Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Recipe Time Again

At the Steinway Fundraiser at the Orlando Museum of Art
Susie and I seldom have an opportunity to dress up, but this was an annual jazz concert we really enjoy. It raises money for piano lessons for children who otherwise could not afford them. 


RECIPE TIME AGAIN
 






ASPARAGUS TARTS


The photo above is of the original recipe (from the Orlando Sentinel). I prefer to double the recipe and make individual tarts, using two muffin pans. If you would like to make the flat tart above, halve the recipe below and use just one sheet of puff pastry, turning up the outside edges.

Here is the recipe for my version, which makes 18 individual tarts.*

1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed & cut into ¼” pieces
4 scallions, sliced thin
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest*
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper (preferably fresh ground)
8 oz. goat cheese, softened
2 sheets (9½ x 9") puff pastry, thawed

*fresh lemon zest is best, but “out of a jar” is okay.

Heat oven to 425°. Spray two muffin pans (at least 9 holes each).
Combine asparagus, scallions, 2 tablespoons of oil, olives, garlic, lemon zest, salt & pepper in bowl.

In separate bowl, mix 3/4 of the goat cheese, and 2 tablespoons of oil, then set aside.

Unfold pastries, one at a time, onto lightly floured surface. Cut each into 9 squares. Carefully fold each square into muffin pan, pressing the bottom & sides into place. (You will need enough muffin holes for 18 tarts.)

Put some of the goat cheese mixture in the bottom of each cup, making the portions as even as possible. Layer the asparagus mixture over the top of the goat cheese. Crumble remaining goat cheese on top of the asparagus.

Bake until pastry is puffed and golden and asparagus is crisp-tender, c. 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining oil (optional).


Grace note:  the cutting-up of the asparagus and the scallions is time-consuming. I find it makes life easier to do it ahead.



APRICOT, WHITE CHOCOLATE & WALNUT SCONES***

This recipe does not work for "drop" scones. It is so rich in "additions" that the dough can only be formed into a wheel and cut into triangles. 

Special note:  I had to add more cream than recommended (a bit at a time until all the "dry" dough is gone).

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tspns baking powder
½ tspn salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, chilled
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
1½ tspns vanilla
6 oz. white chocolate, cut into ½" chunks
1 cup toasted coarsely broken walnuts*
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 375°. In large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture. With a pastry blender (or two knives used scissor fashion), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, egg, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and knead until combined. Knead in the white chocolate, walnuts & apricots.

With lightly floured hands, pat the dough into a 9-inch circle in the center of an ungreased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut circle into 8 wedges.** Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Cool scones on baking sheet on wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer scones directly to rack. 

*To toast walnuts, place in single layer on a baking sheet & bake at 375° for 5-7 minutes.

**After baking, I divided each eighth once again, to make 16 scones, freezing some for future use. (This recipe freezes well.)

***From Simply Scones by Leslie Weiner & Barbara Albright 


~ * ~

COMPANION BOOKS

The stories of two high-born veterans of the Napoleonic wars who escape their former lives as well as their wartime memories when they buy a hops farm in Kent. Or at least, that's what they planned.







~ * ~
For a link to Blair's website, click here.
 
For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.



For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.  


Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.



Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  



Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Routine of Writing

Only in Florida . . .
A raccoon was found inside a vending machine at a high school in Volusia County (next to the county where I live). Since it was a high school, I suspect the raccoon may not have wandered in by himself.

From Colorado, a new hailstone record:  4.83"

And a truly remarkable photo from Facebook, credited to:  marcokorosecnet.

 
Taken in Kansas - and as far as I know, "for real."




THE ROUTINE OF WRITING

On Friday morning of this week I was happily sticking pencils, one by one, into the electric sharpener, when I realized that I, the author who urges creativity even unto rule-breaking, was following a fixed routine established at least a quarter century ago. This was how I edit hardcopy, and the heavens would fall if I deviated from a single step!

And then I got to thinking . . .

Several years ago one of the grandgirls, evidently prompted by a discussion at school, asked me, "Gramma, do you have a routine?"  And I had to admit I did. From getting up, making coffee, feeding the cat, checking the news, making the bed, to walking into my office every morning but Sunday and sitting down to write. Except "editing" mornings when I took hardcopy into my bedroom, sharpened my pencils, and settled in to decimate what I'd written over the last couple of days.

