Tis the season for wintry tales of snow and wishing on Christmas stars.

In 1924, A.A. Milne (author of the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ books) wrote ‘When We Were Very Young’ for his four-year-old son, Christopher Robin. In 1927 he wrote ‘Now We Are Six’.

Piglet and Pooh discover worrisome heffalump footprints in the snow

It’s a little presumptuous and far too ‘on the nose’ to dedicate my ‘Bede Series’ to readers who may self-identify as being ‘When We Are Too Old to Enjoy Childish Stories’. Some adults, myself included, enjoy a welcome diversion reading a story from the ‘middle-grade genre’ (traditionally recommended from age eleven to thirteen). It’s more than escapism. It’s reconnecting to a vital part of your psyche. And at the risk of sounding flippant or cliché, your inner child needs to play.

I needed to play, and so, I wrote a magical realism time-slip adventure to rekindle my imagination inspired by a character – the ghost of a little girl named Snow who frequently visited my musings. But I especially wrote it for the twelve-year-old, me, who quite frankly, was worn out from being a responsible adult for too long. I had no idea Snow’s story would take several years to complete and fill four books.

And so, while we are still young, I invite you to enter Bede the way I did, as a twelve-year-old!


No worries, by chapter three, you will turn thirteen.

After their father goes missing, Kit and Bash Stratford-Smyth move into Bede Hall, their grandmother’s rambling stately home, with their mother, an older bully of a brother, a wolfhound named Jack, a cat named Feathers, and an eccentric parrot named Pigeon. As telepathic twins –  Kit, hooked on science and his sister Bash, besotted by magic, share lucid dreams and an extraordinary destiny, but disagree on almost everything about Bede.

As a member of a distinguished old family, the twins visited Bede Hall on every school break and holiday. They’ve explored secret passages, avoided time portals they didn’t know were there, and searched in vain for an evasive child ghost throughout a great deal of invisible supernatural goings on. What they never knew, was that the Hall was alive… and all was not well. But now that they’re twelve all that is about to change. Turning thirteen isn’t going to be easy.


Beryl Stratford-Smyth, the feisty matriarch of Bede Hall, had been a precocious child, not to be trifled with. Her twin brother, Ben, attended formal school, but being a girl, Beryl had been taught her manners and lessons by a succession of starched drudges called nannies and governesses who were afraid of everything, including ghosts, who left service on a regular basis soon after experiencing an eery chill in the attic’s cold spot where Miss Beryl talked to a girl they couldn’t see. 

When Miss Beryl became a grandmother, she insisted her family addressed her as Lady Nan to avoid being called granny or gran by her grandchildren which she deemed undignified (or nanny, which felt frightfully goatish), or even Nana because it reminded her too much of the dog in Peter Pan. It was advisable to avoid even obscure references to the nature god, Pan for good reason.

The landscape, once ruled by Pan and his pantheon of elemental gods was in a state of neglect. Birds ceased to sing, and the royal bees of Bede stopped making lavender honey. Powerful immortals were forced to run to ground, withdrawing their protection from the Hall’s extensive grounds and boundaries, a Saxon round tower, a seventeenth-century maze, an extraordinary sundial, and a haunted cold spot in the attic known as the Winter Room. For millions of years, they had controlled the seasons but now the weather ran hot and cold out of order. It upset growing things and the woodland creatures scurrying in circles.

Pan was not a name to toss carelessly in the face of displaced fairies, depressed tree nymphs, or the animated topiaries that still wandered the Hall’s grounds at night. Fairies were known to be haughty, tree nymphs were temperamental at the best of times, and eavesdropping plants were not to be trusted with getting their facts straight. That said, the lavender crop had a lot to answer for.

When Lady Nan retreated into a reverie of past-life memories in a nursing home, the Hall, abandoned in disrepair, was in danger of being absorbed into the landscape by greedy developers. They gathered like vultures, arguing how best to profit from the decline and fall of a grand dynasty and a local landmark. But I’ve gone ahead of my story. First let me introduce you to Bede Hall, Hadrian’s Wall, and the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne.


Before history began… before Bede Hall inhaled its first thought as a stone pyramid, it was a primordial hill emerging from a timeless sea – a mound of muddy memories that sheltered the seeds of a dying antediluvian civilization where humanity could sprout anew.

By 2018, it lay crumbling and disgruntled, in a pocket of protected liminal space in the north of England, built atop the ruins of prehistoric Britannia. The Roman Emperor Hadrian’s, meandering defence wall, begun in 122 A.D. had its back and an immortal colony of ancient Egyptian cats controlled the rambling warren of time portals embedded in its foundations. Lindisfarne, the small island off the east coast in the North Sea that once emitted powerful waves of energy to quicken the standing stones of Brodgar, now pulsed feebly, weakening the spiritual heart of Great Britain.

Anubis, the Hall’s feline custodian, perched on Hadrian’s Wall, maintains watch on high alert for signs of a long overdue ancient curse.

And so it was, that in a distant suburb of London, on an ordinary school day for Lady Nan’s grandchildren, the telephone shrilled with a chilling reverberating sound that turned the world completely doolally. Lives were at stake. The Hall’s legacy was at stake, and not least, its dignity, in a landscape that was positively ancestral.

When her grandchildren were small, Lady Nan charmed them with stories about her magic snow globe and hourglass, and tales of her best friend, Snow, a nine-year-old ghost who had misplaced her father. But Bede time is tricky. It insists on circling back to what was and should never have been, and all the while, erratic events swirled ferociously in Lady Nan’s snow globe.

There were days Lady Nan’s hourglass was encrusted with frost too hot to touch.

Lady Nan had been determined to dream her life away but was forced to rally from her self-imposed retirement by Snow. Double duty called. The Hall and her family were in trouble. Her son-in-law was missing from his dig in Egypt and her daughter was unable to cope.

