Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, September 19, 2020




No, I didn't join a Book-in-a-Week group—don't believe in rushing a draft that fast, actually—but Florida Wild is following The Vicar's Daughter by a mere five weeks simply because Florida Wild has been hidden away on my computer for quite a few years now. First published in 2010, I got my rights back several years later and was about to publish it to Amazon and Smashwords when tragedy intervened. Although Florida Wild features Action and Suspense involving terrorist acts, it is also a Romance and an often light-hearted look at Greater Orlando in the first few years of the 21st century—the Orlando I encountered when I moved here in 2007. 

Florida Wild was only weeks from rebirth when I went into choir rehearsal one Sunday morning in June 2016 and one of the tenors, looking at his cellphone, said: "There's been a shooting, twenty people killed." "Where?" I asked. The answer: "Here."

Here. Here? (We might be 20 miles north in Longwood, but Orlando is our "city.")

A short while later, the congregation sat in stunned silence as the priest offered a prayer for the dead, a death toll that was mounting with every second that ticked by. The toll:  49 dead, not counting the shooter, Omar Mateen; 53 wounded, most critically injured. 

Impossible to bring out my semi-light-hearted look at the Orlando I'd known prior to June 2016. But four-plus years later, as we cope with a world-wide pandemic, and a whole flock of new tragedies, I hope this peek at the backwoods Florida visitors seldom see will offer a few moments of escape.

As one example of life in East Orlando circa 2007-2010, I spent a lot of time taking my three young grandgirls to soccer skills practice. And I was always impressed by one of the coaches, a Muslim mother, out there on the field in hijab and blue jeans! In East Orlando it was common to go into a store and hear Spanish spoken everywhere. East Orlando is also the home of UCF, the University of Central Florida, the second largest college in the United States; i.e., a truly diverse neighborhood for my heroine, whose heritage is equally as diverse.



It's far from smooth sailing as Cass Wilder, a fledgling PI of mixed heritage, helps an American James Bond track his missing sister through a maze of backwoods Florida, redneck militias, and Middle-eastern politics. Action, romance, and occasional whimsy mark this tale of the Florida visitors seldom see. And of conditions where Romance is forced to take a back seat to Action.

Grace note:  Florida Wild has been revised from the edition first published in 2010. 

~ * ~

For a link to Florida Wild on Amazon, click here.

For a link to Florida Wild on Smashwords, click here.


And please don't forget The Vicar's Daughter . . . 


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

More Comfort Food



At long last, Susie found the Big One!

With luck, if you click here, you will see a YouTube video of Susie and Cassidy finding their first megladon teeth, including the one above.


~ * ~

On Thursday morning around 1:00 AM, a major gas line exploded about a mile from Susie's new house in Sanford. She and her husband took video and stills from their roof. I'd love to post the video with the menacing roar of the fire in the background, but I simply can't get the links on the new Blogger to work. Aargh! Below are two photos taken by Mike.


Fortunately for people, the explosion—possibly sparked by lightning—was deep in the woods. But that made it hard for firefighters to reach the scene. Two hours before the fire was under control, days before anyone in the area will have gas.

~ * ~



I threw away food this week - half of a really tasty Quiche Lorraine. Why? After two meals, I went to freeze the rest and discovered my freezer was FULL. I mean, impossible to add anything larger than a marshmallow. Clearly, like so many others, I've been cooking more than usual over the past few months. So I am now eating my way through the freezer, determined to make enough room so I can once again try new recipes. Meanwhile . . . if your freezer isn't full, or you have several mouths to feed, here are a few more recipes. 

 Tapioca Update

Despite tapioca from the store tasting like "fish eyes and glue," homemade tapioca is a treat. I have continued to make it regularly throughout the summer. Here are a couple of updates to the recipes posted earlier:  

1) Use a wire whisk to stir the tapioca. (Although I am a devotee of wooden spoons, for tapioca a whisk wins, hands down.)  

2) A variety of flavors keeps the recipe from seeming "same old, same old."  I alternate Vanilla, Almond, Orange & Lemon - ½ - 1 tspn, according to taste.


