PANDEMIC – A plague that spreads throughout the known world.

PLAGUE – An epidemic disease with high mortality rate.

What does the name Xenopsylla cheopis evoke for you? A Greek opera star? A highly poisonous plant? Nope, it’s the scientific name for a flea that lives on rats, and it was identified as the carrier of a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, which, when delivered via the bite of that flea, causes Bubonic Plague.

Bubonic plague got its name from the term buboes, referring to the body’s lymph nodes. In the extreme condition of the disease the lymph nodes swell causing painful bruising and eventually gangrene, turning the skin black. This horrible manifestation in the victim gave the Bubonic Plague the name many of us know it as, The Black Death. Today Bubonic Plague is treatable with antibiotics since it is bacterial.


The plague had, not only devastating effects on the health of the population, but on cultural and economic aspects of the populations.


  • It affected the entire Mediterranean Basin, Europe and the Near East, especially Constantinople (then the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor, now known as Istanbul). Justinian, the HRE, resided in Constantinople, caught the disease, but survived. One fifth of the city’s population died.
  • The plague arrived in grain ships from Egypt, (rats love grain), and spread from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe and the Arabian Peninsula. This spread made it a pandemic.
  • It wasn’t until 2013, that researchers confirmed Y. pestis as the cause of this plague. DNA analysis is used to determine the relationships between modern and ancient strains of Y. pestis. The ancient strains of Y. pestis are still found in Tian Shan, mountains bordering China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
  • This plague is estimated to have killed 25 to 100 million people over two centuries of recurrences. Plagues can return if proper measures are not taken.
  • Justinian showed no mercy for the farmers who provided food for his city and who were decimated by the disease. A quote from the historian Procopius, “Even then, he did not refrain from demanding the annual tax, not only the amount at which he assessed each individual, but also the amount for which his deceases neighbors were liable.”


  • It was the deadliest plague in human history with 75 to 200 million deaths in Eurasia, North Africa, and Europe.
  • It originated in Central or East Asia, traveling along the Silk Road (a trade route between Xian in Eastern China and the Italian peninsula).
  • Human fleas feasting on rat flea infected persons transmitted the disease into inland areas.
  • The Black Death was concurrent with The Great Famine which killed 30 to 60 % of Europeans.
  • It took until the 1500’s for the population to reach its pre-pandemic numbers.


  • It originated in Yunnan Province, China, appearing in Hong Kong in 1894.
  • It spread throughout the world, notably at this time, to America, through the shipping routes.
  • An historical note of how a pandemic can affect cultures. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was renewed and made permanent in 1902.
  • This plague was not declared officially over until 1959.
  • 2 million deaths.

THE SPANISH FLU 1918 – 1920


  • It is now known that this flue was caused by H1N1 influenza virus A.
  • It killed 17 to 50 million souls and infected 500 million, one third of the world’s population.
  • Its geographic origin is unknown. It was called the Spanish Flu because the Spanish press vigorously covered the illness of their king, Alfonso Trece(XIII), while the press in other countries played it down, due to the bad news coming from the battle fields of WWI.
  • Most flues have high mortality rates among the very young and the very old. This one killed many young adults. This was due to a phenomenon known as a cytokine storm which adversely affected the strong immune systems of the young. However, other factors, such as malnutrition, overcrowding in medical camps and hospitals and poor hygiene led to “superinfections” in patients already weakened by the ravages of WWI.
  • The second H1N1 virus epidemic was the swine flu in 2009.
  • 2009 – H1N1 swine flu killed 10,000 Americans, sent 213,000 to the hospital, and sickened 50 million — a sixth of the population — by mid-November, the CDC estimates.
  • The swine-flu pandemic of 2009 may have killed up to 203,000 people worldwide—10 times higher than the first estimates based on the number of cases confirmed by lab tests, according to a new analysis by an international group of scientists
  • It originated in Central Mexico, at a pig farm.


Here are a few tantalizing slides from two of my lectures. All the lectures are listed below.


