Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Formatting Finishers

 

 

Our Ganesh fix for the week

Found on Facebook


  FORMATTING FINISHERS

or

"Wait, wait - you're not done yet!" 

After several years of not being particularly creative about the metadata in Amazon's Upload Form, such as Subtitles and Keywords, I ordered a hardcopy of the book titled, How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon by Penny Sansevieri. Now, I quickly confess it would take someone far more tech savvy than I—and someone with far more time on their hands—to do the many things described in this book, but I have to admit that a couple of things really caught my fancy. And I do believe they have increased my sales, so . . .

Warning:  I purchased hardcopy as I like to highlight instructional books. But in the paperback version, the many screen shots are really hard to read. You need a magnifying glass.

SUBTITLES.

Ms Sansevieri points out, and rightly so, that there are now so many books on Amazon that an author needs to do more than write a good blurb. You need something to grab readers' attention so they'll take the time to read the blurb. Hence, the SUBTITLE.

A subtitle is just another name for Log Line—those few words authors are encouraged to put at the top of a submission to an Editor or Agent to catch their attention. Short, well-crafted words that feature that special something that makes your book unique.

This made so much sense to me that I sat down and wrote subtitles for every one of c. 40 titles - a MAJOR chore, believe me, as capturing the essence of a book in less than a full sentence is a true challenge. Below are a few of the examples I came up with:

The Abominable Major:  a wounded veteran clashes with a scandalous countess

A Lady Learns to Love:  a poignant Christmas tale of love and loss

Tarleton's Wife:  a war widow, a second chance & a resounding surprise

The Ghosts of Rushton Court:  a bride's new home has a host of unexpected guests

Grace note: I strongly suggest you consider adding subtitles to your books on Amazon.

 

KEYWORDS.

The idea behind using more complex Keywords than, say, "Regency Romance" or "Regency Historical" is that when searching those titles, 10-20,000+ entries may come up! Your goal—spelled out in detail in Ms Sansevieri's book—is that you should aim your Keywords at areas with lesser numbers, so your book has a better opportunity of being found. Warning:  the research for this is painstaking, but I'm inclined to think it well worth the effort. I spent hours testing various combinations, but in the end I had a group that worked well for my Gothics, a group for my Historicals, a group for the Matthew Wolfe series. 

Here are the Keywords I came up with for Brides of Falconfell, an older title that has definitely had a resurgence since changing the Keywords and adding a subtitle.

Clean Regency Romance Gothic, Clean Regency Romance Suspense, Clean Regency Romance Mystery Suspense, Gothic Regency Romance and Suspense, Gothic Historical Romance, Gothic Romance Marriage of Convenience, Gothic Romance Second Chance

For the Matthew Wolfe series:  

(Only Book 1 qualified as a Regency Comedy, so my examples are from Books 2 & 3.)

Regency Historical Serial, Regency Historical Mystery Suspense, Regency Historical Adventure, Regency Historical New Adult, Regency Historical Friends and Family, Regency Historical Lighthearted, Regency Historical Rags to Riches

 

BLURBS.

I consider myself pretty good at writing blurbs - I should be, since I've been doing it for so long!  But Ms Sansevieri gives some very good advice for those struggling with this problem. (Frankly, if you could boil your story down to a Log Line/Subtitle, a blurb should be easy-peasy.) 

From my personal experience over the years, I know my blurbs have gotten shorter, for the same reason a Subtitle is recommended. There are so many books and people are so busy, readers need a blurb to be "fast and easy" - maybe a single paragraph when we used to write two or three. I would not, however, leave off an Author's Note about something you feel is important. Reaching out to a reader, person to person, is always a good touch.

Most important:  Start your blurb with a "grabber" sentence; i.e., something to catch and hold readers' attention, entice them to read the whole blurb.

Amazon Blurbs.

Amazon allows 4000 characters (including spaces), which can include Review Excerpts, if you have them.

Smashwords.

Smashwords requires a 400-character blurb (including spaces), as well as a 4000-character blurb (max). You need to prepare both before attempting an upload to Smashwords.

Below please find examples of "old" and "new" blurbs I wrote for Amazon and Smashwords. Note not only the style but the difference in length. Warning:  length and content are up to you, but in the past few years it's become likely that "less" is better than "more." Make a real effort to find an opening "hook" and proceed from there with just enough snippets about main characters and plot to inspire people to read your book.

