Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Posts

As I've mentioned in the past, music is alive and well in Seminole County, Florida. On Thursday night I attended the concert which wound up an 8-day "band camp" for middle school students. There were four bands. The beginners with eight days on their instruments managed "Mary Had a Little Lamb" - well, half of it. But the two jazz bands and the concert band? Wow! They were amazing, and all of them "beginners" only a year or two ago. Well, perhaps not quite. Riley, who plays the Euphonium (sort of half-way between a French Horn and a Baritone), was asked to play the trombone for the first time in Band Camp and soloed on it at the concert (in the Junior Jazz Band - Video below.) Cassidy, with a year on trumpet, soloed directly after her. (That's Mama you hear screaming in the background.)

For video of the Reale sisters doing back-to-back solos, click here.

~ * ~

A Time of Tragedy:
Although life goes on, as seen from the Band Camp story above, this was a hard week in the Orlando area. In the midst of memorials for the 49 killed in the Pulse nightclub massacre, the singer shot by a crazed fan, and the 2-year-old killed by an alligator, all within a day of each other two years ago, yet more tragedy struck. A woman walking her dogs was dragged into a lake by a 12' alligator and killed. Even more horrible, a woman who was being beaten escaped her house and called 911, leaving her four children, ages 1-11 behind. The first officer to arrive was shot in the eye through the door. (He's still fighting for his life.) After a hostage stand-off of 21 hours, it was discovered that the man with the gun (father of 2 of the children) had killed them all before taking his own life. Something almost impossible to comprehend. And no, the above is not fiction. It is what actually happened this week in Orlando, home of DisneyWorld, Universal Studios, Sea World, and all the other activities that turned our orange, celery, and cow town into the resort capital of the world.

~ * ~

Grace note:  In between finishing my SciFi series, rewriting & adding 10,000 words to a Christmas novella (once published as The Last Surprise & scheduled to come out this fall), plus creating the characters for a new Regency Gothic, I've been attempting to organize my posts on Writing & Editing into book form. (Far more easily said than done.) Meanwhile, we'll still have to rely on my twice-yearly Index. Sorry about that.

January 2011 - January 2018 

Note: Topics with more than one post in the series are in Bold type.


Formatting a Manuscript - 5/9/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 1 (grammar, punctuation) - 5/16/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 2 (punctuation, helpful books) - 6/16/11
Back to Basics - Punctuating Dialogue - 10/7/17 & 10/14/17
Tab conversion (from manual to auto) - 8/5/11
Using Italics - 2/15 & 2/22, 2014
Using Capitals - 4/12 & 4/19, 2014
Manuscript Format for the 21st Century - 5/6/12
Writing No-No’s - 5/28/12
Character Identification - 5/5/18
Point of View - 6/18/12
Dictionary for Writers (5 parts) - 2/4 - 4/7, 2013
Layering - 6/30/13
Layering, a Writing Technique - 7/16/16
Dangling Participles - 7/7/13
Misused Pronouns - 5/1/218
Show vs. Tell - 7/21 & 7/28, 2013
Notes on Writing Dialogue - 2/10/18
Playing with Tags - 3/19/16
The Colon is Down but Not Out - 2/24/18
Writing Fragments - 3/10/18
Varying Sentence Structure - 3/24/18
Treacherous Words - 8/11/13
The Difference a Word Makes - 9/1/13
“Modern” Punctuation - 9/15/13
Questions to Ask Yourself - 10/13/13
Third Person vs. First (2 parts) - 5/31 & 6/8/14
Rule-Breaking (3 parts) - 6/21 - 7/5/14
Don’t Be a “Rule” Slave (adverbs) - 5/6/17
To Be or Not to Be (was & were) - 5/27/17
Attitudes Toward Point of View - 2/20/16
Point of View - 12/9/17
Synopsitis - 4/7/18
Mystery vs. Gothic - 10/22/16
Telltale Signs of Amateur Writing - 10/1/16
How to Write a Bad Book - 3/12/17
What is Women’s Fiction? - 6/25/17 & 7/1/17
More on Women’s Fiction - 11/4/17
Shortcut Codes for Writers - 5/16/18

What you need to discover about your characters - 10/15/2012
More questions about your characters - 10/29/12
The Rest of the Story - 11/5/12

Character Development (3 parts) - 11/7 & 12/5, 2015 & 2/6/16
Character Development - the Unexpected (2 parts) - 8/20 & 8/27, 2016
What’s in a Name? - 3/18/17
The Nitty Gritty of Names - 4/30/17

WRITING WORKSHOP (9 parts) - 12/6/14 - 6/28/15
[Ideas, Fresh Twists, Research, Title, Names, Opening & Hooks, Plot, Goals, Motivation, Conflict, Setting, Characters, Narration, Dialogue, Pacing, Point of View, Transitions, Mechanics, Self-editing, & Questions to ask yourself before declaring your work “finished.”]

