Within the Hollow Crown

HollowCrownWithin the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King’s Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love
                            By Margaret Campbell Barnes
“Within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king…”
-Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard II

This historical novel tells the story of Richard II, the last Plantagenet king of England, who became King at 11 years old.   He was the son of Edward, the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, but he inherited the crown from his grandfather, Edward III. The author, MCB, writes this story from an interesting perspective, seeing Richard as a tragic king, not the evil, vengeful one history knows him as.

Highly cultured and worldly,  Richard was one of the greatest royal patrons of the arts.  He was the first king to have a portrait done of himself and is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief.  Parchment from his courtiers reported that he had “a little piece of cloth for the lord king to wide and clean his nose”.

Queen Anne of Bohemia, by animegirlUK:

England saw years of prosperity, peace and financial solvency under Richard’s reign partly from the unique partnership he enjoyed with his wife, Anne of Bohemia.  Their marriage was truly based in trust thereby giving Richard a sounding board for making decisions for his kingdom.  When Anne died, he felt like there was no one to trust.  Richard seems not to be able to handle grief and the responsibilities on his own so his life spirals out of control, his friends betray him, and he turns to vengeance against those whom he believes have failed him.  Richard’s posthumous reputation has to a large extent been shaped by Shakespeare, whose play Richard II  written in 1595, portrays Richard’s misrule and his deposition by Bolingbroke as responsible for the fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses

In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, the king disinherited Gaunt’s son, Henry of Bolingbroke,  who is not portrayed in this book as a usurper. However, with little resistance, Bolingbroke deposed Richard and had himself crowned as King Henry IV. Richard died in captivity early the next year; he was probably murdered.

King Richard II (1367-1400), by animegirlUK:

This historical novel is more about the human side of life during Richard II reign, not about battles and politics.  It is however, packed with events, people, places, and drama.  I feel it’s to much for one book, but a good read none the less.  The characterizations have depth and the story line is always moving. It is helpful to know some of the historical background because of the details of events , etc.


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Where, Why & Who…Doxies, Wieners, Dachshunds!

Dachshunds were bred by German foresters in the early 1600s, mostly for hunting badgers. The hunters needed a hardy dog that could follow quarry through thick undergrowth and even underground with fearless spirit. The name Dachshund is derived from two German words, “dachs” meaning badger and “hund” meaning hound, pronounced dacks-hoont . Today’s dachshunds retain that fearless quality for which the breed was originally developed, and as the AKC breed standard states, the dachshund should be “courageous to the point of rashness.”
Victoria Quote
Dachshunds were trained not just to retrieve their prey, but to kill it. You can see this trait today if you give your dachshund a squeaky toy; dachshunds are notorious for attacking the toy and “killing” it by destroying the squeaker as quickly as possible and ripping it to shreds. Of course, if they are lucky enough to have access to the outside, rabbits, squirrels, as well as woodchucks, are all considered fair game.

The Dachshund has been a favorite of royals, statesmen, generals, politicians and heads of state for centuries. Queen Victoria’s husband, the German Prince Albert, brought Dachshunds to England in 1839, and presented one to his new wife, a dog that she named Dash.


In this photo, the Queen is shown in the company of her Dachshund “Boy”, of which a bronze statue was later erected at Windsor Castle. Hunting Dachshunds were bred in royal kennels throughout Victoria’s reign. As a result of the Queens’s love of the breed, the Dachshund became a favorite companion to many ladies of the fashion parade around London’s Hyde Park during the late 19th century.

A little know piece of dachshund movie trivia: the part of the pet dog of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, was originally scripted for a miniature dachshund named Otto shown here taking a walk with his actual owner, actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie.margaret_hamilton

wizard_of_ozLingering post-war hostility toward the Germans, however, caused the studio to insist upon the substitution of a Norwich terrier to be called Toto, a dog of then-more-acceptable British descent. In this rare still shot from unreleased footage, we see Dorothy singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” with Otto behind her.