Blurb Examples:

Smashwords "400":  A Gamble on Love

To escape an unscrupulous uncle, Aurelia Trevor reluctantly accepts a marriage of convenience with a man outside her social circle. But in Thomas Lanning she gets a great deal more than she expected, discovering she must not only cope with the strong-willed stranger who is her husband, but with his unexpected young relatives and the dubious characters involved in his campaign for Parliament.

Amazon & Smashwords "4000": A Gamble on Love

Miss Aurelia Trevor has a problem. Until she reaches the age of twenty-five, she will have no control over her beloved Pevensey Park, and by that time her unscrupulous uncle will have run it into the ground. Marriage to someone other than her uncle's leering son is her only way out, but, one by one, she rejects the men on her list of suitors. In desperation, Aurelia does the unthinkable. She hires a solicitor to find her a husband strong enough to stand up to both her uncle and her cousin. And soon learns the truth of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for.

Thomas Lanning is man of the City. Unlike Aurelia, who stands to inherit vast land and wealth, he has made his own place in the world. He is not tempted by the suggestion of marriage to an heiress, but other considerations, such as a power base for a seat in Parliament, tweak his interest. Plus an unexpected twinge of chivalry when he hears the full extent of Miss Trevor's difficulties with her uncle and his family.


Aurelia, who only wants to live in peace on her acres, finds she has acquired a ready-made family in Thomas's younger sister and brother, as well as a head-strong husband whose campaign for MP fills her household with a shocking assortment of characters. It seems her marriage of convenience is fast becoming a marriage of inconvenience. Just how far will this strong-willed pair bend to accommodate each other? And will they do it before it is too late?

Reviews:

"Blair Bancroft's warm and tender [novel] boasts a great heroine in Aurelia: She's attractive, courageous, vulnerable and intelligent."
Robyn Taylor, Romantic Times

"Reading how they gradually learn to like and eventually love each other is wonderful. Blair Bancroft is now definitely one of my favorite traditional Regency authors and this book is a prime example of why."
Nicole Hurst, Romance Junkies


"Set against a backdrop of rural politics (and a fascinating look at the early world of "buying" votes) this is a story that entrances, enlightens and endears."
Celia at A Romance Review

Here is an updated version of the blurb for my very first book - The Sometime Bride:

A very young bride finds herself married to an enigmatic British spy "for her safety." And is plunged into a seven-year, highly personal view of the Peninsular War—ending, after years of blind devotion, in discovering a betrayal of her trust so immense she can only wonder: Is she the sometime bride of a man who never existed? A discarded mistress? Or a beloved wife whose only rival is her husband's expediency in a time of war?

Author's Note: In addition to being a saga of young lovers caught up in a war, The Sometime Bride is the history of the Peninsular War, Britain's fight against Napoleon in Portugal and Spain. The story moves from France's invasion of Portugal and British troops being driven into the sea at La Coruña to the return of British troops under General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the fortified lines at Torres Vedras, and the gradual push of French troops across Spain and back to France. Plus the chaotic times in Paris after Napoleon's surrender and the Emperor's triumph as he gathers up his old troops, only to be stopped in one of the most famous and bloody battles in history—Waterloo.

Reviews:

Reviewers Choice Award. "Sometimes a reviewer gets a book so powerful, it's hard to know where to begin to tell about it. The Sometime Bride is such a book. . . . Bride passes every criterion for a successful book that I was given as a reviewer. Ms Bancroft weaves a most unusual love story in among the threads of history that cover eight years. . . . I highly recommend both Tarleton's Wife and The Sometime Bride as companion books. They are totally independent, but together give a vastly enlightening and entertaining view of the period through use of wonderful characters and page-turner plots—definite keepers, both." Jane Bowers, Romance Communications

[Four other review snippets followed.]

Here is the blurb I used for The Courtesan's Letters when I uploaded my own version of my very first trad Regency for Signet:

Miss Abigail Todd, the very proper headmistress of an academy for young ladies in Boston, arrives in England to settle her grandmother’s estate, only to discover that her ancestor was la grande Clarisse, the most notorious courtesan of her day. And, to her even greater horror, she herself is the perfect image of her grandmother. Clarisse has left a series of letters detailing commissions Abby must carry out in order to obtain her inheritance (an amount far greater than anticipated). In order to do this, she must accept the assistance of Jared, Earl of Langley, grandson of the man who was Clarisse’s devoted lover for forty years. Has Clarisse created these letters because of love, nostalgia, mischief, vengeance . . . or is she perhaps more interested in matchmaking? The most likely answer: all of the above.

