Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nine skeletons found in a shallow grave in Ekaterinburg, Russia, in July 1991, were tentatively identified by Russian forensic authorities as the remains of the last Tsar, Tsarina, three of their five children, the Royal Physician and three servants. We have performed DNA based sex testing and short tandem repeat (STR) analysis and confirm that a family group was present in the grave. Analysis of mitochondrial (mt) DNA reveals an exact sequence match between the putative Tsarina and the three children with a living maternal relative. Amplified mtDNA extracted from the remains of the putative Tsar has been cloned to demonstrate heteroplasmy at a single base within the mtDNA control region. One of these sequences matches two living maternal relatives of the Tsar. We conclude that the DNA evidence supports the hypothesis that the remains are those of the Romanov family.  Nature Genetics  6, 130 - 135 (1994) 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Kindle Countdown Deals promotion for "Anastasia's Diary" is set to begin on November 6, 2013 at 8:00:00 AM PST. The book will be discounted at $0.99. 

She was the sixteen-year-old Duchess of Russia living on a palatial estate with everything she could want. Then the people decided that they had had enough of the Tsar and his family, and they devised a murderous plan to end his rule forever.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Recently came upon this tidbit:
The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918
The mounting pressures of World War I, combined with years of injustice, toppled the rule of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917. Forced to abdicate, he was replaced by a Provisional Government committed to continuing the war.
Increasing losses at the front and the fear of a German advance on Moscow eroded what little support remained for the war and undermined the Provisional Government's authority. Capitalizing on this situation, the Germans secretly transported the exiled Vladimir Lenin in a sealed train from Switzerland to Russia in the hope he would enflame the turmoil. German expectations were realized on the night of November 6-7 when Lenin led the Bolsheviks in a successful attempt to grab the reigns of power in St. Petersburg. Anti-Bolshevik forces (the White Russians) immediately took up arms to oust the Communist regime and Russia was plunged into a brutal civil war. The following March the Communist regime signed a treaty with the Germans ending Russia's participation in World War I.
Against this backdrop of political chaos, the Tsar and his family were initially kept as prisoners near St. Petersburg and then transported beyond the Ural Mountains finally ending up in the town of Ekaterinburg in the Spring of 1918. The seven members of the imperial family and their small retinue were confined to the house of a successful local merchant, N. N. Ipatiev, which had been commandeered by the Bolshevik's for this purpose.
By mid-July a Czech contingent of the White Army was approaching Ekaterinburg and the sounds of gun fire could be heard in the distance by the royal prisoners and their Bolshevik captors. The arrival of their potential liberators sealed the fate of the Tsar and his family.
During the early morning hours of July 17 the Tsar, his wife, children and servants were herded into the cellar of their prison house and executed.

"We must shoot them all tonight."
Pavel Medvedev was a member of the squad of soldiers guarding the royal family. He describes what happened:
"In the evening of 16 July, between seven and eight p.m., when the time or my duty 'had just begun; Commandant Yurovsky, [the head of the execution squad] ordered me to take all the Nagan revolvers from the guards and to bring them to him. I took twelve revolvers from the sentries as well as from some other of the guards and brought them to the commandant's office.
Yurovsky said to me, 'We must shoot them all tonight; so notify the guards not to be alarmed if they hear shots.' I understood, therefore, that Yurovsky had it in his mind to shoot the whole of the Tsar's family, as well as the doctor and the servants who lived with them, but I did not ask him where or by whom the decision had been made... At about ten o'clock in the evening in accordance with Yurovsky's order I informed the guards not to be alarmed if they should hear firing.
About midnight Yurovsky woke up the Tsar's family. I do not know if he told them the reason they had been awakened and where they were to be taken, but I positively affirm that it was Yurovsky who entered the room occupied by the Tsar's family. In about an hour the whole of the family, the doctor, the maid and the waiters got up, washed and dressed themselves.
Just before Yurovsky went to awaken the family, two members of the Extraordinary Commission [of the Ekaterinburg Soviet] arrived at Ipatiev's house. Shortly after one o'clock a.m., the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, their four daughters, the maid, the doctor, the cook and the waiters left their rooms. The Tsar carried the heir in his arms. The Emperor and the heir were dressed in gimnasterkas [soldiers' shirts] and wore caps. The Empress, her daughters and the others followed him. Yurovsky, his assistant and the two above-mentioned members of the Extraordinary Commission accompanied them. I was also present.
During my presence none of the Tsar's family asked any questions. They did not weep or cry. Having descended the stairs to the first floor, we went out into the court, and from there to the second door (counting from the gate) we entered the ground floor of the house. When the room (which adjoins the store room with a sealed door) was reached, Yurovsky ordered chairs to be brought, and his assistant brought three chairs. One chair was given to the Emperor, one to the Empress, and the third to the heir.
The Empress sat by the wall by the window, near the black pillar of the arch. Behind her stood three of her daughters (I knew their faces very well, because I had seen them every day when they walked in the garden, but I didn't know their names). The heir and the Emperor sat side by side almost in the middle of the room. Doctor Botkin stood behind the heir. The maid, a very tall woman, stood at the left of the door leading to the store room; by her side stood one of the Tsar's daughters (the fourth). Two servants stood against the wall on the left from the entrance of the room.

