Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Surprise Post

I swore I was going to upload The Bastard Prince, Book 3 of the Blue Moon Rising series, before going to the RWA conference this week, and I actually did it. Even though it's only to Pre-order. Pub date: September 9, 2017. Which makes it possible for me to have the cover and blurb up while I'm "vacationing" from Mosaic Moments instead of the rather downbeat post, Twisted Times. The voting on that, by the way, is pretty much 50-50. Add in my own inclination to feel that it's too soon after Pulse, and I'm going to put Florida Wild on the back burner for a while, hoping to retrieve it when - hopefully - our lives are not so drawn in vivid black and white. Limbo Man, however, with its many Russian characters, is going to be re-edited and given a new cover. And hopefully a new lease on life sometime this fall.

So here's the cover, blurb, and Foreword for The Bastard Prince. No, not a Prologue. I felt "Foreword" was the only term for this introduction to a book that is not only about K'kadi and his three sisters, but the continuing saga of a David vs Goliath rebellion against an Evil Empire. The Bastard Prince is a stand-alone story. It's not necessary to have read the previous books, Rebel Princess and Sorcerer's Bride. (At least I think I managed to explain past incidents as they affected K'kadi's story and this portion of the continuing rebellion.)

What to do with K’kadi Amund, the youngest of four royal children—the one who doesn’t talk?  The young man of almost twenty-one who can still lose himself in moments of beauty, or moments of disaster. “Unreliable” and “weird” are some of the kinder things said about him. So why does S’sorrokan, leader of the rebellion against the Regulon Empire, consider him one of his most vital assets? And even when K’kadi comes into his own and gets what was once his greatest desire, he discovers that growing up comes with a price.

Readers of the Blue Moon Rising series will encounter old friends in Tal Rigel and his wife Kass and the Sorcerer Prime, Jagan Mondragon, and his wife M’lani. As well as B’aela Flammia, the eldest child of King Ryal of Psyclid. (The four royals, with their significant others, will stand shoulder to shoulder in the final book, Royal Rebellion.) Other major characters who  reappear in The Bastard Prince are: Regulon Admiral Rand Kamal, Captain Alek Rybolt, Captain Jordana Tegge. New on scene are a family of merchant rebels, one of whom (female) throws a monkey wrench into K’kadi’s plans for a conventional happily ever after.


In the infancy of the rebellion against the Regulon Empire—when the huntership Orion was thought lost in a battle against the Nyx and the entire planet mourned Captain Tal Rigel and his crew—Ridó Command on Blue Moon, the third moon of an insignificant star system in the Nebulon Sector, made the most dramatic decision in its history. A decision which set a precedent for Regulon ships seeking asylum from the power of the Empire. When Ridó Command’s viewscreens showed an unidentified spacecraft of considerable size being fired upon by a Regulon battlecruiser, it opened the force field protecting Blue Moon just long enough to allow the unknown ship in, before closing it in the face of the pursuing Reg warship. The cruiser, bounced off into space, limped back to Regula Prime with a tale that brought derision at every level of command. You fired on a ship that identified itself as a merchant delivering farming supplies? Omnovah! What else would it be? Everyone knows what fydding cowards the Psyclids are. Strategically, it’s worthless. We only took over their weird planet because we couldn’t let them flout their independence so near our home space. Yet you try to shoot a ship out of the sky just because you thought she looked like a warship. Fyddit! Let tell you, Captain, we have better things to do with our resources!

And so the rebel leader Talryn Rigel—the blond, blue-eyed epitome of a Reg warrior—came back to Veranelle, the summer home of the Psyclid royal family, a place he had visited when his father, Vander Rigel, was the Regulon ambassador to Psyclid. He took the king’s apartments in the palace as his own, and at the imposing desk in the king’s study, what had been little more than a determined gleam in Tal’s eyes became a rebellion against the Empire he had served so faithfully for nearly a decade.