Author’s Note: “The Courtesan’s Letters” is suitable reading for Ages 14 & up. Under the Signet title of “The Indifferent Earl,” it was nominated for a RITA award by the Romance Writers of America and was awarded “Regency Romance of the Year” by Romantic Times magazine.

Reviews:

"This story flows like fine champagne, full of sparkle, zest and energy."
Teresa Roebuck, Romantic Times

"The dialogue sparkles, the plot evolves at a brisk pace, and a diverse cast of secondary characters adds depth and texture to this well-written tale."
Susan Lantz, Romance Reviews Today

"I was completely and utterly seduced by this book. . . . The plot is exquisite, a sparklingly innovative, perfectly executed piece of craftsmanship. . . . It is books like this that restore our faith in the Regency genre. . . ."
Celia Merenyi, A Romance Review

My blurb for the more recent The Ghosts of Rushton Court:

A Regency ghost tale inspired by the classic saying: "Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

The widowed Lady Marian Talbot is keeping a low profile as her exquisitely lovely sister, Vanessa, makes her come-out. Yet somehow it is Marian who attracts the attention of the most eligible bachelor London society has seen in a decade, a marquess who has spent the last dozen years in India. After a whirlwind courtship, Marian—now the Marchioness of Rushton—arrives at her new home, only to discover she is expected to solve the challenges of dealing with her husband's hostile brother and sister, his illegitimate young son, and a staff at war with itself. And, as if that weren't enough, Marian must also adjust to a panoply of ghosts, all supposedly benign, but that becomes doubtful as someone—or some thing—makes repeated attempts to kill both the marquess and his new bride.

And finally, my blurb for The Making of Matthew Wolfe:

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 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 the 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, neighbors in need, and a determined twelve-year-old—all assist Matthew on his journey toward the person he is meant to be. 

~ * ~ 

 My comments above barely scratch the surface of Ms Sansevieri's work, so if you'd like to learn more . . .

For a link to How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazonclick here.

 ~ * ~

For Blair's updated Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

  

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Formatting for Indie Pub

 Below, a photo I shot from my TV, a rocket booster being brought back into Port Canaveral on the barge it landed on way out to sea. 

Port Canaveral, May 2021

 

Ganesh's mommy went on vacation but is once again posting photos of the world's most photogenic kitty.

Ganesh, evidently losing his interest in reading

 And . . . I am happy to announce that my son and his wife have become the parents of two little girls - girl kittens, that is, from the same litter but far from twins, though they both register off the scale in the cute quotient.

Buffy & Muffin

 


FORMATTING

As mentioned last week, this is a subject Mosaic Moments has covered before, but while formatting Matthew Wolfe - Revelations, it occurred to me that this is such an important topic - and I have added so many new viewers in recent years - that this might be a good time for an update. (FYI, the advice below was written without looking at my previous blog on the subject. Hopefully, I've still managed to cover all the bases.)


FORMATTING for INDIE PUB


I have, over the years, created several instruction sheets on formatting your ebook for upload to Amazon KDP, Smashwords, or other online vendors. (If you write in Word Perfect, as I do, you will find a post in Archives (or in my book Making Magic With Words) detailing how to do transfer your work from Word Perfect to Word. Today’s Formatting Instructions are solely for Microsoft Word*.)

*Although the Menus for doc and docx are very different, the instructions should work for both.

Special Note: You do not - repeat, DO NOT - have to prepare your book in any format except Word unless you plan to upload to each online vendor separately. Which I do not recommend unless you are highly tech savvy and/or have but one book and infinite time to fuss with it. Amazon accepts both docx and doc. Smashwords accepts only doc (an easy “Save As”.) Smashwords will take your manuscript and translate it into just about every format known, a service well worth the small cost. They also provide a free Guide to Smashwords that explains exactly how to do it.

I upload my book to Amazon in docx, save a version to doc, and then upload to Smashwords. Et voilà, I’m done. Easy-peasy. Why suffer if you don’t have to?

~ * ~


Before beginning Final Formatting
- you should have edited your manuscript until it is as close to perfection as you can make it. Yes, you will still find things you want to change, but NO WAY should you begin to format for indie pub until your manuscript is truly ready to become a book. Shed the Amateur mold. Approach your work as a Professional.

The following instructions pre-suppose you’ve written your opus in standard manuscript format: 1" margins all around, double space, 5-space paragraph indent (automatic), Hard Page End at the end of each chapter.

