, this particular Lancaster is painted in the same colours as the one P/O Mynarski flew with RCAF No.419 (Moose) Squadron.
Photo: Landing in Keflavik, Iceland after a 7 hr, 40 minute flight yesterday.  The aircraft ran beautifully.  The aircraft and crew were greeted by Canada's Ambassador to Iceland,  Colonel Marc Bigaouette (RCAF Advisor to the UK & Defence Attache to Iceland) as well as special invited guests.   The Lancaster will make a quick flight over to Reykjavik, Iceland today landing at approx. 10:30 am to be put on public display for a few hours before returning to Keflavik.  Departure from Iceland is set for early Friday for a 1:30 pm (BST) arrival at RAF Coningsby.
Touchdown in Iceland, en route to UK, 06/08/14.
Andrew Mynarski
Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski was born in Winnipeg in 1916 and joined the RCAF in 1941. In 1944, he was posted to No.419 Squadron RCAF, based in the North of England, at Middleton-St. George. It was here that he completed twelve operational flights as a Mid Upper Gunner, being promoted to Pilot Officer on June 11th, 1944. His thirteenth mission, on June 13th, was the marshalling yards at Cambrai, France. After successfully evading the searchlights, the Lancaster was attacked by a Ju-88 Nightfighter. Both port engines were hit and the Lancaster was set ablaze.

The Pilot gave the order to jump and after allowing a reasonable time for his crew to escape, he finally jumped from a low altitude of around 800 feet. Unbeknown to the Pilot, the rear gunner was trapped in his turret. His name was Pat Brophy. As Mynarski had made his way to the rear escape hatch, he turned and saw Brophy through the plexiglass of the rear turret. In order to reach him, Mynarski had to crawl on his hands and knees, straight through blazing hydraulic fluid. By the time he reached his friend, his uniform and parachute were ablaze.

Axe used by Mynarski to try and free Brophy from his turret - 419 (Moose Sqdn)He grabbed a fire axe, and tried to smash the turret free, but to no avail. By now, Mynarski was on fire from the waist down. Brophy told him to get out and save himself. Mynarski, realising that he could not help, crawled back to the escape hatch, back through the blazing hydraulic fluid, anguish etched upon his face, keeping his eyes on Brophy the whole time. Upon reaching the hatch, he stood up and saluted Brophy. He then said something, which, although Brophy could not hear the words, he knew what Mynarski said. 'Goodnight, Sir.'

Somehow, as the Lancaster descended, finally crashing in a field in France, Brophy survived in his turret and was rescued. Tragically, Mynarski was so badly burned that he died from his injuries. The remainder of the crew survived. After the war, when his crew told the story, Mynarski was awarded the Victoria Cross, posthumously.

Later, Pat Brophy said, "I'll always believe that a divine providence intervened to save me because of what I had seen, so that the world might know of a gallant man who laid down his life for a friend."
It was said in retrospect that on June 12th, 1943, whilst sitting outside on the grass in the June sunshine, the crew had discussed the impending 13th mission, scheduled for the 13th and Andy Mynarski found a four leaf clover, picking it and passing it to his friend, Pat Brophy. It seems that the intended good luck charm worked as it had been intended.

The official citation, printed in the London Gazette in 1946, states:

'Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that in trying to free the rear gunner he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this, with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went to the rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order.'
Statue of P/O Mynarski VC at Middleton-St. George.
 rear gunner had a miraculous escape when the aircAndrew raft crashed. He subsequently testified that, had Pilot Officer Mynarski not attempted to save his The "Andrew Mynarski Memorial Lancaster" was restored to flying condition by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario. 
comrade's life, he could have left the aircraft in safety and would, doubtless, have escaped death.
Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that in trying to free the rear gunner he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this, with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went to the rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order.
The London Gazette, 11th October 1946

Andrew Mynarski was the second son, born to Polish immigrants. Following the death of his father, at the age of sixteen, he was forced to seek employment to support his mother and siblings. He became a leather worker prior to enlisting in the RCAF in 1941. According to his friends, he was a happy, quiet chap who enjoyed working with his hands, designing furniture in his spare time. Family and friends called him 'Andy.'

And it is in memory of Andy Mynarski VC and all the brave men of Bomber Command, that this beautiful and poignant Lancaster has made the trip from her usual home in Canada, to the UK, where she is destined to arrive on Friday the 8th August 2014 at approximately 13:30 hours, touching down at RAF Coningsby, where she can expect to receive the most fantastic reception.

