Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Thugs & Sports

When I began this blog in January 2011, I named it Mosaic Moments so I could feel free to hold forth on any topic that struck my fancy. And although I primarily blog about Writing and Editing, I continue my original premise today by ranting about a topic close to my heart.


I posted the following paragraph last week, joining 88 others (at that time) who were protesting the absurdity of a half-game suspension for Jameis Winston, bad boy quarterback for Florida State University. I have no idea if the Powers-That-Be at FSU ever saw my post, but outrage from the general public was so widespread that the night before the game Winston was suspended for the entire game. Oh, wow! What a leap up the punishment scale for the man who has been accused of rape and claims he simply forgot to pay for all those crab legs from Publix. Allegedly, he was also involved in a BB gun battle that resulted in 13 broken windows. And most recently, he climbed on a table at the student union and shouted a phrase so vulgar, so denigrating to women, that I would not think of repeating it here. (I'd probably be kicked off the blogosphere.) You can, however, find it through Google. I did, and my eyes popped.

Grace's comments about Jameis Winston:

 I just looked up what Jameis Winston said when he stood on a table at the student union and shouted the incredibly vulgar words to the student body. And got benched for HALF a football game! This thug, against whom the charge of rape rings more and more true, should be in jail, not representing one of Florida's state universities on the football field. He, along with similar thugs in the NFL, need to GO. They are ruining the reputation of one of America's great sports, and they need to join their fellow criminals in jail, not in the locker room. Give us back our favorite fall sport and get rid of so-called gridiron heroes who advocate, or practice, violence against women!

~ * ~

And then, after the FSU-Clemson game, even the newspaper's Sports pages took up the cry. It was reported that Winston's coach wanted him removed from the team when he was first accused of rape. The administration said no. He also drew a pass on his other offenses, including the supposedly "forgetful" theft from Publix. No wonder he suited up on the day of the Clemson game,as if totally ignoring his suspension. He had been granted so much entitlement he probably assumed no one would enforce the ban. According to the newspaper, however, his long-suffering coach was shocked, sending Winston back to the locker room to change. 

Yes, football is a violent sport, but when did the thugs begin to take over? When did winning become all important? Ah . . . but that's been true for a long time. Some people have always taken their sports very seriously. Perhaps attitudes began to deteriorate when winning became so important that rabid fans with deep pockets were willing to sponsor scholarships to anyone, no matter their character, as long as they could play ball. When those rabid fans were allowed too much control over sports, solely because their wealth just might be extended to other college needs.

How incredibly sad. 

And of course the illness doesn't stop with college. In fact, the college sports woes probably filter down from the professional arena. Too many thugs are playing professional sports of all kinds. Particularly in the National Football League. And pretty much for the same reasons. Rabid fans with lots of money bring the same ruthless, anything-to-win attitude toward sports that made all that money in the business world in the first place. thus spectacularly fulfilling that old saying, "Dog eat dog, and the Devil take the hindmost." 

My father, while a teaching-principal in a small Nebraska high school - the one where he once played football - was also the sports coach, including football. So I grew up knowing the rules of most sports and the conduct expected from those who played. My father was a true "straight arrow" of the old school. He would be even more outraged than I over what has happened to sports in our time.

You've all heard the expression, "Throw the bums out!" Well, it's more than time we did just that. It's took nine months for the NFL to discipline the player who knocked out his fiancĂ©e in an elevator (in spite of the act being recorded on surveillance tape). And then there's the player who "switched" his four-year-old so hard the boy had to be taken to the Emergency Room (where a doctor blew the whistle on him). And now the latest on Jameis Winston is that his attorney has announced he will "cooperate" in the federal government's investigation of the rape charge that was swept under the rug last year (when evidently, he was allowed to refuse interrogation). Well, bless whoever got the government involved, for certainly all those in authority in Tallahassee blew it on that initial investigation. 