An investigation into women spies from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Lydia Darragh’s husband, William, wrote the information she uncovered in a special shorthand known to most members of the family. Darragh then hid the message under cloth-covered buttons on her son John’s coat. John then took the message to his older brother, Charles, who was serving in the Continental Army under General Washington.






THE ICON OF FEMALE SPYDOM:  Margaretha Geertruida Zelle aka Mata Hari










4500 women served in the OSS during WWII.

Along with the women who served in the WASPS, The Women’s Air Service Pilots, the Rosies who manufactured the war materiel, the nurses, the code breakers, and the WAFS, WACS and WAVES.

Was it glamourous? Was there gender bias? What did they accomplish?










Here is a complete list of Linda Maria Frank’s Lecture Series

  • NOT EXACTLY JAMES BOND, BUT . . .: The story of women’s contributions to America’s war efforts are some of the most interesting stories in the world of espionage. Women have acted as spies since Biblical times. Their ability to blend into the natural commerce of human affairs allows them the anonymity required by espionage. This lecture deals with women of the Culper Spy Ring, George Washington’s secret service, the first in America. We move on to the Civil War, both Union and Confederate agents. As we enter WWI, spies become more international, and ever though some are not American, they are noteworthy. WWII sees the formation of the OSS with 4,50 women operatives. And then there is the cold war. Who were they? What did they do? What happened to them?
  • DNA TECHNOLOGY: includes an explanation of how we are related and how we are different by our DNA and illustrates how this technology has become one of the best tools of criminologists.
  • DNA AND FAMOUS MURDER CASES outlines how DNA analysis was used and misused in the O.J. Simpson trial, the Laci and Connor Petersen murders, the Sam Sheppard trial, and the Boston Strangler.
  • THE LINDBERG KIDNAPPING traces the evidence used to convict Bruno Hauptman of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindberg, Jr. This was the first case dubbed the “Crime of the Century” by the print and radio media.
  • SOLVING ANCIENT MYSTERIES I: This lecture illustrates how modern forensic techniques using DNA technology are used to solve mysteries of the past. The initial segment focuses on the ancient mystery closest to home, our own ancestry. It includes an explanation of how services like ancestry.com work and what they tell us. A discussion of the efforts to identify the remains of POW’s and MIA’s is included in this lecture. The main points presented are:
  1. DNA, its role in heredity, and the technologies used to link individuals
  2. The DNA technology used in ancestry searches
  3. Cases where DNA has solved some age-old mysteries, for example, the migration of the human species, the Mitochondrial Eve, the lost tribe of Israel.
  4. How DNA technology is used to identify the victims of war and catastrophes, like the American MIA’s in Vietnam and other wars.
  • SOLVING ANCIENT AND COLD MYSTERIES II: Evidence to explain fascinating discoveries such as Otzi, the Ice Man, the Bog People of Denmark, the Peruvian mummies and even the Vampire folklore of Eastern Europe is presented. This presentation includes:
  1. A review of how DNA technology works
  2. The ancient mysteries described above, and
  3. The case of Tsar Nicolas, the last Czar of Russia, and his family including the infamous Anastasia.
  4. The final resting place of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


  • PLANTS, POISONS AND PLOTS I: This lecture includes an investigation into the forensic world of toxicology. It concentrates on poisons derived from plants.
  • PLANTS, POISONS AND PLOTS II: This investigation goes on to illustrate how the various plant poisons and their uses or misuses have been used over the centuries. It illuminates how famous mystery writers have employed them in their books. From Snow White to Agatha Christie to the popular Outlander series, follow the authors’ notes on Plants, Poisons and Plots.
  • ART, NOT ART I:  This program delves into the lucrative world of art crime.
  1. Explanations of how art pieces are scientifically authenticated, including both scientific methods and the expertise of the art historian.
  2. The significance of a provenance.
  3. The difference between fake, forgery and restoration.
  4. Examples of forgeries.
  5. Cases of both, successful and unsuccessful forgeries and thefts are included.


