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The Difficulty of writing Historical Fiction

Currently I am writing a historical fiction novel about Anne of Cleves the 4th wife of King Henry VIII in 1539 in England. Anne managed to escape getting her head cut off and in return for their annulment King Henry awarded her 3,000 ducats a month and Richmond castle and several other castles an manors that had renters paying rent. This made her one of the richest women at the time in England. What makes it difficult to write is all the known historical facts already part of history and following that time line accurately.  I had to read and research several books on Anne of Cleves, King Henry VIII and his wives in addition to blogs on the topic and get everyone’s view of the annulment and the events surrounding the place in time.

Setting up an accurate time line was a first priority. I am writing the book from her viewpoint which has not been done before, therefore, a lot of information she was not privy to I can leave out. My sub-themes are to show who well she adapted even though at first she could not speak English and knew very little about the English culture. She was a major influence on Lady Elizabeth when she was a child. She got an agreement front the King to allow her to visit with Elizabeth on a regular basis. Anne was 24 and Elizabeth 7 at the time of the annulment. Anne was also a friend and confident of Lady Mary who became Queen after Edward VI died at age 15. This helped Anne to survive after Edward and his council took away most of her estates and monthly allowance. Getting all these facts straight is indeed a challenge and sometimes I have to force myself to write, but I know in time I will eventually finish the Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves.

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A Map of Cleves during the 1500’s

A Map of Cleves during the 1500's

Anne of Cleves came from the Dutchy in Germany on the Dutch border where her brother the Duke of Cleves ruled. King Henry VIII need an ally in Europe to defend against a French invasion and marrying Anne would cement a tie between two major powers.

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Dr. Greenspan

Dr. Greenspan

From the novel, “The 23rd Psalm,” Dr. Greenspan helps to save many people with his medical skills. This is a unique story of two religious groups seeking to survive after a Comet hits the Earth and the Poles melt. Combine the science fiction theme with a Messiah theme and you get the 23rd Psalm where each chapter is a line from the famous Prayer from the bible.

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King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

Anne of Cleves was Henry’s 4th wife from Germany who could speak little English. After trying to sneak into her room Anne realized that he was not the handsome man she had heard but rather a fat obese man who was unable to hold an erection. Some say he had a disease and others say he was just impotent from his poor health and huge girth.

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Hever Castle

Hever Castle

King Henry VIII gave Hever Castle along with other castles to Anne of Cleves after their marriage annulment. Hever Castle was smaller and more manageable than Richmond castle and was a favorite home of Anne of Cleves, “beloved Sister of the King.”
All these stories are included in my upcoming novel, “The Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII of England

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From the Personal Diary of Anne of CLeves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII, July 1540

Letters of Anne of Cleves

 

Letter of Anne of Cleves to her husband, King Henry VIII
11 July 1540

Background
The following letter was Anne of Cleves’s very diplomatic response to Henry VIII’s request for an annulment of their brief marriage. Though her brother pressed her to return home to the duchy of Cleves, Anne was content to remain in England. There were two reasons for this – first, Henry was so grateful for her easy submission and gracious manners, he rewarded her with a very comfortable lifestyle. She was able to live as a wealthy dowager and enjoyed a close relationship with the king (now termed her ‘brother’) and his three children. Secondly, she did not want to face an ignominious return to Cleves. After Henry’s public rejection of their union, she would not have found another husband and would have been forced to rely on her brother’s generosity.

Henry was very impressed by this letter. Its tone of respectful subservience to his wishes inspired his gratitude. Despite his reputation for tyranny, the great king could be kind and generous. Anne had little cause to think ill of him. After all, most historians focus on Henry’s feelings in this matter – but perhaps the lady from Cleves was less than enamored with her husband and was equally desperate to escape the marriage. According to all reports, she learned to love English beer and grew plump and happy in her adopted country.