In the coming years Ridó Command welcomed a steadily increasing number of ships to the rebel fleet. None, however, could compare to the spectacular arrival of the battlecruiser Tycho, captained by Tal’s life-long friend, Alek Rybolt. A ship that would double the rebellion’s firepower and begin the life-changing transformation of K’kadi Amund, son of a king, genetic experiment. The boy who could not talk.

For a link to the Pre-order page for The Bastard Prince, please click here.

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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.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Twisted Times

Don't miss mama, on the right.
Since the houses on the west side of I-4 in Longwood were required to have bear-proof trash cans, there haven't been as many bear sightings. But my daughter took this photo near her house this week. (The houses in this area abut Wekiva Springs State Park and the Wekiva Forest.)

Another photo by Susie, posted to Facebook on Friday, July 14. An excellent illustration of Florida weather daily during the rainy season.

The more I look at this, I more I appreciate it as photo art.


 Perhaps this rather downbeat blog isn't the best post to leave up for two or three weeks, but between birthday celebrations for Cassidy and myself and four days at the National Conference of the Romance Writers of America, where I will be presenting a workshop on "Creating the Regency 'Feel'" to the historical authors of the Beau Monde group, I'm taking time off from Mosaic Moments for a bit.

When I got the rights back for my books with Ellora's Cave, I planned to re-publish Florida Wild to Amazon Kindle Direct in the fall of 2017. But that was before the world changed so dramatically. Now . . . I'm not sure Florida Wild will ever make it back online. I really liked that book, set in Orlando and featuring cousins of the characters in my Venice-set Orange Blossoms & Mayhem. Yes, it was perhaps a bit whimsical for a Romantic Suspense, but that was the world I discovered when I moved to East Orlando and found myself surrounded by an entirely different set of cultures than I'd known in Venice. Spanish was spoken everywhere. And when I took my then very young grandgirls to soccer skills classes, one of the coaches was a Muslim mother in blue jeans and hijab! The Muslim Center for the Orlando area was a scant mile from my house. A young woman in a hijab clerked at Publix. I even saw two imams and their burka-covered wives walking off the ferry at Disney's Magic Kingdom.

Yes, the World Trade Center loomed large, even after six years, but that was the work of Al Queda, an extremist group. I felt no qualms about writing sympathetic characters based on the Muslims I met in East Orlando. So I took the Central Florida world that was so much more diverse than Venice and put it into a book called Florida Wild. (In the story, Florida Wild is the name of a brand new theme park featuring the more natural, wilder aspects of Florida - and financed by Muslim wealth.) At the time I developed the characters, it seemed only slightly quirky that the hero had a sister married to a Muslim prince. And to avoid any mention of terrorist groups, I invented a rebel group within the prince's own borders. (More of an attempted political coup than terrorism.) For several years after publication, it worked. 

But then came ISIS and Al Shebab, and the Pulse nightclub massacre, and a book like Florida Wild no longer seems viable. For all its thriller moments, the treatment is simply too light for the times we live in. And that's just sad. I ought to be able to write a book that includes an American married to a Muslim from a foreign country and a wise and helpful imam without offending anyone. But I' m afraid that's no longer possible. I'm going to post the cover and blurb for the Ellora's Cave book (which is no longer available), and I would really appreciate hearing your opinions. Perhaps if the setting wasn't Orlando . . . But the truth is, the story revolves around theme-park Orlando, and how can one get over 49 dead and 53 wounded, plus the continuing agony of the First Responders and the staff of Orlando Regional Medical Center? (FYI, ORMC has been questioned so many times about how they managed to respond to the tragedy that happened almost on their doorstep that they have written a book to be distributed as a handbook to other hospitals in the country.) 

Please take a look at the blurb below and tell me what you think. Publish? Or shelve for the foreseeable future?

Cass Wilder is looking for excitement, both on the job and in her personal life, 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 chase that takes them from university campus to the Florida backwoods, where he not only regains his kidnapped sister but loses his heart.