Andrew Mynarski with flight squadron - Air Force Heritage & History
Mynarski and Crew - Air Force Heritage & History.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Women At War

The Night Witches

America had Amelia Earhart. Britain had Amy Johnson, and Russia had Marina Raskova. "Who?" I hear some ask, whilst others will know straight away. Aviatrixes. Record breaking female pilots. Whilst Amelia Earhart tragically went missing during a flight in 1937, Britain's Amy Johnson signed up during Word War Two to fly with the ATA, tragically losing her life in the Thames Estuary on a freezing day in January 1941. Marina Raskova, often regarded as the Russian Amelia Earhart, was the first woman to become a navigator with the Soviet Air Force in 1933. One year later, she began teaching at the Zhukovskii Air Academy, again the first woman to do so.

Marina Raskova
When WW2 broke out, many female pilots volunteered for service, but their applications were blocked. It seemed that they were actively discouraged from serving their country and of course it would seem that this was merely a sign of the times. After all, female pilots were not engaged in active service in America or Britain either. They were, however flying with the ATA, delivering essential aircraft to air bases around the UK, and so were always flying beneath the constant cloak of danger. The Americans had their own select group of female pilots, known as the WASPS, again engaged in a similar role to Britain's ATA.

In 1941, things radically changed. The Soviet Union was invaded by Hitler's German army in the summer. The Naziz waged a war of annihilation. By November that year, they were about nineteen miles short of Moscow and Leningrad was under siege. Three million Russians were now prisoners of war and the Soviet air force was badly in need of recruits.

Marina Raskova recognised the worth of the female pilots in warfare, and was rumoured to have  used her personal connections with Joseph Stalin, to convince the military of the merits of having an air squadron of women. In all, three combat regiments were formed. Not only did they have all female pilots, but the engineers and ground crew were also women. The Soviet Union was the first country to allow female pilots to engage in battle, and the three regiments flew a combined total of more than twenty three thousand sorties, dropping 23000 tonnes of bombs upon the German army over four years, aiding their retreat back to Berlin. There were two fighter aces and twenty three women were awarded the title, Hero of the Soviet Union. By the end of the war, thirty women had given their lives in battle.
The regiments were as follows:

The 588th Fighter Aviation Regiment, which began in April 1942, the first in operation.
The 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, which was widely feared by the Luftwaffe, who referred to the pilots as the Night Witches.
The 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, which was commanded by Marina Raskova until her death in battle in January 1943, aged thirty.

These brave women flew in flimsy bi-planes, without radar, radios and often without parachutes. Maps and compasses were their only sources of navigation.  They decorated their planes with flowers and used navigation pencils for lip colour, whilst their uniforms were hand-me-downs from their male counterparts. However, their success in the sky soon drowned out any disapproving and scathing remarks from their male counterparts. And as you can imagine, they tolerated a fair amount of discrimination.

The bomber pilots  flew in pairs - a pilot and a navigator. The lightweight planes were only capable of carrying two bombs, so it was standard practice to fly multiple sorties in one night. At times they found themselves flying up to eighteen sorties.
As a last precaution, they were all given an extra bullet so that they were able to shoot themselves rather than risk capture by the enemy.

Nadezhda Popova, one of the first volunteer pilots, sadly passed away in 2013. She was once quoted as saying that she could see "the smiling faces of the Nazi pilots" as they strafed women and children in the streets, who were fleeing from their Luftwaffe attackers. Patriotism and revenge were two very strong reasons for these women who volunteered to serve their country.

The Po-2 bi-planes they flew, had a top speed that was less than the stall speed of  the Germans planes and they were highly maneuverable. This meant that they could turn away from a German fighter plane, and by the time he performed his turn, he would have travelled a fair distance away from the Po-2, by which time it would be executing another turn, thus making it rather difficult for the Luftwaffe pilot to hit with canon fire.
The Russian pilots could also fly these little planes quite low to the ground, often at hedge height if necessary, for cover.
They had the ability to fly low and effectively sneak in upon the enemy, undetected by radar. Once they were close to their target, they would cut their engines and glide in to drop the bombs and then restart the engines to fly away. Hence their name, Night Witches, taken from the sound the wind made against the wires on their wings, a whooshing sound, some said it was how they imagined a witches broom to sound.
Being of such flimsy, wooden/fabric construction also made them highly flammable. Given the circumstances, they only flew at night, under the cover of darkness in an attempt to seek some protection. Prone to attacks by night fighters, it was with amazement that they returned at all as their planes were often bullet ridden. Such was their reputation that the Luftwaffe pilots were promised the Iron Cross for every Night Witch they shot down.

Marina Raskova
I am in complete awe of these feisty, brave women and commend their courage and great aviation skill. Flying in such obsolete aircraft under such bleak and harrowing conditions was testament to their abilities and to their determination. I have no doubt that their contribution made a vital difference and Marina Raskova was the mastermind of this elite squadron of women. She was given the final honour of a state funeral in 1943 and was laid to rest in Red Square, Moscow, the city of her birth.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

My Work In Progress.

