What I Write



 My first novel, A THING DONE, is set in medieval Florence, and in it I have tried to give a voice to people silenced by history--people marginalized by class or by gender. Here is a description of the work, published by Fireship Press:

Florence, 1216. The city's noble families hold almost unlimited power, and they do not share it easily. Factional tensions simmer just below the surface. When a Jester's prank-for-hire goes wrong and triggers a brawl between the factions, those tensions erupt and split Florence down the middle. One side makes the traditional offer of a marriage to restore peace, but the peace crumbles under the pressure of a woman's interference, a jilting, and an outraged cry for revenge.

This is the story of Corrado the Jester, pressed into unwilling service as messenger by both sides. It will take all his wit and ingenuity to keep himself alive and to protect those dear to him, even as his beloved city splits in two. It is the story of messer Buondelmonte, the knight who plunges Florence into chaos when he rashly abandons his marriage contract to pursue another woman, and of his implacable enemy messer Oddo. And it is the story of three fiercely determined women in a society that allows them little initiative: Selvaggia, the spurned bride; Gualdrada, the noblewoman who tempts Buondelmonte with her daughter's beauty and goads him into recklessness by questioning his courage; and Ghisola, Corrado's great-hearted friend. They will do what they must, from behind the scenes, to achieve their goals--to avenge, to prevail, to survive.

A THING DONE explores how a great historical event affects ordinary people, as well as how ordinary people can influence great events. It suggests that women may have played a much more important role in determining the story's outcome than history records. The Jester is historical, as are the knights and ladies. Dante consigned one of the novel's main characters to the Inferno for speaking the fateful words "A thing done has an end," inciting his fellow knights to declare a vendetta against Buondelmonte, and Dante's ancestor Cacciaguida says in the Paradiso that had Buondelmonte's family never come to Florence, "many would be joyful who are now sad."


An Amazing Gift

A friend and fellow writer, Rowan Fae, presented me with a unique and generous gift: having earned a printed copy of her work by fulfilling the requirements of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), she chose to have a copy of my book printed instead. Not only that, she obtained cover blurbs from other members of the Callihoo Writers Group who have read A THING DONE, and she designed a cover for it. I was floored. I felt the way I imagine Geppetto must have felt when he realized that Pinocchio had become--well, if not a real boy quite yet, at least sentient.

Rowan's lovely cover captures the essence of the story, with those juggling balls up in the air and the faint whiff of menace.  As I think most writers know, we do indeed get by with a little help from our friends, and this was a wonderful gift from people who have read and appreciated my novel.

Here's Rowan's cover, back and front:




Work In Progress

I am working on a book set in Florence in the late 1200s, based on the life of Gemma Donati, the woman who married Dante. Gemma's kinsman, messer Corso Donati, was the leader of the Black Guelf party, the party which eventually would be responsible for Dante's exile. Beatrice, called Bice, Dante's inspiration and love, grew up a few doors away from Gemma. The two girls were about the same age, and they almost certainly knew each other. I want to explore the interactions among Gemma, Dante, Bice, Corso, and others--interactions which cannot always have been easy, but which would have reflected the turbulent times they lived in, as well as some timeless characteristics of human relationships.




Short Fiction

My short fiction tends to be either contemporary fantasy, or historical with a fantasy edge to it. I've published in Fickle Muses, and I have some stories  published through Callihoo Publishing.

Here's the cover art for two Callihoo stories, drawn by the talented Laura Unger with color added by Timothy Heath:


BLOODY LUGGAGE is a tale of travel, based on a real-life trip to England but with added supernatural elements.  LOVE IT ENOUGH grew out of the travails of a writer seeking to get her first novel published. 

And here are the next two covers, photomanipulated by Tim Heath:

A Cinderella retelling - with a twist


Yes, she was patient - but what, exactly, was she waiting for?