Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Cat Tale & Recipes

 A montage of Squeak photos before the tale of all the trouble I've had with her these last few weeks.

Squeak, shortly after I got her 6 years ago.

She'd been found, crying piteously, inside the hood of a car.


Squeak's first Christmas


Squeak's way of saying, "Treats, now!"

Looks like the perfect angel, right? Well, she cost me an enormous vet bill last week for tests to discover if her recent abnormal behavior was due to illness. It was not. It seems my 2-day attempt to introduce a second cat into the house had lingering effects (stress that could last up to 6 months, the vet said!) In other words, my cat needed a "catyatrist." I was told I had to buy her an entire new litter box and it was suggested I buy an anti-stress spray that turned out to be something PetSmart kept under the checkout counter! (Marijuana for cats??) All this because I tried to do a good deed for Anastasia, the absolutely lovely little kitty our church has been feeding for months. The tale ends happily with the church secretary adopting the kitty, and Squeak going back to her good manners after getting a new litter box. She is still leery of lying on my bed as she used to and sometimes stops and looks all around as if she expects poor little Anastasia to pop out at her at any moment. But all in all, she's back to about 90% of normal. And I'm no longer getting unexpected wet spots all over the house, including the middle of my bed!

~ * ~



 I ran across a recipe in my Bisquick cookbook that I felt I had to share. It's pure comfort food - simple and amazingly tasty. I suspect it also freezes well but have not yet tried the batch I froze. 


1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz) baked beans
½ cup barbecue sauce
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
½ cup shredded cheddar (2 oz)

Heat oven to 425°. Cook beef over med-high heat 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in baked beans and BBQ sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Pour into 2-qt casserole.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir Bisquick, milk & butter until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 12 spoonfuls onto beef mixture.

Bake, uncovered, 18-22 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake about 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

*  * *

 I recently bought a folding omelet pan, adapted a recipe I found online - results below. (True chefs may groan, but I heartily recommend the results of using a folding pan.) The pan I bought could easily accommodate a larger omelet than the one in the recipe below.

Grace note:  the original recipe called for 2 teaspoon butter plus ½ teaspoon olive oil. I simply used PAM olive oil spray.

3 eggs
sea salt & pepper
a sprinkle of dried minced onion or garlic (opt.)

Whisk eggs and seasoning briskly. Spray folding pan. Preheat to Med-high. Add egg mix, using fork to draw aside mix and allow uncooked egg to run beneath. Continue until omelet is set but still soft. Scatter toppings on both sides. (See "Filling" below.) Fold.

Suggested fillings - pick & choose or use them all. Or think up some of your own.

Fresh herbs, chopped
Grated cheese
Bacon, fried to crisp & crumbled
Deli ham slices
Sliced green or black olives

 * * *

I updated my favorite steak recipe this week for a couple who really don't cook (!), and also enjoyed a beef tenderloin cooked to perfection (if I do say so myself), so decided the time was ripe to repeat "Sirloin Roast." Follow the directions and you'll have a steak that rivals one cooked in the finest restaurant. (Until I found this recipe, I was a total failure at cooking steak.)



1-2 sirloin, T-bone, rib-eye, beef tenderloin, filet mignon (but NEVER round steak or flank steak). I usually buy tenderloin or filet mignon.

Marinate 3-8 hours.* Remove from refrigerator at least one hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400° (before searing steak)

Spray cast iron grill pan** with PAM olive oil spray.

Sear steak on one side in grill pan.* Turn steak & finish in oven. For medium rare:

       1" steak - sear for c. 3 minutes; roast for c. 3 minutes.

       1½” steak - sear for c. 4 minutes; roast for c. 4 minutes.

Remove. Brush with pan juices; tent with foil; rest 3 min. (Do NOT skip these steps.)


*Any store-bought marinade or make your own

**My pan is 10.5 inches. If grilling more than 2 steaks, you will need a 12" grill pan.

~ * ~


Coming soon  

The Crucible Kingdom, a spin-off from the Blue Moon Rising series 

 ~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)



Saturday, February 19, 2022

Blair's Off-beat Books

Every author has books that sell better than others. As I've said before, I can't believe Tarleton's Wife is still selling after nearly a quarter-century on the market. And my traditional Regency, Lady Silence, always makes the "buy list." (Most likely, because of the irony of the title. Sigh.) Month after month, my Regency Gothics and Regency Historicals top the list.

