Last week in the middle of the night, that famous Pillar of Shame statue at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed while guards patrolled. No surprise given the fact that Beijing has increasingly been cracking down on political dissent in Hong Kong. The 8-meter (26-foot) tall statue which depicted 50 torn and twisted bodies piled on top of each other was created by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt to symbolize those students killed during the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. For years Hong Kong has been one of few places in China that allowed public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests - a highly sensitive topic in the country. In fact no one born on the Mainland after 1989 has been taught about what the government calls“the June 4th incident”. The dismantling of the sculpture came days after pro-Beijing candidates scored a landslide victory in the Hong Kong legislative elections, after amendments in election laws allowed the vetting of all candidates to ensure that they are "patriots" loyal to Beijing. The removal also occurred during the same week that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam traveled to Beijing to report on developments in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, where authorities have silenced dissent following the implementation of a sweeping national security law that appeared to target much of the pro-democracy movement following mass protests in 2019. Since Beijing implemented that law in Hong Kong, over 100 pro-democracy activists have been arrested. It outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. Critics claim it rolled back freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it was handed over to China by Britain in 1997. The Pillar of Shame monument was erected over two decades ago. At first it was placed at Hong Kong's Victoria Park, but was eventually moved to the University of Hong Kong on a long-term basis. Each year on June 4, members of the now-defunct student union would wash the statue to commemorate the Tiananmen massacre. Hong Kong and Macao, were previously the only places on Chinese soil where commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown was allowed.
FAPA PRESIDENT’S AWARDS
“Deep Waters“, the third in the Sammy Greene series won 2 Silver Medals for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association’s President Award – one for Mystery/Suspense and one for Thriller.
Each year the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) sponsors the FAPA President’s Book Awards, which recognizes book publishing excellence and creativity in design, content, and production for authors and publishers. This year we have opened the competition from North America only to the English-speaking world. We hope to encourage entries from all who share our complex and wonderful language.
Finalists are chosen by publishing professionals and librarians from both within and outside of Florida and are announced at the President’s Book Awards Banquet the last weekend of July.”
Exciting news: my historical thriller, Rabbit in the Moon, has been selected as one among best books on modern China’s myths, religions, politics, and culture. Check out the site. The novel is available in print, eBook and Audiobook.
Sammy Greene, investigative reporter and radio host visits Thessaloniki, Greece in Deep Waters. Thessaloniki was the home of thousands of Sephardic Jews who left Spain in the 15thcentury. They were the majority in the city until World War II, and their social and cultural influence was captured in the city’s nickname, “la madre de Israel”, mother of Israel.
Tragically, after the Nazis invaded and occupied Greece in 1941, they rounded up 54,000 Jews and sent them north to concentration and labor camps, from which only ~5000 survived. A few escaped by hiding among the Gentile community, and some were protected by Greek Orthodox clergy. Two survivors of the Nazi genocide, Mois and Sara Bourla in Northern Greece became the parents of Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, oin 1961. Known as “Akis”, Bourla shared his family’s story with Sephardic Heritage International on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
“Remembrance. It’s this word, perhaps more than any other, that inspired me to share my parents’ story. That’s because I recognize how fortunate I am that my parents shared their stories with me and the rest of our family.
Many Holocaust survivors never spoke to their children of the horrors they endured because it was too painful. But we talked about it a great deal in my family. Growing up in Thessaloniki, Greece, we would get together with our cousins on the weekends, and my parents, aunts and uncles would often share their stories.
They did this because they wanted us to remember. To remember all the lives that were lost. To remember what can happen when the virus of evil is allowed to spread unchecked. But, most important, to remember the value of a human life.”
The story of Bourla’s harrowing tales of his family’s tragedy and survival are quoted in Kathimerini, Greece’s premier newspaper:
Bourla and his sister grew up in Thessaloniki. An animal lover, the bright young man entered the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and graduated with a PhD in veterinary medicine. After working as a veterinarian, Bourla joined Pfizer, the mega-pharmaceutical company, in 1993, serving as a doctor of veterinary medicine and then as technical director for the company’s animal health division in Greece. Bourla went on to embrace many roles at Pfizer, including serving as Group President of Pfizer’s Global Vaccines, Oncology, and Consumer Healthcare business, helping to launch the anticoagulant Eliquis, and the breast cancer treatment drug Ibrance.
In 2020, Bourla pushed Pfizer employees for the fast development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with BioNTech of Germany. He was quoted that “financial returns should not drive any decisions” with regards to the vaccine. To have vaccine ready for shipping immediately, he launched production of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine before the Emergency Use Authorization was approved by the FDA.
Today, Bourla and his family share homes in New York and Northern Greece. In April of 2019, Bourla was honored as the “Preeminent Greek Leader” of the global pharmaceutical industry by United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt, at the Prix Galien Greece Awards ceremony.
In 2020, Institutional Investor ranked Bourla as America’s top CEO in the pharmaceutical industry. His company’s Pfizer vaccine is one of the three vaccines available in the US and is helping millions stay safe and healthy around the world during this horrible pandemic.
Efharisto, Dr. Bourla! And, if you’re interested, you can read more about Greek Jewry and Thessaloniki as you follow Sammy Greene into Deep Waters!
–by Linda Reid
I’ve been self-isolating for the past year because of the pandemic, so I had no idea that Doc’s All American had been closed after 70 years! Located in Delray Beach, Florida, this has been more than an ice cream and burger jointS. It is a true historical landmark. Since its opening in 1951, young and old are rarely able to pass by the Atlantic Avenue without stopping for one of Doc’s famous hand-dipped cones. I certainly couldn’t and neither could two of my characters, Sam and Mackenzie, in my medical thriller Silent Survivor. In fact it was sharing burgers and fries at Doc’s that sparked their romance!