Grace note: If, by any chance, you do not have auto paragraph indents and Hard Page Ends, make those changes before you begin formatting.
      For Automatic Paragraphs, use Ctrl+A to Select All. From the Menu, choose Paragraph - Indent (Manuscript format - .5; Book format - .3)
      For a Hard Page End, use Ctrl+Enter.

Important: At the end of each work session, save a copy of your work to a thumb drive. (Mine is a permanent attachment to my computer - “G” drive, always ready for download.)


Formatting Your Manuscript


1.  If you have written your manuscript in sections, put them all together in one document. (My method: I copy Section One with a new name that covers the entire ms - for example:  Wolfe3.Final. I drop down to the end, enter a Hard Page End, copy Section Two and paste it in place. Repeat for as many sections as necessary.)

2.  Select entire manuscript (Ctrl+A). Change double space to single. Change .5 paragraph indent to .3.

3.  Select entire manuscript (Ctrl+A). Justify the right margin.

4.  Turn on Codes by selecting ¶ in the Menu Bar. Keep them on as you do your final edit(s).

     Note:  "Codes On" allows you to see the places where you have two spaces instead of one between words, places where you accidentally added a manual tab stop, etc.


Edit from the Top


Even though you’re certain your work is perfect, while you are doing all the things listed below, you should also be reading your manuscript for the things that still need fixing, from character descriptions, failure to make your point clear, lack of continuity, and “OMG, what on earth did I mean when I wrote that!”

1.  Chapter Header.  Select chapter & number, increase font size to 14 (or desired size). Center. Go to Paragraph Indent - delete .3 (to ensure centering is not lopsided).  

2.  Date & Location line (if applicable). Be sure these lines are in Italics, flush left margin. (Select line(s); go to Paragraph Indent - delete .3.)

3.  Quotes. Codes On (¶) provides a way to check that your margin changes worked. In case you’ve forgotten, any quote longer than three lines should be indented (.3 from the Left Margin). [The classic rule is to indent both left & right margins, but in the era of reading on small screens, most authors these days indent just the left margin. Otherwise, the words can end up as a really weird-looking column down the middle of the page.]

4.  Unusual problems. Occasionally, something really odd turns up. Example:  an entire paragraph suddenly does a double indent. There is usually only one way out of these problems:  retype the entire paragraph.


Also important:

1.  A final Spell Check

2.  Add Historical Notes, if applicable (at the end)

3.  Add Author Notes, if desired*

4.  Add Author Inventory*


*I copy and paste these from my previous book, making whatever changes are necessary to accommodate the latest book.

After that . . .

I advise one more read-through, just in case—particularly if I made quite a few changes in the Formatting run-through.

GOOD LUCK!


Questions?  E-mail me at blairgak@gmail.com

 

Next week:  Final preparations before Upload - Blurbs, Keywords, Subtitles

~ * ~

For Blair's updated Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

  

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Matthew Wolfe - Revelations

 I'm delighted to announce that Matthew Wolfe - Revelations went live on Amazon and Smashwords on Friday afternoon—hopefully answering the many questions that have been building up over Books 1 and 2. (It was quite a challenge to get all the answers in there!)

 


 Matthew Wolfe's life has been one problem after another, most of them dramatic, many dangerous, and some heart-breaking. Despite all the friends he has made and all he has learned along the way, he knows only a tantalizing hint of his father's family and nothing about his mother's. As Book 3 opens, he is hoping to combine the pursuit of an elusive gang of gem thieves with a closer look into a possible personal link to the royal family of a small Alpine country, when, suddenly, Jocelyn Ainsley pops backs into his life and, along with her, his worst problem—the trauma of his mother's death in childbirth, which has left Matthew determined never to marry. (Even if a bastard from Seven Dials could ever raise his eyes as high as the daughter of a baronet.)

In this final book of the series, Matthew's dramatic past, his adventurous present, and his remarkable future finally come together, as he discovers both sides of his heritage, settles the Affair of the Gem Thieves in an unexpected and bittersweet fashion, and, with perhaps too much advice from friends and family, is forced to face the final challenge standing in the way of Happily Ever After.

~ * ~

 You may remember that I began the Matthew Wolfe series about a year ago, deliberately crafting something "different" as a Covid-blues chaser. (And I needed a breather from all those Gothics, even if they are my best-sellers.) 