WORLD-BUILDING series (4 parts) - 12/28/13 - 2/1/14
   [a look at the problem of creating a whole new world]

WRITING A SERIES (5 parts) - 1/21/17 - 2/18/17. Why Write a Series? “Single Title,” “Cliff-Hangers,” “Mixed Approach” & Summary +
Update on Series - 12/30/17


I Ran Spell Check, I’m Done, Right? (self-editing) - 7/2/11
The Final Steps (self-editing) - 7/14/11
A Tale of Three Books - 9/24/16
The Difference a Word Makes - 10/15/16
More Thoughts on Final Edits - 11/5/16
Editing & Holiday Musing - 12/ 30/16
Editing Scold - 12/4/13
Misused Words (2 parts) - 10/4 & 10/25, 2014
More on Editing - 5/3/14
Editing Examples (4 parts) - 8/8, 8/23, 8/30 & 9/13, 2015
Editing Examples 2018 - 1/27/17
Copyediting Challenges (7 parts) - 8/29/15 - 10/31/15 + 4/3/16

Intro to Self-editing - 4/1/12
Should You Hire Help? - 4/28/12
Anatomy of an Edit - 8/5 & 8/19, 2012


**The Varied Faces of Indie Pub - 1/14/17

Reminiscences of Controversies (3 parts) - 5/13 - 5/26, 2013
     [a look at writing controversies over the past 2 decades]
Guideposts for Critiquing - 1/28/11
Writing Mistakes, Near Misses & Just Plain Strange - 3/4/11
Shortcuts for Writers (ASCII codes) - 3/18/11
Rules for Romance - 9/18/11 & 10/16, 2011
How Not to Write a Book - 12/20/12
How Not to Write a Book - 4/4/15
Branding - Bah, humbug [writing multi-genre] - 1/21/13
How Does Your Novel Grow? - 4/ 28/13
Word Perfect to Indie Pub - 11/27/13
Questions Fiction Writers Should Ask Themselves - 10/13/13
On Being a Writer - 8/22/015
The Tricks to Track Changes - 1/16/16
Running Off at the Keyboard (rant) - 2/13/16
Why I Love E-books (2 parts) - 5/21 & 5/29, 2016
Organizing the Out-of-the-Mist Author - 7/9/16
Out-of-the-Mist Oops - 8/9/17
The Sound of Silence - 7/30/16
Transforming Truth Into Fiction - 9/4/16
What’s the Fascination with Fairy Tales? - 4/1/17
Cultural Confusion - 6/10/17
Twisted Times (the influence of today’s news) - 7/16/17
Random Thoughts - Making Changes to Published Works - 2/17/18
The Problems of Wrapping Up a Series - 4/14/18
Why Writers Must Read! - 4/21/18 

**the post with links to indie-publishing information

~ * ~

Grace note:  Royal Rebellion went "live" on Amazon on June 14. 
For a link to Royal Rebellion, click here. 

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here. 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page,  click here.

To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.  

Thanks for stopping by,  

Saturday, June 9, 2018



A group from Harvard (which is about as reliable as one can get) just published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (an institution of impeccable reputation) stating that the death toll of "64" in Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, was off by about 4600! Yes, one third of those are attributable to inadequate care in the days following the hurricane. Nonetheless, the statistics—the result of house-to-house surveys— are staggering. And an indication of just how great the devastation was. And still is. Electricity still has not been restored in some parts of the island, and on June 1st, we began a new hurricane season. How much of the death discrepancy was due to the overwhelming nature of the storm, how much to inadequate local government, how much to obfuscation by the federal government? Who knows? Yet this devastation could happen again anywhere, any time over the next four months. 

In comparison with the U. S. mainland's greatest storm boondoggle, Hurricane Katrina, "only" 1600 died in New Orleans. Supposedly FEMA learned from its mistakes there, but with this new revelation from Puerto Rico . . .

Hurricane Season 2018, GO AWAY, FAR, FAR AWAY!

~ * ~

Speaking of the fall of 2017 . . . on November 18, 2017, I posted a short story to this blog. It was the just-finished opening chapter of Royal Rebellion, an Interim between Book 3 and Book 4, which takes place three years later. Since Royal Rebellion will finally make its debut on Thursday, June 14, I decided to reprise "The Witch and the Wolf" for those who have not read it. It makes a good introduction to the pacifist planet Psyclid, its king and queen, the four royal children who have turned their backs on their upbringing and joined a rebellion against a classic aggressive Empire . . . and to the their significant (highly significant) others.

Grace note: From the standpoint of Writing & Editing tips, I like to think "Interim" is a good example of an opening chapter that reminds readers of characters from Books 1-3, as well as providing an intro to the characters for those who have not read the first three books. "Interim" also ties up a romantic loose end that simply didn't fit into the previous books but needed a Happily Ever After before Book 4 could get down to defeating the nasty old Empire!


