The Future for ‘Stealing Tesla’

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A Message to all Those who Voted for Stealing Tesla

As you know by now, Stealing Tesla was not chosen for publication by Kindle Scout. It wasn’t all that unexpected. As I mentioned in my last post, I had an uphill battle because my lack of social media presence (votes do matter in a crowd-sourced campaign).

However, I really do appreciate all of you who did vote for the book. You helped get it into ‘hot and trending’ for a brief time, and I again say thank-you.

 

We move on.

So what’s the future plans for Stealing Tesla? Well, first of all, I am determined to get it into your hands and I still want to give it to all my voters for free. My gift of appreciation to you.

If you click here: Get Stealing Tesla FREE , I will make sure you get a copy as soon as it becomes available.

Also, as a bonus, I will give you a free, OSS Dossier on Nikola Tesla, that I’ve put together as a companion piece.

 

Re-Tooling

Stealing Tesla is going through a few changes before being delivered.

First of all, the book is currently undergoing a cover redesign. And I want to make you a part of the process. I will be loading up two or three designs to choose from and then let you vote for your favorite.

Also, because I so enjoyed the characters of Stealing Tesla, I’ve decided to expand the story a bit by adding a ‘prequel’ and making the book a box set of three separate books (everyone who signs up will get the entire set for free).

I will work like crazy to get the box set ready for you. And I will keep you updated on the progress, both, here on my blog and on Facebook

Until then, keep reading my friends,

Jonathan

Day 31 of 31 – Kindle Scout Campaign Ends

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A Sincere Thank-you

My 30 day campaign for Stealing Tesla has now concluded and I want to want to thank all of you who participated. Several of you were faithful to ‘share’ and ‘like’ my Facebook posts and I’m sure it helped tremendously. Your efforts were appreciated.

 

Campaign Learning Curve

It has certainly been a learning experience. Kindle Scout is a crowd-sourced campaign, meaning that people have a say in what’s being published, and truthfully, I began the process a bit naïve about how important social media is to promotion.

How unprepared was I? Check it out:

 

Day 1 of the campaign:

  • Facebook profile friends: 7
  • Facebook fan page followers: 1 (my wife)
  • Facebook Ads knowledge: none
  • Twitter followers: 1 (another author)
  • Blog posts: 0
  • Email list: 0
  • Instagram: no account at all

(For days on end, in the middle of my campaign, I struggled to get an Instagram account up and running but I was continually locked out of the new account that I had created…aarrrgg!)

 

So as you can see, I was at a big disadvantage coming out of the gate.

 

Hot and Trending

The goal with Kindle Scout is to make it into ‘Hot and Trending’. Kindle provides personal graphs to show your progress, and it takes a lot of social muscle to get ‘Hot’.  Because I had nearly no social muscle, I quickly had to play catch up by networking with my target group (mystery and thriller readers…and other authors).

I floundered at the beginning, but kept at it even though the results were disappointing. Fortunately, I closed out strong, making it into ‘Hot and Trending’ in the waning days of the campaign.

Was it enough? Hmmm. That’s up to Kindle and Amazon. It’s in their best interests to back the strongest crowd-sourced submissions–and mine certainly wasn’t. But anything can happen. We’ll know in a few days.

 

Outcomes

Either way, I was glad for the experience. I learned a lot and I’m in a much better position from a social media perspective. I now have 220 Facebook friends and my other demographics have improved tremendously.

If you voted for me, I again say Thank-you, and you will be hearing from Amazon in a couple of days on whether Stealing Tesla was chosen or not. But fear not, I’m dedicated to getting Stealing Tesla into readers hands.

So keep reading people.

 

Day 30 of 31 Days – Heroes, Anti-heroes, and Villians

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A ‘Buddy Pic’

At the end of the day, Stealing Tesla is what they would call in the movie biz, a ‘buddy picture’—two fish-out-of-water characters brought together by circumstances and their attempt to keep a weapon of mass destruction out of enemy hands.

 

White Hats, Black Hats, or Gray Fedoras?

Two protagonists drive the story: my anti-hero, The Smoke, and an actual hero, Sergeant Detective J. Patrick Tooke. They begin as fox and hound foes, but ultimately forge a bond out of necessity.

As the story opens, The Smoke is a bitter, angry, thief, who only cares about the heist he has planned. But as the story progresses, we find that underneath his selfish exterior, there is a seed of nobility. He ultimately wants to do the right thing. This seed grows as the story progresses and the definition of good versus evil becomes clearer to him.

Detective Tooke, on the other hand, is a portrait of nobility in full bloom. He’s an honest cop with a keen insight into the human condition. And though he doggedly pursues The Smoke in the beginning, he winds up seeing something worth redeeming in the young thief.

 

More to Come

I so enjoyed exploring the lives of these two characters, I immediately jumped into two projects that bring them back.

The first is a sequel to Stealing Tesla, called, Stealing the Secret City. It is another espionage tale based on historical facts. This time a deep-cover spy needs to be thwarted from stealing secrets from a top-secret plutonium processing facility that was built during the war.

I am also nearly finished with a prequel mystery featuring The Smoke’s early years. Both should be coming out next year.

 

One Last Thing

You may have noticed that I’ve only referred to my thief as, The Smoke. Doesn’t he have a real name, you may ask? Of course. But you will have to read Stealing Tesla to find out what it is.

Day 29 of 31 Days – Setting the Stage

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Setting the Stage

Several scenes in Stealing Tesla take place in real locations.

 

New Yorker Hotel

Stealing Tesla opens at the New Yorker Hotel—in fact, the entire stage for Part 1 takes place there. In its heyday, the New Yorker was a premiere establishment and catered to many celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Mickey Rooney, the Marx Brothers and Benny Goodman.

The Brooklyn Dodgers stayed at the hotel during the 1941 World Series, along with their manager, Leo Durocher. The team makes a brief appearance early in the novel.

Here are some other locations in the book:

 

Manhattan Warehouse and Storage

 

This building sat on the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street. It is the actual place where Tesla’s worldly goods were stored–before and after his death.