Word count exceeded today. Writing this morning whilst the household sleeps on. Bliss. The dog is snoring in the background as he sleeps, curled up in the armchair behind me.

I desperately need to clear the decks on my table. Too many books and notes and not enough room to work in. However, I've been busy concentrating on the sub-plots - the filling in material as I call it. It's very enjoyable and rewarding and I've found some extra material along the way which is a bonus.

And so as the weather seems to be changing here in Cumbria, I'm off to hunker down and churn out another 500 words, hopefully.  I'm writing about the everyday stuff - in my case this is from 1943 -1944. Having done so much research I don't mind declaring that it's hard. I'm simply not good at writing about everyday occurrences - what I probably mean to say is that I'm not very confident at crafting the fiction for such. I worry about getting the detail right and ensuring that the historical facts are correct.  However, it's becoming easier and that's only from writing, more reading and more writing. And so my learning curve continues.

So, if anyone out there is struggling with their writing, don't give up. You're definitely not alone and if you persevere you will succeed. My top tips for those moments of despair are:

(1) Go visit some writerly sites for top tips. I can recommend Write Words.
(2) Go read about some of your favourite authors for inspiration.
(3) Consider a writing course - a reputable one.
(4) Join a local writers group for support.
(5) Join online writers circle - often very good for information on publishing, professional edits/critiques and lots of other stuff.

And finally, when you're struggling, keep away from email, facebook, any social media site. It's the death knell! Definitely a hazardous distraction. Discipline has to be learned and perhaps if we force ourselves to write at a certain time each day, the act will give way to habit, a learned trait that will be easier for us to maintain in the long term.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Moving On With Writing

There are so many reasons why you might find it difficult to focus upon your writing - to take the plunge and finally begin writing the novel you yearn to read yourself. One of the more obvious reasons is perhaps a lack of discipline, lack of motivation or pure procrastination. Less obvious in the beginning might be planning - or rather a distinct lack of it.

How many times I've read about other writers/authors who are 'pansters' and simply don't plan. This works for them. Great. That's what I mistakenly thought might work for me too, way back when my manuscript was but a twinkle in the sky. And then, as a couple of years went by, and I was struggling and nowhere near finished, I read how other historical fiction authors spent several years writing a tomb of a book, so I thought I was doing fine. How wrong I was although it's true to say that some books really do take years to write and perfect. Historical fiction is no easy ride. Research can be so labour intensive and note taking is essential along with an adequate filing system of sorts (still learning that one!).

In Hillary Mantels memoir, 'Giving Up The Ghost,' she talks about how she literally fell into writing because her health forced her out of one career, leaving her wondering what she could do. Writing, she knew she could do, but fiction writing was something else. She had never really attempted to do so, and she wondered if she could, so she began to learn! And learn, she did. Meticulous planning is one of her fortes, and I have taken note of what she has had to say on the subject of writing. For me, it simply struck a chord, and along with some tips from Author Roz Morris, I got my own writing back on track. The key? Meticulous planning of course although rather late in the day, but certainly better late than never. Following on from there is discipline, for without it, one is doomed. I decided that I simply have to have a regular time to write - a time that I also like to write at. This time is either early morning or in the evening (often both).

So, my manuscript has form, shape and depth. I'm filling in with the minor plots, and have the ending to revise, but I'm so relieved to be almost at the finish line. Then the real work begins, or so I'm told. Expert critiques, and I have a couple of professionals in line for that,  more edits, book cover design, marketing etc etc. As you can tell, I'm going to self publish. Why? Because, as long as I have something decent, a good story, I want to share it with the entire world as soon as possible and then move on to my next project. Why not? It's so difficult to attract a publisher today and I have no desire to wait years whilst I try. That's not to say that I won't be trying as I go along. I will, but the main objective is to keep going, and get my book published. Working on my author's platform and participating in some hard graft when it comes to marketing will be the making of me.

Just to reiterate, I can't stress enough just how important it is to establish a regular writing routine. Others will tell you not to feel bad if you don't do this and to write when you can. This latter one was me for a while, and it gave me even more excuses to procrastinate. A regular routine has transformed me, literally. My creativity and word output have increased tremendously. In fact, I write every morning, early whilst the household sleeps on. It's quiet, it's heaven and it's simply so tranquil. It's better in the winter - more cosy. Now it's almost summer and the heat this morning is a little overwhelming, but I hear you, I should not complain about the sunshine. By nine o'clock, or sometimes before, I'm ready to get on with the rest of my day. Now I find that I keep returning to my work at every opportunity throughout the day. Procrastination is a thing of the past. You do have to find your way, but I think a good starting point is to begin with a defined writing period each day and then develop it from there.