One good thing: the newspapers are now covering the instances of violence by sports stars. Their criminal behavior is no longer being shoved under the rug. But will any of these thugs face conviction and punishment? And if so, will it be enough to stop the horrendous attacks not only on women as individuals but on the female gender as a whole? Brave women fought for the right to vote. They're still fighting for equal pay. But hey, female rights advocates out there, what about the fight for a woman's right to survive without fear of rape and abuse, physical and mental? As long as one life hangs by a thread, we all go in danger of plunging into the abyss. 

This issue affects us all. And the good guys out there - and there are a lot of you - need to join the fight as well. Do NOT be so dazzled by someone's ability to throw a football, score a three-pointer, or hit a home run that you condone him acting like a beast of prey. Stand up and be counted on the side of right. Ban the Jameis Winstons and the Ray Rices from professional sports. "Good riddance to bad rubbish," as my mother used to say.

If ordinary citizens don't protest, who will? If college administrators and NFL executives only do their duty when the outcry overwhelms their willingness to let these criminals do anything they please, then WE have to stand up and be counted. Cry, "Enough! We want our football, basketball, baseball & soccer players to have hearts and heads to match their talent. We absolutely, positively do not need thugs in either college or pro sports. Let them crawl back to their own level and stay buried, forever condemned to a pit of Bad Guys surrounded by poverty and ignominity.

This morning, Saturday, September 27, 2014, the by-lined sports reporter for The Orlando Sentinel, wrote an article which I feel merits repeating here. It may not emphasize my feeling that we ALL are responsible for fixing this issue, but Mike Bianchi's words definitely ring true. He wrote:

In honor of the great Martin Luther King, I have a dream. I have a dream that there will be a day when we turn on SportsCenter and they'll be talking about triumphs and touchdowns, not domestic abuse and child abuse. I have a dream that one day Heisman Trophy winners will be chosen based on the very first sentence in the Heisman mission statement: "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." I have a dream that one day we will have commissioners and coaches and school presidents who will make decisions based on what they believe is right, not what they believe they can get away with. And I have a dream where all athletes—pro and college—conduct themselves with the style, grace and class of Derek Jeter.*

 *an exemplary athlete and human being, on and off the field, who retired this week after 20 years with the New York Yankees

~ * ~

And now for something lighter, plus a reminder that we all need to remember to edit, starting with our spelling . . .

The photo above was taken in Kenner, Louisiana, and shared on Facebook by Del Shores

To end on an upbeat - another glorious Florida sunset*
*borrowed, as usual, from my daughter's Facebook page

~ * ~

FYI, I will be presenting my 2-hour workshop, "A Wise Author's Approach to Writing a Book," for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers on Saturday, October 18, 1-3. Guests are welcome. For the SWFRW website, click here.

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, September 20, 2014

Updated Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs

To view JayBani's absolutely amazing video from Thailand, in one of its 500,000+ shares - this one from my daughter's Facebook page - 
click here. 

Soccer practice under a Florida September Sunset
Special Note: they actually won a game - in the rain - Friday night. Hallelujah!
Must be because Daddy is coaching this year.

Florida at Sunset  - September 2014

to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs
  September 20, 2014


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

More Nuts & Bolts
Using Capitals 1 - April 12, 2014
Using Capitals 2 - April 19, 2014
Using Italics 1 - February 15, 2014
Using Italics 2 - February 22, 2014


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


DICTIONARY FOR WRITERS series (5 parts)  - February. 4 - April 7, 2013

(3 parts) - May 13 - May 26, 2013
    [a look at a number of “writing” controversies over the past decade or so]
EDITING series
Part 1 - Layering - June 30, 2013
Part 2 - Dangling Participles - July 7, 2013
Part 3 - Show vs Tell 1 - July 21, 2013
Part 4 - Show vs Tell 2 - July 28, 2013
Part 5 - Treacherous Words - August 11, 2013
Part 6 - The Difference a Word Makes - September 1, 2013
Part 7 - “Modern” Punctuation - September 15, 2013
Part 8 - Questions to Ask Yourself - October 13, 2013