Onion Baked Potato Casserole

Grace note: This is a recipe that can easily be adjusted up or down in size. 

6 Russet potatoes, cut in ¼" slices

1 onion, chopped or sliced (your choice)

Salt & pepper (preferably fresh ground)

At least 2 TBspn spices &/or fresh herbs* (smoked paprika, bay leaf, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, celery seed, cayenne, etc.)

Olive oil

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded monterey cheese**

Optional:  Top with crisp bacon, crumbled


*I used fresh herbs from my herb garden

**I used Swiss, as I had some on hand

Preheat oven to 375°. Butter (or spray) 9x13 casserole dish. Toss potato slices in large bowl with olive oil, salt & pepper, spices/herbs, and onions. Layer potato mix in dish, overlapping slightly. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes more. Allow dish to rest 15-20 minutes before serving.


I made this one up, so exact directions are hazy, but it turned out well. After browning, I based the cooking time on whether I was using standard couscous or the large Israeli couscous (taking the cook time from their containers).

1 package chicken tenders


Olive oil & butter

Chicken broth according to couscous instructions (c. 1-1½ cups)

1 cup couscous

Dried fruit, chopped or cut small (all or your choice)

Candied ginger, apricots, golden raisins, raisins, cranberries

Slivered almonds, as desired

Seasoning suggestions: Salt & pepper, cardamon, nutmeg, allspice

Coat chicken pieces with cornstarch. Lightly brown in mix of olive oil and butter. Add couscous, chicken broth, chopped fruit, almonds, and seasonings. Bring to boil. Cover, simmer on lower heat as directed on couscous package. Check to make sure food is not drying out. 



Why, when I really like Egg Salad, I never make it, I don't know. Perhaps I simply never think to boil the eggs ahead of time. Anyway, I finally did it a couple of weeks ago, putting this recipe together from several found on the Internet. (Variations can be found at the bottom.)

4 eggs, hardboiled

2-3 green onions, finely sliced/chopped

½ red or green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

1 or more TBspn fresh dill, snipped

Other fresh herbs, chopped (optional)

c. ¼ cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

Juice of half a lemon

Fresh ground salt & pepper

Combine all, serve on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich with lettuce.


Plain yogurt in place of mayo

Sunflower seeds

Finely chopped celery

Green olives, chopped


Mustard - yellow or Dijon



If you're tired of seeing all those recipes for a grill you don't have, here's something a little different than fussing with the oven broiler. You can even heat the oven early, start a couple of potatoes to baking . . .

Ideally, you use a cast iron grill pan for this one.

Sirloin steak(s)

Steak marinade

Marinate steak(s) 3-8 hours. Preheat oven to 400°. Heat cast iron grill pan to "smokin' hot." Sear steak on ONE side. Turn steak and put grill pan in oven. For medium rare:

1½" steak - 4 min.

1" steak - 3 min.

Remove from oven. Brush with juices; tent with foil; rest 3 minutes.

And that's it. Trust me, it's GOOD!

~ * ~


And don't forget The Vicar's Daughter . . .



To find The Vicar's Daughter on Amazon, click here.

To find The Vicar's Daughter on Smashwords, click here.
    (Smashwords always offers a 20% free read.)

Grace note:  The Vicar's Daughter is now available on Smashwords affiliates, such as B&N, Apple, & Kobo.

For "inside information" on The Vicar's Daughter, please check out my updated Facebook Author Page. Click here.

For Blair's website, click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (who writes as Blair Bancroft) 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

A Tale of Longevity


I have just added five new seasonal mask fabrics. One Halloween, two Fall, and two Christmas. Here's an example:


Evidently, among other things, "links" are not working. Please go to Archives - May - and choose "Masks for Sale." If all else fails, start over with & then to Archives.

Grace note:  I am struggling with the new Blogger (HATE it) & captions, as well as links, are elusive. Sorry. (And what I CAN find is twice as much work to format or view!) Hopefully, things will improve with time.