The maid carried a pillow. The Tsar's daughters also brought small pillows with them. One pillow was put on the Empress's chair; another on the heir's chair. It seemed as if all of them guessed their fate, but not one of them uttered a single sound. At this moment eleven men entered the room: Yurovsky, his assistant, two members of the Extraordinary Commission, and seven Letts (operatives of the infamous Cheka or Secret Police)..

Yurovsky ordered me to leave, saying, 'Go on to the street, see if there is anybody there, and wait to see whether the shots have been heard.' I went out to the court, which was enclosed by a fence, but before I got to the street I heard the firing. I returned to the house immediately (only two or three minutes having elapsed) and upon entering the room where the execution had taken place, I saw that all the members of the Tsar's family were lying on the floor with many wounds in their bodies. The blood was running in streams. The doctor, the maid and two waiters had also been shot. When I entered the heir was still alive and moaned a little. Yurovsky went up and fired two or three more times at him. Then the heir was still."

"The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918," EyeWitness to History, (2005).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Moving on....

Anastasia's Diary has done quite well, considering the fact that my marketing was limited.  Now I'm ready to move on.

My next book (with a publication date of 2014) is titled Out of the Cauldron.  It is a YA non-fiction book that tells the stories of the witch trials in Europe during the 14th - 16th centuries.  Quite a fascinating time, but very very frightening. It was a time when neighbor turned on neighbor and even family members turned on each other.

I have copies of woodcuts for the book too, which make it more interesting, but don't know if I'll be able to get them into the book.  So...look for my "witch" book in January....will post when it's finished and published and remember...

YA books are a great read for adults, too!   I've read many YA books and enjoyed them tremendously. I recently read  "Code Name Verity" and "Rose Under Fire"...both books by Elizabeth Wein.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

[With thanks to for the following news release]

Dec 30, 1916:

Rasputin murdered

Grigory Rasputin, a self-fashioned Russian holy man, is murdered by Russian nobles eager to end his sway over the royal family.
Rasputin won the favor of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra through his ability to stop the bleeding of their hemophiliac son, Alexei. Although the Siberian-born peasant was widely criticized for his lechery and drunkenness, he exerted a powerful influence on the ruling family of Russia. He particularly influenced the czarina, and when Nicholas departed to lead Russian forces in World War I, Rasputin effectively ruled Russia through her.
In the early hours of December 30, 1916, a group of nobles lured Rasputin to Yusupovsky Palace, where they attempted to poison him. Seemingly unaffected by the large doses of poison placed in his wine and food, he was finally shot at close range and collapsed. A minute later he rose, beat one of his assailants, and attempted to escape from the palace grounds, where he was shot again. Rasputin, still alive, was then bound and tossed into a freezing river. A few months later, the imperial regime was overthrown by the Russian Revolution.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Excerpts from some of Anastasia's letters. Thanks go to Alexander Palace Time Machine at for their use.

