Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Names & THE Poem


Cassidy at Airshow - Sanford (FL) Airport

 Into the Wild Blue Florida Yonder . . .

Cassidy, age 14, got the biggest Christmas gift this year - flying lessons. At her first lesson this week. Daddy took video from the rear seat, and later, Mommy filmed the family watching the video. The result . . .

For the video of Cassidy's first flying lesson, click here.

Below, Cassidy and Alex, both students in Seminole High's aviation program, demonstrate they have the keen pilot's eye. (Alex won the big one.)

Cassidy & Alex at Altamonte Fair

Ganesh, abandoning his cardboard condo for a look down from on high


My new favorite Bernie meme:



The Importance of Names

Over the years I've posted a number of blogs about the importance of Names, but this week, when I updated my Matthew Wolfe Character List and it ran to five pages, I felt  the topic of Names was well worth repeating.

Names have Power. (Hence, all those old tales about keeping your real name a secret so someone with magic can't get power over you.) Seriously, names not only identify, they define. They are the symbol of a person—who and what he/she is, who and what he/she does. I've read books where authors made the ghastly mistake of introducing a main character by no more than a first name or, even worse, no more than a pronoun (he or she). [Granted, there are occasional short Prologue-type scenes where this approach works, but in general full names and a bit of description and/or background information will give readers a far clearer picture.(And, believe me, as a prolific reader, I guarantee readers really appreciate that.]

The Nitty Gritty of Character Lists

Although my Character Lists are in the word processing folder with the sections of my book, I also keep a printed copy on my typing stand and a printed copy with the stack of research and reminder notes I keep handy for when I'm editing hard copy. And when writing a series, where the number of characters gets longer and longer, it is even more important to keep a detailed Character List. (Just this morning, I had to go back to Sections 1 and 2, searching for the name of a Dublin barmaid I failed to write down.)

What to Put in a Character List

This is highly flexible, the answer being "whatever you feel you need to remember." The list is usually short at the beginning of a book but grows as I go along. Here is what I include:

Main Characters' Names, with the most important at the top (hero, heroine, most important secondary characters) - short physical descriptions, where they live (if pertinent), other family members (if mentioned in book)

Grace note:  In the case of "out of the mist" authors like me this is a "bare bones" list when I begin a book. To which I add pencil scribbles until it becomes such a mess I am forced to retype the whole thing!

Minor Character Names (usually added in the order they appear) For these, I include descriptions only if important. In a series, where this list is really long, I divide the names by Headers, such as "Officers," "Village," "London," etc. (When I began the Matthew Wolfe series, I had a page that read "Matthew Wolfe's Women. That has gradually been replaced as each individual acquired a name and took her place in the formal Character List.) Also, if I hadn't gone all the way back to The Lady Takes a Risk and made a list of the many children at Kirkwood Farm, I would have been lost.

Places - The names of characters' homes, both in the city and in the country are important. The name of the street a main character lives on is often important, particularly if he/she lives in London or Bath. Record the names and locations of inns and taverns your characters frequent. You'll regret it if you don't.

Other - the names of people's horses, their pets. Example:  all those dogs we first meet in The Lady Takes a Risk. The many other worldly beings in The Ghosts of Rushton Court. Record your creations! Don't get caught searching for a name or place you can't quite remember.

Summary. Names are a vital form of identification. Mentioning a name once, then following it with paragraph after paragraph of pronouns (he/she) simply does not work. Readers need to identify with your characters, need to feel they know them. A whole slew of vague pronouns doesn't do that. Similarly, occasional repeats of both first and last name can add more depth to a character than first name only. And as important as using those names, keep a list of Who's Who and What's What. Write it down. Keep it handy. This is your life-saver, particularly in a series, where only a truly remarkable memory can keep track of what went before.

~ * ~

And now, a very special treat. I am pleased to offer the poem Amanda Gorman recited at our President's inauguration:


The Hill We Climb

When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
'Never been more optimistic': speeches, songs and celebrations cap Biden's inauguration day – as it happened

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
This effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust,
for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked, ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert, ‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be:
A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the west.
We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

 ~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Vaccine Tale

 The front page the Orlando Sentinel, January 21, 2021:

Joe Biden, Jr., Dr. Jill Biden holding family bible, Kamala Harris below

And with the above, a great whoosh of relief swept the land, leaving Trump culters scratching their heads. (I understand many still believed right up to the moment above that Trump would triumph in his attempt to overthrow democracy.)