And then, there are the books that wait in vain, only occasionally popping up under "Sales." Below, four of my off-beat books that could use a bit more love. I hope you'll take a peek and consider adopting one of these neglected strays into your reading device. 

~ * ~

In the early days of the Florida Writer Association, The Captive Heiress won First Place in the Young Adult category. It is, however, a story that should appeal to any lover of genuine historical novels (as opposed to page after page of hot sex dusted with a bit of history). It also has one of my all-time favorite covers.

Alecyn de Beauclaire, an orphaned heiress, is taken captive at age nine by the Earl of Rocheford who wants to enjoy the income from her estates. Her first friend in the strange new world at Castle Rocheford is Ranulf Mort à Mer, a descendant of Vikings and a penniless squire with no hope of ever being able to afford a horse and armor so he can become a knight. As the years go by, their friendship is unwavering, even when tested by the preaching of monks who declare that all women are evil and should be shunned.

When Alecyn is almost fourteen (a marriageable age in Medieval times) King Henry II makes Alecyn his ward. She is thrilled because she knows the king will want to keep her money for himself and, therefore, will not marry her off for several more years. Perhaps there is still time for Ranulf to become a knight and distinguish himself in battle.

In her position as companion to the royal children and songstress to the royal court, Alecyn learns not only the epic romance of chivalry, but the dark side of romance as she witnesses the love/hate relationship between the king and queen. Ranulf, meanwhile, learns to fight side by side with a new friend, William Marshall. But even Ranulf's eventual elevation to knighthood is not enough to qualify for the hand of an heiress to four fine estates.

Until, one day, Queen Eleanor goes for a hunt on her lands in the Aquitaine, and Ranulf and his friend, William Marshall, are among her escorts. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the three young people survive captivity by Eleanor's rebellious knights, they may have a future after all. But which young knight will King Henry choose for Alecyn?


Airborne - the Hanover Restoration is my one adventure into Steampunk and Alternative History, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, even though a few strict Regency buffs didn't get the concept of Alternative History and complained about my playing with the British succession.


 Miss Araminta Galsworthy encounters a number of surprises at the home of her new guardian, an inventor like her father. In addition to a host of strange machines and attacks by people who think her guardian's invention, the airship Aurora, is the work of the devil, she is expected to play hostess to a bevy of guests, all of whom seem to be engaged in treason. And, oh yes, she is expected to marry her guardian. Immediately.

Minta struggles to adjust to a new husband, new enemies, and new friends—one a princess who must rise above her rivals for the throne of England. When the day of revolution arrives, Minta plays a vital role, but comes perilously close to losing her chance to live a life where she, not the airship Aurora, is the center of her husband's life.


Due to a rather weird mix-up, the cover and blurb below appeared on my Amazon indie dashboard, while the original cover, blurb, and book from a long-ago epublisher remained on the Amazon order page, a mistake that went unnoticed by me for literally years. When I finally discovered it and tried to fix it, I got nowhere with Amazon, finally having to track down the revived publisher, who promptly fixed the problem. So, basically, the version below has only recently become available. It's a story right out of my years in New England and my many visits to Cape Cod.


 Following a tough trial, all defense attorney Vicki Kent wants is a few days of peace and quiet at her parents' cottage on Cape Cod. Instead, she finds a man challenging her with a 9mm in his hand. John Paollilo is an angry, burned-out homicide detective from New Haven, exiled by his boss to an enforced vacation on the Cape. Needless to say, conflicts abound—from a clash of professional viewpoints to the odoriferous retaliations of a family of skunks—as Vicki and John reluctantly share the cottage, exploring the Cape and each other, and in the end discovering that opposites really do attract.


Florida Knight plops Medieval times straight into the heart of modern-day Florida. And although the story is fiction, the setting is not. The Society for Creative Anachronism is very active in Florida's year-round good weather. As a member and costumer for a number of years, I can guarantee the background is authentic. I was also "roving information"—carrying a flower-bedecked wicker basket with maps & general information—for the Medieval Fair that was once held yearly on the grounds of the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Arts in Sarasota.


Kate Knight fights memories of a former abusive relationship by armed combat with male members of a Medieval re-enactment group. To Kate, men are anathema, yet somehow she finds herself sharing a postage-stamp-size tent with a Florida Highway Patrol officer who is attempting to discover who almost killed his brother in a tournament at a Medieval Fair. For Kate, trust comes hard as they deal with obsessive enthusiasts, quirky personalities, and a ruthless killer.

