Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Code Checks - the Nitty Gritty of Formatting

 

Citrus Singers - 1st performance in 18 months

Sunday, September 5, 2021 - some of the older girls in the Girl Scouts'
Citrus Singers sang the National Anthem before a Daytona Tortugas' game.
(Cheered on by furred & feathered friends.) 

Another entrant in the "Cute Kitty" contest
Photo by Debra Savignano, posted to Facebook

 

Some of the shawls I made over the last 18 months
                            
 Finally getting blessed for 
our church's Shawl Ministry

 A feral cat in my choir director's neighborhood had kittens, and lo & behold, one took after the suspected daddy, a pure bred Siamese. Below—sheltered, tamed, & adopted by my choir director—Simon, the Siamese (well, almost).


 
And most amazing of all - Hailey & Brady (as babies & 17 years
later  in the same engineering class at UCF)




 CODE CHECKS - THE NITTY GRITTY OF FORMATTING

While doing the most tedious portion of formatting The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle (Book 50, by the way), it occurred to me that in the ten years I've been giving advice on Writing & Editing, I never really went into detail about "Code Check." Probably because most people use some version of Word, which has very little "code check" capacity. Nonetheless, two of the "biggies"—finding extra spaces and manual tabs—can be spotted in Word, so perhaps "Code Check" really is relevant to users of both Word and Word Perfect. 

Why a Code Check? 

My personal answer would be that I don't want any stray codes messing up my work. Am I being overly cautious? Possibly. But I started checking codes back in the days when the transition from Word Perfect to RTF wasn't as reliable as it is today, let alone translating RTF to Word. (You would not believe the messes I ran into!) And the habit stuck. "Code clean" manuscripts are bound to survive indie pub processes better than those uploaded with an attitude of,  "Looks fine - why should I bother?"

For those of us who use Word Perfect, this means TWO code checks, as I keep Codes On while doing a final edit of my manuscript in Word2016 as well. But it's worth it. I end up with a neat package that is easily translatable into a multitude of e-formats by the various e-publishers.

To turn on codes in Word, click on ¶ in the Menu bar.

To turn on codes in Word Perfect, click on View - Reveal Codes.

Grace note:  In Word Perfect I would suggest the use of the Arrow keys to scroll the Code Window that appears at the bottom of the page, though your mouse often comes in handy for zeroing in on what needs to be changed. (My experience has been that the rolling scroll function tends to get "wonky" after a while, to the point of going up rather than down.) 

Below are the most common fixes needed.

1. Extra spaces—between words and at the end of a paragraph—are the most common mistake. (Spaces show as a diamond in Word Perfect, a dot in Word.) Delete extra space, hit Ctrl+S (and yes, that's a Microsoft code - one of their best "built-ins"). If you haven't found the Microsoft codes, look them up NOW. For a link to my post on both ASCII & Miscrosoft codes, click here.

2.  Accidental Manual Tab Stops. Long after the era of Manual Tabs, these little devils have a habit of cropping up in the most unexpected places, even when you KNOW you never touched the Tab key. (All you have to do is click your mouse in the blank space to the right of your text, and Oops, there's a Left Tab - or maybe a whole series of them.)

3.  Stray Italics (available only in Word Perfect). No, they're not doing anything - they're just sitting there where they shouldn't be, but who knows what's going to happen when you translate to RTF? Or RTF to Word? 

4.  Section Formatting (available in Word Perfect only). If you have written your book in Sections - say in 5-chapter segments - after you've put all those segments into one doc, there will still be formatting codes at the top of each section. Both page formatting & page number formatting need to deleted throughout the manuscript, not just at the beginning of Chapter One.

5. Margins (available in Word Perfect only). A code - "Rgt Margin" - popped up in today's editing, and sure enough, for some reason my right margin had narrowed a hair, violating the 1" margin rule expected on all manuscripts - an error that extended all the way to the last page. Easy to fix; not so easy to find without a Code Check.

