Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Making of Matthew Wolfe

 I am delighted to present my personal entry in the anti-Covid stakes: a bittersweet coming-of-age story, with friends, family, plenty of warm fuzzy, and as much comedy as I could manage. This is the first book in a series of novellas that detail the rise of Matthew Wolfe from a prison hulk on the Thames to . . . well, who knows how far he will go? Author's Note and blurb below.



AUTHOR’S NOTE. Welcome to a Regency series with a twist! Although the Matthew Wolfe books feature the adventures of a supposed nobody off the mean streets of London, they are designed for Covid relief—light, warm-hearted, even whimsical. Hopefully, by the time Matthew has found his Happily Ever After, our World will have righted itself and we will be well on our way back to normal. Meanwhile, here is the first in a series of novellas told as an old-fashioned “serial,” each book with a cliff-hanger ending.

Matthew Wolfe, born and raised in the squalor of London’s inner city, should be a nobody, forever destined to obscurity, or perhaps the hangman. But wait . . . he can read and write, is a whiz at math, can speak like a gentleman, even knows more than a bit of French. And when the boy from London ends up on a hops farm in Kent, surrounded by remnants of the Royal 10th Hussars and a passel of children, what will this fish out of water do?  Retired military and their ladies, children, dogs, a regal cat, an Arabian stallion, neighbors in need, and a determined twelve-year-old—all assist Matthew on his journey toward the person he is meant to be..

 Links to The Making of Matthew Wolfe on Amazon & Smashwords can be found below.


This Week's Photo Gallery


Ganesh - Can I really make it all the way to top of the cupboard?

Over Thanksgiving vacation the Reale family & friends went scuba diving in Key Largo. Here are three of their underwater photos.

Cassidy Down Under

Mom blowing bubbles on the left, Cassidy up top

Photo by Cassidy - look closely & you will see . . .

It's time to get out of the water!

And from New Zealand the pi├Ęce de resistance . . .
Photo by Nick Crarer



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For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to Matthew Wolfe on Smashwords, click here.

Wondering if you would find a book about a seventeen-year-old interesting? (I guarantee the comic moments.) Please remember that a 20% free read is always available on Smashwords. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Writing Oops & Recipes

Below is a statue from Prestopans, East Lothian, UK - a commemoration of the large number of women who met their deaths in that area when accused of witchcraft. It is also an astonishing work of art. (Found on Facebook)

This week's Ganesh fix

Ganesh has a rival for cuteness - This is Emma

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Writing Comments - Good & Bad

This week I read Fortune and Glory, Book 27 in Janet Evanovich's long-running Stephanie Plum series. For anyone who enjoys comedy with their mysteries, these books are not to be missed. They have also divided readers into two camps: Morelli fans and Ranger fans. I am happy to say that Ranger fans (as I am) will love this one. So, even if no one could work "twenty seven" into the title, this is vintage Evanovich. Don't miss it!

Alas, in my search for new authors, I chose a book that had all the hallmarks of a good Gothic and was horrified when I discovered:  a whole slew of misused words - bad enough to make me wonder if English was a second language for the author. On top of that, the heroine knew the names and background of people she'd never met. The writing was also marred by labored analogies and that old bugaboo, incorrect titles. And I'm only struggling through Chapter 3. Definitely a book I am now reading as a source of lessons about what not to do, although, admittedly, the plot that drew me to the book still shows promise. (To be continued - unless I toss the whole thing to Archives before finishing it.)

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Below are two tried & true recipes for the holidays. I make the same stuffing year after year. And since no one in the family is a fan of pumpkin pie, we frequently have fruit pie in its place. So if you're looking for something different this year . . . even though the "crowd" will likely be smaller, here are a couple of possibilities:

Grace's Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing

2 12-oz pkgs Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix in your choice of flavors
4 cups Swanson chicken broth
8 TBspns butter, melted (Have a second stick on hand.)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery + leaves, chopped
8 oz. Jimmy Dean sausage - (with sage, if possible)
Pine nuts (to taste)
Fresh or dried cranberries (to taste) - NOT the ones with sugar!
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Other fresh herbs, chopped, if you have them, particularly parsley

Allow at least an hour to transform the above into Stuffing.

Prep:  Chop onion. Select inner & outer celery leaves (light & dark green); chop finely. Cut 2-3 inner stalks of celery into small slices. Cut sausage in half; freeze half for another time. Select 1/2 - 2/3 cup of cranberries - set aside with onion & celery. (If using dried cranberries, no prep necessary.) Strip leaves from rosemary; chop with other herbs (opt.). 

