Friday, April 27, 2012

Love Recipe

Better Than Sex Cake
1 package German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups hot fudge topping
1 (12 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 chocolate toffee bars (Skor or Heath)
Bake german chocolate cake mix according to package directions.
While cake is still warm poke holes in top of cake with the end of a wooden spoon, pour sweetened condensed milk over top. Let cake cool. Pour hot fudge topping over top of cake and let set. Spread on whipped topping and garnish with crushed toffee bar crumbs.
Makes 24 servings.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

George III and Family

George III  and family

A Piece of History: George III of England

George III was born on 4 June 1738 in London, the eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.
He became heir to the throne on the death of his father in 1751, succeeding his grandfather, George II, in 1760. He was the third Hanoverian monarch and the first one to be born in England and to use English as his first language.
George III is widely remembered for two things: losing the American colonies and going mad. This is far from the whole truth.
George's direct responsibility for the loss of the colonies is not great. He opposed their bid for independence to the end, but he did not develop the policies (such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend duties of 1767 on tea, paper and other products) which led to war in 1775-76 and which had the support of Parliament.
These policies were largely due to the financial burdens of garrisoning and administering the vast expansion of territory brought under the British Crown in America, the costs of a series of wars with France and Spain in North America, and the loans given to the East India Company (then responsible for administering India).
By the 1770s, and at a time when there was no income tax, the national debt required an annual revenue of £4 million to service it.
The declaration of American independence on 4 July 1776, the end of the war with the surrender by British forces in 1782, and the defeat which the loss of the American colonies represented, could have threatened the Hanoverian throne.
However, George's strong defence of what he saw as the national interest and the prospect of long war with revolutionary France made him, if anything, more popular than before.
The American war, its political aftermath and family anxieties placed great strain on George in the 1780s. After serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801, George became permanently deranged in 1810.
He was mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign; his eldest son - the later George IV - acted as Prince Regent from 1811. Some medical historians have said that George III's mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.
George's accession in 1760 marked a significant change in royal finances. Since 1697, the monarch had received an annual grant of £700,000 from Parliament as a contribution to the Civil List, i.e. civil government costs (such as judges' and ambassadors' salaries) and the expenses of the Royal Household.
In 1760, it was decided that the whole cost of the Civil List should be provided by Parliament in return for the surrender of the hereditary revenues by the King for the duration of his reign. (This arrangement still applies today, although civil government costs are now paid by Parliament, rather than financed directly by the monarch from the Civil List.)
The first 25 years of George's reign were politically controversial for reasons other than the conflict with America. The King was accused by some critics, particularly Whigs (a leading political grouping), of attempting to reassert royal authority in an unconstitutional manner.
In fact, George took a conventional view of the constitution and the powers left to the Crown after the conflicts between Crown and Parliament in the 17th century.
Although he was careful not to exceed his powers, George's limited ability and lack of subtlety in dealing with the shifting alliances within the Tory and Whig political groupings in Parliament meant that he found it difficult to bring together ministries which could enjoy the support of the House of Commons.
His problem was solved first by the long-lasting ministry of Lord North (1770-82) and then, from 1783, by Pitt the Younger, whose ministry lasted until 1801.
George III was the most attractive of the Hanoverian monarchs. He was a good family man (there were 15 children) and devoted to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, for whom he bought the Queen's House (later enlarged to become Buckingham Palace).
However, his sons disappointed him and, after his brothers made unsuitable secret marriages, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 was passed at George's insistence. (Under this Act, the Sovereign must give consent to the marriage of any lineal descendant of George II, with certain exceptions.)
Being extremely conscientious, George read all government papers and sometimes annoyed his ministers by taking such a prominent interest in government and policy.
His political influence could be decisive. In 1801, he forced Pitt the Younger to resign when the two men disagreed about whether Roman Catholics should have full civil rights. George III, because of his coronation oath to maintain the rights and privileges of the Church of England, was against the proposed measure.
One of the most cultured of monarchs, George started a new royal collection of books (65,000 of his books were later given to the British Museum, as the nucleus of a national library) and opened his library to scholars.
In 1768, George founded and paid the initial costs of the Royal Academy of Arts (now famous for its exhibitions).
He was the first king to study science as part of his education (he had his own astronomical observatory), and examples of his collection of scientific instruments can now be seen in the Science Museum.
George III also took a keen interest in agriculture, particularly on the crown estates at Richmond and Windsor, being known as 'Farmer George'.
In his last years, physical as well as mental powers deserted him and he became blind.
He died at Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820, after a reign of almost 60 years - the second longest in British history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Queen Charlotte of England

