Win a Signed Copy of To A Strange Somewhere Fled

To A Strange Somewhere Fled (sequel to A House Near Luccoli) is on its way to being released by All Things That Matter Press BY NEXT WEEK.

To the run up of that exciting day, here is a chance to win a signed copy of the novel, as well as one of A House Near Luccoli. All you have to do is write in the comments who you think penned the Petrarchan Sonnet below (it appears in the novel). All those who guess correctly will be entered into a draw from which the winner will be chosen. The contest will end on the day of To A Strange Somewhere Fled‘s release.

The Petrarchan sonnet was not developed by Petrarch himself, but rather by a string of Renaissance poets. Because of the structure of Italian, the rhyme scheme of the Petrarchan sonnet is more easily fulfilled in that language than in English. The original Italian sonnet form divides the poem’s 14 lines into two parts, the first part being an octave and the second being a sestet.
~ Wikipedia

This is the sonnet in question, translated from Italian, of course!

And I will give you a little clue: there are actually two answers – you only have to guess one.

Why is there little to say of a time
when courtesy cost me your devotion?
So much of my life, so much detention,
modesty in love the cause of my crime.
Yet, I was nearly foolish in my prime,
but saved for your Orphean persuasion
and, alas, the chance of imitation
that would only make your memory mine.

To speak of the heart’s secrets is to give
away their endurance, and so concede
they might be fabricated out of need
more than truth. No, it’s better that they live
on covertly in poetical creed,
kept as constantly joyful as plaintive.


Good Luck!


Out Now: Dancing in the Rain


I invite you to savor the beautiful poetry and spirit of Christine Moran and make a contribution to the MS Trust (dedicated to making life better for people living with multiple sclerosis by providing free information to everyone affected by MS and by supporting the health professionals who work with multiple sclerosis).

It was my pleasure and honor to participate in this exquisite collection of poems by doing the artwork for the cover and writing the introduction.

Dancing in the Rain was published to perfection by Bennison Books and is available in paperback from and Amazon UK. The author’s profits will go to the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

Originally posted on Bennison Books :


Chris Moran found poetry and poetry found her. She recovered from alcoholism only to be faced with a long-delayed diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, experiences documented in her first volume of poetry with honesty, humility and humour.

She doesn’t deny the sadnesses in life, and acknowledges with a clear eye the despair that can sometimes take us unawares, but she is always pulled towards joy, and gently takes the reader with her. 

She is also a bold experimenter, and here we find a sonnet about bees, a villanelle about approaching spring (the poet’s favourite time of  year), and haiku about her unborn grandchildren:

Tiny seed planted
germination soon in place
fruit of the autumn.

View original 211 more words

Coming Soon! Book Trailer

Book Trailer taking you beyond A House Near Luccoli … To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

After the sudden end to her collaboration with the composer Alessandro Stradella in February 1682, Donatella moves from Genoa to a small village in Oxfordshire, England. Her father’s friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, important figures in the court of Charles II, offers her new possibilities, especially, as music and its masters~including the ‘divine’ Henry Purcell~have not finished with her yet.

Music is The Plaint: O Let Me Weep from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell.

O, let me forever weep:
My eyes no more shall welcome sleep.
I’ll hide me from the sight of day,
And sigh my soul away.
He’s gone, his loss deplore,
And I shall never see him more.

Here is a post I wrote a few years ago, inspired by this piece, called Words and Music.


I must thank Deborah of Bennison Books, and authors Mary Clark and Steve Lindahl for their pre-publication reviews that inspired some of the text in this video. Those reviews will be included in the book.

Proofing the final galley copy now and preparing myself to let my second novel child go!


Beribboned in Sapphire, Trimmed in Bronze

February 17, 2015 is Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) of Carnevalea final celebration before Ash Wednesday and Lent.

It’s the main day of Carnival … The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea. Ivrea has the characteristic “Battle of Oranges” that finds its roots in medieval times. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, having its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.
~ Wikipedia

For those of you who have read my historical fiction A House Near Luccoli, you will know that Martedi Grasso offers some pivotal scenes. Although the novel begins a few years after the 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella‘s arrival in Genoa, Carnevale was initially his reason for going (well, there might have been one or two other reasons …) and then he was encouraged to stay.