Cook:  Spray large skillet with cooking oil. Brown sausage, adding onion & celery when sausage is nearly brown. When onion is translucent, add pine nuts, cranberries & fresh herbs. Stir & set aside.

Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package, using more butter if necessary. Stir in all the additions from the frying pan.

And that's it. Your stuffing is ready for a 20+ lb. bird with enough left over for baking in a casserole dish. (The recipe is easily halved for a smaller bird.)


1-2 packages of frozen mixed fruit* (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) - enough to make c. 6 cups of berries (or fresh fruit, if available)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (to taste)
1/4 - 1/3 cup tapioca
½ - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Betty Crocker refrigerated pie crusts (pkg. of 2)

*For fatter pie, use more berries.

Thaw and drain frozen fruit. This can take several hours - best thaw overnight in refrigerator, then drain in colander for at least 2 hours. Otherwise you will have an overly juicy pie. Follow package directions to allow 15 minutes for pie crusts to warm up. (If you're a "dab hand" at pastry, by all means make your own crust, but for most of us Betty Crocker will have to be good enough.)

Preheat oven to 400°.  In a large bowl, combine thawed fruit, sugar, tapioca & spices. Mix well, being careful not to crush berries.

Unroll one pie crust (preferably on a big pastry board, floured to keep crust from sticking). Place crust in bottom of 9-10" pie plate. Add a bit of flour to the bottom to absorb the berry juices. Add the fruit mix. Remaining crust may be placed on top or cut into strips for a latticed crust. Seal edges. (If using whole crust, make slices in top for venting.) Brush top with egg wash.* Bake 45-50 minutes or until juices form bubbles that burst slowly.

*Egg wash = 1 egg, whisked. Add ¼ cup of water, whisk again.

Grace note: I have always used the fruit mix above, but you might want to experiment with the other frozen fruits available. This recipe should also be adaptable to fresh fruit. 

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I would like to recommend the following for your holiday reading: 


 Two wounded people find each other under the mistletoe.


A poignant tale of Happily Ever After rescued by the spirit of Christmas

Though not written specifically for Christmas, the holiday season plays a large role in this tale of a young woman who, in essence, hires a husband.


Again, though not written specifically for Christmas, a Christmas gift plays an important role in the story. (The Making of Matthew Wolfe should be available within the next ten days.)


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (who writes as Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pics & Politics

 A true Mosaic Moments this week - a few photos to brighten your day, followed by pithy headlines from the Orlando Sentinel, November 8, 2020.


A belated wedding photo - Cassidy with her escort down the aisle.



Two more photos of Ganesh, the world's most photogenic kitten. What will we do when he grows up?  (Owner & photographer: Edith Maxwell)


 Below, a special treat for authors & all others who enjoy sinking their teeth into the heart of the English language. (Though I confess I've never before heard of a "whosemegadget.")

Below, the Citrus Singers (only 12 this year instead of 20+) are performing, as usual, at the Orland Museum of Art's Festival of the Trees. Except they will be singing outside instead of in the auditorium. Here are the masks I made from ONE old Girl Scout Cookie apron. (It was a full back AND front apron, the masks lined with matching green cotton from Jo-Ann's fabrics.)

 And now, the Serious Stuff -


I am not going to admit how many years I've been reading the newspaper, but I have never before seen a front page, let alone a Sunday front page, that looked like this—the entire top half devoted to a single photo. (Orlando Sentinel, November 8, 2020).




You heard Florida went for Trump? Well, let me tell you, Central Florida - the intellectual heart of the state - did not (as evidenced by the front page above). Alas, due to the Electoral College system - which definitely needs tweaking - Trump will get all of Florida's votes, but my county and others mid-State went solidly for Biden. 

Here are some Headlines from inside that same issue:

Trump defied gravity but hit reality.

Trump, GOP gaining Latino support (Grace note:  particularly in South Florida)

World leaders congratulate Biden and Harris on victory

From the editorial page: 

What American voters are trying to tell us

Trump's right:  Election about him

A national nightmare is almost over

And sadly, on a related topic:

Historic marker puts Ocoee Massacre in perspective*

     *To Florida's great shame, on Election Day,1920, blacks were not only prevented from voting, more than thirty were killed, their houses burned, businesses destroyed. Now, at long last, on the one hundredth anniversary of this atrocity, a memorial marker has been erected.