As often happened with Tesla, he ended up owing back payments for rent on his lockers. A notice was placed in the classifieds announcing that action would be taken to destroy all the contents in the lockers if payment wasn’t paid in full. A treasure of Tesla research could’ve been lost.

In my novel, I use this bit of actual history to seal the fate of a certain character in my story.

 

Sing Sing Prison

Sing Sing, of course, is the famous prison on the Hudson River in Ossining, New York. A sentence there meant that you were, ‘sent up-river’. Two of my characters end up there, and even my detective pays a visit to the prison.

 

The Russian Consulate

This building, at 7 and 9 East 91st Street, was owned by the Soviets during the 1940’s. The Soviet characters in my book are based on real people who conducted intelligence gathering operations out of the embassy.

 

Wardenclyff

Nikola Tesla’s famous laboratory called, Wardenclyff, was located on Long Island. And though Tesla’s project went bankrupt and the tower was dismantled in 1917, for sake of the story, I resurrect the secret facilities that existed underground.

 

Each of these historical places play a key role in Stealing Tesla.

Day 27 of 31 Days – Taxi Cab Confessions

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The Opening of Stealing Tesla

Stealing Tesla, opens in a taxi cab. A thief called, The Smoke, has plans for a heist at the New Yorker Hotel across the street. He has recruited the taxi driver to do a favor for him—as a cutout. Their conversation inside the cab reveals a tension that was rampant in the United States at the time.

 

America before the War

The scene takes place two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the tension has to do with two opposing positions: isolation or intervention. Some wanted nothing to do with the events in Europe, while others wanted the United States to step in to help. Remember, just the year before, in 1940, the United States had declared an official position of neutrality.

However, fascism was wreaking havoc in Europe and it had Americans at odds with each other.

 

The Tension Expressed

I use the two characters in the cab to reveal those positions.

As a Polish immigrant, Eddie, is furious over Hitler’s aggression. He views the takeover of Poland (two years earlier) as an affront. He’s ready to enlist before Uncle Sam comes knocking.

My anti-hero, The Smoke, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the upcoming war. And though, at first, his position sounds a bit like isolationism, it’s not. He has no concerns for his country, or Europe for that matter.

At this point in the story, The Smoke is only focused on himself. Six months prior, the woman he loved walked out on him. He’s bitter, angry, and after a hiatus from his life of crime (for love’s sake), he’s back with a vengeance.

In Stealing Tesla, The Smoke–after using Eddie for his own purposes–never speaks to Eddie again. However, Eddie will have a huge impact on The Smoke’s life latter in the novel. How?

You’ll have to read, Stealing Tesla, to find out.

Day 26 of 31 Days – The Birth of a New Spy Agency

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Seeing The Coming War

During the 1930’s, the Nazi war machine was ramping up, and by the end of the decade, the Nazis were plowing through Europe.

Here at home, a lawyer from Buffalo could see the trouble looming in the future. He began making connections with world leaders in Europe and created a network of subtle intelligence gathering. His name was William Donovan.

 

Wild Bill Donovan

Wild Bill Donovan had returned from World War 1 a decorated hero. He served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York and became renowned for being a crime-fighter. He worked for a time under the Coolidge administration in the Attorney General’s office, and then President Herbert Hoover promised to name him the Attorney General of the United States, but then broke that promise.

Wild Bill continued to network in Europe.

 

A Call from the President

In the face of growing Nazis aggression, President Franklyn Roosevelt recognized a dearth in America’s intelligence capabilities and was persuaded to establish a specific office for information gathering. And although Wild Bill Donovan was a political foe (a Republican), he recognized his leadership abilities and tapped him to head up the post. In July of 1941, Wild Bill began operations. The first name of the organization was The Office of Coordinator of Information (OCI).

The OCI maintained a headquarters in New York, at 3603 Rockefeller Center.

 

War and a Name Change

Then came Pearl Harbor and America entered the war. The OCI expanded quickly and in June of 1942, they morphed into a new spy agency called, The Office of Strategic Services (OSS). They were modeled after, and were trained by, Churchill’s Secret Army—The Special Operations Executive (SOE).

After the war, the OSS had another name change. They became the Central Intelligence Agency–the CIA.

 

Wild Bill Donovan never makes an appearance in my novel, Stealing Tesla, but his phone call to my Detective Tooke gets the plot rolling and ultimately, the OSS plays a prominent role in the story.

Here’s an interesting video by the author of a biography about William Donovan:

 

 

 

Day 25 of 31 Days – The Fighting Irish

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Irish War Buddies

In my novel, Stealing Tesla, I quickly introduce a main character named, Sergeant Detective J. Patrick Tooke, an Irish cop who is at the New Yorker Hotel doing a favor for his former army major. He’s been asked to keep his eye out for a Nazi collaborator planning to visit the hotel.

It is this favor that sets in motion the plot of the book, as various espionage activities converge upon the hotel in a single night (along with an attempted robbery by my anti-hero, The Smoke).

 

Irish Backstory

Tooke, we discover, fought in France during World War 1 in what was called, The Irish Regiment, or The Fighting 69th.

The Fighting 69th would become memorialized in a movie by the same name. It starred, James Cagney, George Brent and Pat O’Brian (author’s note: in Stealing Tesla I make reference to Detective Tooke resembling Pat O’Brian.)

 

Irish Hero

In real life, the commanding officer of The Irish Regiment was a man named, William Donovan. (This is the man asking a favor of my character, Detective Tooke–a favor with ulterior motives.)

Because of his fearless determination and remarkable energy, Donovan was nicknamed, Wild Bill. He became a decorated officer and a hero, winning a Distinguished Cross, as well as, a Purple Heart and eventually, the Medal of Honor.

(In the image at the top of the page, is an actual photo of Donovan–pictured at the far right. The others are actors in the movie.)

 

Wild Bill Donovan

After the war, he returned to his hometown of Buffalo NY and became a lawyer and served with various governmental agencies. He also ran for governor of New York—and lost.

However, Wild Bill Donovan’s work for his country was far from over. As World War 2 loomed on the horizon, he would be called upon to head up a new organization that would, not only impact the war but would have far-reaching influence on our world today.