A Piece of History: The Black Queen of England

                                                   Queen Charlotte
Princess Sophie Charlotte was born on May 19, 1744--the eighth child of the Prince of Mirow, Germany, Charles Louis Frederick, and his wife, Elisabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In 1752, when she was eight years old, Sophie Charlotte's father died.
   A princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Sophie Charlotte was descended directly from an African branch of the Portuguese Royal House, Margarita de Castro y Sousa. Six different lines can be traced from Princess Sophie Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa. This explains her African appearance in her Royal portraits that exist today.
   Sophie Charlotte married George III of England on 8 September 1761, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London, at the age of 17 years of age becoming the Queen of England and Ireland. Their were conditions in the contract for marriage, ‘The young princess…, join the Anglican church and be married according to Anglican rites, and never ever involve herself in politics’. Although the Queen had an interest in what was happening in the world, especially the war in America, she is seen to have fulfilled her marital agreement.
    An indicator of George’s feelings towards his wife may be seen by the fact that, as stated on the Royal website, ‘George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James's Palace, …14 of George III's 15 children were born there’.
   Having married the King, she became consort to the George III, and they were both devoted to each other. The Royal couple had fifteen children, thirteen of whom survived to adulthood. There fourth eldest son was Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (2/11/1767- 23/01/1820), who later fathered Queen Victoria.
   Her Majesty Queen Charlotte made many contributions to Britain as it is today, though the evidence is not obvious or well publicised. Her African blood line in the British royal family is not common knowledge. Portraits of the Queen had been reduced to fiction of the Black Magi, until two art historians suggested that the definite African features of the paintings derived from actual subjects, not the minds of painters.
   In Queen Charlottes era slavery was prevalent and the anti-slavery campaign building up. This may go some way to explaining why Britons are not fully aware of the racial mix of the royal family. Portrait painters of the royal family were expected to play down or soften Queen Charlottes African features.
   Painters such as Sir Thomas Lawrence, who painted, Queen Charlotte in the autumn of 1789 had their paintings rejected by the royal couple who were not happy with the representations of the likeness of the Queen. These portraits are amongst those that are available to view now, which could be seen as continuing the political interests of those that disapprove of a multi-racial royal family for Britain.
   Sir Allan Ramsey produced the most African representations of the Queen, he was responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen. Ramsey’s inclination to paint truer versions of the Queen could be seen to have come from being ‘an anti-slavery intellectual of his day’, Frontline.
   The Coronation painting by Ramsey, of the Queen was sent out to the colonies/commonwealth and played a subtle political role in the anti-slavery movement. Johann Zoffany also frequently painted the Royal family in informal family scenes.
   Queen Charlotte was a learned character, her letters indicate that she is well read and had interests in the fine arts. The Queen is known to have supported and been taught music by Johann Christian Bach. She was extremely generous to Bach’s wife after Bach’s death. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at aged eight dedicated his Opus 3 piece to the Queen at her request.
   Also an amateur botanist, Queen Charlotte helped to establish Kew Gardens bringing amongst others the Strelitzia Reginae, a flowering plant from South Africa.
   The Christmas tree was introduced to England by the Queen who had the first one in her house, in 1800. It was said to be decorated with, ‘sweet-meats, almonds and rasins in papers, fruit and toys,’.
   The Queen Charlotte Maternity hospital is in London and has been since 1739. Set up as a charitable institution, it is the oldest maternity care institution in England.
   Another care venture for the Queen was when George III became ill in 1765 and Queen Charlotte took care of him, noting in one of her letters to her brother that spending time in Weymouth became frequent as bathing in the sea was beneficial to the King.
  Queen Charlotte died at Dutch House in Surrey, now Kew Palace, in the presence of her eldest son, the Prince Regent. She is buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Piece of History: The Battle of Busaco

The Battle of Busaco

Peninsular War
Date: 27th September 1810
Place: Central Portugal
Combatants: British against the French
Generals: Lieutenant General Viscount Wellington against Marshal André Massena, Prince of Essling and Duke of Rivoli.

