Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Random Thoughts


The 14 high school students and 3 teachers 
gunned down in Parkland, Florida.

 New blurb for Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart:

A threat to an organic foods business brings together two people from diverse backgrounds—one from New England and Palm Beach; the other, a tough second-generation Hispanic entrepreneur. Their fight to save the pure foods they grow and sell is complicated by teenage relatives who are being used by a terrorist for his own ends. And also by a culture clash strong enough to resound over two continents. Even if they win their fight against terrorism and corporate greed, their personal differences may be more difficult to solve.

For a 20% free read on Smashwords,  click here.

~ * ~

Making Changes to Published Works 
What Grace is Reading
Another Editing Disaster

 Making Changes to Published Works

I frequently find my blog topics in what's going on around me—writing, editing, reading, or current events. This week, my inspiration was the ease with which I changed the blurb for Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart. Doing that with a print book? Forgetaboubtit! Although I can only speak for my experiences with Amazon and Smashwords, I assume other e-vendors are also author-friendly regarding changes. 

For example, when I decided I wanted to revise the blurb for HDHH, it took far more time to write the new blurb, stew over it, print it, study it, revise it, type up the new version, scowl at it again, tweak it, than it did to make the actual change. At Amazon, all you have to do is click on the three dots next to your book on the Dashboard Bookshelf. Smashwords is much the same. Find your book on the Smashwords Dashboard, choose what portion of your book you want to change, and voilà, there it is, ready for you to play with. With Smashwords, the change seemed to update immediately. With Amazon, it took about half a day. (Changes can include uploading a new version of your manuscript, a new cover, new blurb, new price . . . whatever.)

Although I have used this convenience only a time or two, I consider it one of the great marvels of DIY books. The sense of control is fantastic

The ability to make changes also gives authors NO EXCUSE for not fixing egregious errors. I'm not talking about the inevitable three or four typos, but about major, in-your-face mistakes or about the sudden lightbulb that bursts on over your head, illuminating something you really, really should have included—or should have deleted.  Don't suffer. Fix it!

~ * ~

 What Grace Has Been Reading

 I've read an odd collection of books over the last few months—some from favorite authors, who, I'm happy to say, remain favorites. Other authors, found through Bookbub, included some very strange books indeed. I also discovered some new authors, mostly through Kindle Unlimited, whom I have been delighted to add to my "favorite" list. (Not all, I have to admit. Some made it to Archives, almost wholly unread.)

Among favorites recently revisited: Catherine Lloyd, C. S. Harris, Janet Evanovich, Ashley Gardner, Joanna Bourne, Linda Castillo, Gail Carriger, Lindsay Buroker, Rhys Bowen, Linnea Sinclair, Jack Higgins, Steven L. Hawk. In particular, Gail Carriger's gay romance, Romancing the Werewolf, stands out as a touching read. The others delivered the adventure, mystery, and/or suspense those authors' past books promised. 

As for "strange," Shogun by James Clavell tops the list. I remember when this book was first published way back when. I did not read it, I did not see the movie. I approached the Bookbub offering in—was it November?—with the curiosity of an avid reader toward a famous book from the past.

I hated it. I hated nearly every word of it. And yet I kept going back, probably just to see how bad it could get. In between Shogun sessions I read a very large number of other books to take the taste out of my mouth. Occasionally, it almost got interesting but never for long. Why was I so offended by a book that is considered a masterpiece? I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure that out. I consider myself a liberal, with very few prejudices. Yet I was offended by several things, particularly #s 1 & 2 below.

1) Clavell's attitude toward women. Here's a dialogue tag: "she added with a woman's sweet viciousness." Yes, the women he writes about are frequently depicted as intelligent and powerful, but figuratively speaking, they are never off their knees.

2) Clavell's attitude toward everything that wasn't Japanese. After the English hero is "conditioned" by his captors, everything European becomes dirty to the point of revolting: men, women, children, government, etc. I would not have minded if Clavell had allowed his hero to enjoy Japanese cleanliness and good manners, but he made it clear both he and his hero had plunged headfirst into Asian culture, to the point of denigrating everything else. While, at the same time, revealing that the men in power in Japan at that time could make Machiavelli's maneuvers look like a straight line.