So yes, as creative as I try to be, my life is circumscribed by routine. 

Good or bad?

Before going any further, I must point out that I'm still strongly opposed to anyone who preaches, "My way or the highway." Each person must find his/her own way through the writing maze, but I've spent the last eight years giving advice on what works for me—and hopefully will work for you as well—so once again, here are my personal thoughts on the subject of routines.

When it comes to writing, I believe an established routine helps. NOT to produce "routine" writing but for finding the time in your busy schedule to get those precious words out of your head and onto paper (or at least onto your hard drive). Some authors I know get up at five in the morning to find their precious "alone" time. Others write late at night. Only a few of us have the flexibility I do, being able to write without the constant demands of a job, spouse, and/or children. But no matter your situation in life, you will accomplish far more if you carve out a space of time that is solely yours. Not just for a day or two but week after week, year after year. Your own special "me" time. 

All the years I was growing up, I recall my mother going into her office, shutting the door, and that was it. NO ONE disturbed her while she was writing. (Fortunately this routine was never tested by the house catching fire!) This was, I should add, in the days when most women did not work outside the home, so she had the freedom so many writers only wish they had in the so-called "liberated" world.

So, yes, when it comes to getting a book done, establishing a writing routine and sticking to it is vital. A "hit or miss" approach could leave a book hanging for years.

So What about an Editing Routine?

Those who grew up in the digital age will undoubtedly find my editing routine amusing, but I still feel the need to edit hardcopy for at least the first couple of run-throughs of what I've written. Somehow, sitting there with pencil in hand, clarifies my thoughts, sharpens my mind, lets me see what I missed on screen. So to add to your amusement, I'll detail the routine necessary before I can even look at Page One. 

Note: Hardcopy editing is done in bed, propped up against a pile of pillows. [Sure, you can sit at a desk (or at a narrow writing bench on a cruise ship - which I've done), but editing in bed is much more comfortable.]

1.  I move my latest's book hardcopy from my office to my bedroom; also, my Character/Description List, Notes, and previous chapters (in a blue leather zippered container I've used for every book I've ever written).

2. I set up the metal bed tray I've had for more years than I can remember, fixing it at the angle I prefer. 

3.  I remove a slew of pencils, two easy-writing pens, a red felt pen, and a pink marker from their containers on my bedtable.

4.  I examine the end of each pencil. If it is not "pointy" sharp, I stick it in the sharpener, also on the bedtable. They have to be perfect.

5.  I dig out at least two lined legal pads from another bedside table and add those to the pile on the bed.

Then, and only then, am I ready to look at what needs to be editing.


The Editing Process.

Pencil in hand, I begin to read. Sometimes I smile and continue on; other times, I balk, scowling at a paragraph, grumbling and agonizing over how I could say the same thing so much better. Perhaps I only need to change a word or two. Perhaps I scribble in a whole sentence—or cross one out. And sometimes I need to grab up one of those legal pads and a pen and write an Insert that enhances the bare bones of that meager first draft.

Other times I need to juggle the order of what I've written—which is when that red pen comes in handy, marking (1, 2, 3) the order of the sentences (or clauses) being juggled. The pink marker, by the way, comes in handy when indicating the portion of a paragraph to be kept during a major rewrite.

To me, all this is much easier on hardcopy. It's also useful to have what you're deleting there before you, in case you change your mind! And scribbling changes in pencil works the same. So easy to erase and try something else, without obliterating the original.

Yes, I have to get up off the bed, gather up all my stuff, and trundle it back to the office. And then I have to sit down and make sense of all those pencil scribbles, red and pink markings, and the legal pad Inserts written in pen. But it works for me. I feel I do a much better job of editing when I start with hardcopy. I usually don't use "on screen" editing until a second complete run-through of the entire book. 

Note:  I do not, however, hesitate to change my hardcopy edits while typing them in. I'm always looking for more detail, more color, more clarity.

Old-fashioned, you say? Probably. But it works for me. And after forty books, I'm unlikely to change my methods. But hopefully, setting up a writing routine and an editing routine will help you in that eternal struggle to "get the blasted book done." And in the even more important struggle to make it the best book it can be.

