Sunday, May 4, 2014

Meeting a Business Rival and Future Lover

In my historical novel Birthright or Birthright (Kindle), I wanted to create a scene that would show the tempestuous nature of Deborah's first meeting with David Holtz, whose family has long held grudges against the Kronengolds and who wants to take over the same company Deborah is intent on taking over; I wanted to show, too, how well-matched they are and how attracted they are to each other. 

Here’s an excerpt: 

He appeared angry. "Three or four weeks from now, we would have been ready to go after Columbiana ourselves."

"Which means you aren't ready now." Deborah tried to probe further. "Why do you want an insurance company anyway? Stodgy business."

"The same reason you do, I think." His anger was subdued now, she could see, a negotiating stance he called on when needed.

She feigned ignorance. "What's that?"

"Its cash reserves."

They both smiled, sensing in the other a match to their skills. Each was impressed differently, however. David was thrown off guard because her beauty concealed a formidable mind; he wasn't used to that in the many women he had easily, almost thoughtlessly, conquered.

After a long time without an interest in a man, Deborah felt more surprise than elation at her very strong attraction to David Holtz. She usually rejected within a few minutes after meeting nearly all the young men with whom she came into contact. But David Holtz, with the energy and the agile mind of a self-made man, had a toughness that matched hers; she had been unable to make him yield an inch. Deborah shook herself. Such thinking was crazy at a time like this—and about a man who threatened to topple everything she was trying to build.
"You and your father seem to have come a long way," Deborah said, assuming that he would want to tell her more.

"Not bad. Nowhere near what the Kronengolds are worth, but we're getting there." He paused, the bantering negotiating tone dropped for the moment. "It must be a great feeling to be born with all of this—to know it's yours and no one can take it away from you."

"Yes, it must be." David failed to note the irony in her words.

"Be honest with me," he asked. "What is a young, damned good-looking Englishwoman doing in a jungle like American investment banking? It's rough enough for men."

"To put it in a sentence," Deborah answered as honestly as she dared, "America is a country where anyone, even a young woman, can become wealthy and successful on her own. Even if she's a Kronengold."

The two stared at each other for several seconds, each assessing the strength and commitment of the other to a fight over Columbiana.

David was the first to speak. "Regardless of whether the Kronengolds are up against us, I'll put everything on the line to acquire Columbiana. We're ready to make an offer to pay ten dollars a share above your offer."

But Deborah thought she heard more in his voice than tenacity. She thought she could make out the merest hint of bluff.

"Are you sure this is the right battle to pick with the Kronengolds?" Deborah asked, her own tone a challenge.

"Am I picking a battle with the family or only with you?" he wondered aloud.
That was a question she could not let him ponder.

"Are you prepared to try to find out?" She let a smile play over her face. "Besides, I think you're too good a businessman to raise the stakes of the game to the point where the prize is no longer worth the struggle— for the winner or the loser. Don't forget, I already own about ten percent of Columbiana's stock through exercising warrants. I have to buy only another forty percent. You have to convince shareholders owning fifty percent to sell to you. The odds favor me."

She thought she could sense that he was struggling, hating to yield such a fat prize, yet fearing the consequences of a battle and all the while concerned that he might be cutting himself off from her. Now was the time to offer him a different prize.

"David, rather than scrapping over this company, to no one's benefit, let us find you another insurance company with excess cash in the reserves, a bigger one that's really worth your going after. We're investment bankers. It stands to reason that if we could do it for ourselves, we can do it for our clients."
"I've had enough of small investment banks. We have an appointment tomorrow with Landy at Hazelton, Lieb."

"Van Landy can't tie his shoelaces without help. I'll make you an offer you can't ignore. To show you how good we are, I'll find you that big insurance company and, when I do, charge you only half the usual fee."
He had not been diverted. "I still want Columbiana."

"Fight and all?"

He paused an instant. "I ought to warn you. I usually get what I want. How about dinner tonight?"

She shook her head and stood up. "Not while we're adversaries."

"That's up to you."