WORLD BUILDING series (4 parts) - December 28, 2013 - February 1, 2014

Editing Scold - December 14, 2013
More on Editing - May 3, 2014 (including more on Show vs. Tell)
Third Person vs. First (2 parts) - May 31 & June 8, 2014
Rule-Breaking 101 (3 parts) - June 21 - July 5, 2014
Editing Examples (3 parts) - August 23, Aug. 30 & Sept. 13, 2014


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
7.  Branding - Bah, humbug! [writing multi-genre] - January 21, 2013
8.  How Does Your Novel Grow? - April 28, 2013
9.  Word Perfect to Indie Pub - November 17, 2013
10. Questions Fiction Writers Should Ask Themselves - October 13, 2013

~ * ~

FYI, I will be presenting my 2-hour workshop, "A Wise Author's Approach to Writing a Book," for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers on Saturday, October 18, 1-3. Guests are welcome. For the SWFRW website, click here.

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, September 13, 2014

Major Edits

London pub - shared by Eloisa James on Facebook
I've seen many beautifully "flowered" English pubs, but nothing compares to this one. Major kudos to whoever takes care of this incredible hanging garden.

William Clifton's photo, shared on Facebook by Florida's fabulous nature photographer, Clyde Butcher
For a panorama of Clyde's photos, click here.

Riley's going to be in a Girl Scout pageant - but not in this dress - it was  $500!
Nonetheless, doesn't she look great!

~ * ~

Talking about Major Edits

 In the spring of 2014 I finished the second of a three-book SF series contracted to Ellora's Cave, and after what I thought was my customary careful editing, I submitted it well before deadline. It was only several months later, when my Blue Moon Rising series was orphaned by EC shutting down its Blush line, and I was forced to prepare my first query letter in years, that I discovered Sorcerer's Bride was 11,000 words shorter than Book 1, Rebel Princess. Surprise!

My first reaction was that the months directly before and after spending a week in the hospital were probably not the best time to write a worthy book. Sigh. So before I even looked at the manuscript, I sat down and made a list of things I suspected needed expansion. And, yes, I was amazed at how fast they hit me in the face when I stopped to think about it, even though I hadn't seen the manuscript in four months.  

Fortunately, when I settled down to yet another head-to-tail reading of Sorcerer's Bride, I discovered all was not lost. Most of the book read well, but, yes, I had missed emphasizing some important moments. And overall, there were quite a few places that needed more depth. These were not short revisions - many of them ran to a full page or more. Obviously, not something that can be shown here. But I will attempt to explain why - beyond simply increasing the word count - I added what I did.

Qualifying an absolute.
 My son, the SF buff, was the first to notice that I had made the visions of a fey young teen who doesn't talk too absolute. I had left no room for suspense. Perhaps his graphic visions of the future were only wishful thinking, not unquestionable prognostications. And my son was right. There is no suspense if you have a character who is infallible. 

Solution: I added three paragraphs near the beginning in which one of his sisters questions his visions. And added another bit of doubt near the end.

Failure to paint a complete picture.
In the pageantry of a court scene I concentrated so hard on the hero and heroine that I failed to describe some very important secondary characters in the hero's entourage. 

Solution: I added a description of the hero's mistress in her disguise as a well-dressed but dull, middle-aged diplomat. I also mentioned the hero's two bodyguards. All three are important secondary characters and should not have been skipped when they made their initial appearance, no matter how well disguised they were at the time.

Another inadequate description.
The sentence, "She'd beg her mother not to go into the crystal shop . . .," left readers hanging, a true "Huh?" moment. Okay, maybe if readers remembered the heroine's first visit to the crystal shop and made the association, but really, that's a stretch.

Solution: Seven paragraphs that included the heroine's sharp introspection, doubts, and a better description of the shopping excursion. 

A major moment sloughed off with a passive, after-the-fact description.
Evidently daunted by the task of describing what the heroine does the night she tries out her newly discovered psychic gift, I chickened out and described the aftermath, not the action. A true no-no.

Solution: I added sixteen paragraphs of not only what the heroine did, but I emphasized her growing loss of control, her eagerness to do something totally against the principles instilled in her since childhood. Creating a much stronger message, which was vital to the plot, as the dichotomy between her upbringing which treasures life and her part in a rebellion that is forced to take life is a constant problem.