This week I go to Genoa, invited by some gentlemen of that city, where I will spend carnival …
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel (one of his patrons), dated Turin, 16 December, 1677

I arrived in Genoa safe and sound already last week, where I was favored by many gentlemen who vied to have me in their homes … And from the moment of my arrival till now, I have always had to spend my time with ladies and gentlemen, all greatly interested in me, and actually they favour me with so many kindnesses and so much applause that I do not know what more I could desire, and in every way they show very great pleasure in my inadequate talent.
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel, dated Genoa, 8 January 1678

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Sleep well tonight. She wished she had taken his advice, but she couldn’t stop looking at the explicitly elegant gown hanging on the wardrobe. Nonna would have enjoyed the sight. It was silk and pearl buttoned, curving and billowing white, beribboned in sapphire and trimmed in bronze. Also warm and cold, tight and loose, depending on what the weather and outcome would be. A few hours later she was like a cat that had fallen from an open window, suddenly finding herself where she both longed and was afraid to be, feeling the hardness of pavement and softness of air.

Alessandro insisted she put on her mask again. “And practice on the way.”

“Practice what?”

“Walking like a cat, purring like a cat.”

“Really.” She wasn’t averse to doing so. “I’ve never seen a blue one.”

“You’ll see others turning green.”

Although her face was immovable and pale, she couldn’t hide her pleasure.

“All that’s left is for you to rub against my legs.”

Alessandro was all in white, as if he had absorbed winter from his hat like a boat with one wind-torn sail to frill topped hose and overly flapped boots. He was wimpled in lacy layers to his shoulders, tightly short coated and cavalier, out of fashion but not style, laddered rows of braid with buttons unfastened to the shine of his shirt also showing through gaping slashes on his sleeves. It would have been a perfect disguise but for the distinctiveness of his stride and attitude of his head exaggerated by a duckbill mask, the shine of his lower lip appearing when his expressive, unmistakable voice did.
~ Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli


Wander through this brief moment in Italian Baroque musical history and let the author and Alessandro Stradella, Donatella, and a whole host of wonderful characters give you the “spirit of Carnevale”. ~ From a review by author Martin Shone.

Watch this space.

The sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled is coming VERY soon.

Hope all are well and those who are enduring
a long snowy frigid winter (as I am)
are keeping the faith that spring is on its way.

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Just a Little Foolishness


It might be a day to feel left out, just another Saturday, ordinary and one-of-a-kind, when I’m singularly content with being single.

It might verge on narcissism to send a valentine to myself; although, I think, no more so than to expect one from another.

I have not had the attention of a lover to last a lifetime—although, who knows into eternity. Does that mean I’m lacking or lonely or left out of romance?

Not at all.


Everywhere is an embrace; the place I find myself is full of possibilities for engagement.

I cannot look at the moon and believe I am unloved, sense a breeze and be unmoved, know the birds’ song and feel forgotten.

There are flowers enough to romance me, even in winter I can paint them into view.

There are fires to warm me that I build myself.

Cats gaze into my soul as devotedly as I gaze into theirs.

Music seduces me constantly.

Creation is my purpose, and my words creative enough to convince me my imagination is the only lover I need.

And so I am foolish still.



A thoughtful face can ease the heart that thoughtlessness has given pain


“What a fool you must be,” said my head to my heart, or my sterner to my softer self.”
~ Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey



donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

The Perfection of Reclusion

Daffodil buds were growing out of the mud. Pastoral views overlooked what I had come to walking so far with one who would leave me that youthful February of awkward rendezvous and sixteen aging years with glimpses of sun in-between the clouds. Something to go back to even if I never could.