  • ART, NOT ART II: After a brief discussion of art crime, the effects of war on art works and cultural artifacts is addressed.
  1. Famous cases of art theft, such as the Nazi atrocities regarding art works during WWII are described.
  2. The work of the Museum Fine Arts and Archives (Monuments Men), created by FDR, to restore art works to their owners at the end of the war is described in detail.
  3. The destruction of human history in the Middle East by ISIS and other terrorist groups is detailed, and compared to the previous discussed response, by the United States, to this atrocity.
  4. The case of Woman in Gold, and art world mysteries, involving Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci and Rembrandt are also included.
  • THOSE CSI SHOWS, FACT OR FICTION: An investigation of the protocols, procedures and laboratory world of crime investigation in the real world and on TV, with references to notable cases solved by the various divisions of the modern forensics laboratory makes this a must for fans of the popular crime solving genre of TV fare.
  • I THINK I CAN WRITE A BOOK, MAYBE A MYSTERY: How does one go about writing a book? In this lecture, the author explains the process of getting down to the actual writing and production of a book. From inspiration, sources of ideas, research and the art of writing, Linda Frank gives her best advice and anecdotes of how the Annie Tillery Mystery Series came about. She also discussed the three ways to publish, what is entailed in book to movie or TV, and the use of social media to get your book out there. It is a personal story chock full of factual information gleaned by the author as a result of her journey from idea to book. I have described this process in my latest book, “Making a Mystery with Annie Tillery: The Madonna Ghost”.


Linda Maria Frank, retired from a career teaching science, including forensic science, resides on Long Island and is currently writing the Annie Tillery Mysteries, The Madonna Ghost, Girl with Pencil, Drawing, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, and The Mystery of the Lost Avenger. She also produces The Writer’s Dream, her local access TV show, seen on YouTube. Frank is active in LI Authors Group, LI Sisters in Crime, LI Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and Mystery Writers of America.














The quest of the self-published author to be recognized is a long and winding road.

“Making a Mystery with Annie Tillery” is a tool for anyone interested in literature, writing and educating and exposing young readers to what it’s like to be an author, told through an exciting, engaging great teen mystery. The book included book discussion questions, lesson plans, websites and a writing activity. All this is embedded in the author, Linda Maria Frank’s (that’s me), notes, ideas and back stories about the book.


But now the hard work begins. I need to market this book, somewhat like the Annie Tillery Mystery series, but also to the educators whom I hope will use this book. I’m starting with social media. I’ve done interviews on The Authors Show for all the books in the series, and I am hoping readers will listen to these interviews, available here, to see the parallels between the series, and my notes on writing them.

I will move on to other venues, but for now I hope you enjoy my interviews, https://wnbnetworkwest.com/

Scroll down the list of interviews and find me on June 14. Let me know what you think?


The Most Ancient Form of Historical Records

The Story of the People

How did we get from oral history to Amazon?

What’s the difference between an author and a story teller? Imagine a world before technology, even before electricity. As an “Outlander” fan, I was captured by the visit to Castle Leoch by a traveling minstrel and bard. He told folk tales through his song. His audience was enraptured. It was oral history that captured our ancestors, and even before the 18th Century, the history of peoples was related through the story teller. The story teller traveled from sparsely populated area, one to another.


There were books, thanks to the monks and other scholars, but few could read, no less afford a book.

Then came the printing press. Books and newspapers or broad sheets abounded. Then radio, and television, and the Internet, and the Cloud, and Amazon, Social Media and your Smartphone and other almost intelligent devices. Books and information of an astronomical number became available.

Teacher as Story Teller

The story teller became the author. And now, author, how does your story get out there to those millions of ears and eyes, avid for a good story?

We still need good story tellers

Every author loves their story. I love my Annie Tillery Mysteries.What fine stories!

Alas, that is the conundrum of you and I. Marketing is the beast that must be tamed. I’ll let you know what I find out. I hope you will share as well.



PROLOGUE (July 10)

A Cave in Nevshehir, Turkey

“I’m afraid, Ahmet. I don’t want to go any further.” The girl stamped her foot, the sound echoing through the stillness of the cave.