The ballroom, Crystalia, the Psyclid royal palace
Two Blue Moon cycles after the Battle of Psyclid
   The music flourished to a close, the women’s skirts flaring in a final kaleidoscope of color before settling to hug their bodies close as they dipped into curtsies. Their partners bowed, the men’s bright tunics competing with the women for which gender would add the most brilliance and sparkle to the evening.
   All but one, that is—a man slunk into the shadows behind a marble pillar, his back against the wall. Although he wore the required tight white hose, his tunic of black velvet fell well below his knees, his sole concession to fashion the intricate gold embroidery on his sleeves and on the bottom of the tunic. Embroidery he could not reject because his sister had created the garment with her very own hands, so what was a man to do?
   Except hide.
   He should not be here. This was a night for celebrating the completion of Psyclid’s ridó.
   A full two Blue Moon cycles after it was needed.
   He had failed. Men had died, ships were lost because there was a gap in the force field intended to protect Psyclid from the Regs. From the revenge of a mighty Emperor on a pacifist planet that asked only to be left alone.
   He, T’kal Killiri, had been tasked with getting the job done, and he’d fallen short. He was here tonight only because King Ryal had ordered it. And if there was one thing the Pysclid engineer was, it was loyal to the crown.
   A trumpet fanfare echoed through the vast ballroom. T’kal winced, recognizing the signal for what it was. The royal family was arriving and the ceremony was about to begin. The ceremony he wanted no part of.
   Fyddit! (Only the Regs had profanity strong enough for the occasion.)
   There was a great shuffling as the crowd parted, making a broad aisle from the ballroom’s double-doored entrance to the dais raised a good two meters off the floor, where a gilded throne with scarlet velvet seat and back, flanked by equally colorful sidechairs, awaited the Psyclid royal family.
   And there they were, emerging from the crowd, ascending the steps—King Ryal and his wife Jalaine. Six feet behind, the Princess M’lani, her red-gold hair gleaming in the light of the crystal chandeliers, her beauty unrivaled, even by the sister she had replaced as Heir Apparent. At her side, not accepting his proper place a few steps behind, was her husband Jagan, the Sorcerer Prime. The man who came late to the rebellion. T’kal’s lips curled in remembered derision. He and Jagan Mondragon were never going to be close. It had, in fact, taken considerable effort by the Princess M’lani to get them to work together to save Psyclid from the Regs.
   What . . . ?
   Shaken out of his stubborn indifference, T’kal stared as another couple mounted the steps.    Unexpected guests from Blue Moon. Not Tal and Kass, but the youngest royal and his Herc wife—K’kadi the bastard. K’kadi, whose powers seemed to expand from minute to minute. K’kadi the Strange turned K’kadi the Seer. The despair of the royal family become its most powerful weapon.
   T’Kal, who had witnessed one of K’kadi’s losses of concentration, still had his doubts.
   Among the missing royal children was King Ryal’s other bastard, his eldest child, B’aela Flammia, a witch best known as the Sorcerer Prime’s foremost assistant and long-time mistress. Before, that is, she transferred her favors to the acting Reg governor, Admiral Rand Kamal, nephew of Darroch, emperor of twelve star systems, the man who abhored the defiance of an obscure pacifist planet that refused to stay conquered. Unfortunately, Baela’s notoriety would never go away, even though her liaison with Kamal had been as a spy for her country. T’kal, knowing her as well as he did, suspected B’aela had likely refused to join the royal parade. She had not, after all, been raised a royal, as had Ryal’s other three children.
   She was here, though—somewhere in the crowded ballroom. T’kal always knew when she was near. Whether on a dark, dangerous night in Oban or in Crystalia’s crowded ballroom, her scent filled his head. A problem he had steadfastly ignored for many years.
   It was no surprise, however, that Tal and Kass weren’t here. Tal, leader of the rebellion, had sent a handwritten letter congratulating T’kal on the completion of the ridó. And confided that his wife, once Psyclid's Princess Royal, was suffering through a bad first trimester and would be unable to attend the festivities. As for his own absence, he hoped T’kal would understand. He still liked to think that keeping a low profile was protecting his parents and brother and sister who still lived on Regula Prime. Although, Tal added, it was more likely that by now half the Nebulon Sector must suspect that former Reg Captain Talryn Rigel and his huntership Orion had not been lost in a battle with the Nyx.
   T’kal ducked his head, glowering at the intricately patterned floor of green and white marble tiles. Tal’s note had suddenly become a stark reminder that the battle against the Regs was far from over. That celebration—even a small one like tonight—was premature.
   Another fanfare. The crowd surged forward, the gap filling in as all eyes turned toward the dais.
   Gap. T’kal winced.
   King Ryal, still a vital, fine-looking man though closer to sixty than fifty, stepped forward, his words smoothly amplified so they could be heard in the farthest corner of the ballroom. Even all the way to the wall stuck to T’kal Killiri’s back. “Friends, guests, welcome! You all know why we are here. Tonight we honor a man who has gone too long without recognition.”