What was that organization? I’ll share that tomorrow.

24 of 31 Days – Churchill’s Secret Army

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The New Prime Minister

When he was elected Prime Minister in May of 1940, Winston Churchill inherited a world in chaos. Europe was in flames. The Nazi machine was in full force. Germany had invaded numerous countries, including Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. They also had eyes on England with an attack plan called, Operation Sea Lion.

Once in power, however, Churchill took swift action to head off the Nazi tide. He bolstered the Royal Air Force and Naval forces in preparation for the enviable attack on British shores.

Churchill also did one other thing, he began a new secret spy unit.

 

‘Churchill’s Secret Army’

The United Kingdom already had a spy agency called, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, or as it became known as, MI6), but Churchill foresaw the need for a new wartime agency that could be used for deep cover work in countries already conquered by Hitler and he wanted the authority to deploy agents quickly with the power to execute operations of espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance

The new agency was called Special Operations Executive (SOE).

In July of 1940, the SOE was birthed. The man spearheading the organization was Hugh Dalton the Minister of Economic Warfare. As he left Churchill’s den with his new marching orders, Churchill reportedly told him to, “…now set Europe ablaze”.

 

The Baker Street Irregulars

The SOE conducted clandestine operations from offices like the “Joint Technical Board” or the “Inter-Service Research Bureau”, or other fictitious names within the War Office. But among spy circles (including the SIS who was suspicious of the new organization) they called the agency, ‘Churchill’s Secret Army’ or ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’.

Eventually, the SOE became known as ‘The Baker Street Irregulars’, named after their London headquarters on Baker Street.

 

The SOE in Stealing Tesla

The SOE makes an appearance in Stealing Tesla. Without giving anything away, an agent surfaces that plays a critical role in the story.

Read Stealing Tesla to find out how.

23 of 31 Days – The Nazi March

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Broken Agreement

By the time my novel, Stealing Tesla, opens on October 6th, 1941, the Nazi march is in full swing. And it happened in a relatively short time.

In violation of the Munich Agreement, Germany took over Czechoslovakia in March of 1939. In September of that same year, with the help of their questionable allies, the Soviets, Germany invaded Poland.

Two days later, Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand declared war on Germany. The ‘Peace for our time’ speech by Chamberlain one year earlier was looking pretty foolish.

And then, two days after the declaration of war by Britain, the United States proclaimed neutrality—choosing to stay out of the European mess. Canada, however, ponied up and declared war on Germany.

 

Nazi Expansion

By May of 1940, the Nazis had invaded, Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Countries were falling like dominoes. And Nazi air power, in the form of the Luftwaffe, had become the most formidable in the world. They looked unstoppable.

 

England’s New Hope

However, during that same month of May, in England, another event took place that would help bolster that country’s morale and give welcomed leadership against the Nazi threat: Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister.

His election came just in time. Germany, having conquered France, was making plans for invading England, The Nazi attack was code-named, Operation Sea lion. However, history would come to know it as the Battle of Britain.

The Royal Air Force (RAF), with the help of pilots from several of the already conquered countries, would stave off the attack and breathe new life into the British people and the war effort.

Winston Churchill also did something else that would eventually help win the war. He birthed a new secret spy agency–one that plays a role in my novel, Stealing Tesla. We’ll explore that tomorrow.

 

Day 22 of 31 Days – World Tension in Tesla’s Time

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Two Months Before the War

My novel, Stealing Tesla, begins on October 6th, 1941, two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was a time of intense pressure in the complex world of politics. Europe was a powder keg ready to explode.

 

The Nazi Menace

In 1938, Nazi Germany was flexing its muscles and expanding with a non-violent conquest of Austria. Anyone who has seen the ‘Sound of Music’ knows the harsh political undertones of what took place under those wonderful songs.

Hitler then set his eyes on the Sudetenland border regions of Czechoslovakia and their German-speaking populations. This caused an uproar in Europe. The Czech people quickly mobilized a million men ready to defend the occupation of their land.

 

False Hope

Desperate to stem off the prospect of war, French leaders and the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, met with Adolph Hitler in September of 1938 to hammer out what was to be called, The Munich Agreement. It allowed for the German annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia for the sake of maintaining ‘Peace for our time’.

Ironically, the Czech leaders were not invited to the meeting nor did they have a say in the matter. They were given two choices: fight against Germany alone, or submit to the annexations. They submitted.

 

Broken Agreements

Chamberlain went home a hero, giving his famous, ‘Peace for our time,’ speech. But, of course, it didn’t last.

What no one knew at the time, was that Germany had already drafted an invasion plan for Czechoslovakia the year before signing the agreement. And six months later, they did just that. It was the beginning of the Nazi steamroller in Euroupe.

 

Stealing Tesla

Although, Stealing Tesla, is set in New York, I make use these political tensions for a couple of my characters—some of whom are from the region of Central Europe. The complexities of wartime positioning makes for wonderful spy opportunities.

 

Day 21 of 31 Days – Tesla’s Missing Items

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Inside Tesla’s Safe

Hours after Nikola Tesla’s death, a locksmith was called to open the large, double-door, standing safe in his room. Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanovic, was present with hotel personnel, along with two other gentlemen, Kenneth Swezy and George Clark (from RCA). Kosanovic’s secretary, Charlotte Muzar, was also there and wrote of the events that transpired in Tesla’s rooms.

Upon opening the safe, they found several cubby-holes and another locked door. A set of keys were discovered in a cubby-hole, and they used them to unlock the inside door. Tucked away inside was a gold medal. It was the Edison Award that had been given to Nikola Tesla in 1917 by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

 

Resealing the Safe

After concluding their business, the locksmith changed the combination to the safe, and gave the new combination over to Sava Kosanovic. They sealed the safe, leaving the medal and the set of keys locked inside.

The next day, the Office of Alien Property confiscated all of Tesla’s worldly goods and placed them in storage in the Manhattan Storage and Warehouse—including Tesla’s safe. And that’s where everything sat for nine years.