I have a similar problem with Limbo Man. Maybe it's the A-bomb explosion on the cover, but I'm more inclined to think it's because the book has so many Russian characters. Even the hero is Russian. For me this was never a problem because I traveled 10,000 miles in the old USSR way back during the Cold War, and had an opportunity to talk with Russians (in Russian) from Moscow to Bratsk, Siberia, to Samarkand (in what was then Soviet Central Asia). So when writing Limbo Man, I had a pretty good idea of what I was talking about. But to most Americans, it would appear a Russian hero is not acceptable. Nor a thriller with occasional whimsy—most particularly the ending. I still love that book, which I filled with a great many places I've actually been (including Orlando, by the way). I did have to fake Tehran, however. (Thank you Google and Google Earth.)

Please read the blurb below and let me know if you would be put off by a Russian hero and several sympathetic Russian characters (as well as the inevitable Russian villains).

Grace note: Limbo Man is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

FBI Special Agent Vee Frost does not care for Homeland Security's list of job qualifications when they ask to borrow her services. "An experienced agent with a proven track record" is good. "Fluent in Russian" hints of an assignment which is close to her heart. But "Attractive female under thirty-five" sends up red flags. Obviously DHS is asking for services above and beyond the call of duty. But a loan to Homeland Security would look great on her resumé, and it sounds as if they really need her . . .

But when Vee agrees to turn on the charm for Sergei Tokarev, an amnesiac Russian arms dealer with an agenda as hidden as the contents of his past, she never anticipates a chase after two ancient nuclear bombs that will have her hopping around the world from Connecticut to Siberia to Iran. And no matter how strong a bond she and Sergei forge, it seems doubtful either will live long enough for a happy ending.

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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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Blair's "Venice" Books

Last week I mentioned the Mystery/Suspense novels I wrote while living in Venice, Florida. This week Mosaic Moments is featuring those five books, plus one set in neighboring Sarasota. As much as I appreciate my devoted Regency readers, I do wish a few more would be adventurous enough to try my contemporary stories and my futuristic series, Blue Moon Rising. For today, let's look at the stories set in the places you caught a glimpse of in last week's photos.

Venice, Florida, is a very special place. It has the only direct waterfront - no barrier island - for a hundred miles in either direction. For the purpose of my books, I called it "Golden Beach." The Myakka River became the Calusa (named after the Native American tribe that used to live in that area). Snook Haven became Bud's Fish Shack. And, as I recall, Casey Key (where we stayed last week) became Needle Key. But the descriptions of the area are all true. Even that ominous 12' chain link fence topped with barbed wire that has now been modified to something less threatening. 

Basically, I put a lot of myself into these books, and I'd really like to see them have a greater circulation.

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.

Grace note: A remarkable number of incidents in Shadowed Paradise are true, or based on a true incident, including a serial killer on the loose. As for the cultural shock, I lived it when I moved from Connecticut to Florida's Gulf Coast. 

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. A whole winter Season in Florida.) Peter's project: international sexual slavery. Mandy's problem: Peter is the husband she hasn't seen in years. And guess what's going on just across the river? (Behind that ominous chain link fence.) 

Grace note: Human trafficking is rife in Florida, as well as on a global scale. The towering chain link fence on the far side of the river was very real, though it has since been modified. The fire, however, did not happen until about two years after the book was written. 

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. 

Grace note: The building housing Fantascapes is exactly as described and still fronts the central parking area on Venice Boulevard (Main Street.) Many of the other places are exactly as described, including the fishing pier at Sharky's (which has now expanded upstairs to a high-end restaurant called Fins. (And the story of my part (inadvertent) in initiating the rush to hike the Inca Trail is a blog all by itself.)

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.

Grace note: While in Venice, I spent several years running a costume shop, for which I made c. 80-85% of the costumes. The two houseboats moored on the Intracoastal Waterway in Nokomis (just north of Venice) have long since been chased away, but I am grateful for their providing a portion of the setting for this book.

A Florida Highway Patrol officer investigates his brother's injury in a Medieval Fair tournament and discovers an astounding sub-culture in today's Florida - the Medieval re-enactment 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 sole a crime and lay each other's ghosts and preconceptions.