The Inauguration ceremony was a marvelous display of adept planning, uniformly intelligent and articulate speakers, outstanding performers, and all-around good will, a striking contrast to what we've endured these past four years. And capped by the  "Youth Poet Laureate," Amanda Gorman, who stole the show, not only with her poetry but as a representative of the youth of our great country. The "class" and smooth-running of the inaugural event bodes well for the competency of those now running our country. 

And now, a little light relief before moving on to Covid-19 . . .

After 3 days of fog at their rental in Gatlinburg, TN, where Susie & Mike took a short vacation, the clouds parted long enough for this photo


I have had cats all my life but I have never had one who created his own housing (playground?) with his teeth. Below, two pics of Ganesh, the photogenic feline:

A last-minute addition:

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was photographed among all the glitterati at the Inauguration sitting on the stairs wearing mittens hand-made by a constituent who uses recycled materials. An enterprising college student turned the photo into a meme, which has now been placed against who-knows-how-many different backgrounds, providing loving amusement for all, as well as an example of American resiliency. We needed a bit of humor in a time of stress, and who better to provide it than a kindly gentleman who's twice run for President and whom almost everyone likes and respects, even if they don't all agree with his politics. Of the thousands of versions, I thought this one particularly clever.


And as a musician and choir member, I also loved this one:

 A Vaccine Tale

I received my first Covid vaccine shot (Pfizer) this week, plus an appointment for Shot #2. And in the process of doing so, I learned rather a lot about what my county is doing that seems to be working so much better than most other counties. (The long lines of seniors out on the sidewalk in the cold or lined up in their cars all night that have been shown on the news are absolutely appalling.) After my experience, I can only advise all county and state governments to look to Seminole for how it should be done. (The federal government as well, now that we have a President who gives a #$%^.) In short, after a few weeks of experimentation, Seminole County seems to have nailed it, and I'm going to attempt to summarize its efforts below.

 1. Many of the members of my choir (now a hand chimes group) are health care workers. They received their shots first, as expected.

2. Nursing Home roll-out was slower, some of it supposedly due to getting all permissions signed.

3. And then vaccinations turned to those "65 & older," and the fun began. Advent Health (a vast hospital service in Central Florida) sent an appointment sign-up to all its patients, but the site was at Orlando International Airport, a maze I gave up navigating even when I lived only a few miles away. Now that I'm older and more than 20 miles away . . . By the time I contacted my daughter about driving me, all appointments were gone. Sigh.

4. So I began to search my own county - Seminole. Not an easy job at first, but after a shaky start, they soon got their act together, resulting in:

    a.  a hot line (with a really easy number) which advised you to . . .

    b.  Text "Covid-19 info" to a six-digit code. That instantly put your name and cell phone on an Alert list to receive notification of the next batch of appointments at the Oviedo Mall right here in Seminole County.

5.  I had no sooner done this than my daughter called - she had been researching on my behalf, and by what she called "arrowing down to the bottom of the page," she actually talked to a live human being who signed me up for a "canceled" appointment only four days away. Wow!

6.  Meanwhile, the evening news said that Seminole County was in the process of expanding their site by moving to the old Sears building in the Oviedo Mall. Also . . .

7.  The county organized mobile units they were sending into parts of the county where residents were less mobile, such as Goldsboro in Sanford. They also sent units to senior retirement homes (not nursing homes), and even set up a special site to vaccinate teachers over 65.

8.  Meanwhile, I received a "ticket" for my appointment, an exact address for my GPS, and instructions on what ID to bring with me. Also instructions on when to arrive - not more than 10 minutes early.

9.  THE BIG DAY.  I've been close to home for so long that I allowed an extra 30 minutes for getting lost, taking my Kindle to pass the time while I sat in my car once I had the right door in my sights. (I was able to get a parking space within c. 30 feet of the entrance.)

10.  My ticket read:  3:00-3:30, so at about 12 minutes before 3 I joined the line outside the door (carefully socially distanced by stickers on the sidewalk).  There were perhaps a dozen people already in line. At somewhere around 5 before 3, we were asked:  "Are you all 3 o'clock?" An eager chorus of "Yes" and in we went.

11.  Inside, the vast empty space had been set up like an airport check-in, with black stanchions and bands delineating U-shaped aisles. The line moved rapidly to the first check-in—a show of my ticket and Florida driver's license. Then a young man (the only person I saw who looked bored) gave me a number. 