Read more: Birthright or Birthright (Kindle). 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How the Wealthy Nobility Cover Up Scandals

I’ve written a number of novels including A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time (Kindle); andDeeds or Deeds (Kindle); and Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). In my historical novel Birthright or Birthright (Kindle), I wanted to show how Rob Rowell, a wealthy earl, could cajole a nurse into covering up his part in the car-accident death of his illicit lover, the mother of my protagonist, Deborah Kronenegold.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rob Rowell did not see the curve in the road. Or, until it was too late, the large truck with the snowplow snout that suddenly loomed up in front of them.
He twisted the steering wheel and braked. The car careered to the right in a skidding spin. Madeleine’s door smashed against the side edge of the plow. The hardened steel cut through the Rolls like a knife and crushed Madeleine’s body.
The hospital was very near, but Rob, cradling her in a blanket in the truck cab, knew that it did not matter. Although attendants and nurses wheeled her quickly toward an operating room, and doctors alongside hurriedly covered her face with an oxygen mask, injected chemicals into her, inserted in her arms tubes connected to bottles of blood, pressed frantically on her dented-in chest—Rob knew he was watching a futile dumb show performed out of habit. She had left him already, amid the swirling whiteness.

His small suitcase beside him, Rob sat docilely on the bench in the emergency room, trying to come to grips with the finality of what had happened. The moments with her had always seemed luminous, because she was luminous—fresh and spontaneous and always so alive. He tried to summon up vivid recollections of her, so as to hold onto her and to delay his acceptance of the inalterability of her death, but all he could visualize was the angel-perfect profile resting against the black half-moon of steel that had sliced through the white Rolls.
Even in his distraught condition, he could not evade the knowledge that he had been the cause of her death, but he assured himself that no one could hold him responsible; with weather conditions so deplorable, it was true only in the technical sense that he had been at the wheel.

He sat up straight. At the wheel! If the police found out that he and Madeleine de Kronengold had been together in a car traveling back from her country house, the reporters would learn about their affair as well. Lurid stories would smear the two of them across every newspaper in England. There might even be speculation as to whether there had been some negligence involved in the accident. The publicity would be ghastly for him, for Maddy’s family, and especially for the Rowell bank, which was shaky right now as it was. And it would all be quite unnecessary. She was dead, and none of this would bring her back; if it could, he told himself, he would gladly endure it all.

At that moment a nurse approached him diffidently, carrying the forms that would have to be filled out. She appeared to be young and unsure of herself. He gave her a sad but engaging smile. Yes, he was sufficiently recovered to answer some questions for the hospital’s records. He took her hand so she could not write, gazed into her eyes, and began to relate a tragic story of love found and lost, a poignant affair between two members of the nobility, one a prominent banker, the other a married woman from a prominent banking family.

After a while he confided how much being able to tell her about his loss comforted him. And later he explained that it would be so much kinder to the dead woman’s family to leave his name out of the reports. He had been in the back seat asleep when it happened, he told her. He supposed the force of the skid had thrown her across the front seat, to the other side of the car, where the crash killed her. Under those circumstances it wasn’t absolutely necessary to write down that he was also in the car, was it? For the sake of the woman’s grieving husband and children, he would be eternally grateful to her if she spared them by leaving his name out of the reports. They’ve already suffered so much. He pointed to a newspaper front page announcing Samuel’s death. Someone had left it on a chair.

She withdrew her hand from his and fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief. She nodded. She would do it.

The answering thankfulness on his face was authentic; if her report raised no questions, no one would look further into the matter. He took her phone number; he would like to be able to thank her properly some time very soon. Dabbing her eyes, she smiled and began to write her report.

Read more: Birthright or Birthright (Kindle).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spain's Expulsion of the Jews in 1492

I’ve written a number of novels including A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time (Kindle); and Deeds or Deeds (Kindle); and Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). 

In my historical novel Birthright or Birthright (Kindle), I wanted to show how in 1492 the Christian monarchs of Spain forced their Jewish citizens to leave Spain, threatening them with death if they remained. The fictional Kronengolds' and my own ancestors were among them. 

Here’s an excerpt: 

As [Samuel's yacht] the Venture approached Malaga, reminiscences were flooding Samuel, seemingly to make up for a lifetime of never looking back. That morning he signed contracts for the land on the Costa del Sol and then drove with Deborah to Granada and the Alhambra, the magnificent Moorish palace he had not visited in fifty years.

Many memories came to him there beneath the slim columns and elegant friezes pierced by light into lace.

"We are originally Sephardic Jews, Spanish Jews," Samuel said to his granddaughter as they stood at the end of the reflecting pool in the Court of the Alberca. "The Christians forced the last of the Arabs and Jews out of Spain the same year Columbus found the New World. In this very place a woman once told me that Columbus may have been a Jew seeking a homeland for his people, that the evidence is rumored to be hidden in the Vatican. ‘Colon,’ his real name, is a Sephardic Jewish name." He described the Spanish Inquisition, how Jews were tortured by the Christians and killed in the name of God.

