Friday, June 29, 2007


If you don't recognize her, this is Sissi--as she was known to her family. She was also Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Did you know she was the "Diana" of her day? She was widely known for her beauty and elegance in the 1800's--and she maintained quite of regimen to keep herself that way! She was obsessive about her exercise habits, partly because of nerves. She kept herself on a strict diet and particularly spent a long time each morning on the preparation of her hair--dark, lush and very long. Imagine an Empress with hair hanging down her back past her waist? And then imagine that hair dressed and combed with elegant ornaments placed just so by her attendants. She must have been a sight to behold and I think this particular picture reflects her magnificence.
But while she was beautiful, in many ways she was pushed aside in the Austrian court by her mother in law, who made all the decisions--even about her children. The Emperor, Franz Joseph was devoted to his sweet wife--who he married when she was only 16--but sided with his own mother over Elisabeth.
Sissi missed her family near Munich and her health suffered. The Empress didn't have much access to her own children, who were placed in a nursery located by the apartments used by Sophie, her mother in law. Frustrated, she took to traveling--and more exercise. She was glad to leave Vienna often for her trips. It was imperative for her health that she do so. She had almost no relationship with her eldest three children, but managed, finally, to have a close relationship with her youngest daughter.
Over the years there were several terrible events that haunted the Empress. What I'm relating here is just the very tip of the iceberg--I'm writing from memory. I don't want to give away too much lest you feel the need to pick up a biography of her. She did manage to maintain a fairly loving relationship with the Emperor over the years, to their credit. But I won't write any more at this time in case I spoil the story for you.
Oh!! Now this is getting off the topic a bit, but there's story I just have to tell you. If it wasn't for what I'm going to tell you, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this now. In my house we have several laptops which work off of a wireless router. As you probably know, having that wireless router allows you to move around the house with your computer and continue to get access to the internet. Well, last week our router broke. I was devastated. My 11 year old son, who's really up on all the latest technology, has an apple computer. He thought about the situation and said, "Mom, don't worry about it. I'll figure something out." Meanwhile, I sat in the corner, with the actual internet cable hooked into my computer. I knew that I'd only get a certain amount of time on the internet this way---I'd have to share it with everyone else! My son played around and set up his own wireless router, using his apple computer!!! He named the wireless internet "Viper" and connected me to it. As long as his apple computer is on, I have internet! I can walk around with no cords or wires. I know all mom's think their children are smart and precious, and they all are. I've mentioned this to a few people in the computer business and their mouths fell open. A kid his age just isn't supposed to know how to override a wireless router. I suppose if everyone could do it, the business itself would lose money.
When my son does things like that for me, I feel like a Queen.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Tsarina

On the post below I had asked a question...Do you know which Queen adored her youngest son with her whole being---and because he was sickly, it caused her quite a bit of anguish? Thanks Ann, for answering the question. It was the Tsarina Alexandra of Russia. Here is a famous picture of her with her son, Alexei, as he plays with his mama's pearls. Alexei was the most wanted and cherished baby, who just happened to be heir to the Russian Throne. It broke Alexandra's heart when she found out that he had the dreaded bleeding disease---hemophilia. How that little boy suffered in pain...and surely Alexandra suffered just as badly as she sat near him, stroking him, during his illnesses. Her son's sickness was just another heartbreak in a life of continuing sadness. It didn't help either when she found out that she was the carrier of the gene that caused the illness. It had been passed down from her grandmother, Queen Victoria. Alexei was one of many in Victoria's family to suffer from the same disease. Alexandra really did not forgive herself for that.
The Tsarevich Alexei was the youngest of five. He had four older sisters. The most famous sister is Anastasia. If you're at all interested in this fascinating royal family, there's a link below for The Alexander Time Machine. It's a massive website--one of the nicest I've seen--filled with every tidbit you could ever imagine about this family, including floor plans of where they lived, pictures of their rooms and letters.
Finished my critique of the anthology and sent it back the writer. Also reviewed some writing for my friend in England and gave her some advice. She is working on multiple submissions.
I'm on vacation this week and so far it's been nice. No, I didn't go anywhere, but sometimes that's the best kind of vacation. We had a heat wave here in the Eastern US for a large part of the week and I spent a couple of days with my son and his friend at the pool. It was heavenly. I hate heat waves except if it's a day I can go to the pool. I picked a good week for it!
Picked up my royal books at the library and I've been immersed in a rare royal memoir. It's called "The Heart Has Its Reasons" and its the memoir of the Duchess of Windsor and its been out of print a long time. It's nice to read her side of the story for a see things through her own eyes. It's pleasant and I'm enjoying it, however, she leaves out a lot. I can't say I blame her. She had a ghost writer, but I can tell she put quite a bit of her own work into that manuscript.
And who will I write about next? I can't decide if it should be a Queen or a Princess. I think I'll sleep on it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh, Josephine...