   As he spoke, Ryal’s sharp eyes searched the crowd. Not a sign of tonight’s honoree. “When we were invaded by the Regulons . . .” Psyclid's king continued. “When we were shocked, confused, and in despair because we had no idea how to fight back, one person stepped forward. One person sought out other brave souls, found ways to make the Regs sorry they’d ever thought of invading Psyclid. Five years later when our Sorcerer Prime returned from exile, he found a large and effective resistance force already in place, considerably shortening our march toward Freedom Day.”
   Murmurs of agreement and approval swept through crowd. T’kal continued to study the colorful swirls in the marble tiles.
   “So naturally, when the Emperor threatened us once again, we turned to the same man, putting him in charge of building a ridó twenty times the size of the one protecting Blue Moon, a task which required re-discovering a technology long lost. And in spite of the near impossibility of what we asked of him, the ridó was built, only a tiny gap over open ocean unprotected by the time the Regs attacked.”
   King Ryal paused, dropping his gaze to his eldest daughter, who was standing in the front row just below the dais. “There are many other heroic acts I could name, but Killiri is a modest man. He will tell you that he failed because the ridó was not complete on the day the Regs struck. But where would we be now if it had not held over Crystal City? Over every city, town, and field on the planet? Where would we be without . . . T’KAL KILLIRI!?”
   T’kal wanted to turn tail and run, but he settled for pushing his back tighter against the wall as the roar of the crowd nearly deafened him. He didn’t stand a chance of remaining anonymous, of course, since his friends,  knowing how he felt about this event, had stacked the odds against him long before the evening began. His brother-in-law, Anton Stagg, descended on him from one side; Master Sergeant Joss Quint from the other. In front, two of the men who had been with T’kal that night in Oban opened a way through the crowd, both grinning from ear to ear.
   He’d known it would come to this. There was no way out of it. And now that the moment was here, he said all the right things, praised those who had done the actual engineering. Thanked those who labored so long and hard at a task whose completion seemed more a miracle than a technological triumph. He even thanked that constant source of annoyance, Jagan Mondragon, Sorcerer Prime. Looking back through the years, it was a wonder they hadn’t killed each other.
   Not that he said that, of course. T’kal’s lips twitched. No, he and B’aela’s long-time lover would never be friends.
   After granting a teeth-gritting half-minute to acknowledge the crowd’s shouts, howls, claps, and stamping feet, T’kal forced himself to descend the steps with dignity, his full attention on the goal of losing himself in the mass of people below. Except . . .
   B’aela was there. She seized his hand, the crowd melting away before them, with no more hindrance than calls of Well done! Thank you! and a fervent May the Goddess bless you! to mark their passage across the ballroom. The open doors to a balcony closed behind them, T’kal’s self-appointed bodyguards taking up a stance before them, barring any who might try to follow.
   “A well-executed maneuver, Highness,” T’kal drawled. “I suppose you planned the whole thing.”
   Dark eyes that had been sparkling with joy turned frigid. “Highness?” she asked. “Since when, T’kal?”
   “Since the day I learned the truth.”
   “Ancient history, Daman Killiri,” she returned with equally lethal formality. “You have had plenty of time to get over it.”
   “I have had time to face the reality of it.”
   “T’kal! We’ve spoken fifty, a hundred times since then, and never before—”
   “We were colleagues, working together against the Regs, working to restore the country—”
   “We were friends. Are friends!”
   T’kal looked out over the palace curtain wall to the shimmering beauty of Crystal City at night. At the crystalline buildings lit in a rainbow of colors topped by black sky, the infinite number of stars outshone by the light of Psyclid’s three moons—Blue at full, Red a mere crescent, and White down to a waning half low on the horizon. He was being stubborn. Again. The quality that made him so good at getting things done. And so poor at achieving any personal happiness.
   He suspected tonight was now or never. B’aela had played her part. It was his turn to be  braver than he’d ever had to be before. Even that time on Oban.
   “A fine setting for solving problems,” he offered.
   “Yes.” Her face softened ever so slightly. The militant look in her dark eyes faded to questioning.
   And there she was, the only woman with the capacity to make him forget N’tali. Even when he had not liked B’aela Flammia, she had stirred him out of the grief he had wrapped around himself for so long. T’kal took in the view that was far more fascinating than the beauty of Crystal City at night: a strong nose in a pale narrow face, huge brown eyes accustomed to hiding every emotion, the masses of dark brown hair as curly as his own, confined tonight in an intricate array of braids and studded with diamonds. If he didn’t unfreeze his tongue and say what needed to be said, he really was the greatest fool in the Nebulon Sec—
   “Sometimes,” B’aela said with care, “I miss the days of the resistance. There was a camaraderie, a special something impossible to recapture.”
