Dear Readers,

I am excited to share this pre- promotional post about an upcoming novel titled, ‘Forever Violet,’ subtitled, ‘From Stony Hill to Broadway,’ by authors James Costa and Frances Schmidt. The book was inspired by my mother, Lillie (Tiny) Rosanna Sharon, who, in turn, was inspired after reading my first novel, ‘Fred,’ published in 2021.

Several years before her death, Tiny gradually lost the use of her physical senses, but not her wit nor her photographic memory. During that period, she managed to develop the bare bones of the novel, extracting a promise from me to faithfully reproduce the colorful language of young Violet, the eponymous heroine of the novel. Tiny spent the last two years of her life in and out of hospitals and, ultimately, hospice, where she passed away in 2022.

‘Forever Violet’ is the story of Violet Sheehan, a twelve-year old girl growing up during the Great Depression in Stony Hill, a poor neighborhood section of New London, Connecticut. Raised in a loveless home, she endures years of cruelty and indifference from an alcoholic father and a mentally unstable mother. Living the life of a gamine, Violet vows to escape the trappings of her bleak existence and fulfill her ambition to become a professional writer. However, her determination and self-discipline do not necessarily guarantee success. Her journey from Stony Hill to Broadway is fraught with several traumatic experiences and setbacks before the harrowing climax, which leaves open questions of life’s unpredictable twists, and the roles fate and destiny play in it.

The co-authors of this book are neither gullible nor superstitious, yet we believe ‘Forever Violet’ is not our creation. In some mysterious way, it is Tiny’s story inexplicably channeled through us. It is to her memory we dedicate this book and humbly propose it as her legacy.


Frances R. Schmidt,

Author of Fred: Buffalo Building of Dreams


1941: America is Forever Changed
Benedict (Benny) Farley and Bianca Martucci were a young couple who lived in separate apartments in my building. They were on a date at the Marlowe Theatre on December 7, 1941 when their lives and the lives of all Americans were forever changed. I wasn’t physically with them at the theatre but heard the shocking news as soon as they came home. Yes, you probably already know what I’m talking about – it was the day the Japanese Army bombed Pearl Harbor and the start of World War II.
My tenants were scared – truly panic-stricken. All many could do was stand up and volunteer in the War effort, while their hearts and souls prayed for peace. When you read my upcoming novel, you’ll learn more about these troubling times – about V-mail (Victory Mail), Production Soldiers, Ration Stamps, victory gardens, and the meaning of The Blue Stars of America.
Benedict and Bianca’s story however involves a hasty marriage and a monumental goodbye. I’ll share more details later, but here’s a little bit of insight about this couple. Shortly after they started dating, Bianca invited Benny in to have a cup of coffee and a piece of homemade chocolate cake. This is when I overheard them talking about their childhoods. It was a serious conversation and I was listening intently as Bianca wiped a tear from Benedict’s eye.
When Benny was only thirteen years old, he became one of thousands of children put into the Orphan Train Movement. He was suddenly taken from his orphanage and put on a train with other children ranging from five to thirteen years of age. All that Benny and the other children were told was that they were going on a long train ride, but they were really headed to the Midwest to join farm families – some in the US and others to Canada. Benny’s story may shock you when you read more about what happened. Bianca too unfortunately became an orphan at the age of seven, although she was sent to the Saint Vincent DePaul Female Orphanage Asylum in Buffalo New York. Here she grew into a young woman before heading out on her own.
Their remarkable tale and the tales of all my tenants helped me understand life’s twists and turns and in turn made me stronger. Each decade of my life has been filled with a rich history, and the life lessons I’ve learned from my tenants who came to live with me – special people from all over the world. I hope when you read this historical novel, you’re inspired in the 21st century, by stories of the past.