When I read in this week’s newspaper that after sitting empty since last February, the new owner, MDG Partners, is planning to refurbish and reopen, I was delighted. Apparently that is dependent on registering Doc’s as an historic designation which the city of Delray supports. If all goes through, the new Doc’s will include indoor seating.
So keep fingers crossed that they bring back the best of Doc’s because. believe me, there is nothing as good as Doc’s chocolate sprinkles on a swirl.
Victor Aquista, physician, author, and fellow Mystery Writers of America member, has a wonderful podcast program called Pdfobler Productions which features selections from various authors’ work. Victor recently chose my medical thriller Silent Survivor, recording the Prologue and First Chapter. Click and take a listen.
Although the voice (Victor’s) is different from the Audiobook’s narrator (Laura Mooney Wills), I think it is a wonderful rendition.
Notorious Minds? A rogue secret agent stealing a weapon to kill thousands of innocent victims? Has to be fiction—a heart-stopping thrill ride in a hellish Hollywood, battered by Devil Winds, fiery-hot Santa Ana’s that spark an inferno in the lush hills hiding the garish mansions of the rich and famous. Devil Wind, by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, is one of TWENTY exciting thrillers and mysteries included in the Notorious Minds Boxset, transporting your imagination to worlds beyond your door.
Venturing into a world of danger is best left to the imagination in today’s pandemic era. The COVID-19 virus has devastated our world, locking us into silos of isolation and loneliness, even as it claims the lives of family, friends, and neighbors as its victims. As physicians as well as authors, Dr. Shlian and I had hoped that the antibiotic and anti-viral era would prevent a feared pandemic such as the one that decimated WWI survivors in 1918. Yet, even with 21stcentury medical knowledge and expertise, we have met a viral enemy that we are struggling to conquer. Many of us are seeking answers as to how we can remain healthy and safe, and others are searching for reasons to explain why this virus took hold—transferring from the realm of fiction to a dangerous reality.
Theories abound, and it may take us years to understand the complete story. Meanwhile, everyone hopes and wishes that the damage and death from COVID-19 can be limited, and that we can soon return to our lives, work, and personal social connections. Reading and writing can be solace for many whose path to recovery, whether from the virus, or its social and economic damage are difficult to surmount. Devil Wind’s protagonists, investigative reporter and talk-radio host Sammy Greene and her grizzled friend Gus Pappajohn pair up for a journey that begins from despair, and aims for the light of new hope, in a gritty Los Angeles universe familiar to fans of Michael Connelly and Lee Child.
The promise of hope, of a brighter future, inspires many writers to pen novels to delight readers; however, many other authors turn to imagining dystopias that serve as a warning for our societies about where we are headed and “what not to do”. Faced with choices in an unknown scenario, we may revisit the projections and ideas of renowned futurists, such as Orwell and Huxley, and even Michael Crichton, for answers and fears about “what’s next”. Truth be told, though elements of authors’ works may resonate with today’s crises, we have tools at our disposal that we can use to opt for better outcomes than they predicted, such as scientific research, critical and strategic thinking, innovation, and free will. Let us hope and pray that our future guides us toward progress and not purgatory.
And let us enjoy adventures that exist in our imaginations, and from the imaginative fiction writers who are included in the Notorious Mind boxset, now available for pre-order from Amazon:
Be healthy and well, and enjoy our books!
Co-author of the award-winning Sammy Greene Thriller series, Dead Air, Devil Wind, and Deep Waters
Author (as Y S Pascal) of the award-winning Zygan Emprise Trilogy
On January 26, 2020, I blogged about the fact that the Chinese New Year had begun with the emergence of a novel virus in Wuhan. In less than 3 months, from a handful of cases, the Corona virus has now traveled around the world, infecting over half a million Americans, killing over 10,000 of us.
As we watched the numbers of victims grow, it’s become clear that we are all vulnerable – whether asymptomatic carriers or patients who may or may not survive once infected.
Could there be a silver lining to the fact that we are facing a common enemy? Before this pandemic, too many of us identified as being on the Red or Blue team, refusing to communicate across the ideological divide, closing minds to the views of fellow citizens. Hate was palpable on social media and cable stations.
But now as the virus has spread to very single state in our country, we hear more and more stories about neighbors who once disagreed bitterly over politics reaching out to help one another, offering assistance with food delivery, sharing information about home schooling, discussing ways to safely support their communities and more.
Isn’t it time that we rediscover our better selves? Through kindness, honesty and mutual respect, we can come through this tough time. Together we will thrive!
If you agree with this sentiment, you might enjoy what started out as simply a children’s story, but is actually an allegory. It’s titled Desi for President by Cathy Rogers and me. This is the essence of the story:
Not long ago, Desi was a sad pup in a shelter, longing for a forever family. Now he lives in a warm home with people who love him. But as the election for the leader of the USA nears, Desi is concerned about the dissension he sees all around him.
Can’t we all just get along he wonders. After discussing with Lucy and close friends, he makes a decision that some tell him is downright crazy. Can a dog run for President? Desi is determined to try.
Note: All proceeds from sales of this book will be donated to animal shelters and rescue organizations. To help find homes forgets in need.
In these trying times, everyone is looking for ways to distract us. For those of you who enjoy Audiobooks, as long as they last, I am giving away PROMO codes for FREE downloads from Audible of my award-winning medical thriller, SILENT SURVIVOR. Laura Wills Mooney, the narrator, is a experienced actress.
Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you enjoy the book, please write a nice review on Amazon.
Devil Wind, #2 in the award-winning Sammy Greene series, has been selected to be included in a new boxed set titled Notorious Minds. Exciting mysteries and thrillers by 20 USA Today and International Best-selling Authors! Only 99 cents! Pre-order now for the October 13, 2020 release.