   He knew exactly what she meant. He’d had thoughts, even back in the days when she was Jagan Mondragon’s discarded mistress. Thoughts that coalesced in Oban. And were shattered when she offered herself, willingly, to the enemy. Disintegrated completely when B’aela’s mother revealed she was born of the House of Orlondami, fathered by a king.
   Which, of course, reminded him of another problem—the once-favorite nephew of Emperor Darroch. “I heard that Kamal came back with you from Hercula,” T’kal said, tossing yet another obstacle into the mix. “That he fought the Regs. Evidently, your powers are even more wondrous than anticipated.”
   B’aela sucked in a sharp breath. “You cannot think—you who were my contact—” She broke off, gaping at him. “You know quite well I went to Kamal for revenge. And as a spy. You cannot believe that now we are free, I would—”
   But, agonizingly, she had to admit it was true. Regulon Admiral Rand Kamal, former acting governor of Psyclid, had been at the forefront of the Regulon attack on Hercula. He had lost his ship, been captured, and ended up commanding an armed merchant against the Reg’s latest attack on Psyclid. And she, B’aela Flammia, had shared a ship with her former lover all those long weeks home from Hercula to Blue Moon. T’kal had every right to wonder if she had played a role—perhaps an intimate role—in his defection from the Empire.
   “You will appreciate the irony, I'm sure,” she returned, her tone now cool and slightly caustic. “On our journey to Hercula, I shared a cabin with K’kadi’s mother, Anneli, and we have kept in touch. Which is how I know that Rand Kamal has a new interest in his life. And that it has become serious enough he may make the liaison permanent if his wife ever grants him a divorce.”
   T’kal rubbed at the frown lines on his forehead. Kamal and K’kadi’s mother? Then again, it was a pairing no stranger than the other convoluted romances that marked the rebel cause. Tal Rigel, once a Reg Fleet Captain, and Kass, former crown princess of Psyclid.  M’lani married to her sister’s former fiancé, Jagan Mondragon. K’kadi from Blue Moon and Alala, the Herculon warrior. T’kal’s own sister married to Anton Stagg, a Reg.
   Of all the royal children, only B’aela, the eldest, remained unmarried. And, to T'kal's gut-wrenching surprise, seemed to be hinting at an interest in the weirdest pairing yet.
   “There is a certain matter Ryal did not mention,” B’aela said. “He wished to spare me further humiliation, but we have not forgotten that among your many heroics, I owe you my life.”
   “I would have gone to Oban for anyone who needed rescuing.”
   “I know . . . but it wasn’t like that, was it?”
   T’kal drew a deep breath. “No.”
   “You were so angry when I went to Kamal. Every time I reported to you, you positively seethed.”
   “I know you loved your wife. A good woman. Pure." The words tumbled out. "It is the talk of Psyclid that you have never looked at another—”
   I looked. I did not act.”
   He knew what she was trying to say. An acknowledgment of something they’d each known for a long time, and for a myriad reasons refused to examine more closely.
   “B’aela,” he burst out, “you know what I am!”
   “As you know what I am.” A whore. Unworthy of the Hero of Psyclid. Most particularly,  the role of mother to his children.
   “Feelings aside,” T’kal said, ignoring the scarlet letter B’aela was certain must be flashing  on her forehead, “I fear the pairing of witch and wolf.”
   Dear goddess! She’d thought of all the other reasons he might object, but not that. Under the light of a full Blue Moon, B’aela studied the man she had admired for so long—the dark eyes, the square jaw, the sturdy body with shoulders broad enough to carry the whole of Psyclid on his back. “When I was very young,” she told the Alpha of his pack, “I thought I knew what love was. I wanted the Sorcerer Prime as a plant longs for the sun. But the sun burns, and in the wisdom of a more advanced age, another man caught my eye and my admiration. A man who flew half way round the world to save me from the most terrible degradation of my life. A man who single-handedly took down the Reg Governor-General—”
   “‘Handedly’ is perhaps not the most accurate word,” T’kal drawled.
   Distracted for a moment by his grim humor, B’aela pictured a shaggy gray wolf tearing out the throat of Governor-General Anton Grigorev. She had not been there, but she had savored the reality of it many times over.
   B’aela drew a shuddering breath and continued with the most difficult words she would ever have to say. The truly important ones she had to get out because it appeared T’kal never would. She was unworthy, she knew that, but she had crafted every second of these snatched minutes on the balcony, and she would not throw the opportunity away.
   “I wish to continue my list,” she said, meeting him eye to eye and emphasizing each word. “A man I have come to love, and whose children I would like to make my own.” Her chin jutted up.  “Even though I know I have fallen too far and have no right to ask for any man’s love—”
   “Hush!” At long last, T’kal did not hesitate. He folded her tight against his chest. “I would say madness has attacked us both, but since it’s been this way with us for some years now . . .” B’aela felt a chuckle ripple through his chest. “Whichever way I look at it, it’s wrong. Except you are the only woman who has ever tempted me into a second love. So I fear we may be stuck with each other.” His lips against her temple, T’kal added, “As part of your plans, you wouldn’t by any chance have a limm standing by?”
   “But of course. How else would I take home the man of the hour?”

