Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, December 3, 2016


For many years I used a Florida Gulf Coast town as the setting for many of my Romantic Suspense novels and Mysteries. And I've always said I wanted to keep the location a secret, as the population triples each winter, and we really didn't want it to become known to any more people! 

It's been nine and a half years since I moved to the Orlando area, but my daughter and I still make a pilgrimage back at least once a year, usually in October. This year, however, we couldn't go until Thanksgiving weekend, and, lo and behold, we discovered the secret is out. The hidden beach where we've always gone to swim, fly kites, and find shells looked like Coney Island! We couldn't believe it. So I've decided to come clean and admit that this very special retirement/resort/Florida native community is Venice, Florida, which is about 20 miles south of Sarasota. It has the only direct beachfront for something like a hundred miles in each direction; i.e., no barrier island in front of the downtown portion of Venice. A canal had to be dug behind downtown to accommodate the Intracoastal Waterway. The high school is right on the canal, and woe to any football kicker with a heavy foot. (The eastern goalposts back up to the canal.)

The main street of Venice extends ten miles from the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a dirt road shortly before it ends on the Myakka River in a jungle that always reminds me of photos I've seen of Vietnam. Yet not far beyond that jungle is cattle country (as you'll discover in Shadowed Paradise and Paradise Burning). 

As for our time on the beach this year, we found heavy erosion from hurricane Matthew (which entered the Gulf before turning back over Central Florida and traveling up the east coast, doing heavy damage from Daytona north). There was an upper "cliff" and a "lower" cliff of sand each beach-goer had to negotiate. The wooden walk-over ramps were left dangling 12-18" above the sand, so not very usable. Nonetheless, we had a grand time, spending most of our two days just enjoying the salt air, waves, and the greatest beach for sharks' teeth in the world.

For this week's Mosaic Moments I'm including a few Venice photos, then displaying cover & blurbs for my books using Venice as a setting. I hope you enjoy both the photos and the book info. If you're ever near Florida's Gulf Coast, don't miss Venice. It's one of those very special places. The boutiques on Main Street and those unique stores, Venice Stationers and Sea Pleasures and Treasures, make the trip worthwhile, even without Caspersen Beach, Airport Beach, Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, the jetties (entrance/exit from Waterway to Gulf), waterfront restaurants, a fishing pier . . . 

The lower "cliff" on Caspersen Beach

Sitting on a bench in the shade, with nothing but the Gulf between me and Mexico

Lunch at a sidewalk café on Venice Avenue
Second day - Susie shelling right down to the last minute

Blair's Books Set in Venice

Romantic Suspense

A killer gloats as he stalks Realtors in the Gulf Coast resort community of Golden Beach, Florida, where Claire Langdon, a sophisticated but vulnerable New England widow with a young son, now works in real estate. When she acquires a self-proclaimed protector, a half-Russian, half-Florida cracker ex-fed, overcoming the cultural shock is almost as difficult as catching the killer.

Amanda Armitage has a problem. A highly skilled researcher, she has been assigned the job of assisting Peter Pennington, world-famous newsman turned author, with his latest book. (A glorious vacation, she is assured. The whole winter Season in Florida.) Peter's book topic:  international sexual slavery. Mandy's problem: Peter is the husband she hasn't seen in seven years.

Grace note:  Paradise Burning contains some crossover characters from Shadowed Paradise.

A Florida Highway Patrol officer investigates his brother's serious injury in a Medieval Fair tournament and discovers an astounding sub-culture in today's Florida - the Medieval Reenactment group, the Lords & Ladies of Chivalry. He also finds a Lady Knight, fighting her way out of years of abuse. Michael Turco and Kate Knight both have a great deal to learn before they can solve a crime and lay each other's ghosts and preconceptions.

Grace note:  Florida Knight is based on my years as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms in Florida. And also on my experiences as a volunteer at Medieval Fairs held at The John & Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.


Want to get married in a hot air balloon? Have the bride step out of a Fabergé egg? Just call Fantascapes, the Halliday family business. Trouble in paradise? Call Laine Halliday, who travels the world smoothing out bumps encountered by high-end clients. But when Fantascapes is used as a front by the Russian mob, in action ranging from Florida to Peru to France, Laine steps into a whole new world of Protect and Serve.

Death by accident, old age, and strangulation. An elderly senior about to marry a con artist. A rash of burglaries. Only an artistic imagination could conjure these disasters into connected events. But costume designer Gwyn Halliday manages it, as she flees trauma in the big city only to discover that bad things can also happen in a sleepy Florida retirement community.

 Someone is killing people at the Bellman Museum, staging the deaths as bizarre works of art. Though struggling to recover from a severe injury and the death of her lover, FBI Special Agent Rory Travis can't resist the challenge of tackling this mystery, which brings two new men into her life. But in the end she stands alone, facing evil one-on-one.

Grace Note:  The Art of Evil is set twenty miles north of Venice in Sarasota, Florida. More specifically, almost all of it at The John & Mable Ringling Museum, where I was a volunteer tram driver once a week for a number of years. (As well as volunteering each year for the Medieval Fair when it was held at the Ringling (& which accounts for my living the background for the opening of Florida Knight).

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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.  

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