July 1540

My letter to his excellent majesty King Henry VIII

Pleaseth your most excellent majesty to understand that, whereas, at sundry times heretofore, I have been informed and perceived by certain lords and others your grace’s council, of the doubts and questions which have been moved and found in our marriage; and how hath petition thereupon been made to your highness by your nobles and commons, that the same might be examined and determined by the holy clergy of this realm; to testify to your highness by my writing, that which I have before promised by my word and will, that is to say, that the matter should be examined and determined by the said clergy; it may please your majesty to know that, though this case must needs be most hard and sorrowful unto me, for the great love which I bear to your most noble person, yet, having more regard to God and his truth than to any worldly affection, as it beseemed me, at the beginning, to submit me to such examination and determination of the said clergy, whom I have and do accept for judges competent in that behalf. So now being ascertained how the same clergy hath therein given their judgment and sentence, I acknowledge myself hereby to accept and approve the same, wholly and entirely putting myself, for my state and condition, to your highness’ goodness and pleasure; most humbly beseeching your majesty that, though it be determined that the pretended matrimony between us is void and of none effect, whereby I neither can nor will repute myself for your grace’s wife, considering this sentence (whereunto I stand) and your majesty’s clean and pure living with me, yet it will please you to take me for one of your humble servants, and so determine of me, as I may sometimes have the fruition of your most noble presence; which as I shall esteem for a great benefit, so, my lords and others of your majesty’s council, now being with me, have put me in comfort thereof; and that your highness will take me for your sister; for the which I most humbly thank you accordingly. 
Thus, most gracious prince, I beseech our Lord God to send your majesty long life and good health, to God’s glory, your own honor, and the wealth of this noble realm. 
From Richmond, the 11th day of July, the 32nd year of your majesty’s most noble reign. 
Your majesty’s most humble sister and servant, Anne the daughter of Cleves.

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Jesus and John stain glass

Jesus and John stain glass

The New Testament in the Bible tells some wonderful stories about the miracles of Jesus and John. What if Jesus spent almost 15 years training as a healer and user of medicines by the Essenes? What is what Jesus said on the Mount was a compilation of Essene prayers and theology. Was Jesus Christ, “The Righteous Leader,” that all the Essenes prayed for? Where did John the Baptist get his training using Baptism as the core of his ministry? Was it from the Essenes in Qumran near the Dead Sea? I try to answer these questions and more in a historical fictional context in the book, “Jesus and John,” published by Xlibris

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Mrs. Lee the Home Economics Teacher

Mrs. Lee the Home Economics Teacher

The only Chinese teacher in the whole school was Mrs. Lee. She taught Home Economics, Sewing, and Cooking. If you wanted to go to Chinatown in New York city she would write a meal recommendation in Mandarin for you to present to the waiter at certain places in Chinatown. We always got a great meal this way, thanks to Mrs. Lee

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Chapter 8- Teacher Stories from the novel, “The Junior High, ” by Dr. Pelham Mead, Xlibris publishers

Chapter 8- Teacher Stories

 

Some of the funniest situations occur in classrooms. The first story is about a Social studies teacher who was talking about AIDs and how at the time they thought the disease began in Africa by people eating Green Monkeys. After the teacher got done reading about this AIDs research, he asked the class what does this tell us about AIDS and green monkeys. One student at the back of the class quickly raised his hand and say,” I have the answer, this shows us that the people in Africa were piping them monkeys.” There was a silence in the class for 30 seconds and then the entire class and the teacher laughed.

Two teachers who were buddies were bicycling through a local river town when the one teacher was fiddling with his bike odometer and a car started backing into him right in the middle of town. It was noontime on a Saturday and the entire restaurants were full of tourists having lunch. The teacher’s bike flipping upside down as he was only able to squeeze on brake lever. He landed on his butt right in the middle of the street. A policeman came running up asking if he was OK. He said he was fine. Meanwhile his friend on the other bike was laughing uncontrollably. The tourists sitting-having lunch thought it was all part of the entertainment in town and got up and clapped the clown-like stunt. Embarrassed the teachers rode off.