The Hall’s priority was to convince its recalled matriarch to prepare her twin grandchildren for a time sensitive mission and save it from being sold. Its follow-up missions were, simply stated, overwhelmingly cosmic: to fulfill an ancient prophecy, rescue its resident child ghost, and save the planet. Privilege doesn’t get more dangerous than balancing precariously at the far most edge of an ancient curse. And so, Lady Nan recruited her enchanted childhood toys to unlock the past. She mobilized the twins at odds over logic and metaphysics, a group of twice-born villagers, the Great Sphinx of Egypt, and a royal line of sentient cats. But as Kit and Bash fought increasing feelings of sibling rivalry, supernatural events caused them to be separated by 5,000 miles, valiantly listening for each other through 5,000 years of static.


Remember… when you experience Bede, YOU ARE ALWAYS TWELVE or thirteen or sixteen or impossibly old.

I leave you with a poem by A.A. Milne written for ‘Now We Are Six’

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So, I think I’ll be six for ever and ever.”

friends always face heffalumps together

I felt inspired to add my own stanza to A.A. Milne’s verse:

But now that I’m older

And become so much bolder,

I’m beginning to delve

Into stories that thrill me

As if I were twelve.

Christmas is the perfect time to be a child. I hope the twelve-year-old-you will be as thrilled to time travel to Ancient Egypt as I was.

Thank you for playing make-believe across the miles, from my imagination to yours.

 – Veronica

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Is the ‘Mona Lisa’ beguiling or smiling, alluring or obscuring, devious or mischievous? In my fictional account of her life in ‘The LISABETTA TRILOGY’, she is most decidedly, all six.


There are always a few characters inside my head vying for attention, dying to tell their stories. Lisabetta Buti, Leonardo da Vinci’s (half ?) kid sister, was such a character. She was relentless. And since only the most persistent stories make it to paper, I wrote about the mysterious identity of the ‘Mona Lisa’.

My imagination played out the tale of a desperate spirit with unfinished business, trapped in her famous portrait, who confronts the living in order to be known for all that she was born to be after a misshapen letter ‘a’ unseated her from Gioconda to Giocondo. Go figure. Typos happened even in the fifteenth century!


A story idea descends like an entity, fills a writing room with creative ectoplasm, and relentlessly stalks an author, day and night, as a restless spirit. There is no peace until a muse’s phantom thoughts are on paper, and so, this tagline presented itself in letters the size of the Hollywood sign:

The fanciful biography of Lisabetta’s hidden, forgotten, and overlooked life unfolds when the embittered spirit of Leonardo da Vinci’s kid sister steps outside her portrait to redress a five-hundred-year-old case of mistaken identity. And it soon becomes apparent, that although the ‘Mona Lisa’ may be priceless, she must now become a woman worth saving!

Ghosts make amazing narrators. The ‘Lisabetta Trilogy’, is narrated by the ghost of Mona Lisa; Veronica Lyons a troubled single parent raising an autistic child in 2008; and an omnipotent ‘fly-on-the-wall omnipotent historian time traveler’, travelling incognito. 

And so, Jupiter Lyons, an autistic boy meets, befriends, and rescues Mona Lisa’s spirit trapped in her portrait when he visits the Louvre with his troubled mother. Together, this genius child with a heart the size of a planet and a distraught woman trapped in a 500-year-old portrait set out to save each other from obscurity only to discover Jupiter’s fraught mother needs saving first!

1. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’

2. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen smile’    

3. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’

My stories explore the lighter side of alternative physics: where museums archive the essences of past lives, sentient buildings host generations of ghosts and elementals, and mystical places provide safe harbor to lost souls determined to find each other across time, resolve their unfinished business, and make their way home.

I write about haunted paintings, undying love, ghostly lovers, creative autism, buildings with minds of their own, time travel, themes of reincarnation and ancient mythology, cozy time-slipping events, mystical settings, historical romances of love undiminished by death or time, and art history mysteries where painted portraits refuse to stay on the canvas.


Leonardo da Vinci is a visual telepatha psychic painter, well-acquainted with the ‘mediums’ of paint and charcoal. He is a super watcher, possessed of such amplified seeing he may be considered a master seer capable of capturing every nuance of a subject’s likeness: trembling lips a museum visitor swears they witnessed, or the wink of an eye, or a smile that shifted from joy to pain from the gallery walls.

Troubled in life equates to restless and determined in the afterlife. Mona Lisa is impatient to be found… literally ‘found out’ because what was once a welcome refuge and a safe haven, has become an unbearable humiliating confinement, inhabited by her soul pleading to be liberated.


In my ghost-inspired stories, disembodied voices whisper in the living’s ears, the swishing of robes brush their shoulders, hints of exotic perfume breeze by, and then, along comes an unsuspecting storyteller who agrees to help them out – a.k.a. me!

The loaded words ‘possession’ and ‘haunting’ are creepy key words that distinguish the classic ‘ghost story’, but that said, and in as much as unhappy spirits are involved, I write cozy.

Surprisingly, there are ways to free a spirit who helps you back. Author and protagonist make supernatural pacts written in stone: “You write me out of here,” Lisabetta says, “and I will tell you a secret I’ve been too ashamed to admit, a hiding place of a lost work, or a document you can take to the bank. Take your pick.” I did the math: possession of a secret is nine-tenths of a mystery, a ghost remains nine-tenths alive, and the sitter trapped in a portrait is nine-tenths free. “So, do we have a deal?”

excerpt from the prologue of book 3 of 3 ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’


[ Jupiter found me in the ‘living’ room – an unlikely place for a ghost to hang out. He always says goodnight after his bath.

He approached me silently, padding towards me barefoot, ready for bed, an angel slightly pink about the ears smelling of soap, his hair still damp… hugging a large book.

The expression on his sweet face was determined. He sat beside me and leaned his forehead on my arm. “This is you,” he whispered huskily and thrust the book in my lap. “Page 222, please.” 

     Page 222 showed my portrait as no person could ever imagine it, expanded many times larger than life revealing layers of infinitesimal detail.