Despite all the drama in Matthew's life, I made an effort to take a lighthearted approach, always emphasizing friends and family. (Although, as it turns out—Spoiler Alert!—family can also include enemies.)

As I return to writing what may be my darkest Gothic yet (The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle), I will miss Matthew and his widespread crowd of family and friends. Despite all the trials and tribulations from The Making of Matthew Wolfe to Revelations, they were FUN. And I foresee a long and happy future for every last character, even the "bad guys." (That's the wonderful thing about being an author—I can make it all tune out any way I wish!)

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

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

Please remember that Smashwords offers a 20% free read.

~ * ~

 NEXT WEEK:  As I've stated in the past, with the publication of Making Magic With Words, a 200,000-word compilation of my advice on Writing and Editing from 2011-2020, I turned my blog topics elsewhere. But as I formatted Matthew Wolfe - Revelations for upload to Amazon and Smashwords—something I've done forty-plus times before and still find a challenge—I decided to revisit the subject. So next week, a newly written version of an old subject:  How to Format Your Manuscript for Upload to Amazon and Smashwords.

~ * ~

For Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

  

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

Saturday, May 22, 2021

A Special Moment

 I postponed a couple of blog ideas this week in favor of a personal moment that comes but once in each lifetime:  Graduation from High School. And after the Classes of 2020 missed out on almost all year-end events and the Classes of 2021 missed out on so many events, both serious and fun, over the course of a whole school year, I feel it's important to record how Lake Mary High School, Seminole County, Florida, managed a genuine graduation ceremony for 690+ seniors.

They did it by everyone traveling c. 20 miles south to the football stadium at the University of Central Florida, where the ceremony could be held outdoors with plenty of room for "distancing" and the technical support of a massive video screen. And there they staged a truly grand occasion (live and videocast), including the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem (performed in an fabulous arrangement by high school chorus members on video), Color Guard, recognition of veterans, all the classic speeches, plus student-made school-year videos, and finally each graduate receiving his/her diploma and crossing the stage, fist-bumping each VIP in the front row. (To wildly enthusiastic screams and yells from the family of each student as their names were called.) 

After the inevitable photo session, we celebrated with lunch at Bahama Breeze, followed by cards and presents for the graduate:  Hailey Hays Reale, who will begin her career at UCF next month.

With so many photographers in the family, I didn't make the effort. The following photos are from the Reale family, including Grampa Carlos, who managed to get a close-up of Hailey on the big screen as she received her diploma.


For a link to a video of Hailey getting her diploma, click here.


New use for the 50-yard line

Hailey on the Big Screen

Hailey with Proud Parents

Hailey and the Grammas






Celebrating at Bahama Breeze


Hailey, Cassidy, Riley at Bahama Breeze


Hailey & Pos, 2003

Hailey on Ice, 2016


Hailey - Barracuda, 2018

Hailey - Senior Prom, 2021

CONGRATULATIONS

to

Hailey Hays Reale!

~ * ~

Available c. June 1


  ~ * ~

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 For Blair's website, click here.

  

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Matthew Wolfe & Muffins

 It looks like the final book in the Matthew Wolfe series will make it online around June 1, as planned. Here's a peek at the cover of Book 3 which reveals the mystery of Matthew's parentage, gives us a peek into his future, and, of course, answers the question of whether or not he reneges on his vow never to marry.




 Mom and two grandmothers enjoying mimosas before lunch on Mother's Day, 2021. (With Kylo's help.)

 


 

My youngest granddaughter, age 14, and her adult cousin (male) prepared a Mother's Day lunch (for 8) of Baked Brie that was better than any I ever had a restaurant. 


A truly wonderful afternoon, with dessert (mini cheesecakes) served on the set of dishes once belonging to MY mother, the children's book author, Wilma Pitchford Hays.

 

Yet another clever spoof of the English language

 ~ * ~


This week I made a variation on the Muffin Meal recipe I've posted before. It was so tasty I thought I ought to pass it along.


Sausage-fennel muffins, looking just like Turkey-bacon muffins

 

TURKEY-BACON MUFFIN MEAL

 

This is one of my favorite recipes. It makes 16 meal-size muffins and can be frozen, with 2-3 popped out of the freezer bag for an instant meal at any time. (See below.)

2 cans of Pillsbury Grands biscuits.
1 pkg. of thin-sliced prepackaged (deli-style) turkey
c. ½-lb. bacon
1 pkg. sliced Swiss cheese

Sauce:
Honey Mustard (or your choice)
Saucy Susan (or other fruit sauce) 

Prep:  slice bacon crosswise into 1½-2" pieces. Cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel.