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Special Note:  our first operational (not a test )manned flight to the International Space Station was scheduled for Saturday evening (Nov. 14), but due to continuing rough seas from Tropical Storm Eta, it has been postponed until Sunday. The reason for this: the need to recover the booster rocket which lands on a barge at sea.

~ * ~

THE MAKING OF MATTHEW WOLFE - available, hopefully, in less than 2 weeks


And please don't forget:


Or the compilation of all my articles on Writing & Editing since 2011:

The Vicar's Daughter is available from a variety of online vendors, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


Making Magic with Words is available only on Amazon Kindle.

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (w. a. Blair Bancroft)



Saturday, November 7, 2020

Blair's Newsletter

Sneak Peek - Draft of Wolfe 1 Cover

Yahoogroups went the way of the dodo bird last year while I was struggling with my broken foot, and when I recently got around to attempting to set up a new Newsletter, I ran into some road blocks, including one newsletter service that refused to answer a vital question until I had "opted in." Sigh. So until I find the right Newsletter Service, I've decided to post my newsletter here. Why not wait? Because the first book of my new - and different - series will be out before Christmas, and I'm anxious to tell everyone about it, and get your opinion. So here it is.

Something New out of the Blue

Well, at least I think it's new. After a string of Regency Gothics and Historicals and all the work that went into Making Magic With Words (the compilation of all my blogs on Writing and Editing since 2011), I was feeling the urge toward something lighter. And then came the pandemic and all the political brouhaha, and I knew the time had come to stick my neck out and write something different enough to offer a distraction from all our problems—an action tale but with strong elements of comedy, empathy, and triumph of the human spirit.

So I stole a character from The Abominable Major—Matthew Wolfe, the young man who nearly gave his life doing the major’s bidding and now, thanks to a whole slew of supporters on a hops farm in Kent, is setting his feet on a brand new path. To fame and fortune? Or renewed disaster? Only the Matthew Wolfe series of novellas can answer that.

The first book, The Making of Matthew Wolfe, has a familiar setting—Kirkwood Farm in Kent, the hops farm established by Colonel Marcus Trevor and Major Courtland Randolph to shelter the officers and troopers of the Royal 10th Hussars who needed a place to lick their wounds, both physical and mental, after long years of fighting Napoleon Bonaparte. Considering their own pain, giving shelter to a young man bruised and battered by life in London does not seem so far-fetched.

But Matthew, grateful as he is, knows he is not destined to be a hops farmer. And despite all his new friends in Kent, including a very young lady who teaches him to fish, at the end of Book 1, he will be off to London, hoping to learn more about his origins, and ready to begin a whole new set of adventures.

So what makes this series "different"? 

Most Regency series with a continuing central male character are mysteries. And seldom feature humor along with the action. Basically, the Matthew Wolfe series is a Rags to Riches tale, presented in classic serial-style, and with as many light touches as I could manage. How many books? I have no idea. I’m letting Matthew figure that out for himself. Hint: maybe until the 12-year-old girl in Book 1 grows up?

The final chapters of The Making of Matthew Wolfe occur at Christmas, and I expect to have the book available in time for a good Christmas read. I would be most grateful if you’d let me know what you think of this slightly off-beat approach to a Regency novel. (You don't have to wait to read it - just tell me whether or not you might be willing to give a book about the adventures of a seventeen-year-old from Seven Dials a try.) You are invited to email me at:

Other comments or complaints are also welcome. Do you have a favorite Blair Bancroft book? Maybe one that turns you off—information that’s always good to know. In the case of Matthew Wolfe, Book 1, how do you feel about a 12-year-old heroine? And after you've read The Making of Matthew Wolfe, I would be most grateful for a review on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or other online vendor.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read The Lady Takes a Risk (the original tale set at Kirkwood Farm) or its sequel, The Abominable Major, you might consider them now. They are not necessary to an appreciation of the story of Matthew Wolfe, but they give more insight into the characters and events mentioned in The Making of Matthew Wolfe.

In case you missed some of my recent books, here’s a list:

The Vicar’s Daughter
Shadows Over Greystoke Grange


Regency Warrior Series
The Abominable Major
The Lady Takes a Risk

Making Magic With Words


Thanks so much for taking the time to read this first post in my new Newsletter.

All the best,