Grace note:  Yes, this makes a lot more work for Word Perfect users, but as tedious as it can be, I don't regret it, as using Word Perfect has so many benefits. The one time I failed to check codes in Word Perfect - on my 200,000-word Making Magic With Words - Smashwords was unable to translate the manuscript to their e-formats.

Summary. Whether you use Word or Word Perfect, check those codes. You went to a lot of work to create your masterpiece, so don't neglect the tech that allows your readers to view a polished presentation. (Scrivener users - if you have a code function, please use it.)

~ * ~

Don't forget The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle will debut soon. Lots and lots of ghosts (even more than The Ghosts of Rushton Court). And more romance than found in my previous Gothics. (A second-time-around romance - and I've added a Hero's Point of View.) Secrets should be available before the end of the month.

 


 

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For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Indie Formatting - 2011 to 2021

 

Posted by someone in my daughter's subdivision in Sanford (FL)

 

A "hot topic" discussion on one of my email loops inspired this week's Mosaic Moments. During a discussion of the relative merits of MS Word vs Scrivener, I mentioned my devotion to Word Perfect, and a topic meant for one day's debate escalated to a nearly a week! All this led to a wail about formatting from a newbie - and to my topics for this week's blog:  1) Why I write in Word Perfect; 2) How to access my blog posts on Formatting for Indie Pub (2011-2021).

 

WHY WORD PERFECT?

 Where to begin? Let me count the ways . . .

 I began word processing on the IBM Displaywriter in August 1981. I loved it, 250K and all. When PCs came along shortly after, I laughed at my son and his 16K! And when Microsoft came out with a word processing program, I laughed at that as well. It was the equivalent of a child's pedal car compared to a Maserati. And then a company in Canada, whose name escapes me (Lotus?), created the first serious word processing program for PCs. It came out in the early 80s, and I was introduced to it when I went to work for the Episcopal Church in Venice, Florida, where I was hired to create the Sunday bulletins because of my word processing experience. Lotus was an absolutely fabulous program, but who can compete with Microsoft, which was including MS Word with each PC purchase? 

As far as I've ever been able to figure out, Corel based Word Perfect on that Canadian program and continued to provide a vastly superior word processing program to MS Word for more than a decade. Although more recent versions of Word are far more professional than earlier versions, they still lack many details I love about Word Perfect, so I never made the switch, even though many authors felt obliged to do so when Microsoft captured the market. (And yes, I explored Scrivener a few years back, but decided not to switch.) After writing 50 books in Word Perfect, I can't imagine using anything else.

A few of many things offered by Word Perfect besides simple word processing:

1. A Dictionary in the Menu Bar
2.  A Thesaurus in the Menu Bar
3.  Avery label formatting by number 
4.  Automatic envelope formatting for every letter
5.  Easy Graphics insertion
6.  Easy column formatting (both column width & distance between)
7.  Easy exotic font formatting in Text Boxes (just about any shape you might want)
8.  Reveal codes - all codes, not just the few in Word
 
Grace note:  Using Word Perfect is, of course, a personal choice, and there's no doubt we're all attached to what we know. Nonetheless, I feel strongly that Microsoft's stranglehold on the computer industry has kept people from discovering the superior worth of Word Perfect.


FORMATTING FOR INDIE PUB

To access the following articles, click on "Blog Archive," or consult the compilation of all my blogs on Writing & Editing, organized by topic - Making Magic With Words, available on Amazon Kindle.

 

Formatting for Indie Pub (November 2, 2019) &

Formatting for Indie Pub (June 5, 2021)

Formatting Finishers (June 12, 2021)

Word Perfect to Indie Pub (November 17, 2013)

~ * ~

 

A Regency Gothic - coming soon

~ * ~

 

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

 

 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Recipes for Busy Cooks

 I've posted versions of the poem below before, but the problem - and shaking of heads that goes with it - never goes away. So when this popped up on Facebook this week, it seemed like a good time to give space  again to the peculiarities of the English language. Amusement for English-speakers, agony for those to whom English is a second language.