12.  On to a desk where I turned in my ticket, was given paperwork to fill out, and directed to an area of chairs (socially distanced) where I could fill out & sign the required info. I had barely scribbled my name, when my number was called, and I was escorted into another section of the vast space where an EMT was ready to give me my shot. Over and done in no time. BUT the "observation" time he put on my paperwork added up to 25 minutes when I'd expected 15! (Likely due to my advanced age, or maybe just his poor math.) 

13. OBSERVATION. So there I sat with nothing to do but look around at all the other people doing the same. (I had failed to remove my phone from its holder in the car. And I noted with interest only a few were checking their email or whatever. No one was chit-chatting, almost as if everyone recognized it would be an intrusion on the solemnity of the moment.)  During this time three EMTs sat at a desk facing us, occasionally talking with each other. There were no emergencies while I was there - I could only give thanks that the Powers That Be had provided help "just in case."

14.  When my "observation time was up, I went to the desk where people were making appointments for their second shots. And here I ran into the first glitch of the day. Just as it was my turn, they ran out of appointments. But no one told me, "Sayonara." Only "Wait a minute while we get more." When I mentioned that I didn't stand well, I was provided with a chair, and sure enough, in maybe as little as 5 minutes, someone came back saying the new appointments were being downloaded, and by the time she sat down, there they were, and I had my pick of new times.

15. Just to gild the lily, we were each presented with a sticker that read:  "I got the Covid-19 vaccine." (Talk about "organized"!)

If you've read this far, I believe you can see why I was impressed. But there's more. Throughout this process, each and every worker I encountered was smiling, friendly, and empathetic. A tour de force by the Seminole County health care system and Seminole County Emergency Management. Hats off. I salute you!  

~ * ~

 Book Two of the Matthew Wolfe series, tentatively titled Matthew Wolfe - The Adventures Begin, is on the home stretch. Hint: our hero is now in his early 20s, with a mistress a decade older than he is, and shocked to discover his young friend from Kent is old enough to have a London "Season." For a little light relief during these stressful times, please check out Book One, The Making of Matthew Wolfe.

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

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

 You will also find background details on the Who, What, Where, When, & Why of Matthew Wolfe on my Facebook Author Page.

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, January 9, 2021

Turbulent Times

No photos this week, no Writing or Editing advice, not even a plug for one of my books . . .


And no, "Turbulent Times" does not refer to Covid-19, although the surge of the Pandemic surely reduces us to tears (both sadness and frustration). 

I am talking about the shocking assault on Democracy that occurred on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. 

About 2:00 in the afternoon I turned on my TV to check the vote going on in a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives, a vote that should have been a rubber stamp of the Electoral College vote, but which some of our elected officials had threatened to delay. And, to my astonishment, I found a scene of insurrection unfolding on my screen. I sat there, glued to CNN, for the remainder of the afternoon. Horrified and disbelieving.

Was this mob led astray by the bombast and lies of our President?  Yes.

Did our President incite these people to violence?  Without a doubt.

And as the investigation develops . . .

Why weren't the capital police prepared for this assault? (Social media had been full of threats of violence for days.) Were some complicit? Were they ordered to hold back? Certainly, most did their jobs—one died and many were injured—but it will likely be months before the entire truth is known.

Did our President refuse to send aid when the breach occurred?  Yes.

Should our President be ousted from office even though his term will be over in a matter of days?  Let's face it, any reprimand can only be symbolic at this point—there isn't time for anything more—but hopefully, whatever happens will be enough to force him to abandon politics forever.

Are most Americans appalled by our President's actions?  The majority, yes, but far too many still have their heads stuck in lala land.

Where do we go from here?  I do not envy Joe Biden, now faced by not only by the problems of the Pandemic and rectifying Trump's decimation of our government, but by the shocking threat to our basic Democracy which Trump's lies and dictatorial bombast have implanted in all too many people's minds. 

I am willing to believe that the vast majority of the crowd that marched on the Capitol on Wednesday were victims of the Cult of Trump, believing his lies about a fraudulent election and genuinely considering themselves patriots, the "Minutemen" of our time. Like the followers of Jim Jones who swallowed poisoned Kool-aid back in 1978, these protestors swallowed Trump's swill "hook, line, and sinker," and are fortunate they did not end up dead like the 900 followers of Jim Jones. Most of those in Wednesday's crowd are not bad people. Just deluded. Yet after four years of brain-washing, how long will it take for them to see the light?

Unfortunately, very few of the "gullible" described above were among the armed insurrectionists at the front of the crowd storming of the capitol. This action was led by a hardcore group, who fully intended violence. (They had, in fact, boasted about it for days on social media. And for some mysterious reason no one took them seriously.) They came prepared for violence, complete with guns and zip ties for immobilizing potential hostages. I cannot help but wonder how many were "true believers," how many were anarchists using Trump as an excuse, how many thugs being paid to riot, how many just plain crazy. I doubt we'll ever know.