Hungarian Freedom Fighters Move In

Two Hungarian brothers, twenty-eight year old Zoltan and twenty-nine year old Lazlo Popp, moved into my building in 1965. It was eight years after they immigrated to Buffalo, NY from Kabesca, a city in The Communist Hungary, a year after the Hungarian Revolution ended.  As protesters and fighters in their home country, to fleeing as refugees, they eventually found their way to freedom in the United States.

When they first arrived, they lived with their deceased father’s older brother, their Uncle Istvan (Stephan) Popp and his family, who were already settled in the U.S. Istvan had previously come under The Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which allowed certain people displaced by World War II, to qualify for Permanent Residence. 

The day the brothers moved into my building, I thought they were flying up the stairs to their new living quarters! I didn’t know it right then, but it was a momentous time in their lives. How proud Zoltan and Laszlo were to be able to afford their own apartment together. The reason this was possible, is because they were both hired at The Mentholatum Company located at 1360 Niagara St., only a short distance away. The Mentholatum Company was an 80,000 sq. ft. factory built in 1919 that manufactured a product of menthol, camphor and petrolatum, used to alleviate muscle aches and to relieve congestion. Zoltan and Laszlo felt lucky to be hired as two of the seventy-five employees. When you read their full story in my book, Fred: Building of Dreams, you’ll learn more about how Mentholatum was made.

The brothers flight to freedom is an unbelievable tale. Thousands of Hungarians were killed, but the young men were fortunate enough to be among the youngest group of about 40,000 refugees who arrived in America with the help of the Hungarian Freedom Fund. There’s not enough time to share more details now, but their story will touch your heart and shows the power of hope, survival, and freedom.

Freds Publicity Update

Book Signing with Frances R. Schmidt, author of FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams

Additional Announcements

I’m proud to announce that FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams is now on the shelves and available to purchase at Talking Leaves…Books (click to view)


Wednesday June 15th 7:00pm
Presentation from the Author of FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams
Town of Tonawanda Public Library Kenmore Branch
160 Delaware Rd, Kenmore, NY 14217
Flyer of Event


Author Talks presentation is now available on the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library YouTube Station.


Read Fred’s Wonderful Book Reviews

Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Presents Author Talks with Frances R. Schmidt, Author of FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams.  This presentation will also be available on the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library YouTube Station.

Novel Receives International Recognition

It is an honor to share FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams international recognition for receiving an Independent Press award as Winner/Distinguished favorite in the Historical Fiction category for 2022.


Frances R. Schmidt, Author


I’ve learned many secrets in my lifetime. Some are too hot to handle. To me a secret between two people is sacred. Only sometimes they reveal themselves in unexpected ways. I believe we all have secrets and some we never share with anyone except ourselves.

I don’t think secrets are bad if they keep people from despair. I was a secret for a hundred and twenty years. Now many of my historical secrets have been revealed while others will remain hidden within my walls. They can be happy or sad depending on one’s circumstances. They can even be serious or embarrassing. Sometimes saving lives or destroying them.

To tell or not to tell a secret is a question I’ve often asked myself while telling my tenants tales. I’ve learned  what it is to be a human, although I’m really only a building with a human perspective. I’ve tried to be understanding and kind when privy to secrets. They have sometimes inspired and disillusioned me. I’ve learned to respect and at times fear knowing them.

Most of all I believe secrets can help us to survive tragic situations. And if the bearer of a powerful secret can make the world a better place, it would be worth sharing…



Hope warms the heart in times of need. Hope helps us survive to face our fears. Hope transcends our thoughts of loss. Hope is an invisible thread of steel that can be tapped into for a lifetime…




Hope is Priceless

Greetings to FREDs Friends and Followers:

FRED has had an extraordinary surprise and wants to share it. My author, Frances R. Schmidt, received a NYC Big Book Award for FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams in the historical fiction category as a 2021 Distinguished Favorite.

The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copy writers. Selected award winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.

The New York City Big Book Award announces the 2021 Winners & Distinguished Favorites!

I am happy to announce my first Podcast interview about FRED: Buffalo Building of Dreams on the Penny Wolfgang On Target Show.



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