  

From Facebook - "I think I'll take another cart."

Grace note: No source given, but definitely not one of our much smaller Florida geckos.

~ * ~

 

Many, many years ago, when I lived in a shoreline suburb of New Haven called Pine Orchard, our small local market sold sausage-stuffed bread but, alas, they stopped making it long before I moved to Florida. But I have never forgotten how fascinated I was by the idea - and the taste. So all these many years later, I tried to find an easy way to duplicate that bread. The BEST way, of course, is to make the bread from scratch, but there's no way I'm going to take the time to do that, so here is my substitute, poor as it is.

 

EASY STUFFED BREAD

1 loaf of frozen white bread*
½ lb. sausage**
2 green onions, sliced
Fennel seed, to taste (1 tspn - 1 TBspn)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ - 3/4 cup Cheese of your choice - 
            cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella
 
WARNING:  Allow enough time for the "rising" in Step 3.
 
1.  Unfreeze loaf by putting it in the refrigerator overnight. 
 
2.  Shred cheese. Sauté sausage until browned; add green onion, garlic, and fennel seeds. Continue cooking until heated through. Remove from heat; add cheese, stir.
 
Roll out bread - or spread out by hand - until wide enough to accept stuffing. Spread the stuffing down the middle; close the roll, overlapping the edge. (Brush edge with water for easier closure.)

3.  Spray standard loaf pan. Fit bread inside, overlapped side down. Let dough rise until c. ½-inch above pan (3-6 hours).
 
4.  Bake in preheated 375° oven for 25-30 minutes. Turn loaf out of pan immediately to cool.
 
Grace note: Refrigerate leftovers. Reheat in microwave. 

*I used Jimmy Dean.
**I used Ready-Dough by Bridgford

 TACO CRESCENT RING

 


 This is a classic recipe that has been around for years. Eye-catching, easy to make, and exceptionally tasty.

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. Old El Paso taco seasoning mix
½ cup water
1 cup shredded cheddar (4 oz.)
2 cans (8 oz.)refrigerated Pillsbury Original Crescent rolls (8 count)

Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, sliced ripe olives, taco sauce, or salsa, as desired.

1.  Heat oven to 375°. Spray 10-12" skillet; cook beef until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water. Simmer 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened. In medium bowl, mix beef mixture and cheese.

2.  Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 16 triangles. On ungreased large cookie sheet, sheet pan, or baking stone, arrange triangles in a ring so short sides of triangles form a 5-inch circle in the center. Dough will overlap. Dough ring, with tips pointing out, should look like a the sun or a starburst.

3.  Spoon beef mixture onto the broad half of the triangles (the part nearest the center).

4.  Bring the tip of each triangle up over filling, tucking the dough under the bottom layer to secure it. (A table knife helps.) Repeat around ring until filling is enclosed (a small amount of filling will show in gaps between the triangles.) 

5.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and thoroughly baked. Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting into serving slices. Serve with lettuce, tomato, etc., on the side.

Special note:  This recipe has the same versatility as Muffin Meals. The stuffing can be varied by using ham & cheese or other cold meats in place of the taco ingredients. Or consider sausage & onion, bacon & cheese. The use of crescent rolls as sandwiches is limited only by your imagination.

 

Below, another "oldie" - I'd forgotten how tasty this one is.

 

GREEN GRAPE SALAD

Grace note:  the recipes I found were for a crowd (what you'd take to a potluck supper), but you can make a lesser amount by cutting up fewer of grapes (color of your choice) & using smaller amounts of the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, & nuts. In fact, some of the re-sealable organic salad toppings available in grocery stores work very well as garnish for grapes.