~ * ~

Coming soon  

The Crucible Kingdom, a spin-off from the Blue Moon Rising series 

 ~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Editing vs Proofreading

 This week's laugh:

The Youth Choir at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection was making a video in the church when someone's Labrador Retriever got loose—no, don't ask what it was doing in the church!—and charged straight up the aisle. Fortunately, the choir director had his camera handy for a host of spontaneous expressions no one could ever capture in a posed photo.

The Lab is among them somewhere.

 More painfully funny - this cartoon found on Facebook:

Triumph of the Week:

Our Cassidy (age 15) has been a member of the Police Explorers for some time, though most of the members are older than she is. This week, in competition with students of both sexes, using a Glock 34 at a range of 25 yards, she won the marksmanship competition. If you think it was a simple Point & Shoot like a Carnival Gallery, see the photo below. Cassidy's team also won a First overall. Hence, the two medals in the photo below.

And for a soothing finish to this week's gallery . . .

Willow enjoying a winter nap

On the right, a glimpse of the blanket I made for Willow's mommy.

Posted to Facebook by Martha Duke Anderson




This is an old topic, but it came up again in a workshop this week, and I figured it was important enough to bear repeating.


1.  Editing and Proofreading are two different skill sets and should never be confused with each other.

2.  Proof of this is the difference in salary between those who work in the publishing industry as Editors and the often-times "piecework" hires of the grammar nerds who proofread. (Although I can hear Editors all over the country sighing at this implication that they are paid well.)

3.  Editors deal with CONTENT. Proofreaders deal with the nitty-gritty: spelling, grammar, typos, continuity.

4.  Editors look at your story line, character development, emotions, motivations, setting, descriptions, transitions, etc., etc.

5.  Proofreaders look for typos, missing words, repeated words. Should that semi-colon be switched to a dash? Did someone's eye or hair color change from page 8 to page 108?  

6.  Both Editors and Proofreaders notice Dangling Participles, so avoid them like the plague! 

An example stolen from the Internet:  "Walking through the kitchen, the smoke alarm went off."  (The word directly after the comma MUST match to the Opening Phrase. If it doesn't, you have a Dangling Participle. In short, the smoke alarm did not walk through the kitchen!)

7.  Very few people are good at both Editing and Proofreading. In fact, the skills are almost diametrically opposed. Editors, if doing their job properly, become too absorbed in what they're reading to pick up on the little things. An editor is looking at the overall effect of your work, trying to find ways to make it better, while a proofreader concentrates on the "little things" - so much so the full effect of the story becomes secondary. The proofreader is there to find mistakes, not enjoy your book. (Although I treasured the note from the proofreader of one of my Signet Regencies telling me how much she enjoyed the story!)

I list the above because in a world with so much indie publishing, many authors need to hire an editor or proofreader, and it's really necessary to understand the difference between the two. Yes, most editors will note typos if they see them, but that's not their main function. Editing is a skill requiring experience and a feel for the Big Picture, while almost anyone with a gift for details can serve as a proofreader.

I personally have a Editor's mind. When my husband and I were running a small educational publishing company, we hired a neighbor to proofread all our books. The wife of a Yale professor, she had an almost uncanny knack for finding mistakes we had all missed through the slow typeset/cut&paste world we lived in at that time. I've always thought of Proofreading as more of a "born gift" than a learned skill, while Editing takes a lot of experience, both in what it takes to make a good book and the ability to explain why changes need to be made.

Grace note:  Since this is Black History Month, my husband and I were very proud of the fact that we commissioned and published The Black People of America, the first Black History text for Middle and High Schools (distributed by Macmillan). My husband went to the library in Harlem and took an enormous number of photos, fitting them into the text I typeset in the painstakingly complex Cut & Paste method required before computers took over the publishing world.

Summary:  almost every indie author needs an editor and a proofreader, but since that tends to be cost-prohibitive, unless you are a good self-editor (which skills I've been preaching since 2011), an editor can do the most for your book. (Hopefully, you can find an accommodating relative or friend with the picky-picky skills of a proofreader.) But NEVER, ever hire a "proofreader" thinking you're going to get the professional advice of an editor. Repeat:  Editing and Proofreading are two different skill sets. Don't be confused into hiring the wrong person for the job.

~ * ~

Coming soon  

The Crucible Kingdom, a spin-off from the Blue Moon Rising series 

 ~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

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


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)