I had aged 500 years. My face was ravaged beyond repair, as weathered as peeling paint on an old door which was ironic because I referred to my painting as a window.

I was at once, a microcosm and a macrocosm.  

     The poplar panel on which I was painted showed a hairline crack, split diagonally from left to right that stabbed my forehead.

Jupiter’s eyes were agog with awe. He touched the lightning bolt zapping my forehead and referenced Harry Potter’s scar. “Are you a wizard?” he asked.

I glared back affronted. “If I was, would I BE here?”

“Maybe someone put a spell on you.”

I chuckled. “Maybe someone put a spell on LEONARDO.”

Jupiter’s face registered a new concern. “Maybe someone put a spell on ME!”

From the binding, it was clearly a stolen library book – one of his mother’s art history textbooks: ‘The Mona Lisa – a retrospective’.

I assumed he wanted his usual bedtime story, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jupiter came bearing a gift – a deep knowing, what he couldn’t possibly know after mulling over a collection of random snippets of data he called ‘secrets with wings.’

I know now that Jupiter intended to save me from myself. He had gleaned a solution. – Lisabetta

The ‘LISABETTA trilogy’ will be available as a Kindle e-book by October 30

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With the completion of ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’, ‘the LISABETTA trilogy’ is now part of my literary history. The fanciful biography of Lisabetta’s hidden, forgotten, and overlooked life unfolds when the embittered spirit of Leonardo da Vinci’s kid sister steps outside her portrait to redress a five-hundred-year-old case of mistaken identity. And it soon becomes apparent that although the ‘Mona Lisa’ may be priceless… she must now become a woman worth saving!


1.  THAT: Leonardo taught his kid sister to paint…and she taught him how to survive!

2.  THAT: Leonardo da Vinci was able to paint the soul of a sitter into a portrait.

3.  THAT: The true identity of the ‘Mona Lisa’ was lost due to a sixteenth-century typo.

4.  THAT: The ‘Mona Lisa’ was Leonardo’s baby sister, Lisabetta.

5.  THAT: Lisabetta is still trapped in her portrait after 500 years.

6.  THAT: There’s a secret hidden in plain sight that will release her.

7.  THAT: Jupiter, an autistic six-year-old boy visiting the Louvre with his troubled mother,

                Veronica Lyons, is Lisabetta’s knight in shining armor.

8.  THAT: In order to shine in their own right, ‘The Mona Lisa’ and Jupiter join forces

                 to reclaim their true identities…. and…

9.  THAT: Jupiter’s fraught mother needs saving first!



1. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’

2. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen smile’  

3. ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’

THREE FACTS integral to all lost historical biographies:

1.  Somebody was born.

2.  They did something special.

3.  Paper burns!


1.  Mona Lisa’s ghost – 1508

2.  Veronica Lyons a troubled mother raising an autistic child – 2008

3.  An omnipotent time traveler, traveling incognito

“To Leonardo, I remained, the fleshed-out sister of his middle-years.

Such was our close connection, that even as an apparition, I had density.” – Lisabetta


1.  A 1463 government census documents a five-year old daughter named Lisabetta was a

     member of Leonardo’s mother’s household when Leonardo was eleven years old.

2. ‘Leonardo carried one portrait with him everywhere and would not be parted from it.’

      – Georgio Vasari – ‘Lives of the Artists’, c.1612

3. “To Leonardo, I remained, the fleshed-out sister of his middle-years. Such was our close       connection, that even as an apparition, I had density.” – Lisabetta

THREE CHARACTERS share the fanciful story of Lisabetta’s hidden, forgotten, overlooked life:

1.  THE GHOST OF LISABETTA – the woman made famous and rendered anonymous

     in Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘MONA LISA’ masterpiece.

2.  THE FRACTIOUS DIARIES OF VERONICA LYON’S – Lisabetta’s ‘landlady and

     confidant’ when her young son, Jupiter, brings Lisabetta home from Paris in 2008.

3.  A ‘FLY-ON-THE-WALL OMNIPOTENT HISTORIAN’ with skin in the Italian      Renaissance Game, who shall remain unidentified until the last page.  

1911 – ‘THE MONA LISA’ was stolen



1.  EXCERPT from the prologue of ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’

“In the spring of 1519, my brother Leonardo still believed he could fly. I, in turn, assumed my death in 1508 had been pure and uncomplicated, but then, my brother and I were always a pair of insatiable dreamers. We flouted the rules. We shared the same birthdate, April 15th. We were like twins born six-years-apart.”

2.  EXCERPT from the prologue of ‘LISABETTA – a stolen smile’

“I am a long-lost memory. I am a mother, a sister, and an artist… I am a ghost. I am the Mona Lisa.

Veronica Lyons refers to my presence in her home as house arrest, an especially cynical observation considering she’s a dedicated recluse.

I call her my ‘little poet’ as a compliment as well as to mock her. She argues that although artists and writers are willing prisoners to solitude, she has risked her sanity by acknowledging my existence.

She accuses me of intruding on her privacy; I keep silent because I need her to continue invading mine.”

3.  EXCERPT from the prologue of ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’

“Jupiter found me in the ‘living’ room – an unlikely place for a ghost to hang out. He always says goodnight after his bath.

Veronica’s son approached me silently, padding towards me barefoot, ready for bed, an angel slightly pink about the ears smelling of soap, his hair still damp… hugging a large book.

The expression on his sweet face was determined. He sat beside me and leaned his forehead on my arm. “This is you,” he whispered huskily and thrust the book in my lap. “Page 222, please.” 

“In the spring of 1519, my brother Leonardo still believed he could fly.”

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An autistic girl with extrasensory abilities who converses with paintings and birds, strives to find the family she senses in dreams and her true place in the world.