“Oh, you little silly wussycat! I told you, it is like the story of Hansom and Greta. I left a trail of bread crumbs for us to follow out of this cave.”

“That’s Hansel and Gretel, you great fool,” his sister shot back, momentarily distracted from her panic. Looking up at her brother, and noticing the shadow of a mustache under his nose, she thought, Can I really trust this twelve year old brother to save us?

Her eyes took in the expanse of the chamber they were in, water dripping from some place their flashlights could not illuminate. The stone was irregular and gray. The light beam revealed only a small swath, leaving the rest of the cave in menacing shadows and deep black voids, leading away into a terrifying unknown. Yelda’s voice hitched as she tugged on Ahmet’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here,” she implored once more.

Changing his tone to a more cajoling one, Ahmet reasoned, “Please, just a few more feet, Yelda. I’m running out of bread crumbs.”

“What!” she said through quivering lips, her voice a shrill peep. “You said this would be an adventure. You didn’t say anything about death traps.” She pulled more insistently at his arm.

Undeterred, Ahmet surged on. “Just over there. See, at the end of this cave.” He grabbed her hand and Yelda followed, sniveling, her body tense with apprehension.

Ahmet stumbled over a lip in the floor, pitching forward and dragging his sister with him. He did not let go of her hand in case she would give into her fear and bolt for the entrance to the cave.

“What if your breadcrumbs don’t help us?” Yelda said, the quiver in her voice giving way to fear.

Carefully picking their way, the two fell against a boulder which shielded a rocky ledge that fell off into an abyss which they could not see. Ahmet clutched his flashlight like a lifesaver while he tested for footholds, making his way around the boulder. As he did so, the boulder, which teetered precariously on the ledge, began to slide away from them. Before they could comprehend what that meant, the thin ledge they were standing on cracked and Yelda and Ahmet began to slide downward along with the boulder and the broken ledge.

The sound was deafening in the cave. The fall could have only taken a few seconds, but the sudden stop at the bottom raised a cloud of choking dust leaving the explorers in a daze.

Yelda was too stunned to cry. Ahmet never let go of either his twin sister or the flashlight.

“Stand up, Yelda!” demanded her brother, as he did so himself. “Can you walk? I seem to be okay.”

“Ahmet, if we ever get out of here,” hissed Yelda through gritted teeth, “I will kill you. Why, I say, why do I ever listen to you?’

“This is no time for us to argue. We are in big trouble. We must find our way out of here.”

“Even so smart, you are,” Yelda sneered. “In all of Turkey, there is not a more stupid boy!”

“Stop that! This is no time for your sarcastic poking at me, sister.” Ahmet sounded far more confident than he felt. “We need to think like the amateur archeologists we are.”

“Hah! You said it! Amateur! Yelda was choking back a sob.

“Get up,” Ahmet demanded. Their terrible situation was taking a firm hold on his gut, and he had to muster all his machismo to push down his own panic. They had fallen through the floor of an unexplored cave and no one back at the camp knew where they were.

Yelda got up feeling the seat of her pants. “I am either bleeding, or there is water here,” she said. “Did you lose the flashlight?”

“No,” he replied, realizing how tightly he was gripping it. “And it is still working.”

He played the beam around their new cave. They could see they were standing in a high-ceilinged cavern with a large puddle or small pond in front of them. There was no telling how deep the water might be. He played the flashlight upward in the direction of their fall. His heart tripped in his chest at what he saw. He could just make out the opening to the chamber fifteen feet above through the cloud of dust. There was no apparent way to climb back up. The wall between them and it was glassy smooth with marble-like limestone. The rock formations in this chamber were very different from the cave above. As Ahmet played the flashlight past the water to the other side, the wall of the cave sparkled as if encrusted with the glitter Yelda liked to glue onto everything she owned.

Yelda was quiet, reality making her mute.

“Let’s see if we can find another way out of here,” Ahmet said as visions of their skeletonized remains decorating some deep chamber of this cave system spurred him on to do something.