 A Couple of Gems from Facebook


~ * ~



Long-time readers of Mosaic Moments may recall the story of my five-greats grandfather, Peter Demo, who was a drummer boy for the French in the Battle of Quebec in 1759, when the British fought the French for control of Canada. Today, I'd like to add an apocryphal tale I happened to recall this week. It's a rather startling tale of Longevity.

I have seen Peter Demo's grave in upper New York state. It says only:  Peter Demo, Age 112. Which may help to explain the following remarkable story.

In 1759, Peter Demo was twelve, which means he was born somewhere around 1747. When I was in high school, I recall my mother telling me about an aunt of hers who had just died at age 100 (an aunt I never met, as we lived in New England and most of the rest of the family lived in Nebraska). That aunt had told my mother that when she was a child, she remembered seeing Peter Demo as an old man with a long white beard.

And therein lies the amazing revelation:  when I was in high school, there was someone still living who had actually seen a person born in 1747. (Hmm, I guess that shows me up for pretty old as well.)

So when our family tells the story of Peter Demo it's not simply something handed down from generation to generation to generation, but a story far closer to the "horse's mouth" than one would ever expect.

A couple of asides:

For those who did not see the original article, Peter Demo is believed to be the natural child of General the Marquis deMontcalm. When the French were defeated and his father killed, Peter ran off and was taken in by the Abenaki Indians, became a courier de bois in lower Canada and upper New York and Vermont. The deMontcalm family in France did not outlast the next generation but still thrives strongly in the U.S.

On a different family note - lest we forget:

My mother's mother, Grace Lull Pitchford, had six children before she gained the right to vote. Which means, at the time my mother and her five siblings were born, no female in the U S of A had the right to cast a ballot. Ladies, on election day, exercise the right that so many of our female ancestors fought for!

~ * ~


And please don't forget my latest Regency Gothic!


  To find The Vicar's Daughter on Amazon, click here.

To find The Vicar's Daughter on Smashwords, click here.
    (Smashwords always offers a 20% free read.)

Grace note:  The Vicar's Daughter is now available on Smashwords affiliates, such as B&N, Apple, & Kobo.

For "inside information" on The Vicar's Daughter, please check out my updated Facebook Author Page. Click here.

For Blair's website, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,
Grace (Blair Bancroft) 



Saturday, August 29, 2020

Editing Revival

Found on Facebook

On a lighter note . . .

Not sure what game Kylo was playing - seems more cat-like to me

Not two weeks into her Freshman year at Seminole High, Cassidy had a few friends over. (Please ignore the lack of social distancing.) I imagine she knew more than a few of them from the flight program at her STEM middle school, but, really, I begin to suspect she has an ulterior motive beyond her interest in being a pilot . . .

~ * ~

 Best Foot Forward lives again

After more than a year's absence from Editing (slowed to crawl by my efforts to compile my blog posts into book form, followed by my broken foot and marathon mask-making), I have decided to revive my Fiction Editing service, Best Foot Forward. A quick check of the Internet seems to confirm my services (even with a slight price increase) are still one of the best bargains around, and editing a manuscript for a frequent client reminded me how much I enjoy it.

I have always kept a low profile on Best Foot Forward—no website, contact by email only—as my writing had to come first. Today, however, for the first time, I am posting the Services offered and Price Information to my blog. 

Please note:  I do not provide separate Copy Editing or Proofreading services. But I make an effort to  include these services when acting as your  Developmental or Content editor. 



Content Editing.  Have you created characters who will grab your readers’ attention? Are your hero and heroine likable, even though they may have faults? Will your readers want to root for them, care what happens to them? Does your plot work, or is it too shallow for a 100,000-word book? Have you used descriptive language and colorful words in both Dialogue and Narration? Have you made the setting clear, or are your characters acting against a blank canvas? Have you run off at the mouth, using so many words your story and characters are obscured? Have you used too few words, merely giving readers a hint of what you’re thinking instead of good solid meat to chew on?

These problems, and many more, are what a content editor must determine. In the New York print market, these duties are totally separate from the Copy Editor, usually the low-paid new kid on the block who checks over the Nuts & Bolts of your manuscript.

