Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Would you believe - ice skating in Florida? (I made those hats, by the way.)


To review Parts 1 & 2:

1.  Create your physical world(s) - climate, landscape, architecture, clothing. Create noticeable contrasts, whether on just one world or on several different worlds.

2.  Create a map, whether elaborately drawn with the intent of including it in your book or simply a hand-drawn sketch to keep locations straight in your mind while you write.

3.  Create your main characters - name them, taking the time to find names that exemplify your characters. Don't settle for ordinary "Earth" names unless that's the "feel" you want for a particular character. (If you really like to plan ahead, you can draw up a complete Character List before you begin. For me, it's usually only the four or five characters in the initial scenes.)
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The next steps:

Special gifts. When creating the characters for your imaginary world or worlds, be sure you endow at least some of them with special gifts. Whether you're writing Paranormal, Fantasy, Futuristic, or SciFi, the strange and wonderful is expected. If readers of these genres wanted an Earth-like world, they'd be reading Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Historical, etc. The special gifts you invent are limited only by your imagination.

Grace note: Part way through Book 1, I scribbled down a list of likely Psyclid paranormal talents and then, of course, when it was time to endow a second princess with a "gift" in Book 2, I made it something I had never considered before. Demonstrating that, even with lists, creativity is possible.

Government. A great many books involving World Building deal with problems of government, frequently the classic rebels vs. an authoritarian government. Whether you're talking fairies, dragons, or evil empires, detailing governments is usually essential. Readers need to know the hero and heroine are fighting for the greater good (or against something more than a vague cloud on the horizon). For my Blue Moon series, I ended up with three governments: an emperor and High Council for the military world of Regula, a long-suffering royal couple (parents of my heroines) on the peaceful but "Regulon-occupied" world of Psyclid, and a dashing young hero on Blue Moon, who is plagued by a Hierarchy who tend to believe they, not he, are in charge. 

The above brief summary should make it clear that problems of government not only provide an overall arc for the series but add depth to many scenes. In addition, there are also governmental problems on a lower scale, such as the many problems encountered by the military on Psyclid as they find their firm, pragmatic hands losing control of slippery Psyclid minds. So the concept of "government" works on many levels.

Religion & Tradition. Frequently, religion and tradition are closely allied with government. We have only to look at our own dissenting Pilgrim fathers rejecting the firm hold of England's church and state for an example. The choice is yours, of course. You can ignore religion and tradition if you choose. You create your world - you make it what you want. But throughout history - for better or for worse - religion and tradition have had a huge impact on civilization. Therefore, consider that we are not unique. Religion and tradition might be as important in the future as they are on Earth at this moment. And they too can add depth to your story - conflict, motivation, color, etc. In the Blue Moon series my two cultures worship different gods—the Regulon god, masculine; the Psyclid god, feminine. But I have not made it a bone of contention, simply a fact of life, accepted with tolerance. Again, this is my story - I can write it any way I want to. I don't have to assume they hate each other because of religious differences. Your choice.

A Thousand Details. And then come all those little details that make your story a depiction of another world, not just ordinary Earth creatures going about their daily lives on a planet far, far away. Again, people like me may make up most of these details as we go along - though never forget to record them for future reference! Others will want to create the whole kit and kaboodle up front, before writing Word One. Whichever way you go about it, you need to make your world a special place, something that will come alive in readers' minds, keeping them fascinated and turning pages. Something recognizably different from Planet Earth in 2014.

As an example, for the Blue Moon series I created typed lists of the following, mostly from scribbles written down as I wrote the original. Here are the categories I found necessary: after Special Gifts, Government, Religion & Tradition - War Craft; Armaments; Starships (exact names); Transportation; Planets, Cities & Palaces; Places & Other Peoples; Jumpgates; Food & Drink; Birds & Animals; Plants; Epithets, Profanity & Expressions. And, finally, a General Vocabulary.

Each author, of course, must devise what is necessary for his/her worlds. The above list is intended only to give you an idea of how extensive the differences need to be to separate your world from good old Earth and the way the people who live here think.

Mini-descriptions of the categories mentioned above:

War Craft. Not everyone is going to need war craft, but again, many Fantasy/SciFi tales are filled with them. For Rebel Princess, I needed them in Chapter 1, so vocabulary-building began immediately. I scribbled huntership, scoutship, shuttle, etc., on a yellow pad, adding new names as needed. Clearly, these are not "new" words, simply words I intended to use in the Blue Moon series.

Armaments. How do your war craft fight - rockets, lasers, fighter planes? Or something more exotic? My Regulons are pretty conventional; the Psyclids positively scary in their deviation from the norm. Whatever you create, don't forget to write down your ideas, so you don't have P-11 laser fire erupting from a Tac-9 handgun. Or a Tau-15 atmosphere fighter plane shooting at a target in space. Repeat: whatever you create, make a list. Don't trust to memory.