The Battle of Busaco
In May 1810 Marshal Massena took command of the Army of Portugal with orders from the Emperor Napoleon to capture Lisbon and drive Wellington and his British army out of the Peninsular. During the winter of 1809/10 Wellington’s engineers had built fortifications across the Lisbon isthmus, known as the Lines of Torres Vedras. As Massena began his advance into Portugal the British and Portuguese Army fell back towards the capital.
Massena captured the Spanish town of Ciudad Rodrigo on the border and on 26th August 1810 he took the Portuguese fortress of Almeida. On 15th September 1810 Massena resumed his advance through Portugal towards Lisbon, harassed by Brigadier General Robert Craufurd’s Light Division. Wellington, intending to fight a delaying battle, positioned his army at the convent of Busaco. The convent lay on a long high ridge that stretched from the Mondego River for some ten miles to the North. Busaco was a victory for Wellington. While immediately after the battle Wellington’s army continued its retreat to Lisbon, the French casualties were significantly larger than Wellington’s and all their attacks on the Busaco ridge failed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sex is a beautiful thing in the Right Setting

To me, a dirty or pornographic novel is one where sex is not spoken of in clean terms. In fact, the “F” word shocks me more than it does not. Actually, sex is a beautiful thing to experience and should not have the filth attached to it that arose in the first place, because people in the past were afraid to speak of it aloud. Therefore, to me, plain speaking of the subject explains and teaches rather than corrupts. If only I had been more aware of the beauty of it as I grew up and it had not been something one didn’t speak about. I firmly believe that teenagers today would be more inclined to wait until after marriage to experience sex if it was spoken of in more forthright terms as a good thing instead of a bad thing one snuck around to experience. In my recently published novel, my very naive heroine becomes aware of sex when she and her husband indulge but she doesn’t want her husband to speak of what they do to his mother or brother so they discuss it.
Later that night when they had just made love, Laura found enough courage to ask the question that had been bothering her since talking to his mother, “Adam do you― would you talk about you and me to your mother; about what we do in bed?”
“Should I not?” he kissed her neck.
“Ah nooo,” she giggled, “A―A―dam,” he nibbled her ear.
She tried to compose herself, “Do you?”
“Do I what? He was teasing her.
He found her nipple with his tongue and she was lost until after they  made love again.
He then asked the questions “Do you like what I do?”
 “Mmm,” she was too caught up in his loving to say more.
“Are you ashamed of what we do?”
“No Adam but
“But what?” he persisted.
She kissed his lips and then looked into his eyes, “I love you Adam but I don’t want anyone except you to know how much I love you,” she looked down.
He lifted her chin so that she continued to look at his face, “I love you too and I want to shout from the roof tops that my wife, my beautiful little angel loves me. We make wondrous love together and soon her tummy is going to show the world what we did in bed because it’s going to be big and round and there will be a baby inside?”
Laura blushed, “How do you know?”
“Because I know what happens when a man and a woman make love; my mother knows, she did it; my brother and Susie did it and so have we. I would wager that every man and woman in the ton knows what husbands and wives do in bed and the proof happens soon enough to most couples; it’s very difficult to hide.”
“No but how do you know that I am?”
“I don’t know yet but you will tell me soon won’t you?”
“I’m not sure but I might be; I missed my courses by just a few days and I’m not usually late; I wanted to wait until I knew for sure before I told you,” she blushed, “We’ve only been married for two weeks.”
He pulled her close, “I think you are my love but we will wait until we know for sure before we announce it.”
“I think you will be pleased if I am,” she smiled in between his kisses.
“Will you be pleased to show the world what we have done in bed to achieve a baby?” he looked at her with his steely grey eyes.
“I don’t think I will concern myself with how we achieved it; only that we will have and after a few months I will hold our child in my arms. It will be our child Adam; not mine and some other man who I do not love but mine and yours. I will not only be pleased to show the world my big, fat tummy but I will be proud that my big, fat tummy is there because you love me. I want how you love me to be our secret, only that you love me to be common knowledge.”
“Even though my loving may be no different than any other man?” He couldn’t help smiling at her reasoning.
“I’ll allow you to do whatever you need to do to love me; I want whatever you want and I’m eager to learn how to appease you because I’ll be appeased too. Don’t tell the world you suckle my breast even if it’s done by every man to his sweetheart but don’t stop doing it to me; if you suckle me in my very private areas, which I saved for your amorousness even though I didn’t know what to expect; don’t stop but don’t tell the world you do it.  It’s something very sacred to me, something of me, which I and my brother has given to you and which I’ll never willingly give to any other man,” she now had tears in her eyes. “You’re my world; you’re everything that I have dreamed of since the first time I saw you when I was but a child in pigtails; if you want to kiss me in public or even make love to me in public, I won’t stop you because I want it too. If you want to shout to the world that you love me, I may blush but I will be proud to hear it; it’s hard to believe that you’re all mine but I do believe it. You’re the kindest, gentlest, most loving man, you’re mine and I am yours.”