Prepare dipping sauce by combining honey mustard & Saucy Susan, to taste.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray or grease 2 muffin pans. (You will need 16 holes.)

 

Muffins:

1.  Slice each biscuit in half. (Keep  2nd muffin tube in fridge until ready to use.) Fit bottom halves into 16 muffin holes, pressing down & up the sides to form a “cup.”

2. Fold a turkey slice and lay it in the cup.

3. Cut cheese slices in half. Fold & place on top of the turkey.

4. Place one or two pieces of bacon on top of cheese.

5.  Fit the other half of biscuit on top, using your fingers to press the edges of top & bottom together.

Note:  any leftover bacon can be used to decorate the top of each muffin.

Bake 13-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. (For freezing, allow biscuits to cool completely.)  Serve plain or with sauce listed above.


Grace note 1: These muffins are designed to be "finger food." The sauce can be dished up from a central bowl to each plate. (Or whatever method works for the number of people being served.) As a single, I get to dip my muffins straight into the bowl. (Grin.) Or, if preferred, the sauce can be layered onto the cheese before baking.


Grace note 2: do not thaw frozen muffins ahead of use. When ready to eat, just thaw in microwave, then warm at a higher power level. [In my microwave - for 2 muffins:  45 seconds on Thaw (5), then 45 seconds on Full. (90 seconds from freezer to ready-to-eat.)]

~ * ~

 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 For Blair's website, click here.

  

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Squirrel Humor

 An emphasis on humor this week . . .

Below is one of those unattributed gems that pop up on Facebook. It was titled: "The Best Argument for the Oxford Comma." 

 

 

BAND CONCERT - LIVE!

To my great joy, on Thursday evening the Lake Mary High School Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble performed in their first concert since the beginning of the Pandemic. It was truly soul-stirring to hear even the 9th and 10th graders playing with all the aplomb of professionals. And the performance of a select group of mostly 11th and 12th graders was even more amazing. (Our Riley, a 10th grader, was part of this elite ensemble.) There were also three stunning performances by soloists on the marimba. The applause, shouts, and standing ovation were well deserved. And all but one percent ( perhaps less) of the audience accepted the responsibility of wearing masks. Here's looking forward to many more concerts, including the revival of Jazz Band.

The Wind Ensemble (not just wind instruments despite the name)



 

 And now . . . a bit of humor found on Facebook (also unattributed)

Squirrel Tale

The Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrel infestation.  After much prayer and consideration, they concluded that the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they should not interfere with God’s divine will.

At the Baptist church, the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistry.  The deacons met and decided to put a water-slide on the baptistry and let the squirrels drown themselves.  The squirrels liked the slide and, unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim, so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

The Lutheran church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures.  So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist church.  Two weeks later, the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water-slide.


The Episcopalians tried a much more unique path by setting out pans of whiskey around their church in an effort to kill the squirrels with alcohol poisoning.  They sadly learned how much damage a band of drunk squirrels can do.


But the Catholic church came up with a more creative strategy!  They baptized all the squirrels and made them members of the church.  Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.


Not much was heard from the Jewish synagogue.  They took the first squirrel and circumcised him.  They haven’t seen a squirrel since.

~ * ~

 I'd like to recommend a real "buy," particularly if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (where all four books are FREE). I'm really fond of my SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal series, Blue Moon Rising. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.



Rebel Princess, Sorcerer's Bride, The Bastard Prince, and Royal Rebellion - all in one neat little package. For a link to Amazon, click here.

~ * ~

 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 For Blair's website, click here.

 Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Part 2 of Grace's First Blog

 

 My two all-time Best-Sellers


A war widow, a second chance & a resounding surprise


 

A bride's new home has a host of unexpected residents

  

Runners-up

 

Can a marriage of convenience triumph over a deadly curse?

 

A young woman encounters misogyny, smugglers, a ghost cat, & an earl

 

 

How Not to Drive the Grandchildren Home 
from the Singing Christmas Trees - Part 2


At the end of Part 1, you may recall, all seemed to be well.  The three little girls and I had finally arrived home (one hour after leaving the church - usually not more than a 30-minute drive). We ate supper and were watching a movie when . . .