Starships. I called this category "Starships" but it ended up being any vehicle that could make its way through space, from a battlecruiser to a merchant ship. If I named it, it went in this list—no longer a generic term, but an exact ship. Example:

Orion, later the Astarte - Tal's huntership
Archer, later the Gemma - the Orion's scout ship

General Vocabulary. This is a list of invented words that simply grew and grew. Words needed to make the future (or your fantasy) sound different from our present, encompassing new tools, new techniques, new discoveries, even familiar words that subtly evolved through the centuries. For Rebel Princess these words developed into quite a long list, which increased even more with words created for Book 2, The Sorcerer's Bride. Unless you have a eidetic memory, this list is a "must." Otherwise, you're bound to mess up and forget those newly minted words. By the end of Book 2, my list ran to three typed pages, not including Profanty,, Transportation, War Craft, Place Names, Food, etc., all listed separately!

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The above seven categories of world-building were necessary before I got to the end of Chapter 1, Book 1. And my worlds just kept building from there—a Space Academy training ship, the military planet Regula, the infinite quiet of something called the Regulon Interplanetary Archives, the contrasting beauty of a terraformed Blue Moon, the raucous fun of Tatarus - a planet thoroughly enjoying its position in a neutral zone, the stark architecture of a space station, the dark underbelly of a rim planet known as Hell Nine, and finally to Psyclid, the planet full of people with skills of the mind (currently occupied by Regulon troops). 

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Coming next: More details on the building blocks needed to create the worlds of Blue Moon Rising. And how those details can relate to the worlds you need to build.

Thanks for stopping by,


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.



Saturday, January 18, 2014


I'm very pleased to announce that FLORIDA WILD, a Romantic Suspense set in Orlando area,is now available from most online vendors. (The cover artist really "nailed" my Hispanic-Miccosukee-Irish heroine. Hmm, the hero's not so bad either!) 

Re the fictional theme park called Florida Wild: I hasten to say that publishing, with the exception of do-it-yourself, moves at a snail's pace, so I actually wrote about an Orlando version of the London Eye at least six months before the first announcement that one was planned for I-Drive. The roller coaster, seen in the background on the cover, also plays a vital role. It is a wooden one, based on my son's description of the coaster at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. (The YouTube video below was not available at the time I wrote Florida Wild but I'm delighted to see, except for the few Florida-style embellishments I added, I got it right.)
For Lake Compounce video, click here

Log line: A fledgling PI finds herself in the midst of an international incident with only an oversize mystery man to help her through a maze of Middle-eastern politics, Florida rednecks, and all-too-elusive love.

Cass Wilder is looking for excitement, both on the job and in her personal live, a wish that is more than fulfilled when she saves an Arab child at a theme park and is plunged into international intrigue, her sole companion a man whose motives might be questionable.

Michael Dillon, a here-today, gone-tomorrow government agent, is forced to turn to a fledgling PI for help in a very personal chase that takes them from the UCF campus to the Florida backwoods, where he not only regains his kidnapped sister but loses his heart.

For link to Amazon Kindle, click here. 

For link to B&N's Nook,  click here.

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The other side of the coin:
Speaking of "Florida Wild," the past few months have not been good for those wonderful, often eccentric, moments for which Florida is noted. No Python Hunts, no exotic kite-flying, etc. [Though, locally, the Singing Trees at First Baptist of Orlando certainly qualified as wonderful, as were those little Girl Scouts (Juniors & Brownies) singing their hearts out for Christmas.] 

Sadly, however, this past year most of the news has been full of political idiocy, hit-and-run accidents, and gun violence, topped (incredibly) by a retired police officer in the Tampa area shooting a man for texting his babysitter during the previews to a movie! The kindest thing I can say is: Alzheimer's??

Definitely a year when Fiction - my version of Florida Wild - is preferable to Reality. Let's hope I have something more benign to write about at the beginning of next year.

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Thanks for stopping by,


Next week: WORLD BUILDING, Part 3 - All those little details

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Happy New Year from the grandgirls!


Creating a world (or worlds) from scratch

Regular readers of my blog know I may hammer over and over at the importance of editing what we write, but I try to avoid telling anyone how to write. There are many approaches to writing a book - each author has to use what works best for him/her. The same applies to World Building. All I can do in this series is describe how I did it for my Futuristic Paranormal series, Blue Moon Rising, and hope some of you may find it helpful.

