Grace's Mosaic Moments

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.

~ * ~
Thanks for stopping by,

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

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  1. I actually am intrigued by the blurb on Limbo Man but I am not keen on the cover. I want to see a hunky Russian guy and a slinky FBI agent, barely clothed and a big bold badge.

    On the other hand, the blurb doesn't intrigue me at all on Florida Wild and nothing in the cover tells me what it may be like, just like the current cover for Limbo Man.

    A little tweaking, and both will be best sellers, I'm sure <3 ~MW

  2. You know I can't speak for Romance readers, but I know that the television show NCIS manages to feature Muslims -and Russians - who are villains, and those who are heroes, and those in between -- and it is still a highly successful show.

    We can't all encounter in person the humanity of every group (race, religion, occupation, whatever) that is foreign to us, but we can encounter them vicariously through books and other media. Therefore I would hope authors would resist stereotyping any group in any way, whether out of prejudice or out of fear of offending. If we don't show people as they are -- good and evil -- we take away their humanity.

    And most of all in these days, we need to each each other as human beings.

    Whether it will sell or not is another issue.

  3. Linda, thanks for your insightful (as usual) comments. You make a good case. (I'm a devoted NCIS watcher.)
    Muffy, I printed your comments and will study them. I've long wondered if Limbo Man could benefit from a different cover. (The design is my fault - that's what I asked for.) And goodness knows, the art of the blurb can be tricky. Will consider a rewrite. Thanks to you both.