“Maybe if we shout,” Yelda offered, but quickly added, “Maybe we need to save our voices.” She fell silent again.

“Ah! I have an idea. I will turn off the flashlight. We will close our eyes for a minute or two. When we open them we will be able to detect if there is light coming from anywhere. There might be an exit nearby.”

Ahmet clicked the switch off switch. The darkness was a velvety curtain brushing against them. Their ears seemed to pulsate, willing to pick up some hopeful sound.

Drip. Plunk. Another thirty seconds went by. Drip. Plunk.

“I am opening my eyes now,” Ahmet announced.

“I will not open mine,” Yelda replied. “If we don’t see anything, I will go crazy.”

Ahmet muttered, “Nothing. Maybe I need to close my eyes longer.” Yelda whimpered. Another thirty seconds.

“I have gone crazy,” Yelda hissed. “Do you see that?”

“What?” Ahmet hissed back. “Why are you whispering?”

“It might be some horrible cave creature. I don’t want it to find us.”

Both of them watched as the merest shimmer glimmered and dimmed on the surface of the pool. On the other side of the water there was a ledge with floor to ceiling limestone formations. They could not see behind it.

Ahmet pointed. “It’s coming from there.” He stood and made toward the pool.

“Ahmet, no!” Yelda breathed. “You just can’t cross this pool. What if it is very deep? And all that splashing? What if it is some fierce creature?”

He nodded. “Good thinking. We can keep to the edge, and go around the pool.”

Dimming their light, Yelda and Ahmet carefully tested each footstep before moving forward, making it around to the stone wall on the other side. The shimmer on the pool was getting brighter, but not enough to see by.

Yelda crouched down so they could both peer around the wall. That dim flickering in the darkness of the cave made invisible objects glint in its irregular pulses of light. It made threatening shadows, and obscured reality.

The source of the shimmering light continued to flick on and off in the distance, making shadows that seemed to clutch at them. Yelda and Ahmet held their breath.

“What is that?” Yelda mouthed in Ahmet’s ear. She sensed her brother draw in a breath to speak, and in her rising panic, put her hand over his mouth.

“Wha mmm uhmmm.”

“Don’t call out. You don’t know what it is,” She implored.

Ahmet exhaled and they crouched out of sight. A huge shadow was taking form in the growing light in the pool. They waited for their monster to appear.

As the light grew brighter, the features of the cave became more distinct. The walls were lined with recesses. They looked almost man-made. There were objects in the niches. Colors began to emerge. Light glinted off objects that looked golden. Sparks winked from other surfaces.

“This place is some sort of treasure trove,” Yelda whispered.

Ahmet’s attention was riveted on the approaching light. A figure began to take form. It was humanoid, but had an enormous lump on its back. It grunted as it approached. Some instinct made Yelda and Ahmet shrink back. This figure might not be their savior.

The monster made it to the middle of the chamber, where it shed the gigantic lump. It was not a monster, but a human with a dark hoody and trousers. The hump was a large sack. The figure quickly and methodically began to empty the sack, stashing the objects in the niches. When the task was done, it folded the sack and made quickly back the way it had come.

“We must follow,” whispered Ahmet. Yelda needed no urging.

“Why don’t we call out to them, Ahmet?” Yelda seemed to have forgotten her recent fears.

“Why are they hiding golden and jeweled objects in a cave, Yelda?  Let’s get out of here first. Then we can see who this is. What if we have come upon thieves hiding their loot? They may not want anyone seeing them.”

Yelda nodded. “That makes sense, Hurry, let’s not lose her.”

“How do you know it’s a her?’

“Shhhh. I don’t. Just a feeling. Later.”

The brother and sister followed, using their light and picking their way carefully. The deep blackness they had experienced in the cave was becoming deep gray.

“We must be close to the entrance,” whispered Yelda.

Ahmet tripped and lost his grip on the flashlight. It clattered to the floor. The light ahead stopped bobbing. Instincts took over, and Yelda and Ahmet flattened themselves behind a rock. They could see a glimmer of daylight ahead. But the figure with the light had decided to investigate the clattering sound. It turned and was coming toward them, flashlight searching every nook and cranny.