A handful are now in jail, many more being actively sought. (I can only shake my head that someone would think they could prop their boots on Nancy Pelosi's desk and NOT go to jail. Sigh.) 

Apologies for that somewhat light-hearted aside. Five people died, two by violence; three from medical emergency. Help was far too long in coming. 

The simple truth:  we need to work hard to make this the end of the Culture of Untruth; to let Blatant Lies, Incivility, and the attitude of To-Hell-with-Anyone-but-Me disappear along with the most disgraceful, embarrassing, and shameful President in the history of the United States of America. Be gone, good riddance, good-bye! And don't even think of coming back.

Surely, our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves.

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Need to Read

 I was watching CNN this morning and cringed at a Yale "expert" advising that we might have the end in sight by this time next year. Sigh. (He also suggested that full Recovery would likely be followed by a period of Going Wild!) Anyway, this mix of bad news/good news reminded me of photo I found on Facebook which covers the current situation pretty well.

So here's wishing we all avoid the pitfalls and will be looking back on 2021 with less animosity than we did on 2020.


Evidently, Ganesh chewed his own pop-up hole.


Susie made one of her trips to the beach in Venice (FL) this week and shared these sunset pics. (Venice is on the Gulf of Mexico c. 20 miles south of Sarasota, 60 miles south of Tampa.)



 I have expounded on this topic a number of times over the years, but it's never been more relevant than now, when we're struggling with isolation brought on by the Pandemic. It is not just authors who need to read, discovering what's being done in their genre, getting the feel of how other people put words together—do I love that or hate it? It's a case of ALL of us needing to read. I don't care if it's a comic book or graphic novel. I don't care if you insist on hardcover, paperback, Kindle, tablet, cellphone, or whatever. I don't care if it's Mystery, Romance, or Thriller. A literary treatise or a Best-seller. A religious tract or How to Declutter Your House. Sports news or the local gossip sheet. Just READ! If all else fails, turn on the Subtitles on your TV programs!

In times like these, reading can save your sanity. Reading is a lifeline to whatever world you choose. In my case, my taste has moved to an almost steady diet of Mystery, SciFi, and Fantasy. But yes, almost all have a strong romantic theme. I am a lifetime devotee of Happily Ever After. [Side story:  The Ghosts of Rushton Court has been my personal best-seller ever since it came out. But every once in a while I frown at my Amazon sales statistics where it lists "Returns" and ask myself, "Who on earth would return a book everyone seems to love?" And then it occurred to me. My ghosts are intriguing but benign. About as far from Stephen King as one can get. If a person enjoys Tales of Horror, then Blair Bancroft's stories of Regency Romance, Family, and Humor are definitely not for them.\

I repat - it does not matter what you read. Only that you invest a bit of that extra time you likely wish you didn't have in doing something besides complaining, brooding, or twiddling your thumbs. Treat yourself to a good story. To poetry - modern or classic. To a sewing lesson. Want to learn to knit, crochet, do counted cross-stitch? There are books for that as well. Maybe you'd like to learn more about a person you admire - living or long dead. Or maybe the truth behind some truly heinous historical character, like Adolf Hitler. (A lesson we could all use in these precarious times.)

Perhaps you'd like to find out how "Waterloo" joined the language? Or the expression "crossing the Rubicon" - and yes, that one goes all the way back to Julius Caesar. Maybe you're a skeptic - have you read any of the books that question the teachings of the religion you were brought up in? Have you ever read about someone else's religion? Hmmm - perhaps their beliefs aren't  so different, after all. 

Personally, I'm too pragmatic to tolerate books on Philosophy, but hey, that's just me. This is a great time to explore something new. And if that means the latest book by your favorite Romance novelist, that's great too. Crack a book; read a newspaper or magazine; turn on your e-reader device, whatever it may be. But DO IT! READ, READ, READ, READ, READ! You'll be amazed what a great job reading does in bringing joy into your life; or at the worst, banishing depression.

~ * ~

I've added a couple of patriotic prints to my mask fabric list:

Mask Flags



Mask Fireworks (the "specks" are silver sparkles)

Mask Winter (the dots are gold sparkles)

 To order or for further information:

 ~ * ~


For a link to Ghosts on Amazon, click here. 

For a link to Ghosts on Smashwords, click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)