Grace note: I was a member of the Florida branch of the Society for the Creative Anachronism for three years before writing this book. I was also "Roving Information" at the last few Medieval Fairs at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. Believe me, the background of this book is authentic.

And twenty miles north of Venice in Sarasota, Florida . . .

Someone is killing people at the Bellman Museum, staging the deaths as bizarre works of art scattered over the museum's sixty-six acres, the creation of famed circus entrepreneur and art connoisseur, Richard Bellman. Although FBI Special Agent Rory Travis is struggling to recover from a severe injury and death of her lover, she can't resist the challenge of tackling this mystery. Her investigation brings two new men into her life and takes her into the close-knit circus community in Sarasota, Florida. Add an eccentric great-aunt and a friend who dives alligator-infested waters for lost golf balls, and you add whimsey to murder and intrigue in a deceptively beautiful setting on the shores of Sarasota Bay.

Grace note: I was a volunteer tram driver at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota at least once a week for three years, a job I truly loved. I hope some of that came through in the book, even with people being killed right and left. 

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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.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Women's Fiction Update + Travel Pics


By complete coincidence, over the last few days I read Nora Robert's latest, Come Sundown. Ordinarily, I absolutely refuse to pay $13 for an e-book, but I was taking a 3-day vacation on the Gulf and decided to treat myself. To my total surprise, the book was the absolute epitome of "Mainstream with Central Romance." And even more surprisingly, it leaned more toward Women's Fiction than any other book I've read by Nora Roberts. Four generations of women, a lot of female talk (a bit more than I actually like, but the females were all smart, competent, and independent. No whining or long-suffering). And the Central Romance was there, right from the git-go, with a strong male hero who got his own Point of View throughout. Also,the heroine's two brothers and a father played strong roles, though without their own POV. And the villain was what might be called overly male and highly menacing. So if you want to read a really good example of Mainstream with Central Romance, Come Sundown is the book for you.

One of my favorite moments in Come Sundown

The 90-year-old great-grandmother in the family appears wearing a shirt which reads:


I lived 25 years in the small city of Venice, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. My children were in their early teens when we moved there. It is one of the truly great places to live. Venice stretches across a ten-mile-wide band of civilization that ranges from the Gulf of Mexico to the Myakka River. Beyond the river there is nothing but wilderness (jungle, swamp, and cattle country).

My daughter and I try to indulge our nostalgia for Venice once or twice a year. But never at the height of either winter or summer seasons, as the hotel and motel prices are astronomical. This year, however, Susie found a boutique motel that had just been remodeled - everything new but the basic walls and even those had been painted various shades of pastel! Directly on the beach for an affordable price. Wow! I wish I could claim the photos below, but my phone balked, claiming a full memory and refusing to give up the pics I took. So all photos below are Susie's.

Ah, before I forget . . . here's a list of my books set in the town of "Golden Beach," aka, Venice, Florida. Several feature the jungle area along the Myakka River, one of my most favorite places in all the world. (On this trip I noted with interest that the towering chain link fence mentioned in Paradise Burning has been replaced with a less intimidating 6' fence (though still topped with barbed wire), and the gate to the compound was actually open. Yes, that compound described was real, if not for the purpose I used it!)

Shadowed Paradise
Paradise Burning
Orange Blossoms & Mayhem
Death by Marriage
Florida Knight


Sunset at the Jetties, Venice, Florida
At Snook Haven on the Myakka River - a true jungle setting
Storm coming in (it missed us)

The length of this path is how close we were to the beach.


The birthday girl celebrating at Sharky's on the Gulf

Birthday Girl Selfie
Susie & Mike at Snook Haven
Saying a fond farewell to the Venice area with a boat trip on Lake Myakka

My phone decided to come to life, so I am adding three of my own photos below.

Snook Haven - the water is always dark, dyed by live oak leaves
Ferns growing on a gnarled live oak - Snook Haven
Our "boutique" motel "On the Beach," Casey Key, Nokomis, FL


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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.