~ * ~




 

For a link to Blair's website, click here.



For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.




For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.
 


Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.



Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  







Saturday, August 10, 2019

More on Layering

Sheri Cobb South, a Regency author friend, entered this English Garden Sampler in a fair, hoping to get a Blue Ribbon. She ended up with every grand prize the fair had to offer. And well deserved. I'm just sorry the detail doesn't show up here as well as it did on Facebook.

A truly magnificent example of someone preserving an ancient art into modern times.
~ * ~

Grace note: I broke another so-called "Rule of Romance" this week. I didn't intend to; it just happened—the fate of "out of the mist" authors and, to me, what keeps life interesting. The rule? - Introducing the Hero in a timely fashion. In short "category" romance, like the books published by Harlequin/Silhouette, the general rule is to introduce the hero in Chapter 1. For longer books, later is okay, but Chapter 3 or 4 is considered the outside boundary. (This is ROMANCE, after all, and readers love their heroes.) Nonetheless, it looks like it's going to be Chapter 5 before I can introduce the hero of Shadows Over Greystoke Grange. I can only hope readers will tolerate this deviation from the tried and true.

The above note fits nicely with the post on layering below. Though it's a skill most authors use at one time or another, layering is a staple of the "out of the mist" author. In this case, the premature birth of Shadows providing a truly excellent example of what I mean by "layering."


MORE ON LAYERING

I had just finished uploading The Abominable Major to Amazon and Smashwords and had every intention of doing a lot of "catch up" before contemplating the idea for the new Gothic that had been running through my mind. You know . . . things like housework, filing recipes, a bit of sewing, giving the cat more than a pat or two, or maybe spending more time on the often-neglected compilation of my Writing & Editing blogs into book form. But that darn Regency Gothic 8 refused to cooperate. In the middle of doing the things I should do, I suddenly sat down, formatted a manuscript page, and began to write. That story simply refused to wait. And yes, it was definitely born before its time. Sigh.

What I ended up with was little more than an outline, a skimpy outline at that. And it occurred to me what a good example it would be of "layering":  of starting with little more than a germ of an idea and building on it until the pages began to read like a book. So I carefully kept that first draft, which I've pasted below. Following it, I've added the third edit, hopefully demonstrating how "layering" in more details, more color, turned a bare-bones idea into the beginning of a novel.

First draft of Shadows Over Greystoke Grange

Chapter 1


   Adria is not a common name. It is, in fact, quite horrid. My Aunt Chillworth informs me, with a certain snide satisfaction, that my parents were so certain of a boy that they never chose any name but Adrian. And when their petit paquet turned out to be female, they were so nonplussed they simply eliminated the n, and I was christened Adria while I was still much to young to object.
   I have become accustomed. Somewhat. It is never pleasant to encounter puzzled frowns from people quite certain they have misheard. Or endure the snickers of children delighted to pounce on such a juicy enticement to tease. Or, as I grew older, suffer the smirks of young people now too well trained to mock me out loud. In truth, sensitivity about reactions to my name was my sole fear of the upcoming season of 1816. Everything else about it . . . glorious, absolutely glorious. I could hardly wait.
   Fortunately, my impatience for London and all the great city had to offer was alleviated by constant visits from Marlborough’s finest dressmaker—concrete evidence that it really was happening: in less than a month, my cousin Vivian and I would be making our come-outs, busy from morn to night with shopping, balls, routs, soirées, Venetian breakfasts, Almack’s, riding in the park . . . Meeting eligible gentlemen.
   Finding a new home. A home of my own.
   “Ow!” Pricked by a pin, I nearly fell off the dressmaker’s stool.
   “Ah, miss, I’m that sorry!”
   Even before the assistant’s apology, I regretted my outburst. The poor girl, not more than a year or two older than I, looked as if she feared for her life. As perhaps she did, for the consequences might be dire if she lost her position. “It was nothing,” I told her. Turning to the dressmaker, I said, “My foot slipped, I was startled.”
   Aunt Chillworth and Mrs. __________, the dressmaker, transferred their scowls from the quaking assistant to me. “Truly,” I added, assuming my most innocent expression. One I had perfected over my years at Chillworth Manor.
   Which is why I had some inkling of the poor assistant’s feelings. Although I had always had a roof over my head and food in my mouth, I knew what it was to live on sufferance. I had done so for the last twelve years, ever since the death of my parents in a boating accident when I was six. My mother was my Uncle Chillworth’s sister, and he had done his duty, taking in “the poor orphaned child” (an oft-repeated phrase that stuck in my six-year-old mind). My Aunt Chillworth—though no one would ever term her a woman of generous spirit—also did her duty, but I knew quite well she could hardly wait to be rid of me.
   A sentiment which, I assure you, was mutual.
   Ungrateful wretch that I was. I had such grand fantasies of love and marriage. A home of my own. And I was nearly certain Cousin Vivian felt the same. Love was unheard of at Chillworth Manor; nothing more than vague affection dwelt here, frequently tempered with disapproval.
But we were almost free. It was happening, really happening.
   Vivian and I exchanged a long look of mutual understanding. Though we had little in common, from looks to interests, we had perforce been allies for the past dozen years. And though she suffered occasional bouts of dejection over the comparison between us, she had been a remarkably good sport about our differences. I was a willowy five-foot-six and not much over eight stone, Vivian was five-feet-two and close to ten stone. Our faces, our personalties . . . alas, it was I who received most of the compliments, although Vivian continually outshone me when it came to what Aunt Chillworth considered “proper” manners and knowledge of the contents of her prayer book.
   I suppose, looking back, I should have expected what happened.
   Alas, I did not.