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

A story emerging from the memory of my imagination has, more than once, become my life. Well, that was when I thought I was the story. Now I know I’m just the teller of the tale, a balladeer singing the music of silence. A freeing realization and, perhaps, a necessary one for my evolution into a writer whose most creative stimulation is as an onlooker, a solitary soul, a lover of love without a lover, a childless woman with many offspring, a traveler going nowhere and so anywhere. An elusive chanteuse more comforted by ghosts and longings than is good for me, I prefer possibility over certainty and need to disappear for the words to appear—often in conflict with these striving, competitive and extroverted times, but never without a vision, interest or objective in hope of satisfying my muse.

I recently came across an opinion that the perfection of Emily Dickinson’s “art” was the perfection of her reclusion. Another way of putting it might be that the perfection of her “art” was her lack of distractions. Like striving and competition. Like thinking what her poetry should be.  Like wondering if anyone would ever know it lived. She asked if her poems breathed and was told they weren’t publishable. How very fortunate her lack of participation in what she called “the auction of the mind” didn’t prevent her breathing into eternity.

What motivated her to write nearly 2000 poems when no one was waiting for her fragmented and faint scribbles on scraps of paper, envelope flaps, and even a chocolate wrapper? Some creative individuals need an incubating space around them—a chrysalis as William Du Bois described it—for longer than others, even forever; like Emily Dickinson, her spirit perpetually on the verge of emergence into its winged perfect state.

For me, that is the essence of creativity no matter what medium it finds its expression through or whether anyone but its creator is involved in it: always in a state of metamorphosis, within its cocoon seemingly inactive while preparing for birth. The timing is its own, for it knows when it is ready to fly, very few eyes noticing its colors in flight all the more beautiful when unconscious of being noticed or not.

Like those daffodils that weren’t there and then they were—reaching up, opening, sighing, and shriveling down—not for me or anyone else, not for anything defined by ego or expectation, not for anything but the earthly and unearthly breath of being.

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton


Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. ~ Anaïs Nin


donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Crossing a Sea

We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better. 
C. JoyBell C. (author of poetry and literature books delving mainly into the mysterious, the philosophical and the esoteric.)

Blank for sea effect-page0001_pe

I’ve been absent from blogging – both posting and visiting other blogs – for a little while. I’ve been busy working with my publisher and editor on getting the sequel to A House Near Luccoli ready for publication. Also, as the audience for my offerings has diminished, I decided to take a breather and step back in order to reevaluate this forum and ready myself to take it freshly into 2015.  I’m hoping that my next post will initiate its new direction.

That post is “in the oven” of my thoughts but not yet fully cooked.

For now, I’m excited to reveal the finished cover of To A Strange Somewhere Fled, which will very soon be released by All Things That Matter Press.

My appreciation to the readers of A House Near Luccoli who believed in my interpretation of the inimitable 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella, his world, music, associates, and the place of a fictional character like Donatella in a crucial part of his story. You encouraged me to continue with the sequel I had begun before A House Near Luccoli’s publication in 2012.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled has taken me forwards and backwards, my sources for information and inspiration regarding the novel’s main setting of Wroxton village and its Abbey in Oxfordshire, England demanding I investigate its history more thoroughly while allowing my experience of living there and some of the people I encountered to influence it.

After the sudden end to her collaboration
with the composer Alessandro Stradella,
Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents
in a small village in Oxfordshire, England.

The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets,
and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey.

Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons,
will she rise out of grief and aimlessness?
Her father’s friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey,
who are important figures in the court of Charles II,
offers new possibilities, especially,
as music and its masters—including the ‘divine’ Henry Purcell—
have not finished with her yet.

Below are a few pages of the opening chapter that will, hopefully, wet your appetite and make you hungry for more.

Please contact me here
to be included in an email list for notification of the novel’s release

To A Strange Somewhere front cover


Chapter One

 Wroxton, Oxfordshire, England, May 1682  

There was music in the house, not entirely imagined. Mama was playing the spinet and singing a little like Nonna, but with less exclamation than anticipation. She stopped as the clock in the front hall chimed half-past six, and called her husband and daughter to supper.

For the second time that day she insisted on more fatty meats than soggy vegetables accompanied by glazed breads and followed by sharp cheeses as well as a fruit tart layered with thick cream or a pudding made with raisins, cloves and dates. Such a heavy meal for late in the day, but Mama believed, as many Genoese did, the digestive powers were stronger during sleep.

She usually shrugged off the Captain complaining they spent too much on food. On that particular evening she implied it wasn’t enough. “Tomorrow we dine in style with the Baron.”

Was it the confinement of English rain and consolation of English suppers that changed her from being a woman worried over losing her looks and lover and willing to sacrifice for both into one who wouldn’t even give up a second and thicker slice of roast beef?

The Captain shook his head. “We’re not invited for eating, Julianna, but dancing and other nonsense.”

“Then I must satisfy myself beforehand.” Mama laughed as she wiped her wide mouth. “Leftovers.” Her hand waved over the table and landed on her daughter’s arm. “It seems Donata won’t have much.”

“Little bread … cheese,” Donatella struggled with three words as if they were ten.

“You should have some meat,” her mother spoke so it was just between them, “or your blood will thin.”

Donatella’s father raised another issue with his eyebrows.

“But Edward, I must for my girl to understand me. She’ll learn more English soon enough. Also, Lidia. Dear child. Why aren’t you dining with us? Since we can’t afford another servant, I won’t have her treated like one.”

The Captain didn’t react to his wife, but vaguely smiled at the little maid who needed something to do.

In his company Lidia was deaf and dumb and lowered her eyes, perhaps reminded of her own father lost at sea although he still lived on it.

She did glance at Donatella who was her confidant in feeling awkward and out of place. It wasn’t long since they had disembarked the cutter bringing more mail sacks than passengers from Calais, and stumbled tired and dirty into a weeping sky and welcome by Donatella’s mother. A friendly sailor was trusted with their trunks but not the cage purchased in Marseille, which Lidia carried until the Captain met them on the pier with a thin-wheeled wagon. He covered the cat cargo with his own coat, Mama’s Italian chatter compensating for his silence as they walked to the inn where they would catch the coach to London. A snowy stag on The White Hart’s whining sign encouraged him to finally say something, if only to quickly explain and wait for his wife to translate that ‘hart’ was an ancient term for a mature male deer. There wasn’t time to explore the castle presiding in falling clouds behind the town, but at least it was more distinct than on its chalky pedestal in a foggy first view from the channel. A few hours were enough to have an early dinner under low-timbered ceilings and near a brass laden fireplace, Mama devouring half a roasted chicken and a glass of port wine, the Captain savoring a minced-meat pie and kegged ale. Donatella and Lidia shared a platter of steamed oysters with the cats and each other, as though they hadn’t had enough of the sea.

If they had known how estranged they would soon be from it, the Captain wouldn’t have seemed irresponsible insisting on one last look at Dover’s harbor before the coach arrived with only ten minutes to spare for loading passengers inside, luggage on the back and hardier riders than they were on top.

Donatella and Lidia held the heavy carrier between them, Caprice and Bianchi quietly but pitifully complaining about their prolonged captivity. Mama sat next to Lidia and the Captain opposite her, a frail man and sizeable woman squeezing in to his side. Everyone was guarded, with limbs touching, body odors mixing and coughs possibly infectious. It didn’t help that Lidia, Mama and Donatella saying anything to each other pronounced them foreigners.

Fortunately, Donatella was next to the window and set her sight on stretches of woods and clusters of cottages, spired churches, the approach of towns and the clutter and curiosities of their streets, and even a cathedral where the couple got off and no one got on. The vacancy they left was just wide enough to allow the caged cats their own seating, but not for long. Before leaving Canterbury, the coach made another stop to pick up two musk-scented men who didn’t seem to notice the inconvenience they caused.

“Once we get to London, it will be easier,” the Captain said and Mama brought unsympathetic attention to them again. “The North brothers have offered their personal vehicle and driver to take us the rest of the way.”

They stayed overnight in Cheapside, the promised carriage arriving on time early the next morning. It made for a quicker and friendlier journey, and smoother, too. As the Captain pointed out, steel springs meant less bumps and jolts while glass windows fogged but didn’t leak.

A little over a week later the rain was still falling. Donatella lost track of the days since she had seen the sun.

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donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.