 

The Missing Items

In 1952, the US government finally released Nikola Tesla’s property into the hands Kosanovic. He would eventually ship the items to Yugosalvia where they would find a home at the Tesla Museum.

Upon opening the safe, however, he discovered that the ring of keys to the inside lock box were gone. After a search of the other nearby boxes and trunks in the storage unit, the key ring was finally located—outside the safe where it had been locked away nine years earlier.

Also missing was the Edison Award medal. It has not been found to this day.

Someone had meddled with Tesla’s goods while they were in storage. Who? The main suspects are the FBI. A year after the materials were placed in storage, Kosanovic went to make a back payment that was due on the facilities. Talking to a clerk on site, the man mentioned that the FBI had visited the lockers and had photographed everything in storage. Was that true? No one is completely sure.

In my novel, Stealing Tesla, my protagonist, The Smoke, pays a visit to Manhattan Warehouse and Storage for a very specific reason. You can read about it in Stealing Tesla.

 

Day 20 of 31 Days – Inside Nikola Tesla’s Safe

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An Eye Witness Account

The day after Nikola Tesla’s death, the FBI moved quickly, using the power of the Office of Alien Property, to confiscate his papers. However, before they had a chance to do so, a handful of other people had access to Tesla’s rooms only hours after his death.

Were items taken from the rooms at that time? Absolutely. We know this from an eye witness account documented by none other than the secretary of Tesla’s nephew,Sava Kosanovic. Her name was Charlotte Muzar.

 

Charlotte Muzar

Muzar wrote an account of being in the room only hours after Tesla’s body had been discovered. She, Kosanovic, and two other men were on the premises with members of the hotel staff. The names of the other two men were, Kenneth Sweezy (a writer and editor for scientific journals) and George Clark (who worked for RCA research laboratories).

And one other person showed up as well…a locksmith.

 

Tesla’s Safe

No one is sure who called the locksmith, but Charlotte Muzar recounts that he opened Tesla’s large upright safe.

For a brief time, Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanovic, had access to the contents of the safe. Muzar claimed that no scientific papers were taken from it, however, she verified that some other items were.

One item taken from the safe was an album filled with seventy commemorative letters from leading scientists and engineers from around the world. It had been given to Tesla as a gift on his 75th birthday. As Kenneth Swezey had played a role in creating the album, Kosanovic retrieved the album from the safe and gave it to him as gift. Kosanovic also took a few photographs for himself.

As for Charlotte Muzar, Kosanovic told her that she was welcome to take a keepsake from the apartment. She ended up taking a small crystal vial that was filled with a special formula for curing sick pigeons.

Was anything else taken from Tesla’s room at that time? Good question. I make use of this historical event in my novel, Stealing Tesla, by throwing in a key miss-direction in the plot. But what about real life?

Remember that locksmith who opened the safe? Well, he ended up changing the combination before locking it up again and only one person was given the combination. Who?

Tomorrow we’ll reveal who had the combination and we’ll also take a look at a couple of curious happenings surrounding Tesla’s safe.

 

 

Day 19 of 31 Days – The FBI and Tesla’s Missing Papers

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The FBI and Tesla’s Missing Papers

What role did Ralph E. Doty and Boyce Fitzgerald play in confiscating Nikola Tesla’s papers? That question still remains.

However, we do know that the FBI stepped in to help cordon off Tesla’s property. This order came from the top. Even J. Edgar Hoover had concerns over the intelligence contained in Tesla’s rooms. He arranged for a man named, L. M. C. Smith to take charge. Smith, at the time, was Chief of the Special War Policies Unit at the Department of Justice. He, in turn, used the clout of unordinary wartime office to seize Tesla’s property.

 

The Power of an Unordinary Agency

That governmental agency was called, The Office of Alien Property. What was this agency? And where did it get its authority?

On March 11, 1942, President Franklyn D. Roosevelt established The Office of Alien Property Custodian by Executive Order 9095, and it was to be an independent agency under his direct authority. The agency had the power to seize enemy property including real estate, business enterprises, ships and intellectual property in the form of trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

Was Nikola Tesla an enemy of the state? Heaven’s no. He was a naturalized citizen of the United States. However, his closest heir (his nephew, Sava Kosanovic) was now President of the Eastern and Central European Planning Board, a thinly disguised communist organization making post war plans for Yugoslavia.

 

The Grab for Tesla’s Property

The U.S. government moved quickly. Alien Property Custodian, Walter Gorsuch and an attorney, Irving Jurow, worked the case.

Jurow recounted years later how he had never heard of Nikola Tesla until the day after his death—the same day that he set in motion the confiscation of Tesla’s property. They packed everything up and placed every scrap into storage at a facility called Manhattan Warehouse and Storage. Jurow also coordinated with intelligence agents and the FBI in a search of Tesla’s laboratories and storage vaults in other hotels for—wait for it—a reported Death Ray prototype.

Why were they so anxious to keep Tesla’s papers out of reach? A war was on, of course, and enemy agents were still interested in Tesla’s technology for a weapon of mass destruction.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine an eye-witness account of other questionable events that took place in Tesla’s apartment hours after his death.

And you can read about it in my novel, Stealing Tesla.

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Day 18 of 31 Days – The Mystery of Tesla’s Missing Papers

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The Vultures Arrive

As soon as Nikola Tesla’s body was taken from his hotel suite, a series of events kicked in that makes for great drama. Friends, family and mysterious figures immediately converged upon Tesla’s rooms—all of whom were extremely interested in Tesla’s effects and papers.

Questions remain concerning a few of the characters involved, although two names surface that seemed to have played a role. The names were Fitzgerald and Doty. Both have conflicting identities and roles, and history is somewhat fuzzy about who these two individuals were.

 

Mysterious Agents

Boyce Fitzgerald has been identified, at times, as a Tesla protégé and former employee of Tesla Laboratories for ten years, yet he’s also been identified as an army private, and as a research scientist for the government. Fitzgerald had been in contact with the FBI concerning some of Tesla’s patents which had military capabilities, including a torpedo guidance device and the possible prototype of the particle beam weapon.