Veronica Knox

A snippet from ‘THE INDIGO PEARL’

[ My old robin friend flew into the mouth of the cave, and I followed, through the hall of the birds and past the paintings of horses on the walls. I expected to hear the sound of stampeding mustangs, but no, I heard the gentle drip of water and the whinnying of a wild herd, lured into captivity from the primordial mist that greeted me on the other side. ]



When I was born my wings were too small to defend themselves… as if a white butterfly had alighted between my shoulder blades.

Within the hour, they withered and fell like rose petals. At least, that’s what I assumed. But I was mistaken. They were folded tightly into an invisible bud, dreaming. And sometimes, when tropical breezes stir the treetops or I track a flock of geese across the sky, my phantom wings quicken and purr. When I’m angry, they bristle and hiss. It’s as if I’m carrying a kitten on my back.

I belong to the air… all humans do.

We share a deep-seated fear of being caged. We are instinctive homing pigeons. Birds awaken deep ancestral memories of flight in us. They evoke the inherent joy of weightlessness and summon primal dreams of riding a perfect updraft in the clear blue. And even though you may have forgotten your natural habitat, you subconsciously display your inbred bird personas. I am a devoted human-watcher, and before you utter a single word, I see yours in plain sight.

A robin was my first friend. In my earliest years, I was treated like a dodo which led me to believe I was an ugly duckling. I was considered backward – an ‘indigo child’. But after I fell in love with a boy in a painting, my wings woke up and I became a swan.

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Pardon my blog, but I had word salad for breakfast.

And since this blog is also my personal soapbox, I get to rant and air my literary challenges. You, lovely readers get to unfollow or applause. Today, I vigorously wave a flag to protest the inadequacy of genres. Their limitations are landmines. Let’s jump right in.

We authors are compelled to wave a banner on behalf of our literary children that shouts HERE I AM! And so, we shop at ‘Genres R Us’ and buy into descriptions that fall far short of our storytelling intentions. Warning: beyond this point on the treasure map for gold there be rabbit holes.

But the publishing gatekeepers with all the power have decreed, not unreasonably, that promotion and marketing must begin somewhere. Which means we now require a stunning dress or suit for the prom (metaphor for book launch). Sadly, there is only one store in town, and all its gowns and suits are seconds, badly designed, out of fashion, or half-sizes that are way too small with a warning label: may contain explosive literary repercussions.

My muse shouted from above (in literary ‘para’-dice) “No author wants to attend their ‘prom’ wearing a rabbit hole… unless, of course, they’re Lewis Carroll!”

original illustration by Arthur Rackham from Lewis Carroll’s ‘
‘Alice in Wonderland’

I smiled indulgently, but I needed a cup of tea, so off I went to the kitchen where muses are apt to follow. My muse continued, a tad hysterically. “And, by the way,” it flapped. “No self-respecting book has to bomb! Respect being the operative word.”


By my reasoning, the ‘outer limits of fiction’ refer to stories that inspire and entertain ‘above and beyond the call’. Which brings me to the ultimate confrontation with my muse. And so, I begged the question. Are my novels METAMYSTICAL, PARANATURAL, or SUPERPHYSICS? Because the words Metaphysical, Paranormal, and Supernatural have mostly defaulted to horror, erotic predatorial romance, dark magic, and dystopian fantasy, and none of these bears any resemblance to my books. My muse said any of the new genres I’d created were perfect! And then it chuckled with undisguised aMUSEment, and added: “GOOD LUCK!”

My smarty pants muse then suggested, as an afterthought, that ‘SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOSIOUS’ would cover everything I’m reaching for, including the stars, but that it unfortunately, sent spellcheck into a tailspin.


META: denotes a change of position or transcending condition behind, after, or beyond.

PARA: denotes a position of above, higher, sacred.

SUPER: denotes a ‘wow’ factor, something ‘extra’ special, fabulous.

EXTRA: denotes more than, additional, multiple, extra sensory perceptions.


I write on the fanciful side of fiction where historical documents, objects in museums, and portraits, speak. Where the spirits in ‘ghost stories’ inspire readers to live, and sentient buildings protect their inhabitants. But fantasy is the special purview of swords and sorcery so, I must search further. All the way to the Italian Renaissance and back on the Titanic!


“Why are you sighing?” a voice said in my head. This time it, as it happened, it was not regular monkey mind ego. My conscious muse was still hanging out.

“Because musing makes me sigh,” I said.

“I can relate.”

“Isn’t the world in enough crisis?” I mused.

“Absolutely,” my muse replied.

“The state of SUPERPHYSICS eludes me. Where’s the love? I mean, why, in the name of entertainment, does the common human collective gravitate towards ‘death wish, negative thrill seeking-type-paranormals’. Stories populated with psychopaths, sociopaths, crooked powermongers, boogeymen, zombies, vampires, and serial killers. Stories that evoke fear. Stories featuring baseless cruelty, greed, forensic science, events perpetuated by frightening people, nightmarish visions, disasters, insanity, demonic possession, horror and monsters, screaming and gore, the terrors of war, murder, violence, firearms, criminal behavior, dystopian worlds, seedy gratuitous erotica, and cheap thrills… all uncommonly negative and unproductive themes for a positive post-pandemic world. Phew! Saving the planet anyone?”

This is how the rest of our conversation went. It began with me airing a problem that’s been bothering me about the higher forms of responsible storytelling. “What are newsletters for?” I asked.

“You’re a writer but your newsletters are not just about promoting your books. It’s about sharing ideas, being brave enough to share. It’s about being honest.”

“And Venting?”

“Didn’t I just say that?”

“Maybe between the lines.”

“Well, I’m a muse. Welcome to my side of the literary stream. That’s where we do our best work.”

“I’m afraid my readers will leave the building. It’s not like it’s a full house to begin with.”

“That, my dear one, is what the unsubscribe button is for. Contrary to popular belief, publishing is not a competition. You know, you didn’t use to be such a chicken. Stop whining. And you didn’t ask me the real question you wanted to ask, so I’ll just skip to the answer.”