Book Club Questions for Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys                    

For the author:

1. What research did you do for the book, especially the introduction to Istanbul?

2. Why did you pick Turkey?

3.  What draws you to choose the science aspects in the story?

4. Is Catalhoyuk a real place?

5. Thefts at archaeological digs are not uncommon. How did you develop the twist in the plot involving Dr. Radcliffe?

6. What is it about caves that fascinated you? How were you able to make them so real?

From the Author:

  1. How would you feel about working at an archaeological dig?
  2. Do you think Annie is brave, stupid or just a teenager?
  3. How would you rate Annie’s performance handling international travel?
  4. How close to being kidnapped do you think Annie was?
  5. Is Ty the same or different from the Ty in The Madonna Ghost?
  6. Is Ty overprotective? Is Annie rash?
  7. What did you think of Istanbul and Cappadocia?
  8. If you had to describe Ahmet and Yelda, what would you say?
  9. How important were the twins to the plot?
  10. I had fun with the Ouija Board. Did you?
  11. I tried to make strong male characters in this book. What did you think of Cedric Zeeks, Bruce McAniff, and Dr. Radcliffe, or even Dr. Atsut.
  12. What was your favorite scene in the book?
  13. What should I do with Annie? Should she marry Ty in the next couple of years? Should the next story include the wedding?


“Nothing is illegal here in Amsterdam, love, nothing,” Paul Vermeer tells Deena Green on their first date. Deena is a pretty strawberry blonde from New York who loses her innocence to Paul, Amsterdam’s sexiest bachelor, in the shadow of the city’s Red Light District. She tries to focus on her business mission to bring Jewish diamond artisans back to The Netherlands. But she is overwhelmed by Paul’s spellbinding good looks, and his voracious sexual appetite. What is the real story behind the scar that mars Paul’s handsome face? Can Deena come to terms with the secrets he reveals to her? The only women Paul has been faithful to are his Rottweiler Pandora, his troubled niece Vanessa, and his political adviser, Claudia. Will Deena be among the chosen few?

Rosemary Neri Villanella offers a charming insight into what it was like to grow up in Brooklyn in the 1950’s.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Rosemary Neri Villanella attended her local public schools and Brooklyn College before pursuing a career as a teacher. An avid reader since early childhood, her interest in writing first took shape while attending Lafayette High School.

Duck and Cover is a memoir born of Rosemary’s desire to transport readers back to the beloved

Duck And Cover: A Memoir of My 1960's Brooklyn by [Villanella, Rosemary Neri]

1960’s Brooklyn of her youth, with its familiar streets and stoops, during a more innocent time in this fabled borough. Yet Duck and Cover is also a coming-of-age tale, spotlighting the universal struggle of a young girl forging an individual identity – and trying not to attract too much attention—while carefully navigating her way across that crucial border between childhood and adolescence.








VISIT JACK’S PAGE ON AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Bilello/e/B00J1SMR6W/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1514567530&sr=1-2-ent

THE BOOK  https://www.amazon.com/Bonds-War-Jack-Bilello-ebook/dp/B0776Z6JS3/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514566957&sr=1-5&keywords=jack+bilello


Rev. Dr. John Krahn has written a treat of a book,

“Living a Happier Life – At Every Age”

All of us would welcome more happiness in our lives. Some of the fourteen chapters in this book are: Choose a Happier Life . . . God Made You and God Doesn’t Make Junk . . . Eliminate Worry – The Joy Thief . . . Living Life at its Highest Level . . . The Power of Impossibility . . . Growing Old Gracefully . . . Awaiting Wonder. In this 152 page book, he shares many ways to achieve a more joyous life.

Available on https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=john+krahn&sprefix=john+krahn%2Caps%2C128&crid=3GFFPM3F9C1U

Visit John Krahn’s Amazon Author Page, https://www.amazon.com/John-H-Krahn/e/B01MQT7G4L/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1514559245&sr=1-2-ent