Fitzgerald is closely associated with a man named, Ralph E. Doty, who reportedly was with Naval Intelligence and (or) the FBI.

The two men showed up at Tesla’s suite almost immediately after his death, eager to confiscate Tesla’s effects before they could fall into the hands of enemy agents.

In Marc Seifer’s biography of Tesla, Wizard-The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, he refers to a government document of an eye-witness account of two hotel employees coming to Tesla’s rooms to help oversee the processing of Tesla’s goods. They claimed to be the hotel credit manager and an assistant credit manager. Their names were, L.O. Doty and L. A. Fitzgerald.

Hmmm, interesting how similar the names are to the mysterious characters of Boyce Fitzgerald and Ralph E. Doty.

 

Enter the FBI

What we do know for sure is that the FBI steps in and uses governmental clout to seal off all of Tesla’s effects. How? Through a shadowy wartime agency that had far-reaching powers to confiscate property without question.

What was the name of this agency? And what did they do with Tesla’s papers?

Stay tuned. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

 

Day 17 of 31 Days – The Death of Nikola Tesla

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A Lonely Death

For the last ten years of his life, Nikola Tesla lived at the New Yorker Hotel in room 3327. He died alone in his suite on January 7th 1943. The next day, a maid, ignoring a ‘do not disturb’ sign on his door, discovered his emaciated body. He was found lying on his bed naked, wearing only a pair of socks. He was 86 years old.

A medical examiner, Dr. H. W. Wembly, was immediately called to the scene to examine the body and he promptly declared the cause of death to have been a coronary thrombosis—a heart attack. He also declared that there had been no suspicious circumstances associated with the death, although conspiracy theories abound to the contrary.

The body was taken to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in New York, where Hugo Gernsback, a sculptor, was commissioned to create a death mask.

 

Tesla’s Forgotten Legacy

At the time of his death, Nikola Tesla was in financial ruin and had almost slipped into obscurity. The public had little knowledge of his contributions to scientific progress of the world.

Yet on January 10th, the Mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, read an open eulogy over radio station WNYC, and on January 12th over 2000 people attended Tesla’s funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A second smaller service was conducted the next day at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava in honor of his Serbian heritage.

 

Tesla’s Death Triggers Suspicious Movements

No sooner had Tesla’s body been removed from his room when suspicious activities began to take place. Several questionable characters—family, friends and spies—immediately converged upon his suite. Who were they? And what did they want? And what role did the U.S. government play?

Ah, we’ll look at that tomorrow, but know this…much of the real life covert action is in my book, Stealing Tesla.

 

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16 of 31 Days – Tesla’s Odd Behavior

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Nikola Tesla’s Odd Behavior

That Nikola Tesla was genius is unquestionable. He is said to have had an eidetic memory—what we would call a photographic memory. He knew several languages, he committed large portions of poetry to memory, and he had an exacting recall of scientific information.

However with such genius usually comes a bit of peculiar behavior, and so it was with Tesla. Tesla was a workaholic who only slept three hours a night, sustained himself on saltine crackers, and struggled with high pitched sounds that others could not hear.

 

OCD

Tesla also may have had a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that manifested in several behavioral oddities.

He developed a germ phobia, constantly washing his hands and refusing to shake the hands of others. He was also repulsed by the idea of touching hair.

Round objects bothered him, especially round jewelry, such as pearls. He avoided talking to women wearing them.

And he became obsessed with the number three. He would encircle a city block three times before entering a building, he always wanted 18 napkins on the table during a meal (a number divisible by three), and at the New Yorker Hotel he lived in Suite 3327 (on the 33rd floor, in a room also divisible by three)

 

Tesla and His Strange Love

Probably the most bizarre aspect of Tesla’s behavior was his obsession with pigeons. He kept several as pets and allowed them to fly into his suite. He fed them with a special formula of bird seed and other nutrients.

One pigeon in particular became the focus of his attention, a white female bird, which he claimed to love with the ‘love a man has for a woman’ and called her the ‘joy of his life’. When the pigeon died in his arms, Tesla felt that his life’s work was over.

Do pigeons come into play in my novel, Stealing Tesla? Oh yeah. Although, spoiler alert, no one falls in love with one.

Day 15 of 31 Days – Tesla’s Nazi Friend

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The Nazi Poet and Nikola Tesla

One of the most questionable figures hanging around Nikola Tesla was a man named, George Sylvester Viereck. Viereck was somewhat prominent during the time for simply hanging around somewhat prominent people. He was a journalist, poet, and a social gadfly. He was also fervently pro-German and a National Socialist.

Tesla considered Viereck a personal friend. They often dined together and Tesla thought his poetry to be genius, going so far as to memorize several of Viereck’s poems.

 

The Nazi Poet and Adolph Hitler

Yet Viereck had several cagey connections too, including one with Adolph Hitler himself. Viereck had made several trips to Germany and had interviewed the Fuhrer on more than one occasion. He was also a part of the German American Bund movement (a pro-German group that was growing in numbers in America prior to the war).

As a journalist, Viereck wrote for several publications printed here in America with a pro-Nazi slant, and for that reason, the FBI suspected him of being a paid propagandist for Germany. They kept a close eye on Viereck and eventually stepped in to thwart him in dramatic fashion.

 

The Nazi Poet in Stealing Tesla

Two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, George Sylvester Vereck was arrested for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He would remain in prison until after the war.

My story, Stealing Tesla, opens on the night of his arrest, on October 6th 1941, and it sets the stage for other espionage activities taking place at the New Yorker Hotel that very night. With America on the brink of war, foreign agents conspire to steal Tesla’s personal notes concerning his Particle Beam Ray weapon.

Check it out in Stealing Tesla.

Day 14 of 31 Days – Tesla – Family, Friends, and Spies

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Friends, Family and Spies

Real life intrigue surrounded Nikola Tesla’s life. He rubbed elbows with several famous people including, Mark Twain, George Westinghouse, J.P. Morgan and a host of contemporary scientists—some of whom were rivals, like Edison and Marconi, which caused open bickering (people still argue over who was responsible for propagating radio technology, Tesla or Marconi).