"Like Columbus, our family had sailed from Spain by then. We have a knack for that, thank God! They had gone to Florence, where their skill as goldsmiths could provide a living."

Read more: Birthright or Birthright (Kindle). Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle):  Deeds or Deeds (Kindle); and Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time (Kindle).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Every Defendant Lies, But So Do Witnesses

I’ve written a number of novels including A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time (Kindle); and Deeds or Deeds (Kindle); Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle); and Birthright or Birthright (Kindle). In my novel A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle), I wanted my readers to understand what an experienced trial lawyer told me when I was fresh out of law school: Don't expect the truth from any one, not from your witnesses, not from the police, and certainly not from your client. No one ever tells the whole truth. Everyone always has something to hide. A witness might claim the defendant stole the money because he did it himself or because he was supposed to be watching the cash register but had gone to see a girlfriend or because he was bribed. A defendant, even an innocent one, may be protecting a friend she believes committed the crime or may be hiding an affair. At one point I even thought of calling the novel False Witness. 

Here's how Dan Lazar, the protagonist, explains it: 

"Believe me, every client lies. If not outright lies, then murky areas the client tries to keep that way. During the trial you'll do and say anything to save yourself—it's your sole priority, and that's natural. You'll cover things up to me, to the judge, to the jury. Everything you've vowed to me—all that 'truth'—could get shredded into confetti."

"I'm innocent. I have nothing to fear," she said fervently. She was staring into his eyes, measuring his love against hers.

He did not reply.

Read more: A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle)

Friday, April 11, 2014

What America Was Like in 1963

Birthright or Birthright (Kindle)

I’ve written a number of novels including A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time (Kindle); and Deeds or Deeds (Kindle); andStalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). In my historical novel Birthright or Birthright (Kindle), I wanted to show what was happening in America when Deborah de Kronengold arrived and how it affected her.

Here’s an excerpt:

THE OVERWHELMING PREPONDERANCE of Americans in 1963 believed devoutly in the democracy, capitalism, and technology that had brought prosperity, the good life—or at least, a progressively better life—to all of them. They believed in change, which had become almost a constant, and the capacity of the nation’s institutions to absorb the bombardment of the new and still remain solid. They believed in their global mission to contain the Communist menace and to spread selflessly their abundance and freedom. They believed in their young, vigorous president, who held these beliefs up before them as a standard they could march behind, who was strong enough to force the Soviet Union to withdraw its missiles from Cuba and still secure enough to sign a nuclear-test-ban treaty with that country. They believed, almost as devoutly as the Establishment coterie that held the foreign policy reins, that the time had come for America to take over for Britain as the moral leader and military policeman of the world. They believed in the promise of America. They believed in themselves.

On September 26, 1963, the day Deborah arrived in New York, The New York Times reported that two bombs had been detonated in a Negro Sunday school in Birmingham, Alabama, eleven days after four girls were killed there in a similar incident, and that twenty-eight Negroes were arrested in Selma, Alabama, for demonstrating in front of the courthouse. On the foreign front, the Times quoted a defense official, who was on a survey of the military situation in South Vietnam with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Joint Chiefs of Staff head General Maxwell Taylor, as saying that "military events in Vietnam" were "getting better and better, rather than worse and worse"; the point was rapidly being approached where "the goals set will be reached relatively shortly."

For most Americans in 1963, Vietnam was merely a minor squabble half a world away, the purview of the military boys and diplomats, who knew far more than they. And the Negroes? Now that the problem had been pointed out, civil rights legislation would solve it. After all, this was America, the land of prosperity, of goodness, of ever growing perfectibility, one and united, now and forever, its good crowned by God with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Deborah de Kronengold stood on the steps of Federal Hall beneath the commanding, oversized statue of George Washington, who had taken the presidential oath of office here. Churning with people, Wall Street bisected the skyscraper canyon like a turbulent river rushing at her feet. The taxi driver had suggested a modest hotel in a respectable neighborhood and then driven her to the financial district, as she requested. The taxi fare was a wild extravagance, given her meager resources, but she was impatient to find a job and begin her new life.