The upshot for Otto, and dachshund admirers everywhere, came nearly a decade later when, in the sunset of his short dog life, he starred alongside Bob Crane as the pet dog of Colonel Wilhelm Klink.

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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in DACHSHUNDS


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Heroines of Historical Novels by Anne Easter Smith

“I use the skeleton of history. The history of the time and the people who made that history. That is the skeleton of my books, but then what happens, I elaborate on that with dialog and themes…” AES

Rose for the CrownA Rose for the Crown, By Anne Easter Smith
-Kate Haute, the little-known mistress of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III., and mother of his children.

This story is told from the view of Kate Haute, a lively and happy young girl from humble beginnings. She saw Richard of Gloucester as a friend, a lover and a good father to their illegitimate children. As the years go by, Kate more and more prefers privacy for herself and her children, even though they could be kept in a style befitting Richard’s status. Kate’s early upbringing and her morals, just did not allow her to parade in public as his mistress, especially once he married Anne Neville.

I enjoyed this book, it was entertaining and it brought a ‘new’ person into the world of the Yorks, Lancasters, Nevilles, etc. Ms. Smith once again made 600 pages fly by with her attention to detail, explanations of court protocol, as well as describing the day to day activities during the 1400s.

Daughter YorkDaughter of York, By Anne Easter Smith
-Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, and sister of Edward IV, had everything any woman could want.

Margaret becomes a political pawn for her brother, King Edward IV, but this is no surprise for her. She was brought up to understand her place in the York family, that being duty to Country and Crown. Marg of York, sis of E4 Margaret is in love with Anthony Woodville, brother to Queen Elizabeth (Woodville), her brother’s wife, however she is betrothed to Charles of Burgundy.

In her role as a royal European duchess, Margaret was well respected for her intelligence and a clear understanding of politics. After the death of her husband, Margaret truly became invaluable to Burgundy. To her stepdaughter, Mary, now Duchess of Burgundy, she gave guidance and support. After the death of her brothers, Margaret of York supported anyone willing to challenge Tudor, and backed both Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, even going so far as to acknowledge Warbeck as her nephew, the younger son of Edward IV, the Duke of York.

One interesting piece of history added to this story is the introduction of the printing press by William Caxton, a tradesman, who came into contact with the household of Margaret of Burgundy. She became his patron and in 1474 he published the first book printed in the English language, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye”.

Ed4 & family
Caxton showing the first specimen of his printing to King Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth at the Almonry, Westminster

The characterizations for this book are wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know and understand Margaret, due to the expert research Ms. Smith puts into her work. Truthfully this is one of the very few books I’ve read more than once because of the interesting subject, the flow of the story line, and the character, one that I’d like to know more about. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this is fiction, yes based on history, but the author does take liberties at times.


The King’s Grace, By Anne Easter Smith
-Grace Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of King Edward IV

So who was Grace Plantagenet? She has only one mention in history, the fact that she rode on the funeral barge of Queen Elizabeth (Woodville). Obviously this gives an author a wide range to work with. Ms. Smith, as always, rises to the task giving a believable scenario. As a illegitimate daughter of a King, Grace, a shy, lovely young girl grows to womanhood during turbulent times. She’s lucky enough to be brought to court by her father and his wife, Elizabeth takes Grace to be a lady-in-waiting. As life goes, Edward dies, but Grace continues to stay with Elizabeth for many years to come. During these times, she learns what it’s like to be part of the royal family, which is not as glamorous as it seems from the outside.

Once again the research on everything from dresses to swords to politics is detailed and well presented. This is any easy read, not as much war and battle, but anyone with an interest in this time period will enjoy the book.

royal mistressRoyal Mistress, By Anne Easter Smith
-Jane Shore, mistress of Edward IV

Jane Shore’s Role in Royal Mistress,
SimonSchuslerVideos discussed by A.E.S

Jane Shore, a mistress to King Edward IV. True name Elizabeth Shore. She was well brought up, and married young to William Shore, a goldsmith. She attracted the notice of Edward IV, and soon after 1470, leaving her husband, she became the king’s mistress. Edward called her the merriest of his concubines, and she exercised great influence. After Edward’s death she was mistress to William Hastings, and may perhaps have been the intermediary between him and Elizabeth Woodville. After Hastings’ execution, Jane became the mistress of Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, son of Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband.