Mommy turned her phone back on and called to say that the concert was running longer than expected and could I please take the children home and put them to bed.  I was still nerve-wracked to the bone, but food had helped, so I only twinged slightly at the thought of putting the girls back in the car and driving three blocks.

I loaded everyone back into the SUV and arrived at their gated community a few minutes later. I reached for the gate clicker I assumed was on the visor, and . . . oh-oh.   No, the girls didn’t know where mama stashed the clicker, but they assured me I could punch in a code.  Alas, I had to tell them that the code only worked until six p.m.  After that, you have to have a clicker or someone has to be at the house to buzz you in.  ( I recalled one memorable evening when my son-in-law climbed the gate, all eight feet of it, at 1:00 a.m.)

“We can go in your car, Gramma,” said the girls. (They knew I had a clicker to get into their development.) So we turned around and headed back to my house.  But as I drove toward my house, it occurred to me that if I drove my car, we wouldn’t have the built-in garage-door opener on the SUV.  Without which I’d need a key to my daughter’s house.  And it seemed I no sooner had a key made than my daughter sends someone to borrow it.  So if I drove the girls  home in my car, we could get through the gate but might not be able to get into the house.  

Believe me, at this point if I hadn’t already decided I had a few thousands words to say to my daughter when she got home, this would have been the final straw. (And since I was on the verge of brain-dead, it took a 6-year-old to find a solution.)

As we pulled into my driveway, my middle grandgirl said, “Gramma, why don’t you get the clicker out of your car?” I sat there behind the wheel and gaped.  Out of the mouths of babes!  I told the girls to stay put, unlocked my front door (as, of course, I couldn't open my garage door as I was driving my daughter's SUV), pulled the gate clicker off my visor, and back we went to my daughter’s house.  As it turned out, we didn’t use the garage opener, after all, as the 7-year-old was gung-ho to try every key on my ring to see if she could open the front door.  Which she did while the rest of us stayed in the car and watched.  

She yelled for us to come in, and then proceeded to turn on the Christmas tree and the many other Christmas lights throughout the house.  A very special moment after all we’d been through.

When my daughter and her husband finally got home, the girls were in bed, their halos still shiny, and I laid out the whole tale, woe by woe.  My daughter looked at me and said, “Oh, I’ve been using the hand brake because the car keeps getting stuck in Park.”  Not that she’d told me that any more than she mentioned there was no gas.  I had, of course, been putting the car in Park all night.  Sigh.    

I’m not sure I’m going to the Singing Trees next year.  The memories of 2010 may haunt me forever.

 ~ * ~

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

 For Blair's website, click here.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

My Very First Blog (2011)

 The credit for the amazing pic below could be a little off as my Cyrillic is definitely rusty. But since the photographer's name was in Russian, I named the photo "Russian Reflections."  Credit:  Yordanka Marinova



Ganesh, the ceiling walker


Ganesh's First Birthday Portrait

 

Lo, these many years ago—January 2011—I wrote my very first blog, the tale of attempting to drive my grandchildren from one side of Orlando to the other in someone else's car. It was a long enough—and hair-raising enough—tale to require two parts. A nightmare that is funny only in retrospect. It is also a tale that deserves repetition every once in a while—if for no other reason than to advise:  Do Not Attempt This in Your Family! So below, please find Part I.

Grace note:  Many of you have seen photos of my currently teenage grandchildren. At the time of this story, Hailey, the oldest, was seven.

 

A HARROWING TALE FROM DECEMBER 2010

My daughter is a blonde.  She is also CEO of a Real Estate Investment company.  This does not mean she does not have blonde moments.  

Each Christmas my daughter and her husband take the extended family (about fifteen relatives and employees) to First Baptist Orlando’s Singing Christmas Trees, a truly superb presentation in a church that seats about 5000.  This year, my son-in-law also bought tickets on the same night for a concert in downtown Orlando.  So it was arranged that I would drive their three girls, ages 4, 6 & 7, home.  Sounds simple, right?  I even had help from others in the group to get all three little ones into my daughter’s SUV through the crush of 5000 people attempting to leave at the same time.  So far, so good.  

By the time the girls were settled into their seat belts, there weren’t many cars left in the lot.  I buckled up, started the engine . . . and the car didn’t move.  I tried again.  No movement.  My daughter had set the hand brake in flat-as-a-pancake Florida?  I looked where the hand brake is on my car.  Nothing.  I looked where the brake was on my old car.  Nothing.  It was, by the way, nearly pitch black in the parking lot.  The 7-year-old put on the overhead light for me, but I still couldn’t see any hand brake.  