She detected little beauty in the facades of the buildings on either side of Wall or Broad streets. The beauty was in the buildings’ massiveness, the walls thick and strong to contain all the energy crackling within them, all the ambition. Here, she sensed, was a country unembarrassed by ambition, nurturing energy. Here was a country for dreaming as high and as far as talent and determination could reach, to the stars and beyond. Here was a country endowed with the possibility of choice. And if the choice was to amass riches and one pursued that choice ferociously, single-mindedly, forsaking all others, every waking moment applied relentlessly to that end, every sleeping moment a grudging delay, here was a country where riches could still be won.

That was Deborah’s goal: wealth so great that she need never rely on another human being again—for anything. When that goal was finally reached, there would be no doubt who she was.

Read more: Birthright or Birthright (Kindle). Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time(Kindle); and Deeds or Deeds (Kindle).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Learn Court Tactics to Stop a Corporate Raider

In writing my novel Stalking the Sky, I wanted to show how top-flight litigation lawyers would wage a court battle to gain advantages in a takeover fight launched by a company named Faranco Inc. for control of Global Universal Airline, America's premier airline. I also wanted to demonstrate how a great lawyer can come up with a brilliant ploy at the last second.

Here's an excerpt:

A small, disheveled figure hurried through the halls of federal court in Manhattan. One hand was trying to shove the remains of a tuna fish sandwich into his mouth. The other held a brief on the motion he was about to argue. Behind him, long legs taking one step to every two of Eli Teicher's, Chris Flynn would have moved faster than her colleague (over whom the blond, blue-eyed woman lawyer towered) were it not for the armful of law books she came close to dropping at each step.

Teicher suddenly stopped, nearly causing Flynn to crash into him. His gaze was transfixed by a large color poster. A jet bomber streaked upward over the close-up of a pilot's head, to intercept words that invited the reader to join the Air Force.

"Take my word for it, Eli, this country is in big trouble if Uncle Sam needs you," Chris Flynn remarked caustically.

Teicher did not react. The brief he carried argued, first, that the law required CAB approval before the takeover could commence; and, second, that Faranco had failed to divulge over thirty million dollars in questionable "sensitive payments" abroad. Teicher raced to the courtroom to find Will Nye already there. He had only one question to ask.

"Does Global Universal supply planes to the government in time of war?"
Will nodded, but before he could speak Teicher hurried away.

Two minutes later Teicher was on the phone dictating a third point to the brief. Within half an hour, just as Judge Metucci was stepping to the bench, Eli Teicher's secretary arrived in the courtroom with the new last pages.

For two hours, Eli Teicher and Sam Friedman slashed at each other's contentions. . . . Teicher's final, unexpected point was the issue of national security. With absolute seriousness he conjured up an image of armed Communist nations advancing against freedom-loving America. "In whose hands should we leave our nation's safety: those of a great war hero, and airline pioneer, or those of a mercenary multinational corporation, whose divided loyalties—profit versus patriotism—may well threaten us all in a time of ultimate crisis?"

Read more: Stalking the

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Heighten Suspense Employing Ancillary Events

In writing my novel STALKING THE SKY, I wanted to associate the corporate raider, J. Stephen Girard, a ruthless, cunning predator deliberating on whether to seize a premier airline, with a merciless flying predator of a different sort, a trained falcon.

Here's an excerpt:

Finally, the Arab extended his gloved hand, held it there long enough for the falcon to gain her balance, and then cast her upward. Her jesses released, the falcon leaped forward, and with one beat of her powerful wings she was airborne and climbing. Higher and higher she ascended, spiraling upward until she was only a speck herself. Then she hovered motionless, the sun behind her, awaiting the inevitable moment when the guileless pigeons' flight would carry them beneath her.

Girard had sensed the excitement mounting within him as the peregrine sped upward. He felt a kinship with the soaring predator. Every part of her body had been designed by nature for her single purpose in life, the hunt. Success at the hunt meant survival.

The falcon had already chosen which was to be her victim and the point in the sky where they would meet. She seemed to wait forever, as if, hypnotized by the magic of flight, she had forgotten the kill. Then, almost too late, the wings snapping tight against her body, she suddenly plummeted. Faster she dove, until she was no more than a streaking blur. At the last instant, wings and tail spread, talons clenched, she swooped sharply upward into her prey, knocking the pigeon senseless. Helplessly, it fluttered downward like a pinwheel. Within seconds the falcon's claws clenched the stunned bird, and she was returning to earth. There she would mantle the pigeon with her wide wings before taking its neck within her beak and breaking it.

At that moment J. Stephen Girard decided it was time to bid for control of Global Universal Airlines.