Once again a detailed research project translates into a good book, where relationships are developed, hearts are on fire, and hearts are broken.

queen by rightQueen By Right, By Anne Easter Smith
-Cecily, Duchess of York, mother of Edward IV & Richard III

Cicely was the youngest of the 22 children of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland and Countess Joan Beaufort. Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (and third son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault) and Katherine Swynford. Cecily Neville is the ancestor of every English monarch from Edward IV to present day.

Cecily married her childhood friend, Richard, Duke of York. Their marriage was a love match, unusual for those times, but it was their strength together as a united front that was supportive to Richard as he challenged the crown.

By 1485 Cicely was alone. Her husband and three sons had died in The War of the Roses. Devoting herself to religious duties late in life, Cicely Neville died in 1495 at the incredible age of 80 years!

What do I think about his book? I was totally immersed in the life and times of the York family, with Cecily holding the family together, loving and protecting each of them, while at the same time running the castle. Not much different than mothers today. Ms. Smith really set the stage for a deeper understanding of the War of the Roses. The details of each character makes them come alive on the page and once again the research pays off by delivering another well told tale of historical fiction.


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5 Tips to Clean and Speed Up Your Filthy PC

Originally posted by Bob Al-Greene/Apr 02, 2013 for:

Our computers rarely run as fast as we want or expect them to. Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, it’s maddening to sit in front of a taunting hourglass or spinning circle of death, especially when you have work to do. In the spirit of spring cleaning, we invite you to clean the dust bunnies out of your PC (literally and digitally). Here are five easy ways to get started.

1. Organize Everything

Your computing experience could seem slow if you spend eons clicking through endless subfolders or waiting for search to retrieve files. The first step toward a smooth-running PC is to remove human error.


That means setting up an intuitive filing system for your documents to make sure they’re always where you want them, when you want them. Clearing and reorganizing your dekstop is an incredibly cathartic experience and will leave you with more peace of mind. Have fun with it — maybe use a grid wallpaper to organize icons precisely before switching back to your usual background. Image courtesy of Flickr, kleuske

2. Cut Out the Unnecessary

Run disk cleanup. It will free up space on your hard drive and improve the performance of your computer. Picture your PC as a hiker with a heavy backpack — you can help him move faster by unloading all the unnecessary junk you’ve accumulated — temporary files, duplicate files, downloads — as well as the crapware and trialware that came installed on your machine.

Check out PC Decrapifier to get started culling the herd of useless files bogging your PC down.

3. Fight Back
This is a simple proposition but an easy one to overlook: Invest in programs that target spyware, adware, malware and any viruses your computer might catch. This is about finding the right antivirus software for you.

If you do a lot of web surfing, for example, you might need some serious muscle to back you up. Or do you prefer a simple, unobtrusive program to keep your system running?

The Internet is flush with lists of decent, free antivirus programs. Whatever you choose, don’t forget you have it — scan as often as possible. Yes, it can take hours to do a full system scan. So set it up to work overnight, while you’re asleep, maybe. Getting into a cycle like this will keep your PC running healthy.

4. To Defrag or Not to Defrag?

As you use your PC, files get scattered across the system in bits and pieces: fragments. Defragmentation brings them all back together. And while this may not have a noticeable effect on your system speed, it’s good to make sure your files are all in one, correct place.

Unless you’re using a solid-state drive, you should probably defrag about once a month just to be on the safe side.

5. Start Over

There may come a time when your best hope is just to save all your data and wipe your hard drive, then reinstall Windows. This is the scorched earth option. But don’t forget to back up all your data beforehand, so you don’t lose anything important.

You may want to choose this time to upgrade to a newer operating system, like Windows 8. You should also double-check that you’re running the most recent version of your software. If you aren’t updating Windows constantly, you can set your PC to do it automatically.