 


 Original recipe:

4 lbs. seedless grapes (green, red, or mixed)
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 8 oz. container sour cream
¼ - ½ cup white sugar
1 tspn. vanilla
4 oz. chopped pecans (or walnuts)
2 TBspn. brown sugar (optional)**
 
1. Wash grapes, allow to dry. Cut in half lengthwise.* 
 
2.  In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar & vanilla. Add grapes & mix until well blended. 
 
3.  Sprinkle with half the chopped nuts; mix. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
 
4.  Just before serving, sprinkle with brown sugar (optional); top with remaining nuts.

*Original recipe does not call for cutting the grapes in half (a tedious chore), but this is how my mother always made grape salad, and I personally find the halves much easier to eat, as well as the fact that the cut grapes better absorb the flavorings.

**Original recipe does not list the brown sugar as optional, but I felt it wasn't needed.

~ * ~

 

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 

Coming soon:  Regency Gothic 10 - The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft



 


 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Why Read Romance?

 

 

An amazing creation, found on Facebook

Also from Facebook

 

Although the following is clearly staged, it's truly funny.

 


 Back to the Most Photogenic Cat Competition:

 

Buffy & Willow bemoaning their lack of toys

 I'm told Willow (on the right) will dig in the basket until she's found exactly the toy she wants to play with.

 
 

Ganesh, giving the kittens competition without even try

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Below, a bit of nostalgia—the original article, plus the preface I wrote before including it in Grace's Mosaic Moments. "Why Read Romance" is aimed not only at Romance afficionados but at women who scorn the Romance genre, and at men in general . . . So take a peek, I dare you. 

From May 24, 2014:

Many years ago, the first article I wrote for my website—long before the era of blogs—was entitled "Why Read Romance?" Years later, it was updated for the Blush Blog at Ellora's Cave, and this week I am posting it to Mosaic Moments as something you can wave in front of the noses of all those people, both male and female, who scorn the romance genre. I hope you enjoy it.

WHY READ ROMANCE?

 Have you ever had someone glance at the paperback you were reading and declare scornfully, “I never read romance!” Or perhaps you’re an author sitting hopefully at a book-signing, eager to show off your baby, and someone says exactly the same thing.

Let me tell you, it’s worse than rude. It’s downright cutting.

But, Romance Lovers, don’t rush out to buy a book cover or turn to reading exclusively on electronic devices (to hide your habit). Hold your head high and know you are among the majority of readers and/or authors in the country. Romance is Big Business, outselling all other genres rolled into one.

 My personal response to those who ask why I write Romance is that I have always liked Happily Ever After endings. There is so much angst in the world, including in my own life, that my inner self absolutely requires a pick-me-up, and that’s what Romance does. It plunges the characters into major conflicts then drags them out again, reassuring us that life can be beautiful—even if we are still struggling to get to that point.

More than a decade ago, I wrote my first version of  “Why Read Romance” (an article posted to my very first website). Through the years I’ve updated it a time or two, but very little of the article you see below has changed. The joys of Romance remain the same, whether we’re indulging in Contemporary Romance, Romantic Mystery/Suspense, Historical Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Futuristic (Romantic SciFi), or any of the other sub-genres of Romance. (Whether you’re reading a 40,000-word novella or a 100,000-word “Mainstream.”)

Men indulge in sports, tinkering with machines, and a variety of other hobbies, to get away from the stresses of daily life. I suggest that women read Romance for the same reason. We find pleasure in it, and it takes our minds off our personal problems. I’d go so far as to say, reading Romance is a prescription for improved mental health!

If you need an argument for the die-hard skeptics, however, let’s take a moment to analyze the situation. Here's how I saw it long ago, and nothing since has changed my mind.                                                      

First of all, whoever said “Love makes the world go round” wasn’t lying. Real Women aren’t afraid to admit it, while so-called Real Men are generally terrified of it. Real Women read Romance because that prized quality called “Heart” lies at the basis of every relationship. We want it, we seek it, we grasp it. We hang on for dear life. For the world would be a cold, dark place with out Love.

 Admittedly, women’s approach to Love could be likened to a rifle. Men . . . well, maybe a shotgun comes closer to the mark. Women like to read about Love. Men would rather do it, thank you very much. Nonetheless, the emotions on both sides of the gender gap are powerful. I would suggest, however, that gentlemen could learn a thing or two from reading Romance.