Aug. 16, 1916
"...In the evenings Olga and Maria and I sometimes ride our bicycles about the rooms at full speed. Olga tries to catch me up or vice versa. We fall down some- times but are still alive. The lessons are over and I am going to have breakfast with Mother and sisters though I don't know if they have come back."
Oct. 31, 1916
"...Yesterday we were at the concert in the Grand Palace. They celebrated the second anniversary of their hospital. It was rather nice there. Your friend Lersky was there. Mother saw him for the first time and liked him... Olga's cat is running about here now. I think she has grown up and looks rather nice..."
Nov. 9, 1916
"...I am writing to you between the classes as usual. Olga's cat is running about here all the time but now she can be heard as she is wearing a little bell on her neck with a blue ribbon..."
"...I am sitting in a semi-dark room now with Olga and Tatiana (they are ill with measles)... We have breakfast upstairs in our classroom. Only Mother, Maria and me. Very nice..."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jul 16, 1918:

Romanov family executed

Thank you to This Day in the following excerpt.

In Yekaterinburg, Russia, Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed by the Bolsheviks, bringing an end to the three-century-old Romanov dynasty.
Crowned in 1896, Nicholas was neither trained nor inclined to rule, which did not help the autocracy he sought to preserve among a people desperate for change. The disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War led to the Russian Revolution of 1905, which ended only after Nicholas approved a representative assembly--the Duma--and promised constitutional reforms. The czar soon retracted these concessions and repeatedly dissolved the Duma when it opposed him, contributing to the growing public support for the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary groups. In 1914, Nicholas led his country into another costly war--World War I--that Russia was ill-prepared to win. Discontent grew as food became scarce, soldiers became war weary and devastating defeats at the hands of Germany demonstrated the ineffectiveness of Russia under Nicholas.
In March 1917, revolution broke out on the streets of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne later that month. That November, the radical socialist Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized power in Russia from the provisional government, sued for peace with the Central Powers and set about establishing the world's first communist state. Civil war broke out in Russia in June 1918, and in July the anti-Bolshevik "White" Russian forces advanced on Yekaterinburg, where Nicholas and his family were located, during a campaign against the Bolshevik forces. Local authorities were ordered to prevent a rescue of the Romanovs, and after a secret meeting of the Yekaterinburg Soviet, a death sentence was passed on the imperial family.
Late on the night of July 16, Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children and four servants were ordered to dress quickly and go down to the cellar of the house in which they were being held. There, the family and servants were arranged in two rows for a photograph they were told was being taken to quell rumors that they had escaped. Suddenly, a dozen armed men burst into the room and gunned down the imperial family in a hail of gunfire. Those who were still breathing when the smoked cleared were stabbed to death

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some Fast Facts About Anastasia:

Full name and title: Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia 

Siblings: Olga, Marie, Tatiana and brother Alexei

Birthdate: June 18, 1901

Date of Death: July 17, 1918

Mother: Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Father: Tsar Nicholas II


Monday, March 25, 2013

Anastasia's Diary

23 March 2013

After having published six non-fiction books in print a few years ago, and taken a hiatus from serious writing, I'm now ready to launch my first e-novel, Anastasia's Diary. (I'm shooting for April 1 or sooner)  This diary is a fictional representation of how Anastasia's diary would read, if she hadn't been forced to destroy it.  All the dates and most of the account is factual and the result of a great deal of research. So, I hope it does due diligence and reads as if fifteen-year-old Anastasia actually wrote it.

I have always been fascinated with the Romanov family, and Anastasia in particular, especially because of the mystery and controversy surrounding her death.  Some scholars believe that Anastasia survived the assassination of her family by a strange coincidence of circumstances.  One theory is that during the shooting, one of Anastasia's sisters fell on her, knocking her to the ground and thereby, protecting her from the barrage of bullets that were let go on the family.  There is another theory that Anastasia was saved by the corset that she wore under her dress, which had diamonds and gems sewed into it as did the corsets of her sisters and mother.

A few years ago, I read that scientists had dug up the remains of the family and that they found the bones of Anastasia.  I have my doubts about this, but it may well be true.  However, her closest childhood friend, Gleb Botkin did identify Anna Anderson, the name she took, as Anastasia about ten years after the family's assassination and after she had been put into mental asylum because she insisted that she was the young duchess.

Well, enough said about that.  If you want to read more about Anastasia or the Romanov family, I have included a reading list on my website: I will also be posting some unusual or unfamiliar facts about the family as I go along and would love some feedback, both about the book and about your thoughts and ideas about Anastasia..