 I began the book I originally called Blue Moon strictly for the fun of it. I had always enjoyed Science Fiction but knew I didn't have the technical expertise to write it. And then I discovered the genre called "Futuristic" (Romantic SciFi) and thought, "Well, what the heck, why not?" It was only as I neared the end of the book that I realized I'd written myself into what needed to be at least a three-book series. And that's when reality struck. I'd made a list of names before I began to write, but otherwise I'd simply winged it—fortunately, scribbling down each "invented" word as I came to it (well, most of the time), just as I did each new character added to the original bare-bones Character List.

But it became apparent that if I were going to write more than one book, a concrete, well-organized list of all the things in my worlds was going to have to be created. Aargh! For years my only gesture toward "organization" was a notebook full of names: Regency nobility, common English, Spanish, French, & Arabic names, etc.  And, yes, I used classic legal-sized storage envelopes to corral hardcopy research for each book. I also had a personal Regency reference and vocabulary I had created through the years, stored on my computer. But something that listed all the details of the new world I'd been creating . . .? Oops.

As soon as I finished Book 1 (now titled Rebel Princess), I went out and bought a 4" ring binder. Really, I did. (Those who know me will realize how ridiculous that sounds for an "out of the mist" writer like me.)  And I started typing up all those scribbles - and, believe me, they seemed endless. But when Ellora's Cave Blush accepted my three-book series and I was faced with writing Book 2, that notebook made all the difference. Without it, I never could have kept my worlds straight.  

Some authors, of course, would need to put that 4" ring binder together before they started Book 1, and that's okay. Just because I would have gone nuts (and been bored to death) trying to create all that from scratch before writing Word One doesn't mean that someone else isn't right to want it all laid out before he/she begins.

Moving back to the beginning - the planning stage . . .

If you are writing Fantasy, it's likely you will be sticking to one world, though probably a world with many different facets (Examples: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series; C. L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series; the book or HBO series, Game of Thrones). Most series of this nature benefit from a map; if not included in the book or the opening montage (as in Game of Thrones), a rough map drawn solely for the author's benefit always helps. If you don't get your new world straight in your head, no one else is going to!

In the case of Blue Moon, however, I was creating a world in the Star Trek/Star Wars mold -  more than one planet, more than one culture (although most of mine were based on Old Earth). First came a Military culture from the planet Regula, a race of conquerors with starships named after ancient Greek and Roman gods. The primary counterculture - Psyclid, a peaceful planet where the inhabitants have gone the other way, developing their minds rather than their military might. I gave both planets earth-style climates but created vastly different styles of architecture and clothing. And for Psyclid, three moons, one of them misty blue.

For the citizens of Regula, I chose names for both males and females from countries known for their formal military attitudes on Old Earth; primarily German, Austrian, Russian, and East European. For the people from Psyclid, I got more creative, tweaking recognizably artistic names into something even more unusual. (Example: the heroines of Books 1 & 2, sister princesses, are L'ira and M'lani.) For last names I was even more obsessive, struggling through page after page in an old Orlando phonebook, writing down names by hand that seemed to fit my two worlds. And, yes, it was hard work and time-consuming, but I never, ever, would have thought of some of the actual names I found. (Example: the last name of my Book 2 hero, the sorcerer, Jagan Mondragon).

I also printed off lists of the ancient Greek & Roman gods, and that was all I had when I began. Everything else evolved as I needed it: government, paranormal skills, unique vocabulary, types of weapons, transportation, etc. (more on these later).

That's where I was when I sat down and wrote the opening scene, suddenly grabbing words out of the air, like "hologlobe" and "Tau-15" fighter. Was I picturing the bridge of the Enterprise? As I look back, it seems likely, but I wasn't actively conscious of it. The Orion was simply a starship on a training mission with a bunch of cadets from the Regulon Space Academy, one of whom is a Psyclid princess in disguise, determined to become something she was not raised to be. And the rest of the chapter seemed to write itself.

Summary. Before beginning to write, do what you have to do to familiarize yourself with the world(s) you've created. Have a concrete picture of your world - draw a map. Name your main characters. (You don't have to be as obsessive as I was and create pages of names!) Have a good idea how your characters live, how they talk, how they look at their world. In other words, have a fully grounded Setting before you drop your characters and your plot into it. If you have two contrasting worlds, as I did, make sure everything from their names to their architecture, clothing, and thoughts reflect how different they are.

Next blog:  The many other things you have to invent for your world(s)

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True story: I entered Book 1 (now Rebel Princess, debuting sometime in 2014) in two RWA contests (allowable as this was a new genre for me).  In the first contest, I won First in Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal. In the second contest, I received appalling marks, including a "1" in Mechanics (the basic Nuts & Bolts of grammar and spelling I am always preaching about!)

Why?  All the "typos" in my manuscript. 

Reality: Those "typos" were the vocabulary words I had so carefully made up for my future worlds. Sigh. Clearly, not everyone "gets" SciFi.

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 Thanks for stopping by.


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.