Do you have some PC cleaning tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section.


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3 Steps to Streamlining and Improving Your Twitter Account

By Cynthia Boris | March 12, 2013  |

3 Steps to Streamlining and Improving Your Twitter Account

For many business owners, Twitter is a valuable tool for networking, marketing and keeping on top of industry news. But the popular social network can easily become a disorganized mass of unwanted information and spammy followers.

If you want to get the most out of Twitter, consider scheduling a thorough “cleaning” of your account. All you need is about half an hour and a few online tools to turn down the noise and turn up the value.

Here are three steps for streamlining and cleaning up your company’s Twitter account:

1. Unfollow low-quality accounts.
If you’ve actively been using Twitter for a while, you might be following a significant number of accounts that don’t add anything to the conversation. These include spammers, abandoned accounts and people who don’t follow back. The good news is there are several online tools that can help you identify and remove these accounts from your lists.streamlining-improving-twitter-accountImage:  Shutterstock

If your ultimate goal is interaction, stop following people who haven’t followed you back. FriendorFollow is a popular service that makes it easy to see and disconnect from any non-followers. The tool can also help you locate accounts you haven’t followed back. FriendorFollow is free if you don’t mind unfollowing accounts one by one. If you want to unfollow in bulk, you’ll need to upgrade for $9.99 a month.

To remove unactive members from your follow list, UnTweeps is a simple, free program that helps you unfollow any accounts that haven’t posted in the last 30 days.

2. Follow new people.
Breathe new life into your account by finding new people to follow on a regular basis. This can help you network within your business or locate new customers. Look for people who post regularly and have a large number of followers. These “influencers” are likely to introduce you to their circle of friends if you retweet and reply.

To identify influencers, start with the “Who to Follow” box in your home page sidebar. From there, check Klout, a popular online service that ranks people based on their overall social media influence. Also try WeFollow, the Twitter directory that ranks accounts by category.

3. Give your profile a fresh look.
Since Twitter updated its profile page design, you can change the background, the header and your profile picture, as well as your bio. Enhance your branding by creating your own exclusive background. Choose a color that compliments your logo then go easy on the additional graphics.

The place to get creative is in the header. You can post a montage of photos that tell your company’s story or feature holiday or seasonal products throughout the year. Your header should say something about your personality.

Also, take a look at the recent photos in the sidebar. Your account should look lively and up-to-date, so regularly delete old photos or add new ones to push them off the front page.

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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in SOCIAL MEDIA, Twitter


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Seven Steps to Clean-Up Your Online Reputation

Gini Dietrich on April 25, 2013 for –

Do you remember the story of Florida pizza shop owner, Scott Van Duzer, who hugged President Obama during a campaign stop in 2012?

The President stopped by Van Duzer’s restaurant to recognize him for his efforts in helping provide blood to patients in his county. What Van Duzer didn’t expect was the big bear hug he gave the President to make national news…and bring out the trolls on his company’s Yelp page.

People from across the country began leaving negative reviews on the page, even if they’d never actually eaten in the restaurant. One reviewer wrote, “Most of y’all Democrats can’t afford to eat at this restaurant anyway. They don’t accept food stamps.”

Hundreds of anti-Obama reviewers flooded the page to criticize Van Duzer, his restaurant, and his political beliefs.  Big Apple Pizza Yelp ReviewsScreen-Shot-2013-04-24-at-8_00_36-AM

In working with Yelp, Van Duzer was able to have some of the comments removed because they violated the site’s content guidelines, yet many remained. But then something magical happened: Van Duzer’s loyal customers came to the rescue! They began leaving five star reviews, having actually eaten in the restaurant, and the negative and untrue reviews were pushed further and further down.
Clean-Up Your Online Reputation:  If you have some unsavory things hurting you online – and you don’t have a community to come to your rescue – you can clean-up your online reputation with some elbow grease and a good strategy in place. The process goes a little something like this.