There were, however, other questionable characters hanging around Tesla who may have used their relationship to gather technological intelligence from him. One was a close relative and the other, strangely, was a mysterious poet with ties to Nazi Germany.

 

Tesla’s Nephew

As a lifelong bachelor, Tesla had no children. But he did have a nephew who came to live in New York and who worked closely with Tesla. His name was Sava Kosanovic.

Like Tesla, he was Serbian and born in Croatia. Kosanovic loved his uncle and was dedicated to building a Tesla Museum in their homeland of Yugoslavia to honor him. However, Kosanovic also had leftist leanings and eventually became aligned with the communist movement in Yugoslavia under Josip Tito.

 

Tensions in Yuglslavia

In the early stages of World War 2, Germany invaded Yugoslavia, causing the reigning monarch, King Peter, and the titular head of the country, Ivan Subasic, to flee to London England for refuge. This set up a strange underground resistance in the country. One set of resistance fighters fought on behalf of the monarch; the other fought for the communists. They both were against Nazis, but they also battled each other. The communists eventually won.

 

Family Tensions

Nikola Tesla maintained a devotion for King Peter to the end; his nephew, however, did not, and the two were in conflict over it. In fact, Kosanovic would eventually become communist Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to the United States.

Did this mean that Kosanovic was a mole for the communists while living in New York? Possibly even the Soviets? We can’t say for sure. However, the tension between Tesla and his nephew makes for a great story. And I take advantage of that tension in my book, ‘Stealing Tesla’.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the Nazi poet with close ties to Nikola Tesla.

Day 13 of 31 Days – The Death Ray Prototype

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Was Tesla’s Death Ray Far-fetched?

We have seen Hollywood’s response to Tesla’s Death Ray, but how realistic were Nikola Tesla’s claims to have invented such a device? The Russians took him seriously enough to invest in the weapon’s development. That should be some indication. But did others take it seriously?

Joseph Butler, a U.S. Air Force expert on beam weapons, has said of Tesla’s idea, “Definitely, he had the concept of a charged particle beam weapon back in the 1930s. The concept was right on the mark … particles projected out long distances to do damage to some enemy airplanes, in his particular case.” But Butler added, “I haven’t a clue how he meant to actually do it”

 

An Existing Prototype?

Tesla not only claimed to have conceived of a particle beam weapon, he also claimed to have built a working prototype. Several sources reported to have seen the prototype and had actually watched as Tesla demonstrated it.

 

But What Happened to it?

In the early ‘30’s, Tesla was asked to leave his residence at the Governor Clinton Hotel because of an unpaid bill of $10,000. As collateral for his debt, he handed over a supposed invention of his that he claimed was very dangerous. It was concealed and locked in a handsome walnut case (the size of a modern microwave oven). Tesla told the hotel personnel that the device would detonate if it was opened by any unauthorized person. It was kept in the hotel’s vault untouched until Tesla’s death.

 

Did authorities take the threat seriously? They certainly did.

 

After Tesla’s death in 1943, an MIT scientist, Dr. John O. Trump, working for the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) and accompanied by the office of Naval Intelligence, was called to New York to help disarm the device. They all went to the hotel to retrieve it and open its contents. What did they find?

 

That historical information and what transpired can be found in my novel, Stealing Tesla.

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Day 12 of 31 Days – Tesla’s Weapon and Questionable Backers

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Teleforce

Nikola Tesla called the power behind his particle beam weapon, Teleforce, and he truly believed that, once developed, the Teleforce weapon would make war so abominable that it would rid war from the earth forever.

After announcing his weapon to the world, Nikola Tesla attempted to interest the U.S. War Department in the weapon. At that time, they turned him away. He also sought investors to back the project, including J.P. Morgan and the English Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Both declined.

 

The Dark Investor

One investor, however, did step forward. Communist Russia. The Soviets gave Tesla $25,000 to begin developing the Death Ray weapon. Tensions in Europe were ramping up and the Soviets were seeking any military edge they could find.

This historical fact plays a major role in my novel, Stealing Tesla. By the time my story opens in 1941, the Soviets are growing impatient with the lack of progress in the development of the weapon. They step in to speed things up. How? They schmooze Tesla with the help of an inside man. Who? We’ll talk about that in Day 14 of 31 Days.

It’s all in my novel, Stealing Tesla.

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Day 11 of 31 Days – Tesla Vs. Superman

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The Mad Scientist

In 1941, Max Fleischer, the famous animation director, released the first in a series of Superman cartoons. The title was, The Mad Scientist. And Superman’s first villain was a thinly disguised version of Nikola Tesla as the mad scientist.

 

Tesla Comparisons

Here are just a few of the comparisons to Tesla made in the cartoon:

  • Tesla’s Particle Beam Ray, became an ‘electrothanasia-ray’.
  • The spooky laboratory on a hill bears a resemblance to Tesla’s Wardenclyff Laboratory (covered in Day 8 of 31 Days)
  • And the Mad Scientist’s pet raven is reminiscent of Nikola Tesla strange fascination with pigeons (which we will talk about down the road)

You will find a version of the ‘mad scientist’ motif (with a twist) in my novel, Stealing Tesla. Other aspects of the Max Fleischer cartoon come into play, but you will have to read the novel to find out what they are.

 

Not Everyone was Laughing

While Hollywood (and Superman) scoffed at the idea of Nikola Tesla’s weapon of mass destruction, others did not. The Germans and the Russians were very interested in developing Tesla’s concepts of a particle beam weapon; so much so, that one of those governments invested capital in it. Which one? We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

 

Click here to nominate Stealing Tesla

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Day 10 of 31 Days – Death Rays Go Mainstream

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The Aftermath of Tesla’s Announcement

Tesla’s 1934 birthday announcement that he had invented a Particle Beam Death Ray produced two results: scoffing from doubters and a keen interest from believers.

The Nazi and Soviet governments in particular were fascinated by Tesla’s claims, as both were in the process of ramping up their military muscle in the 1930’s. Hitler and Stalin both believed Tesla to be a genius, and both began conspiring to obtain the designs for the weapon–yes, this comes into play in my novel, Stealing Tesla. (More about the Nazis and the Soviets in Day 12 of 31 Days of Stealing Tesla).