   K’kadi, who had been released from the dais and was dancing with Talora Lassan, the woman some called his second wife, smiled and nodded his satisfaction. It was about time B’aela took his mother’s advice. Which, he realized, would likely make him related to four of the most powerful men in the Nebulon Sector: Tal Rigel, Jagan Mondragon, T’kal Killiri, and in the not-too-distant future, the Emperor's nephew, Rand Kamal.
   The end of the Empire was coming. It would take a while, but it would happen. That much he knew. Though who would sit on which throne—which thrones would even exist when all was said and done—was beyond even his powers of prognostication.

~ * ~

Next week: Index to Grace's Writing and Editing blogs, 2011-2018.

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here. 
For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page,  click here.

To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.  

Thanks for stopping by,  


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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Blue Moon Rising

On June 14, 2018, Royal Rebellion, the wrap-up book of my Blue Moon Rising series, will go live on Amazon Kindle. This SciFi Adventure with Romance spans more than a decade and is filled with a cast so large I prefaced Books 3 & 4 with a List of Characters. Over the course of the four books, there are, as the pic above indicates, everything from space battles to sorcery, royalty to werewolves. And twelve—count 'em—twelve romances. 

Readers of this blog have already met some of the characters, most particularly K'kadi, the boy who can't talk (see "The Sound of Silence," July 30, 2016). And over the years I've frequently used examples from the Blue Moon Rising books. So below please find covers and blurbs for all four books. And if you haven't already read the background information available on my Facebook Author Page, there's a link at the bottom of the blog. (Please note the Kindle Countdown promotion on Sorcerer's Bride and The Bastard Prince has expired. Royal Rebellion, however, is still on a Pre-order price of 99¢.)

Way, way back when I first began Rebel Princess, I intended to write ONE SciFi with Romance—that was it. I like variety and I thought it would be a fun change from the Regency. But my characters seized the bit and ran with the story, growing and expanding the plot until I had a real struggle confining them to four books. You will note, in fact, that I left a lot of room for a younger generation to get up to all sorts of mischief (tho' only in my readers' imaginations).

So here they are—the stories of the four children of a pacifist king caught up in a rebellion against the classic evil empire. If you haven't read Books 1-3, now is a great time to get started before Royal Rebellion debuts on June 14. (I should have made it June 6, D-day (a term I shamelessly borrowed from World War II), but I didn't think of it in time.

The people of the pacifist planet Psyclid have spent a millennium cultivating skills of the mind, while the people of the planet Regula Prime spent an equal amount of time developing their military might. Kass Kiolani, a Psyclid princess in disguise, is the first of her kind to attend the Regulon Space Academy. But when her new "friends" invade her homeworld, she is rescued from rape and possible medical experimentation only by the swift action of Tal Rigel, an honorable (and admiring) captain in the Regulon fleet. She spends the next four years in solitary confinement, where she dreams of her rescuer but has no idea she has inadvertently sparked a rebellion against the Regulon Empire.

When Kass is freed at last, she finds herself in the midst of a fight against the Empire and thoroughly disoriented by the contrast between her fantasies and the actual Tal Rigel. She also must contend with Regulon rebels who fear her psychic powers, her fey younger brother who speaks only through illusions, her parents who believe in non-violence, and a fiancé who happens to be sorcerer. The hope of toppling the Empire is a dim light at the end of a very long tunnel.

For a link to Rebel Princess, please  click here.

 Princess M'lani of the planet Psyclid, where almost everyone but M'lani is gifted with some kind if psychic ability, has agreed to marry Jagan Mondragon, the Sorcerer Prime, in  place of her sister L'ira. Jagan fled Psyclid when it was invaded by the Regulon Empire, but has now returned, supposedly to lead his people in rebellion against the Occupation. But he's been dragging his feet about it, and when he finally shows up, he has his mistress with him. If that weren't enough of a problem, M'lani develops a not-so-welcome psychic gift, and then there's that prickly long-time rebel leader, T'kal Killiri (who did not flee Psyclid at the first sign of the Regs), and the antics of M'lani's young brother, who speaks only through illusions.

On Blue Moon, one of Psyclid's three moons, M'lani's older sister L'ira (aka Kass Kiolani) and her husband, Tal Rigel, continue to plot a massive rebellion against the Regs, but freedom for the obscure, peace-loving planet Psyclid still seems a long way away.

For a link to Sorcerer's Bride, please click here.

What to do with K'kadi Amund, the youngest of four royal children—the one who doesn't talk? The young man of almost twenty-one who can still lose himself in moments of beauty, or moments of disaster. "Unreliable" and "weird" are some of the kinder things said about him. So why does S'sorrokan (Tal Rigel), leader of the rebellion against the Regulon Empire, consider him one of his most vital assets? And even when K'kadi comes into his own and gets what was once his greatest desire, he discovers that growing up comes with a price.

Author's Note: Readers of the Blue Moon Rising series will encounter old friends in Tal Rigel and his wife Kass and the Sorcerer Prime, Jagan Mondragon, and his wife M'lani. As well as B'aela Flammia, the surprise addition to the royal family. Other major characters who reappear in The Bastard Prince are: Regulon Admiral of the Fleet Vander Rigel, Regulon Admiral Rand Kamal, Captain Alek Rybolt, and Captain Jordana Tegge. New on scene are a family of merchant rebels, one of whom (female) throws a monkey wrench into K'kadi's plans for a conventional Happily Ever After.

For a link to The Bastard Prince, please click here

 In this final book of the Blue Moon Rising series, the rebels, led by Tal Rigel and the Psyclid Princess L'ira (Kass Kiolani), have taken a three-year time-out before the final battle against the Empire—planning, preparing, and producing a new generation. Even their one-time enemy, the Emperor's nephew Rand Kamal, has settled on the rebel stronghold of Blue Moon, though there is doubt about whether he is a high-ranking prisoner or an ally. All is peaceful, the calm before the final attack on Regula Prime—until Kamal's children are kidnapped. Or is it a trap? There is also the problem of rebels who haven't fought a battle in far too long. With the invasion of the heart of the Empire only months away, have they lost their edge? Tal and Kass must confront all these problems, and more, before the Psyclid royal children and their spouses come face to face with Darroch, ruler of the Regulon Empire. And the question of who will lead the new government, Tal Rigel or Rand Kamal.

Author's Note:  In Royal Rebellion we not only find out if the rebels win their battle against the Empire, we see the wrap-up of the many romances that have occurred over more than a decade (at least one veering more toward triangular than one on one), plus the beginning of new romances among the younger members of the extensive cast of characters. It would appear that complexities of the heart can be nearly as challenging and confusing as the long struggle to take down the Regulon Empire. 

For a link to Royal Rebellion's Pre-order page, please click here

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For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.
For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page,  click here.

To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.  

Thanks for stopping by,  


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Shortcut Codes for Writers

After ten straight days of rain - a new record - the sun came out and my back garden perked up. The tall plants are Gloriosa Lilies, perennial, once-a-year bloomers just beginning to flower when the deluge started. And now we're promised a weekend of rain from Alberto, the first tropical depression of the Hurricane Season (which doesn't officially begin until June 1).


Many of you will recall my posts about the Great Florida Python Hunt, which was an annual event for several years, until the state realized that amateur hunters were never going to be able to rid the Everglades of its python problem. (Background: too many pet owners decided to ditch their overgrown pets in the Everglades, and the huge snakes have reached the point of disrupting the ecosystem by eating the creatures that crocodiles, alligators, panthers, and other native animals feed on.)

So for the last couple of years, the state has employed 25 professional hunters to cut down on the python problem. An article in the Orlando Sentinel (May 25, 2018) announced the demise of the one thousandth python. Average length: 9 feet. Longest: 18 feet. Sadly, the problem continues. One hunter said: "You used to drive in the Everglades and you would see, easily, 20, 30, 40 rabbits on any given morning. I've only seen one since starting this program—one, and he looked scared."

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Way back in March of 2011, I posted a list of ASCII codes I found helpful in my writing. Today I'm going to repeat a few of those and add a list of the most helpful shortcut codes in Microsoft Word. Windows menus are great—I recall the world of computers before Windows!—but using shortcuts is even faster. I hope you will find the ones listed below as much help as I have over the years.
Control + Enter.  While I'm at it, here's an important code that works across all word processing programs. It's the shortcut for Hard Page End, the requirement for the end of every chapter. (While editing and judging contests, I've been astonished by the number of people who don't seem to know this basic of Fiction and non-Fiction writing.)

ASCII CODES - These shortcuts have been around as long as computers. They were built in before word processing programs even existed, and they have stayed, "grandfathered in" for any and all who know enough to use them. They seem to work anywhere, any time—in word processing, in email, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc. Try it, you'll like it!

Grace note: If you would like a longer list, please see Archives, March 18, 2011. Or you can google ASCII Codes and find a list that goes into 4 digits.

To make ASCII codes work, use your Keypad with “Num Lock” ON. Press Alt + the number. (Sorry, I don't believe there's any way to use ASCII codes if you don't have a keypad.)

20 ¶

21 §

37 %

60 <>

129 ü

130 é

131 â

132 ä

133 à

135 ç

136 ê

137 ë

138 è

147 ô

148 ö

149 ò

150 û

151 ù

155 ¢

156 £

160 á

162 ó

163 ú

164 ñ

165 Ñ

168 ¿

171 ½

172 ¼

0190 ¾

173 ¡

241 ±

246 ÷

0215 ×

248 °

0150 –

0151 —

0153 ™

0169 ©

0174 ®

0178 ²

0179 ³

~ * ~

Shortcuts in Microsoft Word 

Grace note:  for a complete list of MS Word codes, click here. 