This is Empress Josephine Bonaparte. She looks pretty regal, huh? She was a tough gal---not born to be an Empress, but became one when her husband Napoleon declared that she was. It's a different sort of royal saga--neither she nor her husband actually had any royal blood in so far as allowing them to assume to French throne.
If you are interested in Josephine, I can recommend a couple of books. One of the most beautiful biographies I've read of her is Carroly Erickson's. It's written is a quick, breathy way. It's sort of like the author was there watching. Its very nicely done and you'll find yourself feeling bad for her, good for her and everything in between. She loved her daughter Hortense--a devoted daughter herself and a Queen---and she adored her son. Josephine's life was hard, but it makes for interesting reading.
There's another book out there by Sandra Gulland. She wrote three of them actually, and they all go together in a set. They are the fictional diaries of Josephine---from childhood through marriage and childbirth---all the way through her years with Napoleon and them some. The title of the first book is The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. The second is called Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe. The last book (diary) is titled The Last Great Dance on Earth. Superb!
What got me thinking of Josephine? I was in Barnes and Noble the other day and happened to be browsing the bargain rack and found the last two books for $4.98 each. For me that is a heavenly find. Do you know that I was lucky enough to correspond via email with the talented author, Sandra Gulland? It was a thrill for me to do so and she gave me some valuable advice. The reason I got in touch with her was because I was engrossed in the story of her twenty year love story with the Empress Josephine. She couldn't get enough of her and collected books for years and years---anything she could get her hands on. There was something about Josephine that intrigued her to the point of spending years learning about her life. She had to write these books! At least that's what the interviews say about it. And I was curious about her passion for Josephine because I...well, I have a similar passion for a few of the British Royals.
Although I read about so many, there are two or three royals in particular that just suck me in. I can't get enough of them. Seriously. I read their memoirs and biographies over and over and over. I felt like I might be the only person in the world to be obsessed like that! And I am obsessed. But lo and behold---no---there are others like me in the world.
I'm on vacation this week and the books I asked to be loaned to my local library are in. I can't wait to get them in my hands! So, I have them to read and also several other royal biographies from the library. I have a hankering to run down to the old bookstore near me and pick up the copy of the biography of Diana of Britian's elite in the 1930's. Her impressions on the royals will be very useful.
I'm also critiquing an anthology for someone and need to get that done and back to the writer. After that is done I am committed to critiquing a manuscript which will probably be submitted to Samhain. Its for one of my writer friends.
I was also invited to be a friend of Enspiren Press, via Bebo. Their website is up but they are still working on it and they look awesome. I just signed up for their forums and their yahoo email group.
Some of my writer friends are thinking of going to Heather Graham's New Orleans Writers Conference which will be held approx. Labor Day weekend. I don't know if I'll be able to of these days I will. But there's so many good conferences....which one would I go to first?
Haven't heard from the pubber on my anthology or my recent proposal on another one. My feeling is that they are very busy and I just have to sit tight and bide my time.
But my vacation week should be a fun one---I'll have my books and can spend time at the pool---its supposed to feel like 100 degrees this week. My son has a friend sleeping over for a few days and tonight I think I'll make a big pot of spaghetti.
Dashing off to do some housework and think about my Queens...oh, and one final question...Do you know which Queen adored her youngest son with her whole being---and because he was sickly, it caused her quite a bit of anguish? I think I will post their picture next time...

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Woman He Loved

Wallis Warfield Simpson...