I got out of the car and called to the one couple still walking toward their car.  They kindly came over, but they too could not find the hand brake.  By this time people were getting into the car in front of me.  We had a five-way consultation, the two couples and I, and the husband of the new couple gave it a try.  Took him about ten seconds, while the rest of us stood by, red-faced.  I like to think he was more familiar with Hyundai SUVs than I was.  With profuse thanks to all, I climbed in.  At last we could go home.

Figuring the couple who had been parked in front of me knew the way out better than I did, I followed them.   Which took us out a different way than we’d come in.  (Oops.)  No problem, just turn right and right and . . . except in all the traffic I ended up in a Left Turn Only lane.  (Double oops.)  After two or three blocks I figured I’d better make another right and right and hopefully end up on the road I should have been on in the first place.  Except . . .

We were instantly in a residential area, and that’s when I had time to glance at the dashboard and notice the Gas Light was on.  Houses, houses everywhere, and not a sign of a thoroughfare with a gas station.  And at that dire point, the 7-year-old said, “Gramma, do you know where we are?”

Uh, no.  But of course I didn’t say so.  I just kept doubling back until I saw—oh, joy—a stoplight.  And at the intersection, a GAS STATION.  Before pulling up to the pump, I tried calling both my daughter and my son-in-law.  I was not happy!  Lucky them, their phones were off.  They were enjoying their concert at the new Amway Arena.

The children, fortunately, knew which side the gas tank was on, so we managed to pull up with the pump on the correct side.  I popped out, stuck in my credit card, and the silly machine wanted to know if it was a debit card.  When I said no, it cancelled the transaction.  I tried again.  Same result.  To say my blood pressure was soaring would be putting it mildly.  There I was with three small children in the car, and I had to go INSIDE.  Fortunately, we were right in front of the door.  I told the children to stay put and dashed inside, where the attendant managed the transaction while I kept looking out the glass door.  

Put ten dollars worth of gas in my daughter’s car and headed out, the children completely angelic or I might have lost myself along with the car.  We did a couple more turns, looking for lots of lights signaling a major road.  And there it was.  Kirkman, the road that runs past Universal Studios.  I was so turned around by this time that I simply chose a direction, knowing either north or south would lead me to a major east-west road that would take us home.  And, sure enough, in less than a mile there it was, the 408, Orlando’s East-West Expressway.  Yay, hurray!

But, no, this isn’t the end of the story.  The night’s “annoyances” will be continued in my next post on Friday, January 21, 2011.

 ~ * ~

 

Comedy & adventure in the hops fields of Kent


A young man (possibly royal) encounters adventures in Regency London


Coming soon:  Matthew Wolfe - Revelations

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Florida Mystery/Suspense by Blair

 

A spectacular pic from Iceland


Stealing the Moon.
Credit for the remarkable bit of creativity above:  Lyn McNutt -  Canadian Things

 

Would you believe? Ganesh is learning to read.

 



Blair's Books of Mystery and Suspense

 I was living on Florida's Gulf Coast when I began my writing career with two historical novels, The Sometime Bride and Tarleton's Wife. After that, I spent several years writing Mystery and Suspense, set primarily in the area where I lived (Sarasota County). After I started writing traditional Regencies for Signet, I became branded as a Regency author, but every once in a while I remind readers that I've written a number of books with a contemporary setting. And yes, most are set entirely in Florida, and almost always in the "out back of beyond" that few visitors ever get to see. (Even the books that wander the world have significant Florida scenes.) I am delighted that so many enjoy my Regency Historicals, Gothics, Traditionals, "Darkside," and Matthew Wolfe books, but hey, I'd love it if you'd also take a peek at my "Florida" books. Here they are: 

 

A New England widow, a Florida "cowboy" & a serial killer

 


A tale of wildfire, human trafficking & lost love

 


Exotic weddings, a female "fixer," & the Russian mob

 

A Gulf Coast costume designer turns detective
 


A recuperating female FBI agent is drawn into 
a series of bizarre murders

 


 Action, adventure & romance in Florida's "back of beyond."

 

Two Tales of Suspense on a more International scale:

 


 
Cultures clash as a New England businesswoman & a tough
Hispanic entrepreneur combat agricultural espionage. 
 

 
A female FBI agent & a Russian mystery man
chase a wayward nuclear bomb.
 
~ * ~
 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

For Blair's website, click here. 

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)