1.  Conduct an online audit. Likely you already know what’s there, but it doesn’t hurt to do a Google search, see what is being said, and where it lands in search results (second listing, first page). Do this both logged into your Google account and logged out (or you can open an incognito tab in your browser without having to actually log out by going to file > new incognito window). Logged in will let you see the results your friends, colleagues, peers, and clients will see. The incognito search will show you what the rest of the world sees. It’s important to have both. Search Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Search the social networks. Search the review sites. Search the Better Business Bureau and Ripoff Report. Search employee sites such as Glassdoor. Use terms such as “I hate COMPANY NAME” or “COMPANY NAME sucks.”

 2.  Create a strategy. Based on what you learn from the audit and what internal and external implementation resources are in place, put together the company’s online strategy … and make sure it’s tied to your goals. The very first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is set up Talkwalker alerts to let you know when someone says something about you online – positive, neutral, or negative.

 3.  Create a clean-up list. With the audit complete and your online strategy in place, now comes the clean-up. In some cases, there will be multiple accounts for your organization. There might be profiles you don’t need on social networks that are either defunct or they don’t help your strategy. There might be negative reviews or blog posts on the first page of search results you’d like to address and not have come up before your own sites and the positive reviews. Maybe there are “I hate Company X” groups on Facebook or untrue reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Perhaps former employees have said really terrible things about you on Glassdoor or they’ve set up social networks for the company and you don’t have the login information. Whatever it happens to be, the list begins with these types of things. Write down everything you need cleaned up so the person or team responsible understands what it is you want done.

 4.  Assign someone (or a team) to do the work. They will need usernames and passwords, branding guidelines, sign-off on copy/images, and the power to make changes without a laborious approval process. It’s not critical this person be in marketing or PR, as long as it’s someone who understands what you’re trying to accomplish and can get the work done and update you in a timely manner.

5.  Begin the clean-up. Some of this is a big pain in the rear because you’ll need to work with the customer service departments at the social networks to either reset login data, delete a profile, or take down an untrue review. This could take weeks. We have a client who had an employee who was very social media savvy. He set up the company on all of the social networks and then quit his job, taking the login information with him. Working with LinkedIn, in particular, took about five weeks to reset the password and give us additional administrator access. In some cases, such as on the review sites, you have to prove the review is untrue, sometimes with legal action.

6.  Build your online presence through social media. There is one social network every organization should be on: Google+. Not only does Google rank you higher if you use their social network to promote your content, it helps to push down the negative content if it has been shared on Google+. You don’t have to be “social” on the site, but please use it to promote your content.

7.  Content is king…or at least prince. There are going to be many of you who have negative reviews that are, unfortunately, true. There are many organizations who claim they will clean up your online reputation for $40 per month, deleting all of the negative reviews from search results. This is illegal. Not illegal from the “I’ll be arrested and spend time in jail” point-of-view, but from a “It’s impossible to delete things on a site where you are not an administrator” perspective. Good, valuable content that is shared is the only way to push some the negative results.

8.  Implement the strategy. Once you’ve cleaned up the organization’s online presence and figured out how you’re going to use content to build a strong reputation, it’s time to put your strategy into action. This is the scary part. You’re about to become transparent. The curtain has been pulled back now and the only way to participate in the conversation is by being transparent, which means you’re opening yourself up to criticism and feedback.

Once you’ve decided to be transparent, honest, authentic, and human in your online conversations, the content, brand ambassadors, influencer marketing, customer reviews, and a solid product or service will help you cross the marathon finish line.

Warren Buffet famously said, “If you lose money for the firm, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation, I will be ruthless.”

An organization’s reputation, today, is only as good as its search results. If your operations are solid, you have a responsive customer service team, and you run things ethically, the rest will sort itself out.


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Can’t Help But Smile!


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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in DACHSHUNDS


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Debra's 15th and 16th century blog

.........really awesome!

Peeking Between the Pages

...escape into the pages of a good book

.........really awesome!

Words And Peace

book reviews and good books for you to read

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