The use of Swear Words (Expletives)

Swear Words (Expletives)
I don’t like using swear words in my novels and my particular abjuration is the “F” word that I doubt was invented before the twentieth century and which I abhor. I grew up in England after WWII and the worst word I ever used was “bugger”. My father told me I should never use a word without a meaning in the dictionary and therefore “bugger” was not allowed. However, if one prescribed a meaning to certain words, one could say that “bugger” means someone who bugs someone else or annoys them. “annoy" being a more common word in old England.
“Bloody Hell” is used more commonly now than would have been used in Old England and my young ears rarely heard it spoken in my family circles since my parent’s or relatives didn’t use it even though swear words seem to slip out if they are used often; for them it never did.
To return to the “F” word, which is a word many novelists, even those writing historical novels at the time of Henry VIII or earlier, which is definitely out of place, put in their novels. The more than twenty years I lived in England, I never heard it used. What is its literal meaning? It is “fornication”, which is in the dictionary and rarely heard spoken aloud yet it is more precise. Of course, the “F” word is also used as an expression or an expletive nowadays.
“SOB” is another common expletive; but what is a “bitch”? It is a word looked down upon because of the connotation that it implies a fallen woman, wicked woman, or prostitute. However, the word is more relative to a female dog.
Proper words used to describe male and female parts are rarely used today because such words as “balls”, “nuts”, “pussy” etc. are used instead. To me as a nurse in my previous life, the correct terms make more sense and therefore my perfect men in my novels teach their innocent women to use proper words, in private of course, since one would not embark on a sexual discussion in an open conversation in the 18th and 19th century; that was definitely taboo.
That being said, I understand such words would be more normal in contemporary novels but one doesn’t need to overdo it. Too many “F” words take away from the story and in my opinion make it unreadable.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A piece of History: Napoleon Bonaparte

On February 26, 1815, Napoleon managed to slip past his guards and somehow escape from Elba, slip past interception by a British ship, and return to France. Immediately, people and troops began to rally to the returned Emperor. French police forces were sent to arrest him, but upon arriving in his presence. they kneeled before him. Triumphantly, Napoleon returned to Paris on March 20, 1815. Paris welcomed him with celebration, and Louis XVIII, the new king, fled to Belgium. With Louis only just gone, Napoleon moved back into the Tuileries. The period known as the hundred days had begun.
Napoleon reclaimed Paris on March 20, 1815.
100 days from Napoleon's escape from Elba, the Battle of Waterloo occurred on June 18, 1815

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Ghostly Whisper

My new book is available for sale at any of the online book sellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris.

A piece of history: The Battle of Toulouse

10 April 1814
The last major battle of the Peninsular War was fought over the important southern French city of Toulouse and - like many of the Duke of Wellington's attacks on fortified strongholds - proved a bloody affair.
It was also an unnecessary battle as Napoleon Bonaparte had abdicated four days earlier.