Grace's Mosaic Moments

Monday, December 31, 2012


To close out 2012 and maybe tweak your thoughts for 2013, I'm posting an updated index to my blog posts on Writing and adding a new author to my list of "What Grace Reads." But first . . .

The "grandgirls" - Hailey, Cassidy, Riley, Christmas 2012

Look, Mom, it's snowing!

Road Trip - Gatlinburg, Tennessee, December 26, 2012 - a LONG drive to see snow!


 to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs


The Writing 101 series

1.  Formatting a Manuscript - May 9, 2011

2.  Nuts & Bolts, Part 1(grammar, punctuation) - May 16, 2011

3.  Tab conversion (from manual to auto) - June 5, 2011

4.  Nuts & Bolts, Part 2 - June 16, 2011

5.  I Ran Spell Check, I'm Done, Right? (self-editing) - July 5, 2011

6.  The Final Steps (self-editing) - July 14, 2011



1.  Intro to Self-editing - April 1, 2012

2.  Should you hire help? - April 28, 2012

3.  Manuscript Format for the 21st Century - May 6, 2012

4.  Writing No-No's - May 28, 2012

5.  Point of View - June 18, 2012

6.  Anatomy of an Edit, Part 1 - August 5, 2012

7.  Anatomy of an Edit, Part 2 - August 19, 2012


Part 1 - What you need to discover about your characters - October 15, 2012

Part 2 - More questions about your characters - October 29, 2012

Part 3 - The Rest of the story - November 5, 2012 


1.  Guideposts for Critiquing - January 28, 2011

2.  Writing Mistakes, Near Misses & Just Plain Strange - March 4, 2011

3.  Shortcuts for Writers (ASCII codes) - March 18, 2011

4.  Rules for Romance - September 18, 2011

5.  More Rules for Romance - October 16, 2011

6.  How Not to Write a Book - December 20, 2012 

Original post - September 9, 2012

Aaron Pogue.  Evidently, Mr. Pogue thought he was writing Young Adult - hence the third book in his Dragonprince trilogy, The Dragonprince's Heir, with a fourteen-year-old hero of the next generation. However, from the notes at the end of the e-version of this book, I believe he's finally realized he reached a much wider audience and plans to fill in the "gap" years between Books 2 & 3. The triology is highly sensitive, imaginative, and heart-wrenching, delving into nearly everything from warcraft and magic to insanity and politics.  

Grace's Archives.

 The Archive menu to the right of the screen should allow you to find the articles you want. I'd very much appreciate hearing which topics you found most helpful. Questions and suggestions for future posts are also welcome.

Thanks for stopping by.

Grace (who writes as Blair Bancroft)

For Blair's website, click here.

Monday, December 17, 2012


For a Holiday Greeting this year I'm presenting a photo essay on a "Europe by Train" journey I did a few years ago. Glimpses of London, Paris, Zermatt, San Moritiz, and Venice. The photos are all scanned from non-digital photos taken with my now deceased Nikon.

Where else to begin but the London Eye?

Parliament & Big Ben from the London Eye
London classic - the Changing of the Guard
Traitor's Gate at the Tower of London - taken from a boat
Outside Covent Garden Market on a quiet Sunday morning
My personal London favorite - the Regency canal
Regency Mansion above the Regency Canal 
Just picture living in the heart of London and having your very own narrowboat anchored just across the street. The Regency Canal has access to most of Britain's vast network of canals. The mansion above is one of many along the Regency Park portion of the canal (not far from the London zoo).

Next stop: through the Chunnel to Paris. Sorry, nothing from the Chunnel trip - it doesn't exactly photograph well. 

Paris from the second level of the Eiffel Tower
Notre Dame from a boat on the Seine

Notre Dame at sunset

And back on the train for our next stop:  Zermatt, Switzerland, a town where the only cars allowed are taxis that transport tourists up the mountain from the train station. If you ever go to Switzerland, make Zermatt a "must."

The Matterhorn as seen from my hotel balcony
Cable car from Zermatt up the mountain
Village above Zermatt - taken from cable car

Skiing in May

Believe me, it was really cold on top of that mountain! None of us had jackets for that kind of weather.

And then it was off to San Moritz via the Glacier Express - great trip except for the wait staff who ignored single females, taking orders only from MEN! 

View, mile after mile, from the Glacier Express. In MAY
The chariots that took us up another picturesque mountain outside San Moritz
Interestingly, most of the shops in San Moritz were closed, due to "Off Season." Even the restaurant on top of the mountain the horses climbed. (Our tour guide ordered a special picnic basket for us.) I'm told we were lucky - the carriage ride is frequently cancelled due to bad weather.

I had hoped to take the train all the way to fabled Venice, but we were off-loaded onto a bus for the last 50-100 miles.