But not everyone was on board.

 

Hollywood and Tesla’s Death Ray

Hollywood took a different view. They saw Tesla’s weapon concept more in the vein of science fiction than reality—the emphasis on fiction. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers suddenly had particle beam weapons at their disposal, or fought to destroy such weapons. And a couple of years later, a movie was released based on Tesla’s particle beam weapon. It starred, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

Here are some movie posters for, The Invisible Ray (notice the mad scientist in the upper left corner–an obvious Tesla look-alike):

 

A New Super Villain is Born

But Hollywood was not done. Tesla’s Death Ray was about to go mainstream, and one of America’s iconic heroes of all time was about to face off with Nikola Tesla as an evil mad villain. Who? We’ll see tomorrow.

Day 9 of 31 Days – Tesla’s Weapon of Mass Destruction

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The Birthday Announcement

On July 10th, 1934, on his 78th birthday, Nikola Tesla gathered reporters to his hotel suite at the New Yorker Hotel and made an astonishing announcement. He claimed to have developed the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

The prologue of my novel, Stealing Tesla, is a newspaper clipping describing this event and is a compilation of actual articles written at the time. This news clipping sets up the plot of Stealing Tesla, which begins seven years later with America on the brink of World War 2.

 

Prologue to Stealing Tesla

 

Dateline: NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 1934

——————————————————————————————-

TESLA, 78, REVEALS

PLANS FOR DEATH RAY

————————————————————————-

Particle Beam Weapon Destroys
Planes From Great Distance

___________________

Calls Weapon, “Chinese Wall of Defense”

—————————————————————————————-

From his rooms at the New Yorker Hotel, eminent scientist, Nikola Tesla, yesterday revealed his concepts for a new defensive weapon, an invention powerful enough to destroy 10,000 enemy planes from 250 miles away.

Nikola Tesla, who turned 78 years old yesterday, is the father of modern methods of generation and distribution of electrical energy. He considers his new apparatus the most important of the 700 inventions he’s made so far.

Dr. Tesla said he has perfected a method and apparatus, which will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of airplanes and will cause armies of millions to drop dead in their tracks.

This “death-beam,” Dr. Tesla said, is effective at great distances and fires its force in silence. “As far as a telescope could see an object on the ground and as far as the curvature of the earth would permit it. It will be invisible and will leave no marks behind it beyond its evidence of destruction,” said Tesla.

An army could be annihilated in an instant, he said, even the most powerful microscope would not reveal what catastrophe had caused the destruction.

Tesla claims this latest invention of his would make war impossible. This death-beam, he asserted, would surround each country like an invisible Chinese Wall, only a million times more impenetrable. It would make every nation impregnable against attack by airplanes or by large invading armies.

 

Want to read the novel, Stealing Tesla? Click here to nominate.

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Day 8 of 31 Days – The Great Experiment of Wardenclyffe

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Wardenclyff, Tesla’s Great Experiment

 

A Man Before His Time

Nikola Tesla was a man of vision. In an article in Century Magazine, in June, 1900, Tesla described his concept of a network of high-voltage towers which could one day relay text and images wirelessly, and provide an endless source of electricity that could be drawn from the atmosphere.

 

Wardenclyffe

The visionary article caught the eye of one of richest men in America, J.P. Morgan, and he decided to back Tesla’s vision by helping him build a prototype facility. He supplied $150,000 to the project, which would become known as, Wardenclyffe.

The Wardenclyffe Tower began construction in 1901, in the Long Island town of Shoreham. One year later Tesla moved his laboratory to the facility. The tower itself was 187 feet tall, and it is said that the facility below was just as deep as it was tall (I use this little tidbit of information in my novel, Stealing Tesla).

 

An Experiment Gone Awry

Unfortunately, Wardenclyffe became known as one of Tesla’s biggest failed experiments. By 1906, Tesla and Morgan had a falling out, other investors pulled out of the project, and Nikola Tesla, who had mortgaged the property in 1904 to prop it up, was financially destitute. Tesla ended up having a nervous breakdown.

The laboratory was eventually abandoned and the tower was torn down in 1917.

However, this forgotten laboratory plays a key role in my novel, Stealing Tesla.

Nominate Stealing Tesla right now on,

Day 6 of 31 Days – The Birth of AC (no…not, air-conditioning, Alternating Current)

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The Birth of AC (no…not, air-conditioning—Alternating Current)

After that first failure of striking it out on his own, Nikola Tesla ended up digging ditches to make ends meet, but he wasn’t down for long. Tesla never let go of that vision he had in the park that day for Alternating Current, and he was determined to see it through.

Returning to his concepts for AC current (as opposed to Edison’s DC current), he would begin developing concepts of AC motors that would eventually light the world.

 

Enter George Westinghouse

With new investors, Tesla was able to invent and patent a new induction motor that ran on alternating current. News of the development got back to George Westinghouse, of Westinghouse Electric, who jumped at the opportunity to bring Tesla and his ideas into his operations. Tesla and Westinghouse would partner on several projects, including the Chicago World’s Fair in 1883, which was an important milestone in launching alternating current into the world.

 

Niagara Falls

The two would also work together on the massive generating power plant at Niagara Falls in 1893. Tesla’s concepts for electrical generation played such a critical role, that there are statues in his honor on both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the falls.

Day 5 of 31 Days – Cage Match, Tesla vs. Edison

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Tesla and Edison

Coming to America in 1884, Tesla was hired as an electrical engineer at Edison Machine Works. He drew a salary of $100 a month. In all probability, Tesla only ran into Thomas Edison himself a couple of times while employed there, however, his employment would be brief (six months) and contentious.

 

Let the Battle Begin

The story goes that Edison offered a bonus of $50,000 to anyone who could improve the efficiency of his DC electrical generators. Tesla toiled over the project and came up with 24 new designs to improve the generators. However, upon presenting the improvements, Edison scoffed at offering a bonus, telling Tesla that he’d only been joking. Tesla left soon after, scrawling with big letters in his diary across two pages: ‘Goodbye to Edison Machine Works’.