I have a funny story about procrastination. I once wrote a blog post entitled, 'The Queen of Procrastination.' That was obviously me at the time, and my local radio station emailed me, inviting me to be interviewed live on Cumbria FM. How fabulous you might think. I thought so too when I first read the email. Trouble was, I read it two days later and they wanted me on the show the day before. So, effectively, I lived up to my own title and procrastinated my way out of a fab radio interview. I will say that the programme manager had a little chuckle when I rang to apologise. C'est la vie.

The greatest thing of all is finally seeing the all important increasing word count and page count. I can almost proclaim that I have a book. Today is a good day, having achieved my daily word count this morning, I'm about to write some more this evening. If you're wondering, I don't use a desk - too small. I use a spare dining room table and it's currently crammed with books, dictionaries, notes and yellow post-its (and the spare pc screen borrowed from husband). It's absolute chaos, unorganised and wonderful.

Now, I bid you farewell for now and I leave you with this picture I've just acquired from auction. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane. And it's flying season now until September/October so look out for them across the UK. We will remember them.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Crimson Field

The Crimson Field is the new period drama set to grace our TV screens on Sunday evenings. Set during the Great War, it follows the lives of three girls who have volunteered to serve in a field hospital in Northern France. I've been looking forward to seeing this and can't wait for Sunday. This year as you know is the 100th year since the Great War began.

The drama, by Sarah Phelps, presents one of the untold stories of the war. From a field hospital in France, the Army doctors, nurses and volunteers work to heal the physical and psychological wounds of the soldiers. Shell shock was indeed recognised and diagnosed, but for those who could not escape its grip, it could be damning. It's the psychological scars that were perhaps considered controversial at the time, because for many such men, they would be labelled as having 'lack of moral fibre.' Some men were put on trial for military crimes such as desertion and cowardice, with a number paying the ultimate price -death by firing squad. Such mental effects were simply not understood at the time or were quickly dismissed, especially when men were desperately needed to fight. In 1916, at the Battle of the Somme, it was estimated that around 40% of the casualties were suffering the effects of shell shock.

The Author, Pat Barker addresses the psychological effects of warfare in her books, 'The Regeneration Trilogy,' which introduces the reader to the real life poets and soldiers of the Great War, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves. Barker recreates the Great War period and portrays the effects of war and the resultant psychological destruction in such a fascinating and illuminating way. War is certainly not glorious and its ugliness is portrayed in places in all its goriness. These books are definitely worth reading if you have any interest at all in the Great War. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

When Help Arrives Out Of The Blue.

Wow! Finally, my eureka moment. Having just unearthed another author (the renowned Helen Dunmore) whose writing has captivated me, I have experienced an epiphany.
The LieHaving been struggling with the beginning of my novel for months now, I think I may have finally settled the matter once and for all. I've edited myself into a corner, shuffled chapters endlessly and written new beginnings, all to no avail. All in the quest of creating that enthralling first chapter, with the intention of grabbing the reader ruthlessly and retaining their attention for the duration of the entire book.

Cue the author, Helen Dunmore. I've never read any of her books before simply because I've never noticed them. I have heard her name mentioned, but I've always had plenty of titles queuing up and I never seem to have time to read all of them.

Her latest novel, The Lie, set during and after the Great War has just caught my attention. Some might call it coincidence whilst others would say it's meant to be, but for whatever reason this has cropped up just when I needed it and I'm grateful. I happened to read the first page today and immediately knew how my own novel should begin. Such a little thing and yet at times it's been rather like an insurmountable obstacle. My youngest son would declare in astonishment that I'm a cheat. However, I'm not copying anything at all - not a line, word or even an idea. What this book has given me is a vision of what I can do with my own work - which incidentally is so different in comparison to Dunmore's subject matter and thus it would be truly impossible to copy her work.

But taking inspiration and learning from the work of others is what writers do all the time. As Aaron Sorkin once said, 'Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.' And so it is from Helen Dunmore that I take my inspiration from.

Having just bought this for Kindle, I'll post a review later, but if any of you are interested in the Great War then this would appear to be a most deserved read.

From the Back Cover

Cornwall, 1920

A young man stands looking out to sea.

Behind him the horror of the trenches, and the most intense relationship of his life,

Ahead of him the terrible unforeseen consequences of a lie.

About the Author

Helen Dunmore is an acclaimed bestselling author who has published nine novels, including Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; A Spell of Winter, which won the inaugural Orange Prize; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize; Mourning RubyHouse of Orphans and Counting the Stars. Her 2010 novel The Betrayal was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. In 2012 she published the novella The Greatcoat under the Hammer imprint at Cornerstone. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and her work is translated into more than thirty languages.