Bridge of Sighs
Although this was taken from a pedestrian bridge, we later traveled by gondola directly under it and through some of the narrow "back door" canals.

St. Marks Cathedral
 We went to a blown-glass shop in St. Mark's Square, admired the Doge's palace, and I indulged in what I believe was a c. $40 hot fudge sundae! (If I figured the translation to dollars correctly.) But who could visit and not sit at one of those outdoor tables and not eat something?

Workboat removing garbage from our hotel early in the morning

 I really like to know how things work and was pleased to have the opportunity to take photos of the supply & trash boats servicing our hotel. 

Now back to Zermatt and a couple of professional photos to end our mini tour of Europe.

A meadow near Zermatt

We all had our pictures taken with Bella, the Zermatt photographer's dog

~ * ~

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, 
and Best Wishes to people
of every religion and country
 for a happy, healthy, hopeful 2013.

Thanks for stopping by. Mosaic Moments is going to take a Christmas break. "See you" in 2013.


Monday, December 10, 2012


No, this is not about setting a daily writing schedule, writing X-many words each day, or doing your research. Nor will I tell you to:
    play background music, don’t play background music;
    do your edits onscreen, do your edits on hardcopy;
    write the whole book before you edit, edit after every chapter;
    write linear, write random scenes then tie it all together;
    spelling & punctuation count, don’t worry the small stuff - that’s what
    copy editors are for.
This post is the tale of how a highly experienced author and editor got caught in the meat-grinder of inserting a vague long-time idea, called “Jack’s Book” into an already finished novel with an entirely different hero. With nearly catastrophic results. I’m reeling, and I’m only on the revision of Chapter 7.  My advice: don’t try it!

Background: My first book destined for publication was The Sometime Bride, which sparked the idea for Tarleton’s Wife, which won RWA’s Golden Heart contest. Tarleton's Wife ended up being published first (1999), at the request of a newly founded e-book company, Starlight Writer Publications. Even my elderly mother, the author of c. 50 children’s books, had recognized the potential of e-pub and handed me an article about it when it was in its infancy. So I was receptive to the offer from Starlight and became an early advocate of e-books. I went on to write a mass market paperback love story for Kensington, followed by a number of Regency paperbacks for Signet. But when Kensington closed Precious Gems and Signet closed their Regency line (and refused to look at Historical Romances by their “trad” authors), I found myself pounding my head against the wall, although I still kept writing. And then came indie publishing.  Yay, hurray! Fortunately, I scrambled around and got my rights back before NY publishers decided to be difficult about it!

So, finally, earlier this year, I uploaded O’Rourke’s Heiress, the third book in my Regency Historical series, containing characters from both The Sometime Bride and Tarleton’s Wife. But for fifteen or twenty years I’d had a folder marked “Jack’s book.” Poor Jack who never got the girl. Nor the book he so richly deserved. I toyed with a number of ideas for him, but none seemed quite right. Until - hallelujah! - I recalled a book I’d written shortly after moving to Orlando, which remained in the cyber drawer because no one should ever write a book while moving or within six months after moving. Particularly after leaving a house in which you’ve spent twenty-five years and which contains not only all the possessions of someone who writes, sews, knits, crochets, and reads excessively, but also all the accumulations of an equally pack-rat elder son and a deceased spouse, plus all the “extras” of three grown children (including a huge carton of all my daughter’s stuffed animals, which she had absolutely refused to give up).

But somehow I suddenly realized that not-so-great tale, written under extreme stress, contained a heroine worthy of Jack. Why hadn’t I realized it at the time? (See above paragraph.) So when I finished Lady of the Lock, I turned to Shadows Rising. (Yes, I agree, the title wasn’t so hot either.) Before cracking a page, I put some thought into the necessary major changes: I had to delete the heroine’s brother, a half-Abenaki who was so dynamic he refused to stay in Quebec and crossed the Atlantic to become a much too important character. And I had to switch the classic hero, a cavalry colonel and younger son of an earl, to a man who worked for a living. (Oh horrors!) To Jack, a man who was nearly hanged in Tarleton’s Wife and became a confidant of the young heroine in O’Rourke’s Heiress.  To Jack who has loved two women and lost them both to best friends.  (He did have one similarity to the original hero—Jack is the son of an earl, but on the wrong side of the blanket)

I also had to eliminate a number of the “shadows” from Shadows Rising. (And I’d spent a lot of time developing physical descriptions and individual personalities for each one of them. Sigh.) But good romance demands an emphasis on the Hero and Heroine. Too many charming young cavalrymen can be almost as distracting as a striking Big Brother. Out! All but two had to go.

To make matters even worse, I decided the beginning of the new book should overlap the ending of O'Rourke's Heiress, making it necessary to write new scenes with coordinated timelines.

And then . . . near the end of Chapter 7, I ran into a sub-plot that was a bit doubtful the first time around and blatantly wrong for Jack. Oops! So I had to sit down and make a list of crimes heinous enough to force the villain, a high-ranking nobleman, to go into exile. Hm-m, I just may choose four out of five things on the list. Nothing like overkill to get rid of the Bad Guy. Only all these new threads have to be woven into fabric which already exists. Double, maybe triple, Oops.

Oh joy, I still have c. twenty chapters to go . . .

Advice: Do not attempt this method of writing a book!

Alas, I liked Alain, the brother. He was a great character. Too great. He overshadowed my original hero. He might even have overshadowed Jack, although that’s debatable. But what do you have left after you’ve eliminated all that clever dialogue between the heroine and her now deleted brother? Pages and pages of narrative, that’s what. Ugh! And then there’s the matter of eliminating every reference to “Alain,” “her brother,” even “they” and “them,” which now had to be “she” and “her.”

As for Jack the bastard. . . he, as leader of a private army known as Harding’s Hellions, has to take over the hero position from a man who was a legitimate “gentleman,” a heroic cavalry colonel who fought against Napoleon. Again, poor Jack. But since he no longer lacks for money, the switch ought to work, I thought. Except I had to eliminate every “colonel,” switch every reference to his “officers” to men who served with Jack's brother Avery (a character in both Tarleton’s Wife and O’Rourke’s Heiress). And I had to make sure every word of "salvaged" dialogue was something that would come out of Jack's mouth, not the colonel's.

Chapter 7 was such a mix of usable bits and pieces, interspersed with long passages that had to be deleted, that I went through the hardcopy armed with yellow and pink highlighters and a red pen, as well as scribbling side notes in pencil. Will it make sense when I’m finished with it? I can only hope so. Astonishingly, when I read through Chapters 1-5 a few days ago, the story actually seemed flow with some normalcy. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Repeat:  I strongly advise against ever trying this method of writing a book!

Then again, it really sharpens the wits.

Tentative title for the finished result:  Rogue's Destiny  - if poor Jack doesn't implode somewhere during the transition from gentleman colonel to bastard rogue.

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by. Next blog will likely be "Holiday Greetings."



Monday, December 3, 2012


I have made some major changes to the services offered by Best Foot Forward. In addition to "General Edits," which should be enough for most authors, I am offering "Author Development"—comprehensive analysis, revision suggestions, plus copy edits*—aimed at new authors.  I have also added an Intro Page to the BFF brochure, which, hopefully, will be self-explanatory (see below). 

*For an explanation of the difference between edits and copy edits, please see my blog Archives: EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK, April 1, 2012. 

                                        INTRODUCTION to BEST FOOT FORWARD

In the world of New York publishing, editing and copy edits are done by two entirely different people of very different skill levels and at different times in the manuscript’s life. But in the world of independent publishing or authors who want to polish manuscripts before submitting them to agents or publishers, a different kind of editing is necessary - primarily for financial reasons. Authors need someone who can edit, copy edit, and suggest major revisions all in one reading.

Is it easy to find someone who can combine the creativity of an editor with the meticulous grammar, spelling, and fact-checking (librarian skills) of a copy editor? No, it isn’t, but there’s no doubt this combination of skills is very much needed in today’s publishing world.

I founded Best Foot Forward for exactly that reason. I am a multi-published author, and I also have those “nitty gritty” skills demanded of a copy editor. Am I perfect? Absolutely not - I don’t know anyone who is, but I am an outstanding editor and I make a genuine effort to be consistent with all those stray capitals, commas, dashes, and ellipses. And I absolutely will not let you use a full sentence as a dialogue tag!

In the months I’ve been editing as Best Foot Forward, I have discovered I cannot offer copy edits separate from editing. The editor in me simply won’t allow it. I end up making all sorts of editing notes anyway and working for less than minimum wage. After all, what’s the point in returning to you a manuscript with all the punctuation in the right place if your story just isn’t working? I simply will not return a story to you unless I’ve covered all the bases needed to make it better.

Therefore, Best Foot Forward now offers only two kinds of service:

Author Development - for unpublished authors who want to make a serious effort to improve their skills. These services include extensive Track Changes comments, copy edits, and a separate comprehensive critique. The editing suggestions are more detailed than in “General Editing.” The critique covers: Opening Paragraphs; Characterization - Hero, Heroine & Secondary; Conflict; Narration; Dialogue; Setting; Plot; Style - including Show vs. Tell, Less is More, Personalize/Identify, Point of View; Presentation - format, grammar, spelling & punctuation; Overall Impression

General Editing (with copy edits) - suitable for more experienced authors who know their books need “another pair of eyes.” This service includes Track Changes comments and a separate Mini Critique.

                                                                    ~ * ~                                                       
Thanks for stopping by. Next blog - finally - "How Not to Write a Book"

Click here for the Blair Bancroft website