3) Clavell dwells on graphic torture and on the Japanese solution of suicide for almost any offense. I realize this is something that may appeal more to men than to a female reader like myself. But I found it both gross and inexplicable. Particularly when the hero demonstrates that he has been totally absorbed into the Japanese way of thinking, in spite of one of his crew being boiled in a pot by his Japanese "hosts."

Considering that at the time Clavell wrote Shogun, we weren't that far removed from WWII, I found his total immersion in Japanese culture and his blatant criticism of European culture, just about as offensive as it's possible for a book to be. I will definitely not torture myself with the other books in this series. 

So no, I am not recommending Shogun

Another Bookbub "read": Michael Crichton's The Lost World, Book 2 in the Jurassic Park series. If my memory hasn't failed me, the movie version of this sequel to the blockbuster, Jurassic Park, left a good deal to be desired,. The book, however, is excellent. I strongly recommend it. Crichton writes a remarkable combination of action, science, and human values.

And now the new authors I discovered: Okay, I have to put Michael Wolff at the top of the list. I may not read future books of his, but if they're like Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse, I probably will. Yes, it's non-Fiction, even though some would like you to believe it's fiction. It is also clever and informative, if rushed to press without enough editing. This is a book every U. S. citizen should read. And interested foreigners as well, although it's excruciatingly painful to have outsiders reading about our government's disorganization. 

My other two recent discoveries are Mystery authors, one American, one Brit: Robert B. Parker and Faith Martin. Parker's setting is my favorite city, Boston. And Martin's heroine is  a female detective for the Thames Valley police. She lives on a narrowboat, and since I once spent a week on one, traveling from Newbury to Bath (plus having seen the canal in Oxford while traveling through on a bus tour), this too is a setting that tickles my memory. Both authors write excellent mysteries. Parker's private eye hero is, naturally, more of a tough guy than Martin's law enforecement heroine is allowed to be. It should be noted that Martin's books are set firmly in the middle class, not the "upper crust" settings made famous by British mystery authors of the past. The vocabulary alone is fascinating, using a vernacular most Americans will find as mystifying as the plots.  Both Parker and Martin create intriguing characters and clever plots. Strongly recommended.

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Editing Disaster

I learned something this week about how editing disasters can occur. Sometimes it's not the author's carelessness. Sometimes it's their trust in a new editor. This week, when I found an amazing number of errors in the latest book in a series I had read previously with no problems, I emailed the author, asking, "New proofreader?" And the response was "yes" and that the book had already been revised and a new version uploaded. Which brings me back to where I began—the ease with which you can do something like that with DIY e-books. 

The lesson to be learned: don't trust a new editor. Check your book that one last time before you upload. You don't want readers to think you disrespect them to the point of placing careless copy before them.
~ * ~

For a link to Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart on Amazon, 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, February 10, 2018

Notes on Writing Dialogue

Practicing for last August's video
 The Citrus Singers are proud to announce their video parody, "All About That Badge," has been viewed more than 45,000 times, as of this week. If you haven't seen it, or would like to see it again, here's a link:

To view the video the Citrus Singers made last August, click here.

Notes on Writing Dialogue

There are a couple of things that keep cropping up when I'm editing dialogue—sometimes in my own work, sometimes in work by other authors. Problem One is keeping Narration, Action, and Introspection in the same paragraph with the dialogue that's being spoken. Since following the rule about "New Speaker, New Paragraph" is an absolute "must," if you use a separate paragraph for what the speaker is doing or thinking before, during, or after what they're saying, you run the risk of making readers think a new person is involved. Here are some examples:

Excerpts are from Royal Rebellion (on second edit still a long way from final book form): 

# 1:
Incorrect:    A minute later Kelan was back, taking her hand and leading her up the steps. As they settled, side by side, on the flat wooden bench at the back of the g'zebo, Yuliya heaved a heartfelt sigh. 
   "I miss your apartment."
   "Things not going well?"

Question: Who said what to whom?
When I wrote the paragraphs above, I put "I miss your apartment." directly after sigh, keeping it in the same paragraph with the narration. That way there is no doubt that it is Yuliya who said, "I miss your apartment." 

A minute later Kelan was back, taking her hand and leading her up the steps. As they settled, side by side, on the flat wooden bench at the back of the g'zebo, Yuliya heaved a heartfelt sigh.  "I miss your apartment."
   "Things not going well?"

Grace note: No "tag" is needed for Kelan's dialogue because only the two of them are present.

# 2:

   Tal grimaced, rubbing his forehead, as thoughts of his yet-to-be born daughter chased through his head. This day would come for him too, and he suspected his primary inclination would be to murder the first bastard who bedded his daughter. "Awkward," he murmured. "For us, at least. I suspect Keland and Yuliya are blithely oblivious to challenging the political disposition of the Empire."
   There's already one alliance between our families," Rand pointed out. "Perhaps a second is not such a bad idea."

Grace note:  If I had paragraphed after "daughter," there would have been confusion over whether Tal or Rand spoke that sentence. Both are leaders and well aware of the truly unusual nature of this particular romance. 
   Yes, there's a "tag" for Rand in the next paragraph, but readers should not have to plow ahead, or go searching back, trying to figure out which person is speaking. Clarity is very important in writing.

#3 - a simple exemption to the rule:

   Looking into Killiri's implacable dark eyes, Rogan believed. He might be unsure about Rand, but there was no doubt about the Psyclid. Here was the enemy.
   "I would like to speak with my son alone."

Grace note:  Rogan is the person speaking. But to emphasize the drama, I wanted the sentence in a separate paragraph. And I could do it because context made it perfectly clear who was speaking. Rogan was the only person who could have said those particular words.

Below is a more complex example that involves Narration and Introspection in one-on-one dialogue between Kelan and Yuliya.

   Kelan, who was learning to be as astute about the machinations of people in power as his father and older brother, considered the problem of Rogan Kamal. "If what you say is true, then he could be coming to retrieve a stray, a possible traitor. To do what is right for the Empire, and to Hell Nine with the Kamal family."
   "But Erik and I are no longer hostages. He can't force Father to go with him."
   Which was true, and pok! The long-sought moments of privacy in the intimate ambiance of the g'zebo were not going as planned.

Grace note: There is Narration, telling readers something about Kelan; then later, we get Kelan's thoughts: his grumbling because he and Yuliya are involved in a serious discussion when that isn't at all what he had in mind. And again, because only two people are present, it is not necessary to use a tag every time - as long as who is speaking is clear.

The following is a sample of a scene with more than two speakers. In which case, each one requires a tag. (The scene below also covers a number of exceptions to the general rule: a) a remark left "untagged" but quickly clarified in the next paragraph; b) a place where the Prowler's demand for papers is separated for emphasis; and c) another place where the dialogue settles to one on one, leaving no doubt as to who is speaking.)

Grace note: I was surprised when I analyzed the excerpt below to discover it had so much "meat" - examples of both rules and examples of exceptions. It's worth studying.

   Twenty minutes later, they were wiping their fingers and their mouths and congratulating B’aela on her inadvertent choice of a culturally themed restaurant. “Too bad we can’t ask the cook for recipes,” Kelan said. “Sure beats Astarte’s kitchen.”
   “Fyddit!” Kelan and B’aela stared. No way was Josh’s expletive a comment on the food. “Don’t look! Reg Prowler headed this way.”
   “Pok!” Kelan muttered. “Are you sure he’s not a local?”
   “You think I don’t know a Reg when I see one?” Josh shot back. “A sergeant in full uniform?”
   “Sorry. Wishful thinking.” Kelan shrank into his seat, at least as much as a broad shouldered man nearly two meters tall could manage.
   “Smile!” B’aela hissed.
   The Reg sergeant paused beside their table. A Prowler’s sole job was to walk the streets of cities and towns occupied by the Regulon Empire and inspect the papers of anyone who roused the slightest suspicion. Or even those who did not. Unremitting intimidation, the eternal threat of arrest was a key element of every Reg Occupation.
   “Papers!” the Prowler snapped.
   Dutifully, the three visitors to Deimos held out their carefully crafted forgeries. Neither Kelan nor Josh liked the sergeant’s look—openly speculative, and all too appreciative as he reached for B’aela’s papers. Neither did she, but from long experience manipulating Regs, she offered a pleasant, “As you can see, I am the ship’s inventory specialist and purser. Unlike many females,” she added with a touch of wry superiority, “I am remarkably skilled at money matters.” As intended, B’aela’s remarks quenched the lascivious look in the Prowler’s eyes. Evidently, women who boasted of their skill in math held little appeal.
   The Reg turned to Kelan who, he decided on a second inspection, looked all too much like his superior officers. Regulon upper crust to the core.  He came close to snapping “Sir,” as he held out his hand for the papers of the perfect Reg specimen—tall, well-built, blond, blue-eyed; this one, handsomely aristocratic.
   “You are a passenger?” the Prowler questioned, his suddenly raised voice carrying across a restaurant gone silent—some openly watching, some with eyes down but ears on the prick.
   “Just along for the ride,” Kelan agreed with a grin. “My father is head of a consortium that invests in merchant fleets. Every once in a while he sends me out to make certain his ships are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The man with me”—he nodded to Josh Quint—is, as his papers will tell you, my bodyguard.” Kelan assumed the look of aristocratic superiority he had frequently found useful over the years. Worked every time.
   Not this time. If the Prowler had been a private, or even a corporal . . . perhaps he wouldn’t have noticed, wouldn’t have zeroed in on this table. But this was the sergeant’s third Occupation assignment, and this group was just too smooth, too something—maybe too upper class, too intelligent. Better to play it safe—let his commanding officer figure it out.
   “I need you to come with me—”
   “That won’t be necessary, Sergeant, I know these people.”
   The sergeant snapped to attention. “Colonel, sir!”
   “Thank you, Sergeant. That will be all. I will handle the situation from here.”
   Astonished, Kelan stared as the sergeant snapped off a salute and made a swift exit.        Conversations in the restaurant resumed, masking the Reg colonel’s words as he asked, “May I join you?” Without waiting for a response, he slipped into the empty fourth chair at the table.
   “There is a quote from Old Earth,” B’aela said. “From a twentieth century film, I believe. Something about ‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world . . .’”

   “Believe it or not,” said Colonel Alric Strang, “they still drink gin here. Seems someone brought juniper berries with them when they colonized this place.”

Grace note:  On the next edit, purely to add more drama, I may separate the paragraph beginning "Fyddit" into three paragraphs. Allowable, if not exactly "by the book."

~ * ~
 And please don't forget to take a look at Blair's Suspense tale, HIDDEN DANGER, HIDDEN HEART, which features action from Greenwich, CT and Florida to Spain and Portugal. Terrorism, Immigration issues, and a Romance that suffers from severe cultural shock. 

For a link to Amazon, click here.

For a link to Smashwords (with 20% free read), 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, February 3, 2018

Updated Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Posts

Susie made it to Hollywood this week, doing the tourist thing while her husband had business appointments. Great time, except no shells on Venice Beach (unlike our own Venice, Florida, beach). She visited the famous Walk of Stars and was in the perfect spot for a photo of this week's "Super Blue Blood" moon, which was only partially visible here on the East Coast.

Susie makes it to Hollywood

Susie's Blood Moon total eclipse photo, taken from her hotel roof in CA at 5:45 a.m.!

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
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
Show vs. Tell - 7/21 & 7/28, 2013
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
Playing with Tags - 3/19/16
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

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  

**the post with links to indie-publishing information

~ * ~

And don't forget . . .

Grace, as Blair Bancroft, writes more than Regencies. Check out her Mystery and Suspense books at Amazon, Smashwords, or on her website (link below). 

~ * ~

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

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page (updated this week), 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, January 27, 2018

Editing Examples - 2018

Here's what the artist called a "social media" promo that I had made for Hidden Danger Hidden Heart, which is now available on most online ebook sites.

For cover & blurb on Amazon, click here.
For cover & blurb on Smashwords, click here.  (20% free read on Smashwords)

~ * ~


From time to time, I show examples of how I edit. This time, the examples will be more complex - and harder to read - as I plan to include deletions as well as additions. Also, I am using an example that required a lot more revision than I usually have to do. The idea is to demonstrate that although some editing is easy—a word or two here and there— sometimes it's necessary to add or delete entire sections of text.  

No one ever said editing was easy!

Theoretically, it should be possible to follow the sense of the story by skipping everything in red (deletions), but I don't offer these examples for the story content - only as examples of the work involved in editing. Editing is demanding. Editing requires thought. And effort. You can't skim through using that old derogatory musicians' expression: "It's good enough for jazz." Your work has to be right. The best you can make it. Do not shirk the editing end of writing. 

Yes, it's great if you have a friend who is a whiz in English and willing to read your book. But . . . does that friend have a feel for what makes or breaks a manuscript? Will that friend tell you the truth? Your other alternative to Do-It-Yourself is to hire a professional editor. (And NOT just a copy editor! It is the height of arrogance to think your work only needs proofreading for typos and slips of grammar.)

The two examples below are excerpts from Royal Rebellion, Book 4 of my Blue Moon Rising series. They are "first edits"; i.e., edits I made the first time I read through those particular chapters. If you recall the order of edits in my post of 1/13/18, these passages will be edited at least twice more before I declare them good enough for public display.

The first example below is from a chapter written on not one of my better days, and therefore heavily revised in editing. Which brings me to another bit of advice (if more for writing than editing): if you're suffering brain freeze or simply aren't at your best, keep going. You can always—as I did—fix it later. But if you give up, the next day it's so easy to say, "I'm still not ready, I have no idea . . ." The day after that, the same. And suddenly three weeks, a month, five months have gone by, and you haven't written a word. And then - WOW! - it's truly hard to find your way back. So no matter what, keep going, bull your way through it; then print it out, sharpen your pencils, get out a legal pad & pens for inserts, and tear that first draft to pieces. Make it say what you wanted it to say (but didn't) the first time around. (And yes, I'm advocating my "hardcopy" approach to editing. At least it works for me. I can simply "see" what's wrong better when I'm looking at a printed page.)

Color code for the excerpts below:

Original - black
Additions - blue
Deletions - red

King Ryal’s study, Crystalia
   “Your Excellency.” Rogan Kamal executed the same stiff bow he gave the Emperor, his brother-in-law.
   “Your Majesty,” Ryal corrected.
   Rogan Kamal appreciated the king’s point. Ryal did not care to be addressed in the same manner as the Emperor Darroch. yet this meeting was so unprecedented, each man found himself regarding the other with an undercurrent of wry humor. At the same time he recognized an undercurrent of wry humor in Ryal’s demeanor. Evidently, Psyclid’s king, like himself, found their meeting so unprecedented that only a strong streak of pragmatism and a dash of amused irony would see them through.
   “Sit, sit,” Ryal said, waving his guest toward two comfortable seats away from the formality of his desk. “Tell me, to what do I owe the honor of this visit? I would have thought you’d be half way to the spaceport by now.”
   The Chief of Regulon National Security allowed a self-deprecating look to pass over his face. Having humbled myself before my son, I am here to do the same before Psyclid's king.
   “How could I not request such a meeting, Majesty?” Rogan returned, his tone diplomatic perfection. “In some convoluted fashion, we seem to have become family. Admittedly, I cannot find the correct word for the relationship, but there must be some term for it. My son has, after all, married the mother of your only son.” Kamal paused, eyes gleaming, before adding helpfully, “‘Lover-in-law’—perhaps that fits.”
   Ryal, resting his chin on the knuckles of his right hand, studied his opponent, a spark of appreciation lighting his azure eyes. “You are everything I’ve been told. And more. No wonder Darroch’s managed to cling to the throne for so long.”
   The two men exchanged a look of mutual respect, tinged with regret by the inevitability of remaining enemies.
   Dismissing the moment, the Chief of Regulon National Security got down to business.
“I would not be doing my duty if I did not inquire about the prisoners you hold. All loyal citizens of Regula Prime. In which group,” he added with open chagrin, “I am sorry to say, I can no longer include my son.”
After a brief silence to indicate his sympathy, father to father, Ryal said, “I assure you the prisoners are comfortably housed and well fed.”
   “I should like to see them.”
   “Ah.” Ryal considered the possibilities. "On general principles, Tal would not like it. “I am certain you are aware that Psyclid’s sympathies are with the rebels. And I fear they would not approve. The prisoners would be heartened by a visit from Rogan Kamal, which could inspire mischief. A message might be passed . . . Ryal offered an infinitesimal shrug. “Or were you considering ransom or an exchange? Ryal inquired smoothly. Our treasury would certainly benefit from not having to house and feed so many Regs. Your son’s crew, in particular, eats like a host of grizzoids.”
   “I would commend their loyalty,” Rogan snapped, adding on something close to a growl,  “Sir.”
   King Ryal eyed his guest. “I regret matters did not go well with your son. Be assured, however, that we treasure his presence. And that of all the men who followed him into the rebel cause. The Empire is known for how well it trains its troops, and we are honored to have them.”
   Rogan’s newfound respect for Psyclids rose another notch. Evidently, intelligence and courage started at the top, even if this odd king of an odd people was a staunch pacificist. “The visit?” he urged. “May I see them?”
   Ryal rang for an equerry. “Lord Kamal has my permission to visit the Reg prisoners. See that he has the proper escort. After that,” the king added in measured tones, “he will go directly to the spaceport, where he will return to Titan without hindrance.” Ryal, exchanging a look with the equerry, emphasized the last few words. Ryal rose, held out his hand. “Lord Kamal, I wish you safe journey. I truly regret the uneasy relations between Psyclid and Regula Prime.”

~ * ~

Edits from a chapter needing a more normal amount of editing:

   Dagg Lassan, captain of the armed merchant ship Pegasus, barreled his way into Tal Rigel’s office, slumping into the chair in front of the desk. Scowling at the booted feet stretched out in front of him, he declared, “If he was not such a valuable weapon, I swear I’d kill him.”
   Tal needed no explanation; he’d frequently felt the same way himself. K’kadi could be a problem.    Hoping to cajole his long-time friend out of his fit of temper, he ventured, “Not ready to be a grandfather, Dagg?”
   Dagg’s snarl sounded more like one of T’kal’s pack than the former owner of a vast Turan merchant fleet.
   “I beg your pardon,” Tal returned. “What can I do for you, Dagg?”
   “Nothing,” Dagg the merchant captain muttered, his gaze still fixed on his boots. “But some on Blue Moon . . .?” Dagg’s fist hit the desktop with a resounding thump. “Fyddit, Tal, they seem to think I should be rejoicing because my daughter is about to bear the grandson of a king. A great honor, I’m told. Well, fyd them!”
   Tal, head down, examined the shining top of the desk that had once belonged to King Ryal. “A good case can be made for Ryal keeping it in his pants, but then we would have only Kass and M’lani and not the very special gifts of B’aela and K’kadi. T’kal would not have a wife and twins—remarkable twins. And Talora would not have been called upon to give love to a struggling young man who very much needed her.”
Dagg groaned.
   “You were there, Dagg. You saw what happened. Nekator wanted to seal our alliance by marrying Anneli. When I found a way around that, he asked for B’aela and then Talora. Which of course I could not allow appalled them both. So there we were, our alliance with the Hercs teetering on the brink when K’kadi stepped forward and said he'd offered to marry Alala. Yes, he did it to save his mother and the alliance. He was also saving Talora.” Tal emphasized his last words, willing Dagg to look him in the eye.
   Instead, Dagg’s head dipped lower. “Guess that’s why I came. I needed to hear you say that. But it hurts, Tal. It hurts.”
   Tal regarded his long-time supporter with considerable sympathy. “It was unrealistic for any of us to think K’kadi would give Talora up just because he got married. Beneath that child-like façade, he’s a royal to the core. Like father, like son.”
   When Dagg didn’t respond, Tal asked attempted to change the subject. “Do you like your new house?”
   The merchant captain straightened and for the first time looked directly at Tal. “Forgive me, but that’s what set me off. All that magnificence for a merchant and his family? Blood money, Tal. The king’s bastard’s mistress suitably housed before adding yet another bastard to the royal line.”
   “Sorry,” Tal muttered, “it wasn’t meant that way. Fyddit, Dagg”—Tal huffed a sigh—“you’ve been with me almost since the beginning. You’re not only a friend, but one of my most reliable captains and advisors—”
   “Alek Rybolt captains a battlecruiser and he lives in two rooms in the palace,” Dagg returned in a lethal monotone that gradually grew in volume and intensity. “Dorn Jorkan and Gregor Merkanov captain hunterships but live in modest apartments. While Dagg Lassan, merchant captain, wallows in luxury in a brand new house in the country!”
   Tal flipped up his hands, palms out. “Very well, it’s true. You’re about to become family. But you, Shaye, Talora, Romy, and Peter have more than earned a house big enough for your family. Kass and I were pleased to provide it. We even had T’kal send a team from Psyclid to augment our busy builders on Blue Moon.”
   “Forgive an old man his petulance,” Dagg growled. “I assure you my family is overjoyed. Shaye would likely slit my throat if she knew I was complaining.”
“Sir, I beg your pardon.” Jor Sagan, Tal’s aide, stood in the doorway. “Urgent news, Captain. I don’t think it should wait.” Tal waved him in. “I had the communication reconfirmed, sir, before bothering you.”
   Personal problems fell away. “Urgent news” was enough to capture the attention of both men at the desk, but at Sagan’s last words their focus sharpened to even greater intensity full alert.
   “Rogan Kamal just landed in Crystal City.”
   “Impossible!” Dagg barked. “They’d skin him alive.”
   “Psyclid is no longer at war with Regular Prime,” Tal said evenly, although his surprise was equally great. “Is he alone?”
   “His aide and a bodyguard, sir. That’s all.”
   Tal’s fingers tapped on the desktop as he mused, his voice soft and speculative, “He wants his son back so badly he’s willing to walk into the jaws of the dragon.”
   “What about his grandchildren?” Dagg asked.
   “Oh, he wants them back, but it’s Rand he’s come for. You have to give the man credit. He’s figured out where we are—or close to it. And he’s trailing himself out as bait.”
Dagg heaved a sigh. “And you want me gone while you figure it out.” Don’t worry about me the Lassans,” he added as he stood up. “I’ve said my piece, and the Lassans we will now enjoy their our fine new home. Please extend my thanks to your wife.” And with that, Dagg Lassan stopped fighting fate and left S’sorrokan to cope with the latest challenge to the rebellion.
Tal and Jor Sagan exchanged a long look. “Send for Kamal.”
   “Sir, you’re not . . . I beg your pardon.” Sagan stood at stiff attention, his gaze focused over Tal’s shoulder.
   “You think father and son shouldn’t meet? That we should simply throw the head of Regulon National Security in with the rest of our prisoners and continue on as if nothing had happened?”
   “No, sir, sorry, sir. It’s just that it’s almost like the Emperor decided to pay us a visit. I mean, Rogan Kamal is Darroch’s brother-in-law! One of our worst enemies. Look what he did to his own grandchildren.”
   "A puzzle," Tal agreed. "And one “You think I should turn him loose in the woods with T’kal and his pack at his heels.”
   Jor Sagan grimaced. “Something like that, sir.”
   “You could be right—but I’ve lived among the Psys too long. Black and white long since turned to an astonishing number of shades of gray. Making this a puzzle
I need help solving. So go! I want Rand here now.”
   Jor snapped a salute and left the room at a jog.
   After the office door shut behind him, Tal plunged his head into his hands, and groaned.

~ * ~
I was typing the final copies of my mother's children's books by the time I was a freshman in high school. She wrote on an old manual typewriter on cheap yellow pulp paper, and I swear she only wrote in or crossed out maybe one word every two or three pages. Sigh. As for myself, for a long time it never occurred to me we could have two authors in the family. And when I finally tried it—when my children were little—I discovered I didn't write that way. There were just too many things I wanted to change or add when I read my manuscript, and retyping a 90,000-word book? (Likely more than once.) Forgetaboutit!

And then, lo and behold—as I've mentioned in previous posts—in 1981 I saw my first word processing machine. And fell in love. I mostly had to use it for professional typing jobs in order to pay for the darn thing, but circa 1992-3, I finally got around to doing some serious writing, although it was late 1999 before I was published. (There was no way I could write to Harlequin/Silhouette formula, which was how most romance authors got started in those days.)

My big advantage, I admit, was that I was an expert manuscript typist and, by the early 1990s, had been both editing and typesetting for the educational publishing company my husband and I owned for twenty years. When he had a stroke and I became a stay-at-home caregiver, I had a lot of inside knowledge garnered from my mother's close-to-50 children's books and the books our company had published, including the first Black History textbook aimed at middle school & high school.

But, believe me, almost anyone can learn to read their own work with a discerning eye. It's a matter of discipline. Instead of getting lost in the magnificence of your prose, you have to read critically. You have to notice what you didn't say. Did you leave a motive in your head? Do you have a character who popped into a scene without identification? Do you have so many characters in a scene that they trip over each other? Do you leap from sub-plot to sub-plot, plunging your readers into total confusion? Or maybe what you wrote is just plain boring; i.e., nothing is happening. (And on and on - there are a myriad questions, a myriad solutions.)

So print it, read it, get your characters and plots straight before you move on. For me, that's the only way to build from one chapter to the next. (As previously mentioned, if you can edit well on screen, fine, but perhaps you should experiment with both methods, just to be sure. (The new generation - today's teens - are growing up with "on screen" just about all they know, but most of us, even twenty-somethings, were raised on the printed page.)

That's it for this week. Hopefully, I've driven home one more nail in my efforts to get people to "Edit the Blasted Book"!

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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, January 20, 2018

A New Suspense by Blair

The picture above was posted to Facebook this week, making the point that most of us have never seen a map of the "Indian" nations. I'm certain such a map didn't even exist when I was in school "way back when." And yes, it's long past time we acknowledged that the now-named Native Americans were here first - even if they were immigrants from Asia thousands of years earlier. The Abnaki, by the way, the ones who sheltered my ancestor Peter Demo, after the Battle of Quebec, are in the upper right corner, southeast of the Algonquins. (FYI, the hard-to-read dark blob in the Southwest is Apache territory.)

~ * ~

I published a tale of Suspense this week that sat more than eight years on the shelf as the newspaper headlines changed, governments changed, our list of enemies changed . . . and then, finally, attention swung back to what first inspired me to write Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart way back around 2009: "The Wall."

How did I manage to combine a story of agricultural terrorism with a group of teens protesting "The Wall"? Believe me, it wasn't easy - although I thoroughly enjoyed writing the cultural clash of the stormy romance between a New England businesswoman and an Hispanic entrepreneur! 

So although I've written a lot of Regency-set books, Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart is as in-your-face contemporary as it gets. I was updating right up to the moment I hit the "Publish" button. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out - keep in mind a 20% free read is available on Smashwords. For a link to Hidden Danger on Smashwords, click here.

When Ashley van Dyne, founder and president of an organic foods business, finds herself in the middle of a world-wide threat to the food crop, she has no choice but to turn to entrepreneur Rafael Guerrero, resulting in a resounding cultural clash on two continents. There is also the problem of Ashley's young sister and three other teens who have no idea they are being used for a terrorist's private agenda. Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart offers Suspense, Romance, Drama . . . and a warning.

Grace note: For more details on the background behind Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart, please see my Facebook Author Page (link below).

~ * ~

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,