Developmental Editing.
  Similar to Content Editing but even more detailed. More in-depth analysis, more definitive suggestions for improvement. A longer, more detailed critique.

Copy Editing
(or Proofreading).  The Nuts & Bolts of your manuscript—spelling, punctuation, grammar, continuity, fact-checking, etc.


Content Editing.  A service that works well for most authors. Includes Editing Comments (via Track Changes), Copy Editing, and a separate Critique.   

Developmental Editing. Designed for unpublished authors who want to make a serious effort to improve their skills and for indie authors who realize they need some serious editing/copy editing help. These services include Editing Comments (via Track Changes), Copy Edits, and a separate Comprehensive Critique. The Critique covers (as necessary): Opening Paragraphs; Characterization - Hero, Heroine, Secondary; Conflict; Narration; Dialogue; Setting; Plot; Style - including Show vs. Tell, Less is More, Personalize/Identify, Point of View; Presentation - format, grammar, spelling, punctuation; Overall Impression


I will use my many years of experience as an editor and author to help you put your best foot forward. To give you the fairest critiques, editing, and craft suggestions I possibly can. And always with the intention of being helpful. (I do not criticize for the sake of criticism.) And, most importantly, to give you the advice and confidence needed to be all you can be.
Grace's Professional Bio:

I have more than thirty years' experience as an editor and am the author (as Blair Bancroft) of more than forty novels  in a wide variety of genres. My books have won numerous awards, and I have judged somewhere around 400 writing contests over the last twenty years, in addition to my work with Best Foot Forward. (My favorite thank-you note was the one that said my score was the lowest of the three judges, but the author learned the most from my comments!)


Content Editing:                  .01 per word        (1¢ per word)

Developmental Editing:      .0125 per word    (1.25¢ per word)

Volume Discount:                10% discount (80,000 words & up)

Repeat Clients:                    10% discount

Grace Note:  I am always happy to provide a fixed estimate upon request. 


Grace at: 

~ * ~
To find The Vicar's Daughter on Amazon, click here.

To find The Vicar's Daughter on Smashwords, click here.
    (Smashwords always offers a 20% free read.)

Grace note:  The Vicar's Daughter is now available on Smashwords affiliates, such as B&N, Apple, & Kobo.

For "inside information" on The Vicar's Daughter, please check out my updated Facebook Author Page. Click here.

For Blair's website, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,
Grace (Blair Bancroft) 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Gallery & Mask Update


Good news this week - I was actually able to buy interfacing for the first time since March. (Not what I usually buy, but a reasonable substitute. The fusible interfacing shortage has been worse than the elastic shortage!) I have, therefore, updated the Masks for Sale blog with the latest mask designs & gimmicks, such as sliding "buttons" to improve mask fit, plus the optional interfacing. To take a look, click here.


A few photos to add a smile to what has to be the worst summer of our lives:

Grace note: you have to read the first one carefully - it's easy to miss a few gems the first time around. 

The divers were at it again. (Venice, FL)

Lots of sharks teeth, but no biggies

And some shells

But reality intrudes. Amid great controversy, schools re-opened in Seminole County.

Off for her Freshman year at Seminole High (with flight simulators)
Riley ready for her Sophomore year at Lake Mary High (she chose Virtual classes)
(Grace note:  Evidently, Hailey has reverted to camera-shy.)

We also said goodbye to the Suwanee property last week. (Sold to Californians who were fleeing to "out back of beyond." As Trustee, I had to leave hibernation long enough to sign my name about 30 times at a Closing Office in Lake Mary.


A Regency Gothic, set in Cornwall

~ * ~
To find The Vicar's Daughter on Amazon, click here.

To find The Vicar's Daughter on Smashwords, click here.
    (Smashwords always offers a 20% free read.)

Grace note:  The Vicar's Daughter is now available on Smashwords affiliates, such as B&N, Apple, & Kobo.

For "inside information" on The Vicar's Daughter, please check out my updated Facebook Author Page. Click here.
For Blair's website, click here.
Thanks for stopping by,
Grace (aka Blair Bancroft)