 

Down for the Count

Tesla took his concepts for an improved generator, as well as new designs for arc lighting, found some investors and formed Tesla Electric and Light Company. However, once the company was up and running, Tesla was squeezed out of the operation by his own investors. Over the course of a year, he lost his patents for the improved DC generator and ended up penniless. Tesla would literally be digging ditches for a time.

But Nikola Tesla was about to rebound in a big way. And his rivalry with Thomas Edison was about to ramp up.

Check out my novel, Stealing Tesla, on Kindle Scout.

Day 4 of 31 Days – A Drawing in Dirt that Changed the World

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Tesla’ Beginnings

Before immigrating to America, Nikola Tesla studied at the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and at the University of Prague. He then went on to be an electrical engineer with a telephone company in Budapest.

 

A Walk in the Park–a Drawing in the Dirt

One day, while in Budapest, Tesla and a companion were strolling through the park just as the sun was setting. Tesla began thinking on a passage in Goethe’s, Faust, about the setting sun being a sort of death, yet somewhere beyond the horizon the sun was rising and giving birth. Suddenly, Nikola Tesla was thunderstruck with an idea.

Grabbing a stick, he bent down and quickly drew the concept of his revelation in the sand. He envisioned a rotating magnetic field. And that simple concept in the dirt would eventually become the basis of alternating current.

Here is how his idea played out:

This revelation in the dirt would end up changing the world. Tesla was only 26 at the time.

I refer to this moment in my novel Stealing Tesla, even thought the novel is set 60 years later.

Nominate it on Kindle Scout.

Day 3 of 31 Days – Who was Nikola Tesla?

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My Absent Central Character

Spoiler alert: Nikola Tesla makes but a brief appearance in my novel, Stealing Tesla.

Having said that, he is also the central figure of the book. How? By using one of his actual inventions as the basis for wartime espionage.

 

But who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was one of the most innovative geniuses of the early 1900’s. He was instrumental in developing alternating current, rotating magnetic field and radio technology. He helped light up the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and played a key role in harnessing electrical power generated by Niagara Falls.

 

Nikola Tesla – Child of Light

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in the region of Croatia. Legend has it, that he was born at the stroke of midnight during a violent thunderstorm. The mid-wife on hand thought it an omen and called him a ‘child of the storm’, but Tesla’s mother thought otherwise and called him a ‘child of light’.

Electricity and lightning. A prophetic calling. Tesla was bound for great things. We cannot underestimate his tremendous effect on our lives today.

Day 2 of 31 Days – The Stealing Tesla Book Jacket

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Click here to nominate for a free Stealing Tesla ebook:

 

 

A noir Thriller of Espionage, Thievery, and Murder

 

1941–America is on the brink of world war, yet here at home an elusive thief stalks Manhattan. The newspapers call him, The Smoke—vaporous, elusive. The Smoke has no interest in the events setting Europe on fire; his focus is on a heist he has planned at the swanky New Yorker Hotel

But this thief is about to crack the wrong safe.

The Smoke has meticulously planned the job to the minute. However, an unforeseen hitch takes The Smoke off course, and little does he know that he’s about to stumble into the hotel suite of the renowned scientist, Nikola Tesla. Inside the inventor’s safe is his personal notebook with designs for a weapon of mass destruction–a weapon coveted by Nazi and Soviet agents. The Smoke’s mistake will throw him headlong into the world of espionage and murder.

Hot on the trail of The Smoke is New York City Detective J. Patrick Tooke. He happens to be at the New Yorker Hotel doing a favor for an old friend, Wild Bill Donovan. Donovan is in the process of building a new intelligence organization called, the OSS, which is dedicated to keeping the Tesla notebook out of the hands of foreign agents, and they suspect that a Nazi collaborator will be conducting business at the hotel. That’s when Detective Tooke spots a suspicious character with a vaguely familiar face. Could it be the thief known as the Smoke?

As The Smoke and Detective Tooke, become entangled in the world of espionage they will end up forging an unlikely partnership, which will ultimately lead them into a nest of Soviet spies and scientists dead set on constructing Tesla’s very real particle beam weapon–a Death Ray.

With the outcome of the war in the balance, it becomes a battle against time over who will be successful in Stealing Tesla.

 

Stealing Tesla Accepted to Kindle Scout

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kindle scoutstealing tesla

 

 

 

You Can Help Launch My Noir Thriller, Stealing Tesla

 

I have exciting news. My noir thriller, Stealing Tesla, has been accepted to the Amazon Kindle Scout Program.

What is Kindle Scout, you ask?

Simply put, Kindle Scout is a fan and crowd-sourced platform for finding new books for publication. That makes you part of the process. And it is absolutely free to help out.

 

This is how it works:

For thirty days, my novel, Stealing Tesla, will be displayed as one of the possible books for publication. It will be competing with other books for nominations within my genre (mystery and thriller)—the more nominations, the better, of course.

Beginning at midnight, February 15th, you can go to the Kindle Scout site and read the first three chapters of Stealing Tesla, and if you like what you see, you cast a vote for it. Simple as that. The goal is to push my book into the ‘hot and trending’ category.

 

What’s in it for you? 

Well, if my book gets chosen for publication, you get a free ebook of Stealing Tesla just for participating. Not bad for a few clicks of the mouse.

At the end of thirty days, Kindle Scout then reviews the books and makes a decision about publication. If selected, Stealing Tesla, will then have the muscle of Amazon marketing behind it. That is a good thing.

 

One last thing

During the campaign, I will be blogging, 31 Days of Stealing Tesla. Each day I will be sharing facts and some of the historical record surrounding the book—about Nikola Tesla and his weapon of mass destruction, about Wild Bill Donovan and the OSS, and about the mood in America leading up to World War 2. I will be posting links on Facebook, and it would be a great help to have you ‘like’ and ‘share’ the posts, and get some momentum behind this thing.

Thank-you everyone, and happy reading,

Jonathan Call