You will also note that in most cases there is a correlation between alphabet & action, making the codes easier to remember.

Ctrl+A = Select All

Ctrl+B = Bold highlighted text

Ctrl+C = Copy selected text

Ctrl+E = Center selected text

Ctrl+F = Find

Ctrl+G = Go to

Ctrl+I = Italicize highlighted text 

Ctrl+N = Open new window

Ctrl+P = Print

Ctrl+S = Save  (Also, Shift+F12)

Ctrl+U = Underline selected text

Ctrl+V = Paste

Ctrl+X = Cut selected text 

Ctrl+Z = Undo last action

As noted, the list above is merely the tip of the iceberg. If you're interested, the list stretches on ad infinitum.

~ * ~

ROYAL REBELLION, the final book of my Blue Moon Rising series, is now on Pre-order at Amazon. Click here. Books 2 & 3, SORCERER'S BRIDE & THE BASTARD PRINCE went on Kindle Countdown May 25 (beginning price - 99¢). [My apologies, but Book 1, REBEL PRINCESS, is published by Kindle Scout and I have no control over when they put it on sale.]

For background info on ROYAL REBELLION, please see my Facebook Author Page. Click here.

And here's a peek at the social media ad created for ROYAL REBELLION, which goes live on June 14:

 Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rocket & Recipes

The debut of the Falcon 9, Block 5 - May 11,2018
My apologies for nothing better than a scan of a newspaper photo, but I was too busy urging, "Go, go, go! to take a photo when I watched the launch on television, and the enlargement of my "live" photo taken outside moments later refused to transmit as anything but the original vague squiggle, so I was reduced to this. The moment, however, was significant, as the Block 5 can be reused 10 times without maintenance and up to 300 times overall. (And yes, it landed on a barge in the Atlantic and is already back at Cape Canaveral.) Even more important, it will be capable of manned spaceflight, something that hasn't happened here since the shuttles were retired. So this launch was a big thing here on the Space Coast and bodes well for the future. Elon Musk is a true hero to the Space Industry.


As my regular readers know, I am a recipe freak, constantly gathering new recipes from newspapers, online, and those fancy recipe magazines they sell at the grocery store. But lately, alas, the recipes I've tried have not been ones I wanted to pass along. (A few were truly "Ugh!") So this week I went back to a book on my shelf hand-lettered, "THE Cookbook." I put it together at least 20 years ago for the girls in the family at that time: my daughter, daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law's sister, and my elder son's significant other of the moment.

Here are three old-time favorites from that book:


Grace note:  Susie has taught her girls to make these & still serves the chestnut version at almost every party.

1 lb. bacon
Water chestnuts (canned)
Green olives (large, pitted)

Cut bacon strips in half crosswise. Wrap chestnuts and olives in half strip bacon each. Fasten each with a wooden cocktail toothpick (not plastic). Place wrapped chestnuts & olives on broiler pan and broil until bacon is cooked. Turn when top is done, broil the other side.

Alternate cooking instructions:  Use 1/3 slice of bacon. Place on cookie sheet & bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

Note:  Broiler pan allows bacon fat to fall into bottom of pan.


20-25 Lorna Doone cookies*
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling

* a square vanilla cookie

Break cookies into fine pieces (I use a rolling pin). Melt butter & pour into crumbs; mix. Spread mixture in bottom of 8" square cake pan; press evenly. Mix eggs, sugar, cream cheese & vanilla. Beat with electric mixer about ten minutes. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Top with cherry pie filling (or whatever fruit topping desired). 

Cheesecake keeps well as long as it is refrigerated, so it is a good "make ahead" for a company dessert. 


1 lb ground beef
1½ cups chopped onion
1½ cups milk
3/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
3 eggs
½ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar

Heat oven to 400°. Grease 10" x 1½" pie plate or 8" square pan. Cook & stir beef and onion over medium heat until beef is brown; drain. Spread in plate. Beat milk, baking mix, eggs, salt & pepper until smooth, 15 seconds in blender or 1 minute with hand beater.  Pour into plate. Bake 25 minutes (longer for 8" square pan). Top with tomatoes; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean - 5 to 8 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serves 6-8.

~ * ~
Grace note:  more "comfort food" recipes from THE Cookbook later this year.

~ * ~ 

ROYAL REBELLION, the final book of my Blue Moon Rising series, is now on Pre-order at Amazon.Click here. Books 2 & 3, SORCERER'S BRIDE & THE BASTARD PRINCE will go on Kindle Countdown sale May 25. (Sorry, but Book 1, REBEL PRINCESS, is published by Kindle Scout and I have no control over when they put it on sale.)

For a link to the Amazon Pre-order page, click here.

For background info on ROYAL REBELLION, please see my Facebook Author Page. Click here.

And here's a peek at the social media ad just created for ROYAL REBELLION, which goes live on June 14:

 Thanks for stopping by,