The third edit of the above:


Chapter 1

   Adria is not a common name. It is, in fact, quite horrid. My Aunt Chillworth informs me, with a certain snide satisfaction, that my parents were so certain of a boy that they never chose any name but Adrian. Therefore, when their petit paquet turned out to be female, they were so nonplussed they simply eliminated the n, and I was christened Adria while I was still much to young to object.
   I have become accustomed. Somewhat. It is never pleasant to encounter puzzled frowns from people quite certain they have misheard. Or endure the snickers of children delighted to pounce on such a juicy enticement to tease. Or, as I grew older, suffer the smirks of young people now too well trained to mock me out loud. In truth, sensitivity about my name was my sole niggling alarm over the upcoming season of 1816. But each time I felt a flutter of apprehension, I reminded myself that I was a mere Miss, and in no danger of having “Lady Adria” bandied about, the laughingstock of the ton. I was Miss Lovett, and Miss Lovett I would remain until I became well enough acquainted with someone for him to know my Christian name. And hopefully be so enchanted he would not mind.
   I say “he” even though I knew many of my new acquaintances would be female, because—ah, so many years later I still find myself blushing!—why else did young ladies go  to London for the Season, except to find a suitable life’s companion. That was the whole point to making one’s come-out, was it not?
   And except for having qualms about my name, I knew, simply knew, the upcoming Season would be the most glorious experience of my life. I could hardly wait.
   Fortunately, my impatience for London and all the great city had to offer was somewhat alleviated by frequent visits from Miss Emmaline Osgood, Marlborough’s most accomplished dressmaker, the constant rounds of fabrics, patterns, fittings, and planning accessories providing a continuing promise that it really was happening. In less than a month, my cousin Vivian and I would be making our come-outs, busy from morn to night with shopping, balls, routs, soirées, Venetian breakfasts, Almack’s, riding in the park . . .
   Meeting eligible gentlemen.
   Finding a new home. A home of my own.
   And surely the gown I was wearing at the moment would go a long way to accomplishing my goal.
I was currently standing on a stool in the sewing room while Miss Osgood’s assistant pinned white silk roses in place at the upper corners of the swag that graced the bottom of my skirt. My heart sang, for the gown was far and away the most glorious garment I had ever worn.
   Noting Aunt Chillworth’s eagle eye assessing me, I quickly shuttered my delight. My aunt did not approve of strong emotions. Young ladies were to be composed at all times, with perhaps a soupçon of ennui, just enough to demonstrate that one was not a jeune fille just up from the country.
Inwardly, I sighed., and after assuming a pose of indifference, returned to a surreptitious perusal of my gown. Ah, but it was magnificent! I was Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Guinevere—the princess of every romantic tale I’d ever read. The ballgown of azure silk was embroidered with white rosebuds enhanced by beadwork. A white rose, similar to the ones decorating the swag, rested in décolletage considerably lower than any gown I had worn before. I was enchanted, fantasies of my future dancing through my head like fireflies at twilight.
   “Ow!” Pricked by a pin, I nearly fell off the dressmaker’s stool.
   “Ah, miss, I’m that sorry!”
   Even before the assistant’s apology, I regretted my outburst. The poor girl, not more than a year or two older than I, looked as if she feared for her life. “It was nothing,” I told her. Turning to the clearly anxious dressmaker, I said, “My foot slipped, I was startled.”
   Aunt Chillworth transferred her scowl from the quaking assistant to me. “Truly,” I said to her, assuming my most innocent expression. One I had perfected over my years at Chillworth Manor.
   “Lift your skirts,” my aunt snapped.
   “I beg your par—”
   “Now!”
   “Truly, Aunt, it is nothing.”
   “This minute, Adria.”
   I hiked up the skirt of the gown, offering my right leg.
   “The other leg. Do not be sly, Child!”
   Reluctantly, I lifted the gown’s hem above my left knee, hoping against hope there was nothing to see. Alas, the tiniest trickle of blood had made its way some two inches down my leg.
   “Oh, miss . . .” the assistant breathed.
   “Miss Osgood, you and your assistant may pack up your gowns and leave us,” Aunt Chillworth declared.
   “But, Aunt—”
   “Adria, be silent. Remove the gown and return to your room.”
I was ready to continue my protest, but Miss Osgood caught my eye, clearly entreating me for patience. And yes, thanking me, even as she pleaded for forbearance.
   How perfectly horrid to be so dependent on the wilfulness of others.
   As are you.
   I carried on a grumbled conversation with my inner voice, even as I disrobed and wriggled into the too-tight sprigged muslin I’d been wearing since I turned sixteen. It was true, of course. I was totally dependent on the grudging generosity of Aunt and Uncle Chillworth.
   Which is why I had some inkling of the poor assistant’s feelings. Although I had never lacked for a roof over my head or food in my mouth, I knew what it was to live on sufferance. I had done so for the last twelve years, ever since the death of my parents in a boating accident when I was six. My mother was my uncle Chillworth’s sister, and he had done his duty, taking in “the poor orphaned child” (an oft-repeated phrase that stuck in my six-year-old mind). My Aunt Chillworth—though no one would ever term her a woman of generous spirit—also did her duty, but I knew quite well she could hardly wait to be rid of me.
   A sentiment which, I assure you, was mutual.
   Ungrateful wretch that I was. I had such grand fantasies of love and marriage. A home and family of my own. And I was nearly certain Cousin Vivian felt the same. For love was unheard of at Chillworth Manor; nothing more than vague affection dwelt here, frequently tempered with disapproval.
   But we were almost free. It was happening, really happening.
   At least it had been, right up to the last few moments. Knowing any further arguments would be futile, I left the sewing room and descended to my bedchamber on the floor below. I had barely sunk into a chair by the fire when a soft tap on the door was followed by my cousin’s voice.
   “Addy?”
   I disliked Addy even more than Adria, but I sloughed off my pique, waving her to the comfortably upholstered chair on the other side of the fireplace. Vivian and I exchanged a long look of mutual understanding. Though we had little in common, from our appearance to our interests, we had perforce been allies for the past dozen years. For my hapless cousin frequently suffered more than I from her mother’s sharp tongue.
   My cousin leaned forward, whispering even though no one else was about, “Surely Mama cannot mean to dismiss Miss Osgood. Among the three of us, we must have ordered twenty-five garments, at the very least.”
   I agreed. Even Aunt Chillworth could not be so petty. But—Heaven forfend!—if she did not accept the garments, Miss Osgood might be ruined, her assistant find herself unemployed as well. And yet Aunt had such an odd look on her face—almost as if she were pleased by the incident.
I must be mistaken.
   Vivian, eschewing every rule of deportment her mother had dinned into her head, curled into her chair, feet up, one elbow on the padded arm, her chin sinking into her upturned palm. “It’s just as well,” she said, and heaved a long-drawn sigh.
   Merciful heavens, she looked as if her favorite dog had just died. But Vivian tended toward a morose outlook on life, and who could blame her? Sometimes it seemed as if Aunt Chillworth actually enjoyed goading her daughter by making comparisons between us: I was vivacious; Vivian, despite her name, was not. I was pretty, Vivian plain. My figure was willowy, Vivian fat. (I protested that particular pronouncement loudly: sturdy, perhaps, but not fat.) I sparkled (Aunt’s words, not mine); Vivian “faded into the woodwork. To top it all, Uncle Chillworth added to the nonsense spewed by his wife by declaring that “Adria could carry on a conversation with devil himself and come out on top,” while referring to his own daughter as “Miss Mumchance.”
   “You looked so beautiful in that gown,” Vivian said, sounding as wistful as the day she admitted that she was desperate to lose a full stone or more. “No one in London will see anyone but you. It will be as if I don’t exist.”
   “Never say so!” I cried. “Your manners are far superior to mine—you know what a hoyden I am!     Your embroidery is exquisite, mine mere chicken scratches. You plan menus, arrange flowers, visit the sick. And I swear you know the prayer book backward and forward.”
   While I . . . My voice trailed away as I took a critical look at myself. I performed the tasks assigned to me, but in truth I’d done very little in return for a dozen years of shelter. I rode, I drove a gig. I took long, solitary walks and dreamed of my future after Chillworth Manor. I studied French and Italian, attempted to teach myself Greek (unsuccessfully). I taught several of the tenants’ children to read (a secret known only to Vivian and the maid we shared). Above all, I read—novels, classics (in translation), religious works, treatises on rebellion (American, French, and English). I even read about what was being called the Industrial Revolution and the latest methods of farming. I was that odd duck—a pretty girl with more than two thoughts to rub together.
   Though at that turning point in my life, I admit the wonder, the excitement of being part of the Season of 1816 was uppermost in my mind. I was, after all, a young lady just turned eighteen, with visions of love and a wondrous new life dancing through my head.
   I suppose, looking back, I should have expected what happened.
   Alas, I did not.


~ * ~
For a link to Blair's website, click here.


For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.



For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.
 

Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.



Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  




 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Creating an ARC






~ * ~

 What on earth is an ARC?

Yes, I'm aware this week's topic is right out of the Ark (if you'll pardon the play on words). But I had occasion to use this ancient skill this week and thought perhaps I should pass the instructions along for any other e-authors who might have a friend or relative also "right out of the Ark." 

Here's what happened: 

I have a friend who does not own any e-reading devices, not a single one. But she wanted to read my latest book, The Abominable Major. Could I print it for her? (Yes, I know I should probably explore the print possibilities for my books, but I haven't done it.) So there I was, figuring my way around the bulkiness of printing off a stack of manuscript pages the way we used to do when submitting to editors and agents "way back when" (not so long ago, actually - just back in the late 90s and early 2000s before the e-book industry blossomed into a major phenomenon and digital submission became the norm).

And then I recalled the brief transition period between print and digital when e-book authors had to make print ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) for reviewers. O-kay . . . if I'd done it then, I ought to be able to remember how . . . Incredibly, it took me all of ten minutes to format the first ARC, about five minutes for the second one. (I printed both The Lady Takes a Risk and The Abominable Major, as they are companion books with numerous cross-over characters.)


Below are photos of how they turned out. Please pardon the "square" look of the photos. Evidently I'm not tall enough to get the right perspective. The pages of my ARCs are all 8½ x 11, printed Landscape.






Grace note:  I made my ARCs in Word Perfect. The instructions ought to work just as well in MS Word  and hopefully in other professional word processing programs with column capability.The primary difference is, if you're using MS Word,all you have to do to get started is open your Final Document and "Save As" [titleARC].



CREATING AN ARC

1.  Open the final version of your manuscript - the single-spaced, justified version you uploaded to your e-vendor or editor.

2.  Select All (Control + A) 

3.  Copy (Control + C)

4. Close file.  Note:  your computer will likely scream, "Do you want to save the ginormous file on the clipboard?"  Answer:  YES

5.  Open your word processing program.

6.  Paste entire file. (Control + V)

7.  Go to File - Select Page Format - Landscape

Optional:  at this point you can reduce the font to 10 or 11 to save space and have less pages to print.

8.  Adjust margins:  Left - 1" (or more), Right, Top, Bottom - suggest .6

9.  Select Format - Columns - 2

10.  Format - Page Numbering - Bottom Center*
       *In Word Perfect this makes only one number per page, not per column, but it's sufficient to save the day if the pages hit the floor!

11.  If desired, insert your cover (to the right of center & using photo paper) and print a cover for your ARC.

12.  If you want to be fancy, you can get the pages bound at your local print shop, but I just divided the pages in half (c. 75 in each bundle) and held them together with binder clips. When the "wings" of the binders are lifted, you have what looks like an open book, still held firmly together by the clasp. (That's why the wider left margin.) 

~ * ~ 

As mentioned above, the second time around it took me five minutes (not counting printing a cover page). So if columns are as easy in other word processing programs as they are in Word Perfect, this conversion should not be a chore. (I admit I've never tried this in Word.)


~ * ~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.


For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.



For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.
 

Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.



~ * ~
Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Abominable Major

Falcon 9 Update

Launches never get old. Here in Orlando we watch every one with bated breath, whispering, "Go, go!" (Especially those of us who remember the early days when they didn't!) But in recent years we've become more and more fascinated with Space X's ability to bring the booster rockets back, landing them dead center on their landing circles, to cheers from the control room and across Central Florida. On Thursday evening Space X allowed access to a camera on the booster itself, giving TV viewers an opportunity to see booster separation, deployment of the steering fins, and the "burns" necessary to guide the booster on its plunge back to earth. It was breathtaking—the earth coming closer and closer until we could see Florida, the Space Coast, the circular landing pad. And then the switch to a distance view of the booster settling dead center onto its pad. 

Rockets burn, go up, their payloads inevitably disappearing out over the Atlantic. But to watch the booster plummet back to earth only thirty miles away. Wow! If I'm recalling correctly, the announcer said this was the 49th time Space X had brought a booster back.

Not to be overshadowed—this Falcon 9 carried its payload to the International Space Station in a "Dragon capsule"—the capsule designed to put American astronauts back into space in a vehicle of our own making. We've got our fingers crossed.

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Alas, the hero of this tale is relegated to the staircase in the cover above, but since he's more than a bit sensitive about hobbling about with aid of a cane, that's probably just as well. (Though he may not be too happy about being overshadowed by the saucy countess who first called him, "The Abominable Major.")

I have to admit this was a hard book to write. How to do justice to a courageous cavalry officer who has been reduced to little more than a glorified bookkeeper? A man who never intends to return to the world he left behind when he and his best friend buy a hops farm in Kent. 

The challenge:  how to transform Major Courtland Randolph to . . . 
Sorry, I'm not going to make the mistake of putting a spoiler in this blog—suffice it to say, it takes a whole series of crises to make the Abominable Major realize he's still the man he once was.

Blurb:

Major Courtland Randolph, after losing a leg at Waterloo, abandons the world of his birth for a hops farm in Kent. He is not pleased when his former commanding officer maneuvers him into returning to society as protector of the lady who once termed him, "The Abominable Major." Yet in the course of dealing with a dashing Russian countess, political unrest, his ex-fiancée, an importunate prince, a mysterious young man from the London slums, a high-born runaway, and a dramatic change in his private life, Court finally accepts that he's still a man. Man enough to love and be loved.

Author's Note:  The Abominable Major has so many cross-over characters from The Lady Takes a Risk that you might want to read Lady first.


For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.
 

Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here.
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Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Up north - NYC & CT

A few weeks ago, the grandgirls asked their mother if they had any cousins "like Daddy has Lionel." Susie's answer was to add the girls and me to a business trip to NYC, which she, her husband Mike, and his cousin Lionel had to make last week. We arranged visits with cousins in NYC and attended a reunion of my husband's side of the family in New Haven - with cousins galore. We also got to see my son and his wife for the first time since their wedding three years ago. So today's Mosaic Moments features some of the highlights from that trip. Most photos are by Susie, but a few are mine. Nostalgia reigned. Except for a look-see at our old house - once an 1830 Federal, now subsumed into architectural madness, including one side turned Dutch colonial, the other architectural nothing, plus a five-car garage extending out into what we always called the back lot. Horrors!


Kone and Reale Travels - July 2019

Squeak, helping me pack
 
With a gang of seven, it was more economical to stay on the Jersey side of the harbor. As we were Ubering into the city the next day, I managed to capture the NYC skyline.


While Mike, Lionel, and Susie made a business presentation, the girls and I—plus a relative who lives on Central Park West and my daughter-in-law from New Haven—did my favorite spot, the Museum of Natural History. LOVE that place. I thought previous shows I'd seen at the Hayden Planetarium were great, but this one was mind-blowing. Even our three teens were impressed (well, Cassidy became a teenager a couple of days after we got back). FYI, this is the museum where Night at the Museum and subsequent sequels were filmed.



 

Animation at the T-Rex exhibit was "beyond Disney."


Grabbed the train out of Grand Central for the journey to New Haven and our first "airbnb experience," an old house across the street from the Pequonnock Yacht Club and directly on outer New Haven harbor. The next morning Susie and I went shell-hunting in Branford (our old home town) while everyone else slept in. Susie also takes great flower photos.






































  

Number One on our "to do" list when everyone was finally up and fed was a visit to Stony Creek, the village next to where we used to live in Branford. Stony Creek, once a bustling resort community, is home to the Thimble Islands - 25 rocky outcroppings, many of which have cottages on them. Some only big enough for one, a few with as many as twenty. They are strictly "summer only." The Thimble Island Ferry began as a way for people to get to the cottages and back. Now there are three ferries doing a thriving tourist business, showing off the islands' unique landscape. Our old house looked out over the Thimble Islands.

Stony Creek, waiting for the ferry
The '38 hurricane (a totally unpredicted no-name storm) wiped out the trolley tracks that used to run from New Haven to Stony Creek, but when we lived in Pine Orchard, my three children (and friends) walked a trail through the salt marsh that followed the old tracks. This big adventure ended at the candy store in Stony Creek and was a very special childhood memory. When they did it way back when, the only way to reach the trolley bridge over the central tidal river was on wooden planks placed on either side. Now, sigh, it's a well-maintained bicycle as well as hiking path. Too tame for real adventure, but still a fine wilderness walk. Susie, Lionel, and the girls took the path, while Mike and I drove around to wait for them at the Trap Rock parking area (still carefully unmarked - you have to know where to find it).

Clearly the girls agreed that the bridge is now too tame!






From the salt marsh trail - a tiny Thimble with Rogers Island behind.

The following day we made a pilgrimage to Branford College at Yale, where Harkness Tower is. My husband was a Fellow of Branford College. While an undergraduate (WWII vet), he founded the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs, the Yale Calendar, and after graduation the Yale Audio-Visual Center, where he remained for 30 years. The original carillon in Harkness Tower had 10 bells, but during his time at Yale Elliott was asked to supervise the gift (and construction) of 44 more bells, made by the Taylor Company in England. Last Saturday morning we were privileged to have a special tour of the carillon and a delightful concert by Ms Sarah Luckart. Susie and the girls were even allowed to play the Westminster Chime sequence, with Sarah pointing out the correct handle to push.  If you would like to hear some of the bell concert and the Reale family's efforts at being carillonneurs, please see the links below.


To hear & SEE Yale's 54-bell carillon being played, click here.

For the grandgirls & Susie playing the Westminster chime sequence, click here.

Harkness Tower from the Branford quadrangle

Two of the original ten bells

After Yale, we drove up Prospect Street to the house that was used in the Addams Family TV series. The girls clowned around, and then climbed a tree in the front yard.





And on our last evening in New Haven, our relatives hosted a Kone family reunion, proving to the grandgirls how many cousins they actually have, even though some are in the "kissin' cousin" category; others cousins by marriage. Missing from the photo: 3 of the youngest generation who were already tucked up in bed.


And to cap a busy week . . .
We celebrated my __ birthday with lunch at Season's 52, with corn, bacon & sour cream flatbread and a dessert tray WAY better than birthday cake! (I had the "pecan pie.")



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For background information on this tale of how a British cavalry officer who lost a leg at Waterloo finds his way back into the world—and the love of his life as well, check out my Facebook Author Page at: click here.
For a link to Blair's website, click here. 
 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace