Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Prequel - The Crucible Kingdom


After putting together this week's blog, I went to choir rehearsal, where our director gave us copies of a hot-off-international-email music, written by the UK's John Rutter, one of the world's best-known composer of religious music. (For example, he wrote music for most of the British royal weddings!) He has posted his latest composition, "A Ukrainian Prayer," to YouTube, along with his heart-felt comments. This Sunday, our choir of 15 voices, after one rehearsal, is going to attempt to perform what you will hear sung by 300 if you click on the link below. I highly recommend it - a truly moving moment.

To hear "A Ukrainian Prayer," click here.

Sunday p.m.

I am happy to report that our small choir managed "A Ukrainian Prayer" amazingly well. And the congregation was seemed truly appreciative of the moment.  

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After the Citrus Singers sang the National Anthem at an Orlando City soccer match, three of the girls got a hug from the mascot.

 Riley was trying on prom gowns this week—that's a tan lining under there, not skin!—and Mom couldn't resist taking a photo. Since the dress was $600, there was no chance of it getting Riley banned at the door. (She has ordered a lovely, much more conservative gown for the occasion.) 

The following is a photo from the Orlando Sentinel. And no, it's not photo-shopped. The Orlando area was known for growing celery long before Disney made us the resort capital of the world. The celery in the photo was grown in Oviedo, the town just east of Longwood, where I live (c. 15 miles north of Orlando).


Over the past two weeks I have discovered The Crucible Kingdom is longer than I thought it was, meaning its debut will be delayed until April. I also discovered that despite its length, I still had more to add. Sigh. It also occurred to me that since I was using very ancient concepts—sorcery and a curse—in a story set a thousand or so years in the future, it might be fun to write a Prequel in the style of storytellers of old. 

But, Oh horrors!

Romance authors will instantly understand my exclamation. From our first days of writing, we are told:  SHOW, DON'T TELL! A rule that's become so much a part of my writing that I must have revised the three pages of the Prequel ten times before it began to have the right feel (which is Tell, tell, tell!). 

Grace note:  I freely admit "Show, don't Tell" is a rule I occasionally ignore. Many of my books, from The Sometime Bride to The Crucible Kingdom, have paragraphs of Author Point of View ("Tell" mode). But the wise romance author is still advised to keep those passages to a minimum. 


So here it is—the Prequel to The Crucible Kingdom. Your comments are invited.

Picture a starry night, a glowing campfire, a circle of listeners, and in a tradition as old as humanity, a storyteller keeping ancient history alive . . .

Once upon a time on a planet at the outermost edge of a quadrant in the Milky Way Galaxy, there lived a great but evil sorcerer called Yllyak. His skin was as blue as a summer sky, his eyes the blue-green of a shallow sea. Skinny as a sapling, he towered well over two meters tall. But even in his own time, Yllyak was shunned. Sorcery was all well and good, the Tryll people reasoned, a benefit to the tribe if performed in the proper way, but Yllyak had a dark side, noticeable almost from birth. And as he grew older and his tendencies toward black magic fully unfurled, the Tryll shook their heads. Fear seized their hearts.

And then one day, the intruders came. The threat of Yllyak was forgotten as a great clap of thunder rent the sky and a speck appeared, growing larger and larger until it became a shining object bigger than an entire village. Until it screamed above their heads like a giant bird of prey. Until it plunged into a meadow, grinding, sliding, coming to a halt just short of a dense forest.

And thus, Lord Viktor Jubilan, his wife, children, and a host of others from the star system Caroli escaped the Regulon Empire. And in their eagerness to create a new home for themselves, they took over the planet the Tryll had called their own. They claimed control of the land, the oceans, the lakes, rivers, and mineral wealth. The lives of the Tryll.

All this Yllyak watched.  He brooded. Seethed. And began to scheme, to experiment, grimly fighting his way through failure after failure, seeking some way to stop the flood of pale-skinned invaders from far, far away. But as the years passed, all he managed was vengeance.  His mind, already dark from practicing the black arts, became so twisted, he was oblivious to the fact that any spell he cast against the refugees from Caroli would affect his own people as well. Or perhaps, some would later suggest,  he had lost so much of the better side of himself that he no longer cared.

