Hanging up my vagabond shoes

I’m just back from a week in Florence, Italy. Along with the sightseeing, the food, and the amazing artwork in this citta del Renascimento (city of the Renaissance), a fleeting impression cemented a stark image to two in my mind–the what if’s that form the beginning of new stories, new ideas to build on.

But while they percolate in my mind, here are a few images from bella Firenze.

These are from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, more famously known as Il Duomo di Firenze. The dome, a marvel and the largest freestanding dome of its time, was designed by Brunelleschi for this second iteration of Florence’s cathedral of Santa Reparata, and stands 376 feet tall.

Exterior View from left

Exterior View from left. At right, Giotto’s Campanile.




Frescoes inside the Duomo

Frescoes inside the Duomo. At right, beautiful marble floors.

Multicolor floors



Up the block from our Guesthouse, La Casa Howard, sits the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, with its beautiful frescoes and garden and wide piazza that’s a natural for sitting, relaxing, and watching the world pass by while eating your gelato.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and its Piazza

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and its Piazza

The mammoth rusticated stone walls of the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace), begun in 1458 by a wealthy banker named Luca Pitti. The house eventually bankrupted his heirs, who sold it in the mid 1500s to Eleonora of Toledo, duchess of Florence and wife of Cosimo 1 de Medici. Cosimo had Vasari make changes to the Palazzo and the de Medici made it the royal apartments of the Grand Dukes of Florence, moving from their old Palazzo (now called the Palazzo Vecchio). It remained the apartments of state until 1919.

Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti

Inside? More luxe than imaginable. Frescoes, paintings, furnishings, carpets, and of course, Boboli Gardens.

Chandeliers in rystal, gold, bronze. Take your pick

Chandeliers in Murano glass, crystal, gold, bronze. Take your pick


Beauty everywhere.

Beauty everywhere.

The grand reception chamber.


By now, I’ve probably exhausted you… or bored you to death. If you’d like to see more, post a comment and I’ll share some more.


Don’tcha love epiphanies?

I haven’t blogged much over the last month. I’ve been immersed in a story I’m writing. Actually, immersed in the climax of a story, a ghost story. Now, I don’t read ghost stories, and I certainly haven’t written any, until this one.

This story, A Spectre of Miracles, is about two people, Alec Johnston and Danny Ambrose, who’ve been scarred by love and have the opportunity to love and trust again. To accept this new chance, Danny must find the courage to stand up to her fears—and her philandering husband. She must trust Alec, who’s really a stranger, divorce her antagonistic husband, and commit to moving to Edinburgh to be with Alec, who, of course, is perfect. (Don’t ya just wish?)

Having committed herself to him, she’s unstoppable, returning home to do whatever battle is necessary to win a divorce and have her happily ever after.

But sometimes, happily ever after dangles just out of reach and there’s more at stake than a wedding ring. Back in New York, Danny’s so intent on winning her divorce, she misses vital clues that all’s not well in Edinburgh. Alec has developed cancer. No therapies work and he’s dying. She flies to his side.

Hmm. Well, I’ve gotten myself into this, now how do I get out?

Enter the centuries-old ghost of a parallel story line, a cannibal spirit bent on stealing Danny’s soul. Stealing souls is how he stays viable until some member of his modern-day clan can break the curse on his soul and send him to everlasting peace.

Now, it wouldn’t be terribly believable to have this ghost just up and cure Alec, would it? No. And there lay my quandary for some time. But I’ve solved it. Yes, it involved writing a cryptic curse and its solution, and yes, I did that. And I like the solution very much. It treads the line between plausible medical cure and implausible miracle, but leans toward the supernatural. (Well it IS a ghost story!)

I can see your puzzled look. I can hear you saying, wait! I don’t understand. I need more information.

I know. But to share the details of this story further would be to give too much away, so you’ll understand if I don’t. At least, I hope you will for now.