Her name was American woman, who had married for a second time and settled in London. Here she is, relaxing in the living room of her flat. The picture just below her is of the outside of her flat, on Bryanston Court. This picture was taken before Wallis was known throughout the world. This is how she looked at about the time she met the Prince of Wales and began to see him here and there---at dinner parties through friends, and receiving the occasional invitation to the "Fort" which was the Prince's favorite residence on the Grounds of Great Windsor Park. As you can see from her picture, she liked things just so. The flowers are arranged nicely and she looks at them...her posture is straight and the knick knacks on the table to are placed with precision. She looks relaxed, reflective...but its doubtful that she really was when this picture was shot. Wallis like to seize every moment she could, to aid her in something We can only wonder what she was thinking about.
Wallis had much to think about--her days were busy making the social rounds, shopping, being home by 6pm for her drop by "cocktail hour" (the Brit's had never seen that before--no one just dropped by without an invitation!) and preparing for dinner parties she held at her flat (And she loved it!) and making preparations with her maid and cook. No, she wasn't rich, but she and her husband Ernest were more well off than the usual...and it was important to Wallis to keep up appearances, even when things became a little tight.
So much has been written about Wallis, and the overwhelming question has always remained...What was so special about her, that a King would leave his Kingdom behind to be with her? To follow her? To marry her?
I've read every biography on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor that there is---including their letters to each other. From what I can see...he liked that she knew her mind and made decisions. He thought she was witty and clever. The more he spent time with her, the more bewitched he became. Soon, she began doing things for him---buying gifts for his servants, arranging dinners and seating, and became his hostess at informal dinners. She spoke to him in a real way. She didn't pamper him and she told him the truth. She sort of "mothered" him and he adored it. What he also found refreshing is that she spoke her mind. He found it new and refreshing. Most people gave him the typical, safe remark, "How wonderful, Sir" or "How tiring for you, Sir." Wallis, though, was different. She actually talked to him about things.
Wallis was a lonely woman. She was hated by the royal family in England after King Edward abdicated. She was followed and harassed in the beginning days. It was said that if she made him happy that was one thing, but if she did not, then nothing would be bad enough for her. She spent many nights and days alone, in the splendor of castles and beautiful homes---her own, and friends homes--but in exile and spent much time feeling alone, misunderstood, bitter and afraid.Was it really her fault that David had fallen in love with her? Hadn't she tried hard to leave him, and get away? Didn't anyone understand that it really wasn't her fault? David had followed her and if she had gone to the ends of the earth, he would have followed her there, too. He couldn't live without her. She was part of his whole existence and he needed her to survive.
She began to create a life for them. She structured his day as if he were still a King--sort of. There were trips and interviews to be given, homes to be set up, parties to be hosted. Eventually there would be memoirs and some work for the British Commonwealth. Wallis's parties--her dinner parties--became known as being the utmost in fine cuisine and atmosphere, albeit, always done in a beauty that was hard to describe. But in all of this, she was never given the title that by rights was hers...He Royal Highness. When a woman marries a man, she assumes rightfully his title. But in Wallis's case this was never to be.
And for now that is all...By the way, Wallis is the one who wore the flamingo pin! She had many beautiful jewels from "her David..."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Great Catherine

Empress Catherine really was great. And she knew it, you know?

Got a great new biography on her by Virginia Rounding which is simply fabulous. What work Ms. Rounding put into this book--its simply amazing.

It's been awhile since I've posted, but I've still been busy writing. Royal Watercolors has been done for 6 months, and I'm hoping it will be accepted for the anthology. I recently came up with another idea which I submitted. I don't know if it will work out or not...but, I will say its about the King who abdicated his throne to be with the woman he loved. One of my favorite stories!

Queen Victoria is a lifetime of study. I'll never be able to get enough of her. There will always be more to read and discover about her. But the Duke and Duchess of Windsor...its a story I read over and over and over. I can't tell you what exactly it is about them that I love and what compels me to read their story over and over...(and when I say over and over----its 5 biographies I read, together, all at one time---as not to miss even a detail!!)

Recently met a wonderful girl in cyberspace with a masters in English Lit---or is it a PhD? She is a little younger than me, but we have so much in common and her writing is lovely. And she thinks my writing is wonderful...well, she thinks I've got guts. I've been sending her little things to read and she let me read her thesis. What fun. Its was a fantastic piece that she wrote. We both have young children, so we always have something to talk about.

My critique partner in the UK is going on vacation...and she has submitted a couple of things to agents and publishers. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her...she works so hard. Last weekend she critiqued a bit of my Wallis piece, but she loved it overall.

Work at home is just great---yes, I said working at home. My little office is cozy, and did I say I got a promotion? Well, I did. I've been elevated to "Tier Two"---which kind of makes me a master in my field at work, and I get to solve the worst of the worst. I'm off the phones now for the most part...(I work for a very large insurance company)...and now I research and delve into problems and mysteries and try to help our members. I work extra...early in the morning... and some nights. But its so worthwhile. There is always so much to do...reading government changes, guidelines, massive amounts of training and emails to read---and then there is your regular work.

Oh...I set up an account on Bebo!! It's been a lot of fun, and I already have two Luv's and about 5 friends! I added some pictures....My son wont let me post any pictures of him yet. I also posted massive amounts of royal pictures and I've got a moving collage going on....I love it. Its fun to go from site to site...see what others are doing...checking on your friends. Sooner or later I'll get the courage to link up to THIS blog--my real blog. I suppose I want to get this blog---well, bigger, more interesting....and find my voice.

One of my writing friends got offered a contract in April. Its so exciting! When she has more details on this, I'll ask her if I can post her name and cover because I'm so proud of her. I read that story about 2 years ago----way back when! And now it will be published!

Tomorrow I have the day off and I'd like to get a little rest, and get my clothes ready for Friday. Hubby and I have volunteered for the carnival taking place at my son's school. I'll be doing face painting, and Friday should be very hot. (Hate the heat!) But it will be nice to see the kids having fun.

Well, this writer of Queens is signing off for the night. Her King wants her to turn off the light.

I forget the last question from last time....but here is a new one...What famous royal wore a famous pin, shaped as a flamingo? (or was it an ostrich?--no, flamingo) Do you know?