On the night of the summer solstice in the six and twentieth year after the invasion, Yllyak sat cross-legged on the floor of his cave, ready to cast the final spell. His tools were in place—not easy tasks for a man who’d had to cover great distances on foot, cadging occasional rides on a farmer’s cart. Closer to home, the traps, the mystical beasts were also poised and waiting. There remained only the final incantation, the lowering of the last piece into place.

Yllyak eyed the glowing shape in front of him, the small pool of water just behind. His lips stretched in a rictus of a smile. He began to chant—a long intricate string of words, casting a spell it had taken him years to devise. His voice whispered, sang, rose to a shout, dropped back to an anguished plea. It must work, had to work. The air around him filled with sound—the spell was singing back to him, promising him a curse that would outlast all the invaders’ puny efforts to undo it. Who and what were they, compared to Yllyak of the Tryll?

Sudden silence. The chant was over, the spell cast. Nothing left to do but . . .

A wave of Yllyak’s hand and the glowing red square floated out over a bubbling spring of water in the center of the cave floor. A final quick spell gave the square the weight of lead. Another wave of his hand, and the object plummeted, splashing water over the lip of the spring, over Yllyak himself as it plunged to the rocky bottom far below.

At first, the former citizens of Caroli thought they were merely being afflicted by a spate of bad weather. But four moon cycles seemed excessive. As odd as the violent weather’s sudden end, followed by twelve cycles of normal weather—enough to lull everyone into believing those four cycles of extreme weather were a one-time phenomenon.

Until in a sudden burst of violence, it happened again. Questions were asked, some not so nicely. Yet it was not until shortly after the end of the second four cycles of destruction that the questions were answered. One morning, as King Viktor was listening to petitions from his subjects, a swirl of blue smoke appeared directly in front of his throne. Out of the smoke rose a tall, gaunt blue-skinned Tryll with masses of white hair hanging down to his waist. His face set in a mocking grimace, his slanted eyes gleaming with the conviction of a madman, he stood proudly before the king and told him of the curse. Then, after a brief, scornful survey of king and court, he vanished, once again enveloped in blue smoke, and never to be seen again.

The immigrants from Caroli set their best scientists to studying the problem. They turned to Tryll shamen for help. Many succumbed to a mysticism they’d scorned in the past, burning effigies of Yllyak in every village, town, and city square. But decade after decade, no matter what they tried, nothing could touch the curse Yllyak had devised—twelve cycles of normal weather followed by four cycles of unrelenting earthquakes, violent thunderstorms, hail, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, tsunamis, and wildfires.

Until, that is, two hundred years later . . .

~ * ~


A tale of Sorcery, Adventure, and Romance.

~ * ~ 

  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, March 12, 2022

Gallery Moment & Book Bargain

 Next blog post:  March 26


I went several weeks with very few pictures that struck me as blog-worthy, then suddenly, a deluge. So will devote the entire blog to pics by friends and family, or found on Facebook.

A new "most photogenic kitty contest - Willow in Connecticut vs. a younger rival from the far Northwest


Willow - not a morning kitty

Adora - from the Pacific Northwest

Posted to Facebook by my old friend, Sue-Ellen Welfonder

"Reading Wonder" - also posted by Sue-Ellen

Terry Baber, former resident of Orlando and proud papa of Adora (above) has a talent for finding marvelous pics for Facebook. One of the latest examples below:


Our Cassidy got to visit the Kennedy Space Center last week with her Air Force ROTC group. Her father was one of the chaperons. With Space X averaging a launch a week lately, the place is really hopping.


For a dramatic contrast . . .


From 2016 - Cassidy in the blue shorts

Posted to Facebook by Maggie Andersen

Tulip Field - Posted to FB by Martha Duke Anderson

This amazing photo by Jeremy Holmes

And last, but far from least on what's been
a writing & editing blog since 2011 . . .
Found on Facebook

 ~ * ~

A bargain while it lasts . . .
For some reason my boxed set of the Blue Moon Rising series seems to be difficult to find on Amazon—it comes up only if you add "series" to "Blue Moon Rising." Therefore, almost all sales have been single copies—not that I'm complaining, as everyone who buys Rebel Princess seems to go on to purchase the other three books as well. Nonetheless, I will probably take down the boxed set before the publication of The Crucible Kingdom later this month (or early April). Therefore, if you'd like to read about the events leading up to this spin-off and learn more about the cross-over characters, here's a chance to get the whole Blue Moon Rising series at a bargain price. Below, a link to the boxed set on Amazon. As mentioned in last week's blog, these are books with plenty of action and adventure, and with strong paranormal elements. They also feature the ups and downs of the romances of a king's four children.
For the boxed set of the four books of the Blue Moon Rising series, click here.