Sex scene revisions.
Book 1 in the Blue Moon Rising series is a true love-at-first-sight story. Two people who dreamed of each other through four years of separation. The romance in Sorcerer's Bride was much harder to write. A hero and heroine forced to marry by royal edict. A heroine who must play third-fiddle to her husband's first love, her own sister, and to his long-time mistress. The hero, a sorcerer who has begun to realize why most of his kind stay celibate! None of which made the sex scenes easy to write.

Solution. I had already used the device of the h/h discovering they were physically attracted to each other in spite of all the drawbacks, but in this new revision I added more dialogue, more introspection, more of two childhood playmates becoming reacquainted. I also added more emphasis to the fact that the sorcerer has to change - grow up, if you will. That he has to become less self-centered, pay more attention to the people around him. Including his unwanted bride. Sometimes these additions ran to a page or two, sometimes only a paragraph. Added throughout the book, I hope they paint a better picture of two people struggling to become a happy couple.

Missed emotions.
I was so busy describing the h/h's wedding, followed by a major action scene in which they rescue hostages from a jail, that I totally missed the wedding night! Perhaps knowing they had already enjoyed each other, I happily skipped from the hostage rescue to the next morning. Oops!
Solution:  No, this wasn't the moment for a grand love scene. Our heroine, the pacifist, has just killed ten men while rescuing the hostages. The emotion she feels is anguish. And her brand new husband must deal with it. Two pages added.

Important point missed.
I had a scene in the court of the Emperor that I had not touched since the original. It simply seemed to work the first time around. On a fresh reading, I realized I left out something vital. We are in the Point of View of a five-star admiral who has just aided a battlecruiser and its crew to slip away from their home planet and join the rebellion. And I had him wondering why he has been summoned to court! 

Solution:  I added the obvious. The admiral had cause to worry!

Hero's missed emotion.
As part of the hero's redemption, readers need to see that he is learning to control his temper.

Solution:  An added paragraph that describes him reining in his temper when he wants to tear his enemies limb from limb. (And he has a not-so-illusory dragon that can do just that!)

What to do about the hero's witch?
As the story progressed, I realized I couldn't just cast the hero's mistress out into the cold. So even in my initial version she took on a greater role in the story. But on a new reading, I realized she needed to have her Point of View revealed earlier in the story.

I added an introspection scene in her Point of View just prior to a dramatic event that begins her escalation into a major character, and very likely the heroine of Book 3.

Better plot & action descriptions needed.
Although I scarcely touched the book's romantic ending on this last edit, the action scene preceding it needed work. There was a too-abrupt switch from the final rebel "rehearsal" to the actual execution of their plans. And insufficient details about the disaster that interrupts their joyous victory celebration.

Solution:  Two setting-the-stage scenes added just before the action scene. And an almost total re-write of the action itself. 

With the above major edits, plus bits and pieces added throughout, I added c. 5,000 words. I'm going to put Sorcerer's Bride away for a few weeks before reading it through once again from first page to last to see how all those additions fit in. (I'm hopeful all will be well as the final chapters were so mangled, I had to read those revisions right way to make sure I'd understood my own scribbles! And, thankfully, the section was vastly improved.)

Hopefully, my trials and tribulations, outlined above, will help you find places in your own work where more depth is needed, where you totally missed a reaction that should have been there, or any other of the myriad mistakes we can make when we're rushing, rushing, rushing ahead so fast we forget to take a really good look at what we're doing right now

The modern author must be able to edit his/her own work. And, no, not just because you're indie-publishing. Budgets are so tight and the competition is so stiff that even if you are submitting to one of the major New York print publishers, or to a major e-publisher, no company is going to want to shell out the time and money it takes to edit a badly presented manuscript. You have to be sure you submit a manuscript that is not only properly spelled and punctuated, but one with depth, all the descriptions, emotions, reactions, and evocative dialogue in the right place at the right time. 