“Go for it.”

Storytelling is for raising the consciousness of the world. It’s art!”


“It’s a long process, and humans are in it for the long haul. Write your highest truth and move on… end of story!”


Books don’t always need a genre. The words ‘time travel’ do all the heavy lifting in any title that contains them. Time travel is most definitely supernatural, paranormal, and well-outside the realm of physics. ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ is an exceptional story I highly recommend. ‘The Lovely Bones’ is similarly ‘lovely’ in spite of its (creatively understated) horrific elements: a predatorial child killer, rape, and murder. The spirit of a murdered girl is unable to reach heaven until she brings her killer to justice and helps to heal her grieving family. It stands alone, unlabelled, and ‘stands out’ by virtue of its main theme – the celebration of the human spirit. The light of this poignant ‘love story’ would have surely dimmed under the weight of such genres as ‘thriller’ ‘murder mystery’, ‘horror’ or ‘paranormal’.

My smarty pants muse, then suggested three collective nouns for genres: a ‘CONUNDRUM of genres’ for books that cover multiple themes. An ‘INCOMMUNICADO of genres’ for complex indescribable books. And a ‘RABBLE of genres’ for books with confusing titles, rambling blurbs, and unrelated cover art.

So, I proposed an EXTRA-special genre: ‘OUTER LIMITS’

which would specialize in tales of the extraordinary and extrasensory, time travel, parallel lives, reincarnation, alternate timelines and speculative histories, compassion, art, serendipity and synchronicity, the unexpected, the awe inspiring, the empowering, the fascinating, the surreal, the mystical, and true love that transcends death. Specifically, journeys into the hearts and minds of historical characters, long since passed, whose hopes and dreams survived to ‘live’ another day, and more often, another lifetime.

My muse mused for a second and cautioned me. “Underplay anything that could be misconstrued as ‘limits’ because to make an exceptional impression, a story must be free to rise ‘ABOVE’ the norm. The sheer numbers of books demand it so.”

Life gets “curiouser and curiouser” (as ‘Alice in Wonderland’ once mused). Humans begin their literary education through exposure to exceptional children’s books that adults often return to for comfort and insight. ‘Winnie the Pooh, anyone? Thank you, A.A. Milne and Lewis Carroll!

My muse and I are still collaborating on the fanciful NON-fantasy ‘Lisabetta trilogy’ (the Mona Lisa’s tormented state of mistaken identity, trapped in her portrait for 500 years). Our heart-to-heart concluded by reminiscing about our long in-depth sessions discussing Lisabetta’s childhood. “Remember the times we sat together in silence and wrote her worst fears?” my muse said.

I opened the manuscript to a random page and read aloud. “You mean like this?”

“Time plays tricks. If my name is irretrievably lost, posthumously cut apart from my time and permanently erased from the world, overshadowed by the lies of silence, could I ever be sure I lived, other than in Leonardo’s imagination?”  

The revised edition of ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’ will be available in September here:

Book 2 of the Lisabetta trilogy, ‘LISABETTA – a stolen smile’ is in the final editing stages, so its publication may have to wait for the end of October… say, Halloween?

Perfect timing for a story that celebrates the ‘outer limits’. But that’s life!

Restoring the environment, anyone?

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one of the magnetic stories on the author’s fridge

I have a 3 STEP PROCESS for writing an art history/mystery. But before one can ‘step’ anywhere, the ground must be prepared.

STEP ONE – In the beginning there is

A CONCEIT’ (the Latin term for ‘concept’) – a ‘literary conceit’ is an often unconventional, logically complex, poetic or surprising metaphor whose delights are more intellectual than sensual. Nice.

Very nice!

I’m onboard

My conceit: ‘LISABETTA – A STOLEN GLANCE’, book one of the LISABETTA TRILOGY, introduces a true face hiding behind a mask of shame and a boy with a planet-sized mind who meet the disempowered ‘Mona Lisa’ on a collision course with destiny.


A lost painting or a famous artist and one of their portraits with hauntingly plaintive eyes guarding a secret worthy of deeper discovery. 

Create a parallel story hook that links the dispirited spirit with living present-day characters.

Invite a muse who’s eager to play.


A muse’s job function is to connect the dots between historical facts and an author’s imagination. My muse is a storyteller entity, trained to play with fictional life situations, thereby creating compelling time-slip stories of loss, love, and reincarnation.

Voila! Two Florentine woman named Lisa who live in the same neighborhood, confuse the art world in a tragic comedy of errors.


Sadly, an egoic self-centered powermonger father (a lawyer) and a bullying stepfather (a mercenary soldier and ruffian) are negative role models for Leonardo, a gentle son – an abandoned wunderkind motivated to document the entire natural world.


GIOCONDO: the unsuspecting volatile surname of a wealthy client of the DA VINCI FAMILY LAW FIRM, that triggers a double mystery: the location of a missing portrait, and a woman’s lost identity that befuddles historians for 500 years.

GIOCONDA: the working title ‘Gioconda’ (a smiling woman), casually applied to the ‘Mona Lisa’ is misspelled with dire consequences. French translation, ‘La Gioconde’.

SER PIERO DA VINCI, who’s not above using the son he’s cruelly disowned for a favor, commissions Leonardo to paint a flattering portrait of a disgruntled client’s wife, to pacify him.

LEONARDO DA VINCI – is an artist of growing stature by 1502, capable of painting flattering portraits. Leonardo, ever seeking to reclaim his birthright, hoping to be openly acknowledged by the family clan his name reflects, accepts Ser Piero’s offer, thinking to gain favor in his father’s eyes. His plan fails, but the commission sparks a unique idea for a portrait with a secret narrative, and he paints his sister, Lisabetta, in a modified pose wearing the same dress.

LISABETTA BUTI – Leonardo’s young stepsister has a secret name even she doesn’t know.

VERONICA LYONS – an unwed 21st century mother whose name, translated from the Latin ‘Veritas Icona’, means ‘a true face’, meets the ‘Mona Lisa’ whose true face is stolen by fate to be lost forever.

SCENE: Enter Caterina – an unmarried mother, her illegitimate son Leonardo; Lisabetta, Leonardo’s half-sister (???), and a married self-centered lawyer, Piero da Vinci.

Stir in the wife of a disgruntled client – one Monna (‘Mrs.’) Lisa Giocondo and a wishing pig.


Simmer over a vanity fire, fast forward 500 years to 2008, and serve with a depressed present-day unwed mother and her autistic son, and the story pitch becomes:

A troubled unwed mother hiding her ‘true face’ behind a mask of shame, and a sweet boy with a planet-sized mind visit the Louvre, and meet the spirit of ‘Mona Lisa’, trapped in her famous portrait, suffering from an identity crisis.

The pitch inspires the tagline: FATE IS MORE MYSTERIOUS THAN A SMILE




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illustration by author V Knox

An excerpt from ‘Lisabetta- a stolen glance’ (book one of the Lisabetta trilogy)

[ Jupiter Lyons dreams in surprises. His attention surfaces from time to time. The world grates against his skin, filtered through bright static. Sound-scapes arrive out of focus, brittle and loud and startle him. He’s a tender six-year-old boy, lost in a haze of autism – a consummate escape artist who plays hide-and-seek with the world.

When Jupiter’s mother initiates connection, he sometimes looks through her until they physically drift apart. When questioned, he explained that “looking and seeing are different.”

Jupiter is amused by even numbers and a desire for squares. Squares are comfortable. Jupiter counts them all day long. He’s on a constant quest for triangles. “Triangles can’t tip over,” he tells his mother. Somewhere behind the ‘no trespassers’ sign in his eyes lie brightly illuminated conversations, scraps of songs and childish passions, and tidy piles of unmet needs tied up with clean ribbons. Jupiter’s vocal cords are a tangled ball of silent opinions where stillborn questions wait behind a corridor of blue doors.]

Jupiter’s out-of-focus smile echoes the one that stares from the otherworldly ‘Mona Lisa’ poster in his mother’s kitchen. ]


  [  I named my boy Jupiter in my first trimester because I was as round as a planet, estranged from the small and ordinary, and curiously drawn to all things elemental.

While pregnant, I was unconscious of the revelations that the sky god Jupiter represented the immensity of omnipotent intellect, unearthly merriment, and larger-than-life storms. But during the nine months of gestation, I felt an overwhelming sense of mental expansion along with my belly. I was connected to the stars. I believed in destiny.

It was natural to address my unborn child, acknowledging his greatness – my ancient child with faraway eyes who sees hidden truths in plain sight.

We’re best friends. More like brother and sister, born a generation apart. Sometimes I think Jupiter is the mother, especially the times he grips my hand when episodes of despair hound me. He is my champion. Some children break all the rules. ]

‘Lisabetta- a stolen glance’ by V Knox is available in print and e-book, here:

Book 2 in V Knox’s ‘Lisabetta Trilogy’ is scheduled to publish in September 2021

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I’m delighted to continue Lisabetta’s paranormal quest for recognition by publishing ‘LISABETTA – a stolen smile’ – in September 2021



My original novel, based on the life of Lisabetta Buti, Leonardo da Vinci’s historical half-sister, was begun in 2008 on the 500th anniversary of her death in 1508.

It was published in 2012 under the title ‘Second Lisa’ in three volumes.

In 2019, on the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death I launched book one of a NEW ‘LISABETTA trilogy’: ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’.

Book three: ‘LISABETTA – a stolen sister’ will follow in the spring of 2022.

The ‘LISABETTA trilogy’ is an imaginative interpretation. My tribute to the hundreds of unsung female artists of the fifteenth century and in particular… the woman lost behind the ‘Mona Lisa’s smile 

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Fiction lies deep in the underworld, plotted on a subconscious map of time tunnels – a network of stories as vast as a rabbit’s warren. Every tunnel is lined with doors. Each door is a portal. Each portal invites you to experience the impossible. This blog is a portal containing a skeleton key to unlock your imagination.

Safe passage through two enchanted doorways. Two chances to touch the extraordinary.

When it comes to reading fiction, entering a door is a big deal. Page one is the threshold where a reader crosses the liminal border of imagination and reality into non-local space. Books are mystical portals behind which anything can and does happen to challenge the bravest of armchair travelers. That said, be forewarned and encouraged… after you open the door to ‘once upon a time’, you’ve entered a dimension that beckoned you for a reason.



Whether you travel into the unknown via telephone box, armchair, or a silver screen, fictional travel equates to the art of delving. Logic is checked at the door by sluffing off the normal world the way a snake sheds its skin. And in so doing, we gain conscious ‘skin in the game’ we’re about to play. Stories are all about playtime.

Original illustration by E.H. SHEPPARD


Literary doors are windows of opportunity to role play. We become virtual actors as we understudy the protagonists we admire and test our mettle against the antagonists we choose to despise. And whether we’re aware of the subtle dynamics of reading or not, we have in effect, agreed to be screen tested for the part of a main character. 

At first, we volunteer to participate as obligatory crowd scene extras inherent in every saga, legend, fable, parable, and fairy tale, but if we sign a contract to partake fully, we don armor and silk dresses and dive into character with astonishing ease. We fly with Peter Pan, ride into battle, slay a dragon (real and metaphorical), discover lost treasure (real and metaphorical), and meet the love of our life or the multiple loves of past lives. But now that we’ve jettisoned our twin-skin, we read differently. We read our lines. We stand on our marks. If the story possesses us, we evolve from vicarious interacting at a safe distance to a steadfast symbiotic relationship with fantasy. We act out.


In the greater sense, we escape into or out of reality for the sole purpose of increasing engagement with our inner selves. We explore the realms of ghosts and mythical creatures where the most mythical creature is ourselves. It is we who fight and love in every story. We face fears and conquer enemies. We grow from cowards to heroes. We’re stalked and haunted. We win and lose and live to tell the tale. And since we learn from antagonists and evildoers as much as fairy godmothers and magic frogs, with each story we’re closer to becoming exemplary expressions of humanity. We often find ourselves after losing ourselves in story.

Whereas a row of ‘trick or treat’ game show doors promise a super-prize if chosen correctly, every fictional story is a gateway that promises a surPRIZE premise behind every portal: the ones left ajar, the ones flung wide open, as well as the closed, locked, or temporarily blocked ones… even a beaded curtain!

The password is SURRENDER! 


A door to a spooky haunted house pulls no punches. Right up front, its rusty hinges creak a warning that within lies a story of suspense and horrific ‘can of worms’ tension, that you enter at great risk to your physical survival and emotional stability. Daring to cross such an obvious threshold means we have taken up residence in a realm where deadly deeds transpire, and heroic deeds inspire. The new password is ESCAPE.

Chemical messengers lurk between every line of surrender and escape. Just remember, a ‘brain-body’ cannot distinguish fictional emotions from truth. One’s ‘performer-body’ travels into the imaginary landscapes of fiction for a boost of energy, a romantic fix, a jolt of historical cruelty, inspirational freedom, or to mercifully break free of drudgery. One thing is certain, for the duration of the magic, you are committed to being with or against whatever comes: the next episode, the next page, the next scene, whether there be monsters, opportunities, magic, mayhem, wars of one kind or another, or assaults of pain and pleasure. But no worries… guilty or innocent, on stage, we’re OMNIPOTENT.

Courageously, we pin our best dreams and worse fears onto the coattails of a downtrodden character’s rags-to-riches arc, hoping for a lottery win – the grand prize of a happy ending. Yet even if a protagonist falls short of the good life, or whether we’ve been charmed or tortured along their journey, while visiting altered states in the fictional dimension, it’s perfectly safe to bask in a character’s lifetime dreamed in increments of 90 minutes.

Even so, it’s no wonder we emerge slightly spellbound from behind books or when the telly is silenced with the need to decompress. Our body has endured the vicarious adrenalin rushes and endorphin gushes of an entirely dreamed lifetime without anesthetic.

A looming door marked exit leads to the sanctity of our familiar home world, restored or exhausted, gratified or mortified, crushed and humbled, resolved or shocked, triumphant or defeated, abandoned or accepted, stalked and haunted, healed or wounded, aided and befriended, sympathetic or hardened, flabbergasted or stabilized, but made more authentic from a vicarious understanding of life veering in and out of slow lanes in fast cars.

We can set fizzy drinks and popcorn aside to rest in salads and fresh air, knowing we can return to the land of story whenever we choose to indulge in fictional calories. Humans must continue to learn in harsh flashes of adrenalin driven angst or fogs of feel-good endorphins. Sleep deprived or energized, dizzy from roller-coaster storylines, our psychic equilibrium shaken by frequent plunges into the depths of despair, taken to the brink of failure and the pinnacles of mountaintop success, we emerge from each portal with a fresh take on life.

We arrive home, as T.S. Eliot immortalized: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

And when it’s time to ‘wake up’, although we may have grown too big for our old skin, we’re all the more complete for the brief dance with make-believe. We slither and glide home into consciousness, carrying the weights of defeat and the helium of victory with new respect for the characters we played. And hopefully, affection for newfound friends and allies, and perchance a nomination for ‘best new actor in a series’.  

In today’s market, a reader is spoiled for choice. It can be daunting for readers and authors alike. For readers, it’s wise to read a book’s promotional back cover blurb synopsis. Two unlocked synopsis follow. Feel free to enter without knocking.   


I hereby invite you to enter two portals with themes of haunting dreams and artful forgetfulness. They are portals for IMMORTALS!

DISAPP’EARRING TWICE showcases Vermeer’s famous masterpiece ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’, the haunting specter of dementia, a troubled teenager, and a purposeful ghost.

SNOW BEHIND THE DOOR is the memoir of a child ghost with amnesia. Venture into Bede, and welcome. But remember… once through the portal, you may have to stay!

BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 1 – lies a portrait of timeless love

‘DISAPP’EARRING TWICE’ where appearances are deceiving and disappearances are revealing!

While walking her private stretch of island beach, retired Aurelia Marcus, an eccentric recluse haunted by the dispirited-spirit of a teenage girl, finds three sandcastles. Each one is planted with a message addressed to her, embedded within a quote from one of her favorite poems. Strangely, there are no footprints to indicate the sand has been disturbed.

Aurelia must decide if she’s being wooed by a secret admirer, pursued by a dangerous stalker or being visited by the ghost of a boy she knew in high school. Has she been sharing her home with a fifty-year-old hallucination to avoid recalling a mysterious incident she’s repressed since the twelfth grade?

Aurelia’s fast disappearing memories indicate she may be succumbing to the curse of dementia that runs in her family. She may be delusional, drifting in a perpetual dream-state in the care home she’s feared all her life, dreaming of the love she never lived,or the perfectly sane victim of a cruel joke.

The possibility of slowly disappearing into a 350 year-old-painting, one memory at a time is disturbing but there’s a ghost of a chance she’ll remember the way home.

BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 2 – lies the memoir of a child ghost with amnesia

‘Snow Behind the Door’, documents the multiple time-slipped memories of an abandoned ghost-child, named Snow, in search of the family she glimpses in dreams and the dusty mirrors of Bede Hall – a disgruntled sentient stately home with a mind of its own that has sheltered earth’s time portals, guarded by an ancient line of royal Egyptian cats, for thousands of years.


NOT A TYPO! Because as I began to write the PREQUEL to the Bede ‘Trilogy’, it became obvious that time travel disallows such things as chronological time. But, even so, Snow had a personal story to tell because she had forgotten the essential details of her haunted life. And when a ghost demands time… I listen.

when a ghost demands time… listen!

After being reunited with her family, Snow, the child ghost of Bede Hall, retreats into her subconscious to escape the terrifying possibility of haunting Bede Hall forever. In order to save herself, Snow must battle her way through memory loss, dream her way through time to reclaim her lost memories, make peace with a past life, and discover if reincarnation is a viable alternative to a fate worse than death.

I invite you to BE a child ghost. BE Snow – an old soul with a new secret.


A‘stand-alone-prequel-sequel-summary’ to the Bede Series – a middle-grade time-slip adventure for all ages.


Until we meet again on my blog’s doorstep, I leave you with these poetic words of wisdom regarding books:

No genuine book has a first page. Like the rustling of the forest, it is begotten God knows where, and it grows and it rolls, arousing the dense wilds of the forest until suddenly . . . it begins to speak with all the treetops at once.” – Boris Pasternak

Silent K Publishing  Vancouver Island

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Even a blog post must tell a story. So, this blog, being no exception, is a story about you and me and how we connect, because collaboration is a two-way street. One might even say that ‘possession’ is nine-tenths of believing fiction at all! Here is our story.

Once upon a time there was an author…

When a fictional character arrives out of the blue, literally ‘dying to tell their story’, an author dutifully listens like they’re old friends, because in way, it’s quite possible, they are. If not at the beginning; then certainly at the end.

And more often than not, a deceased character with a story will rent a compartment in the author’s mind for years before they get down to business. But when they do, the two bravely enter another world, together before inviting you to join us.

Personally, as an author of metaphysical fiction, I always approach my ‘tenants’ cautiously at arms length. Vicarious is as vicarious does.

Paranormal fiction requires a transmitter and a receiver. One thing is certain: there is no story unless you and I agree to meet on another plane of existence. As a writer of fiction, I create a fanciful story deliberately intended to displace reality. I then invite you, the reader living on ‘the other side’ of the story, to travel on a different plane for a few hours by suspending your disbelief to learn something new about yourself.

Now there are three of us. You, me, and the insistent character who wants us to listen. Because you, the reader of paranormal fiction, and I the author of it, dare to tread in a holding pattern above the norm. We’re the ‘sensitives… the psychics… the ghostbusters!

That said, the first rule of ghost busting is vital for our survival: we must approach the unknown with the confidence of a seasoned traveler. The second rule is never let a ghostly character see you sweat.  

FOR EXAMPLE:             

One of my favorite novels is ‘THE LOVELY BONES’ – a ghost story/murder mystery with a poignant twist because the ghost narrator is an innocent teenage girl. Unfortunately, children go missing every day, so it was an especially poignant scenario, startlingly believable in concept; arrestingly beautiful in the telling.


Every museum artifact has a story.

Stories like ‘The Lovely Bones’ inspired me to explore what-if situations. Not from the downtrodden social-economic tracks on ‘other side of town’, but from the proverbial ‘other side’ of life where humans with unfinished business confront the living in order to be heard.

And so, after this pair of children’s shoes ‘followed me home’ from a Titanic exhibit in the Halifax Maritime Museum, they haunted me for seven years before I wrote ‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ about a boy named Finn who perished on the doomed ocean liner.

Finn explained his predicament, shyly at first, but grew bolder as we formed a bond of trust. He was afraid to meet his mother on the ‘other side’ because he lost the first store bought shoes he’d ever owned.

Mothers, it seems, are able to imprint irrational fears in brutally swift unconscious moments.

At first sight, inside their glass case, the shoes were unthinkably LONELY SHOES – the forgotten shoes of a lost child. But beyond the shoes, beyond the truth, lurked the lingering ever-present reality of a once-cherished living child.

Not long after visiting the museum, I watched a young mother struggling unsuccessfully to squeeze a shoe on her toddler while he wiggled his toes. It awakened the ghost within me of the Titanic shoes, once water-logged and encrusted with salt. The pair of extraordinarily ordinary shoes in my mind, still housed a dormant spark of energy. I couldn’t help but visualize another mother in a desperate hurry, cajoling her fidgety child to cooperate, dressing in haste to reach the last lifeboat.

And knowing that the shoes’ history can ever be truly known, I wrote a fictional story to honor the child who wore them – an homage to the lost children of the ‘unsinkable’ ship that sank on its maiden voyage, April 15, 1912.


When death separates two children onboard Titanic who were destined to marry, the ghost of the boy chooses to remain earthbound as the surviving girl’s invisible childhood companion.

Finding a pair of lost shoes is their one chance to stay together in the future.


We offer a ‘dispossessed’ astral traveler the means to escape by listening without judgement. 

A canny muse unexpectedly delivers the deep end of a story, sideways (from the brightest shadows of the imagination), the direction I, and many other writers, have come to recognize as the true north of a story. Storytellers are compelled to mine the hidden story layers where the true treasures lie. We are strange creatures who float in a sea of fantasies, unconsciously digging for gold. In my case, an imagined otherworldly memory blew my first draft of ‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ out of the water.


It occurs to me that our worst and best moments embed themselves in our minds like snapshots in a photo album. Every now and then their flashbulbs pop twice. Images that have a particular impact, like it or not, continue to haunt or inspire us for ill or for gain. And like all true pictures, they’re worth a thousand words. So, a memory or an old picture can, in effect, be a ghost that walks through a room and leaves an impression when you least expect it.

But that’s what a ghost is… a trace of life-force with an unfinished tale to tell.

To a sensitive observer, the echoes of the past reach out and touch them in surprises of recognition.

For this reason, I’m determined to write ghostly rather than ghastly by celebrating a positive curiosity of the afterlife rather than fearful visions of an horrific ‘void’ at the end of the world.

My stories explore the lighter side of alternative physics where museums archive the essences of past lives, sentient buildings host generations of ghosts and elementals, and mystical places provide safe harbor to lost souls determined to find each other across time, resolve their unfinished business, and make their way home.

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