~ * ~

  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, March 5, 2022

A Special Kind of SciFi


"Cover reveal" of my upcoming spin-off of the
Blue Moon Rising series


Grace note: the volcano scenes in Part II are based on the eruption of Oregon's Mount St. Helen's on Sunday, May 18,1980. (Fascinating research, by the way, if gorier than I expected.)

Attention, Regency lovers! Part I of this three-part book reads very much like a Regency novel. Try it, you just might like it.

The Crucible Kingdom

Part I - Prelude
Part II - Chaos
Part III - Quest

In a nutshell . . .

The king of The Crucible Kingdom orders a widowed duchess to marry a starship captain from a culture Crucibilians fled more than two hundred years earlier. Among several reasons for the marriage is the need to fight a curse that was laid on the kingdom by a very nasty native sorcerer. In Part II our hero and heroine battle the violence of the Curse, and in Part III, they go on the hunt for ways to stop it forever. Among the more romantic questions fitted around scenes of action and adventure: can an arrogant captain from the now-defeated Regulon Empire submit to being consort to a duchess? Can they work together well enough to destroy the Curse? Or will the Curse take one of them before they lower their pride enough to admit they love each other? 

Grace notes: The Crucible Kingdom is a stand-alone book, not the start of a new series. Readers of the Blue Moon Rising series will, however, recognize several cross-over characters, including that ever-whimsical favorite, K'kadi Amund, sorcerer extraordinaire, the man who doesn't talk.


A Special Kind of SciFi

 A number of years ago, when I began Rebel Princess, Book One of the Blue Moon Rising series, I thought I was writing the genre called "Futuristic"; i.e., fiction set in a future time but emphasizing romance rather than action/adventure. And yes, knowing I did not have the knowledge or interest to write the technical details required for Science Fiction, "Futuristic" seemed exactly right for me. Except . . . I soon discovered that Futuristic implied a level of hot sex I did not write. Oops!

So what to do? I was still searching for an answer as I uploaded Rebel Princess and went on to Book Two, The Sorcerer's Bride. I played with "SciFi/Paranomral," "SciFi/Paranormal/Romance." I attended a conference of Romance Writers of America, where a highly accomplished SciFi author emphasized that there were only two ways for romance authors to write novels of the future and register good sales:  1) Futuristics with plenty of sex scenes or 2) Serious SciFi with all the proper technical details. Oops again.

Clearly, I was writing a series that was neither "fish nor fowl nor rare roast beef."

But I forged on, enjoying the change from writing my better-known Regencies and hoping there were readers out there who would appreciate tales of adventure and romance set in a future time but without detailed sex scenes. Which brings me to a BIG THANK-YOU to those who have followed the Blue Moon series all the way through to The Bastard Prince and Royal Rebellion.

I have finally settled on a genre called "SciFi/Paranormal/Romance" or maybe "SciFi/Fantasy/Romance" or "SciFi/Adventure/Romance" or . . .  You get the idea—as I write stories of Adventure and Romance set in a quadrant of our galaxy more than a thousand years in the future, I am skating a fine line between accepted genres. A line I'm hoping readers are willing to follow. I should also note that I'm writing primarily for a female audience. When I wrote Rebel Princess, it never even occurred to me that men might read it, until I saw a review complaining of "too much emotion" and knew instantly that particular reader was male. Sigh.

So, basically, I write stories of action and adventure, with strong emphasis on romance, and set in the world of the future. [As I recall, there were more than twenty romances over the course of the four Blue Moon books, including a few of the more unconventional kind (K'kadi Amund's, perhaps the most unusual of all).]

In summary, I write SciFi books for women who, in addition to enjoying the development of a romance, prefer a complex story with a plot that affects the welfare of a great many people. A book with interesting characters, a good deal of banter, an occasional quarrel, plenty of action and adventure, but without a dump of sexual details. 

The Crucible Kingdom still has two chapters to be written, then at least two edits from top to bottom, but hopefully, it will be out near the end of the month. In addition to creating yet another world in my Blue Moon universe, I have thoroughly enjoyed the squabbles between the two main characters, which I suspect will continue long after the last page of the Epilogue.

~ * ~

  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)