That Monday morning the teacher that flipped his bike was in his classroom and the prep-room door was open into his friend’s classroom that was teaching Earth Science. What he heard was “this is the topography of the Hudson river and the palisades and here in this little river town. Mr. Smith flipped his bicycle last Saturday.” The class all laughed.

Discipline in the 1960’s and 1970’s was difficult for teachers because they were not forewarned in advance of troublemakers or students with special needs. One such student called Richard Flynn was causing every teacher in the school problems by talking out in class and fooling around all the time. He started talking out in a science teacher’s class. The teacher asked him to leave the room and he refused. Finally when the teacher gestured the he was going to lift him out of the chair he got up and headed to the door. The teacher followed and as Richard goes to the door he told the science teacher to “fuck off.” The teacher who was right behind him grabbed Richard by his shirt and lifted him off the ground and banged him into the wall hitting the light switch and the lights went off dramatically as Richard was being thrown out of the class.

One teacher was sitting in homeroom and a female student was standing in the doorway. A boy student came along and out of the clear blue without any provocation he “cold cocked,” the girl right in the doorway. It was a brutal punch and the girl fell to the floor. The teacher got up hurriedly and quickly grabbed the student by his shirt collar and being very angry he held the student by the collar all the way down the hallway until they got to the Assistant Principal’s office. When the teacher got to the office it was then that he realized that the students feet were off the ground and that he had held the student up in the air all the way down the hallway.

An English teacher who was very creative had many paper projects hanging in her classroom. Some of the projects got crumbled and were tossed on the radiator by the window where there was a space between the radiator and the wall. This did not seem like a smart idea. One day in the middle of second period the papers next to the radiator burst into flames from the heat and the classroom was in flames from the floor to the ceiling in a matter of minutes. All the students rushed out of the class and the teacher quickly called the office for the fire department on the intercom before the room filled with smoke and flames. All the computers melted down to piles of plastic and the desks burned to the metal frames. The fire department has to enter the building from the second floor outside classroom to get to the inside classroom knocking down the outside wall on a ladder. Water was everywhere and most of it poured through the floor destroying all the books in the library underneath the classroom on the first floor. This was the first time Cucamonga JHS had a real fire. Everyone was evacuated and all the students and teachers had to stand outside in 40-degree cold weather for two hours before the fire department finished. The next problem was they were not allowed back into the building because of the smoke, so the school busses had to be called early and the students all had to go home without their coats and books. The second floor was a disaster area after the fire. The two rooms that the walls were broken down had to be closed up with plywood and the classes had to be relocated for the entire semester. The smell of smoke lasted for two months. Hundreds of library books were destroyed from water damage and the library was closed due to water damage for the rest of the school year.

In Physical Education the classes were outside in the spring on a nice warm day in an Archery unit. The targets were placed 15 yards away on the high hill behind the gym so that the arrows if they missed would stick in the grass on the hill. One day while class was shooting at the targets a daring squirrel decided to run across the hill behind the targets. Before the Phys. Ed. teacher could blow his whistle and stop the shooting the entire class aimed at the squirrel as it ran across the hill. Fortunately, no one hit it but it was a very scary and funny moment.

In a Health Education class the teacher was teaching about sperms and eggs and how they get fertilized. He drew some chalk pictures on the blackboard showing the eggs and sperms. He was talking about spermicide and how it doesn’t always work to prevent fertilization and in a moment of humor he teased the students by telling the sperms had little shields to block off the spermicide. No one questioned that statement. When the test came up on Reproduction a fill-in the blank question, asked “how a girl could get pregnant even after using a spermicide.” Several students filled in “by the sperms having shields.”

 

 

 

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The Physical Education Archery Unit

The Physical Education Archery Unit

One day during the Archery program in Physical Education an emergency occurred right in the middle of the students shooting. A squirrel decided to run across the target range and as soon as it did all of the students shooting at the targets turned and tried to shoot the squirrel. Fortunately, the squirrel escaped unharmed.