Moral of the Story. I downloaded a whole bunch of books to my Kindle before going on a week-long cruise - and ended up tossing two of them before the end of the first chapter. I plowed my way through a third because the author had potential - good plot, good characters - but the book was severely marred by multiple mistakes in both historical facts and presentation. And, no, the books weren't all indie-pubbed. One of the ones I chucked to Archives was from a major NY publisher - all "tell" and dull as dishwater. I couldn't believe anyone was still publishing work that reads like a fourth-grade language arts text. Ah well, I can't do much about that, I guess, except refuse to buy any more from that author. But for indie authors and those trying to break into the market, whether NY or e-pub, please, please, please! Don't just write your grand opus and send it off. I beg of you, EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK! Yes, it takes time and anguish, but you'll be glad you did.
And don't expect the first edit to be enough. It never is.

~ * ~
Next week: Updated Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Blogs
FYI, I will be presenting my 2-hour workshop, "A Wise Author's Approach to Writing a Book," for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers on Saturday, October 18, 1-3. Guests are welcome. For the SWFRW website, click here.

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, September 6, 2014

On the Ocean Blue

Since the next section of Editing Examples deals with major revisions that are difficult to corral into a blog, I'm going to go with a travelogue this week. Enjoy your vicarious Caribbean cruise!

I gave up traditional touring about three years ago after two days of struggling in and out of gondolas in Venice and then being dumped out on a dock a hundred yards short of the airport and finding myself confronted with the hard fact of toting a very large suitcase up a flight of steps before I could even drag it to the airport, plus the length of the building to the check-in counter & up onto the scale. Thank goodness for kindly helping hands!

Since then, I've confined my traveling to cruises, something I had always scorned in the past. And the one I took this August, I must admit, has won me over. I'm a cruise fan for life, at least on Royal Caribbean. And to make things even nicer, now that Port Canaveral is up and running, we can cruise out of a port only a short drive from East Orlando. (We discovered that people had flown in from every corner of the world for this cruise.)

The photos below are my first with my new Samsung smartphone. To say it took some maneuvering to get used it is putting it mildly!

Disney ship with Mickey Mouse smokestacks, taken from the deck of Freedom of the Seas
 Note: my daughter does not book on Disney because their ships do not have casinos!

Sunset, en route to Coco Cay, the Bahamas
Freedom of the Seas, as seen from Coco Cay

The beach was crowded and blazing hot!
I'd been to Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island, in the winter, and it was lovely. This time I was on the return ferry to the ship by 10:30 a.m. And therein lies a tale. (No, not about which grandchld is featured in the photobomb on the right.)

This isn't an easy story to tell in the midst of a care-free vacation, but there were only a few people on the tender returning us to the ship so early, so I had a good view of a young man seated two rows in front of me. He was c. 30 years old, with the somewhat scholarly appearance of an intelligent, well-educated white male. He was sitting all by himself, shirtless, and I had a full view of his back all the way to the ship. It was marred by two bullet scars and more than a dozen welts from a braided whip (very tiny braids, probably from a whip with multiple stands). Each braid was clearly delineated in his skin. To say I was stunned is putting it mildly. Clearly, he was not hiding his torture, but I did what everyone else did - gave him his space, though I wished my son-in-law were there, as he would have had nerve enough to ask what happened, as obviously the victim wasn't keeping his injuries a secret. Unfortunately, on a ship as large as Freedom of the Seas I never saw him again, and his story remains a mystery. I record it here to remind us all that some people pay a high price for our freedom to enjoy ourselves on something so frivolous as a cruise.

Approaching Freedom of the Seas from the Coco Cay tender
A portion of the ship's "mall" - my cabin on the left,  just past the overhead walkway

The ship has three pools - kiddie, general, and adult (w/bar) + Jacuzzis.
The grandgirls wouldn't go near the kiddie pool, complete with waterfall (below).

More cruise photos later in the year.

~ * ~

FYI, I will be presenting my 2-hour workshop, "A Wise Author's Approach to Writing a Book," for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers on Saturday, October 18, 1-3. For the SWFRW website, click here.

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.