Big question: Does Love work for everyone? Does it stay new-minted, bright and shiny, dazzling in its intensity?

Probably not. But for many, new love settles into a stronger, more lasting emotion, into warmth, companionship, and respect that lasts a lifetime. Yet women fortunate enough to be part of that relationship still enjoy the nostalgia of reading about those precious first moments, those early days when love was uncertain, agonizing, or downright disastrous. Or when it was a sea of fresh discoveries, exquisite torture of the senses.

And then there are those who, for a variety of reasons, live without vivid memories of love’s halcyon days. For them reading Romance provides glimpses of the intense moments they missed  and inspires hope that those special moments are still to come.

For the rest—those who lost their beloved partners through death, divorce, or desertion. For them, reading Romance can bring back the beauty of when Love was new or, like those who never knew Love, inspire hope for the future. Failing all else, reading a book that ends with Happily Ever After can provide pleasure even for those who know Love will not come to them again.

Love—or reading about it—can perk up a day faster than a bowl of ice cream - with fudge topping.

For some reason—probably the eons-long domination of writing by Men, all the so-called Great Romances are tragedies. (As in Romeo & Juliet, Arthur & Guinevere, Tristan & Isolde, not to mention some contemporary novels, mislabeled “romance” and also written by men.) But finally, in the last two decades, women have begun to write the stories they want to read. And now there are thousands of books about women who learned to cope with conflict, come out on the other side of personal difficulties, and do what had to be done to find the right person to share their lives.

These are the people we should praise. Forget Romeo and Juliet, who mismanaged things badly and never made it out of their teens. To me, that’s not Romance. I look to Jane and Joe Schmo who survived.  And raised their children to be able to love and be loved. Jane and Joe who paid the Mortgage and Dental Bills. Taxes. College. The next generation’s Weddings.

No wonder Jane wants to put her feet up and settle down with a good Romance! Yes, sometimes we all need reminding of those first bright days of love when Joe wasn’t quite so devoted to golfing, fishing, or couch-potatoing. We open a book . . . and there before us is that marvelous Regency gentleman with his impeccable manners . . . or the dashing and untamed Scottish chieftain. We sigh over that pillar of rugged individualism, the American cowboy. Hunky cops and daring men of the Special Forces. Lawyers, doctors, firemen, and businessmen as well. And we just might get an idea or three about putting Romance back in our lives.

As for the women who say they never read Romance—ah, ladies, you have no idea what you’re missing. Pull up a chair, sit down, relax, and try on a Romance. Who knows, a good Romance just might inspire Mellow where it would do the most good.

The many Romances available range from Short & Sweet to Sexy & Sassy. From Thrillers and Suspense to Vampires, Fairies, and Outer Space. From Comedy to Drama and every nuance in between. But they have one thing in common: a happy ending.

As I always tell people, “There are enough problems in this world. I don’t want to read about them when reading for pleasure. I write books with happy endings and I want to read books with happy endings. These books buoy up my day, my week, my year, my life. No matter how dark the world around me, they keep me going. My heart tells me it’s not all fiction.

 


  ~ * ~

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 

Coming soon:  Regency Gothic 10 - The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

 

 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Secrets Cover + Photo Gallery

The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle is down to the final chapter or two, and although there's an enormous amount of editing and polishing left, I'm happy to reveal its just-finished cover. Another triumph from Delle Jacobs. 


 

And because I am so caught up in those final chapters, Mosaic Moments is settling for another Photo Gallery this week.

Prague - found on Facebook


Egret & Onlooker - FB Photo by Maggie Toussaint

Ganesh - still growing

Franklin & Friend - posted by Terry Baber

Sunset - Defuniak Springs (FL)
Photo by Martha Duke Anderson

 

~ * ~

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 

Coming soon:  Regency Gothic 10 - The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft