Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Why I Love Editing - Installment 1001

[Next Post - March 2 - Editing Examples]


 Why Editing is essential! (see pic below)



A slight interruption for some kitty pics . . .

Purr-fect Valentine

Last oil change - tuna oil?

~ * ~



No, this is not a repeat of previous posts - just ideas that surfaced as I started an edit of Chapters 1-15 of my latest book, The Abandoned Daughter. My father—an educator who taught math and science and even coached football in a tiny Nebraska high school, before deciding to get a Masters degree in Education from Harvard, and moving his family all the way to Boston to do so—always said that it took at least three repetitions for any topic to be remembered by students. So . . . here are a few more words on one of my all-time favorite subjects.

A Caveat right up front . . .

There are likely as many ways to write as there are writers. I just want to be sure every author, particularly newbies, understand that. Too often, "rules" are laid down with such authority by one faction that newbies think they MUST follow that way of doing things, missing out on other methods that might work better for them. So, as much as I am "sold" on my way of editing, keep in mind that it might not be what works best for you. As an example of what I mean:

There is a school of thought that says, "Get through the draft as fast as you can. Do not pause, forge straight through to "The End."  I would go stark, raving mad if I did this. I do a LOT of editing as I go. If faced with edits for an entire manuscript all at once, I'd probably throw up my hands and toss the whole thing. In addition, I build every scene on what has gone before, and in the course of editing after each chapter and again after each section, I add a great deal of "meat" that affects what comes after. If I did not edit-as-I-go, I would have nothing but bare bones with many great ideas left by the wayside, never to be resurrected.

So why do I love editing?

1.  The sheer joy of discovering that what I wrote works. 

[And then there's the shock of discovering a chapter is an "Aargh!" instead of a Wow! (See # 2.)]

2.  The satisfaction of finding the parts that are wrong and having the opportunity to fix them before they compound into something too complex to change—a problem that can result in a mediocre book or the necessity of throwing the baby out with the bathwater; i.e., chucking the whole thing.

3. And, yes, I enjoy the challenge of #2. Sometimes the fix is easy, no more than adding or deleting a few words. And sometimes the fix requires revising an entire sentence or paragraph. But again, the satisfaction of finding a way to improve the original is well worth the time and effort.

A few of the thousand things included in Editing: 

1. Adding words, phrases, whole sentences or paragraphs to make my work more clear, more colorful, more original. To better describe characters and settings, to drop plot hints here and there, etc., etc.

2. Deleting words, phrases, whole sentences, and occasional paragraphs to tighten the manuscript, make it easier to read.

3. Finding places where I thought I was being perfectly clear, only to discover I left the point in my head, rather than putting it on the page where it belonged.

4. Looking for facts I forgot to check. For example, in my Work-in-Progress, The Abandoned Daughter, I frequently refer to the weir on the River Avon below Pulteney Bridge, and it finally occurred to me I had no idea if this weir existed in the Regency. Oops! I had grave doubts that Google could provide an answer to such an obscure question, but when I asked, there it was, right in the headline—I didn't even have to click on the article. The weir below Pulteney Bridge was built in the 1770s. Wow!

5.  Checking the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure the words I use are correct for the period. (This is particularly important for American authors writing Regency—it's so very easy to let an Americanism creep in.)

6. Fixing the itty-bitties—typos and missed punctuation 


When Editing is complete (each round of it to the point of ad nauseum!), I experience the immense satisfaction of knowing my characters and settings are more vivid, my plot more complex and intriguing. That I've climbed another rung in the ladder on the way to presenting a book people will enjoy reading.

I cannot emphasize too strongly:  Unless you are one of the very few who get it right the first time—and they do exist (maybe 1 % of us)—Editing is what raises a book from ordinary to good, possibly to brilliant. That has been my mantra since I began this blog in 2011:  EDIT, EDIT, EDIT! Then do it all again.               




This week's featured book is aimed primarily at new authors - a compilation of ten years of posts on Writing and Editing (2011-2021), all neatly organized by category for easy reading.


 Grace note:  Although a few of the topics are now outdated by upgrades, most of the articles are as valid as the day they were written, and hopefully will be helpful to any author struggling through the throes of learning the how-to's of putting satisfying words on the page.


MAKING MAGIC WITH WORDS offers easy-to-understand advice on Writing, Editing, and a wide variety of Publishing topics—206,000+ words designed to get you started on your writing project, support you every step along the way, and advise you on what comes after "The End." Topics range from choosing a genre to the difference between an editor and a copyeditor. From how to develop your characters to the nitty-gritty of punctuation. From Point of View, Hooks, and Show vs. Tell to helpful aids like ASCII codes, Microsoft codes, and how to work with Track Changes. From "Edit the Blasted Book" to Where and How to submit. MAKING MAGIC WITH WORDS also includes step-by-step instructions on many of those tricky little technical problems we have to cope with in the Age of Computers, such as how to change manual tabs to automatic.

MAKING MAGIC WITH WORDS is a compilation of ten years of blog posts on Writing and Editing, which first appeared on Grace's Mosaic Moments and are now organized by topic under three major headings: Writing, Editing, and Random Thoughts. The author was trained as a teacher, spent more than thirty-five years as an editor, and a quarter century as an award-winning author. Blair Bancroft has published more than fifty novels, including Regency (Traditional, Historical, and Gothic), Suspense, Mystery, and SciFi. Additional information can be found at

~ * ~

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Easy Recipes to Impress

Next post - Saturday, February 17. 

Topic - a new look at Why I Love Editing


 This week's gallery . . .

From Facebook - titled "Catillac"  

Remarkable aurora from Tromso, Norway

Another great deer pic from Susan Coventry

Photo by Jim Ahlenslager



More than twenty years ago, I created a cookbook for my daughter, daughter-in-law, and my oldest son's significant other of the time. A huge job of type, cut, paste onto the pages of three blank cookbooks. But, lo these many years later, when I wanted to create a cookbook for the grandgirls, I simply didn't have the patience for all that cut & paste, so the girls got a cumbersome ringbinder with 8½x 11 pages, each encased in plastic. (At least it's not likely to get lost!) Today, I am sharing a few of the easiest recipes from this book—again, a lazy maneuver as all I have to do is Copy in "Cookbook2021" and paste to Blog!

Apologies. There are no pictures. Many of the recipes date back to well before Smart Phones made it easy to reproduce pictures. But I can guarantee the recipes are tried and true. The best I've discovered over the years. Enjoy!



A simple but delicious accompaniment to any dinner.

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-2" pieces
2 cups seedless green grapes, cut in half lengthwise
½ cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons basamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Blanch asparagus in a large skillet of boiling water, 1 minute. Drain; rinse in cold water; drain again.

Arrange asparagus on a serving plate. Mix remaining ingredients and spoon over asparagus.



6 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
Mozzarella sticks*
1 can Crescent rolls
Chives, fresh or dried (optional)

1.  Cook bacon until crisp, then chop or crumble it.

2.  Preheat oven to 375°,

3.  Cut 4 mozzarella sticks in half, crosswise.

4.  Unroll dough. Separate triangles along perforations.

5.  Place about a tablespoon of bacon on the wide end of each triangle, then top with cheese stick. Roll up and seal the edges so cheese doesn’t ooze out.

6.  Place seam down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with dried chives, if desired.

7.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

*Pepper-Jack cheese can also be used for this recipe.

Special note: Unlike Pepperidge Farm biscuits, crescent rolls do not reheat well in the microwave. They go limp and gooey, so to keep leftovers crisp, reheat in the oven.



A flavorful dinner that is an absolute “must” in every cook’s repertoire. (For some reason it seems harder to find a ham shank  than a regular ham, but make an effort to locate a shank as I truly believe it tastes better.)

6-lb. fully cooked ham shank
½ lb. small white onions, peeled*
Whole cloves
1 lb. carrots, scraped & cut in 2" lengths
2 lb. potatoes, pared**
4 sprigs parsley
1 tspn salt
¼ tspn pepper
¼ tspn dried thyme
1 can (13-3/4 oz) chicken broth
2-lb head of cabbage, cut in 6 wedges
Mustard sauce (recipe below)

*yellow onions, quartered, may be substituted
**or bag of mini potatoes, skins left on

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Trim fat & rind from ham.

2.  Coarsely chop 2 onions and place in large roasting pan with carrots, potatoes, and ham. Add parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Pour chicken broth over all.

3.  Bake, covered, 1 hour. Arrange cabbage wedges in pan; bake, covered, 30 minutes longer.

4.  To serve: Arrange ham on large platter; surround with onions, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Spoon some of pan juices over, if desired. Serve with Mustard sauce.   

Mustard sauce

½ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tspn chopped onion (dry minced will do)
½ cup prepared mustard
Poppy seeds, to taste*

Combine & mix; refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

~ * ~

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, January 27, 2024

Gothic Novel in Bath - Really?

 Opening with a repeat of one of my favorite photos: the grandgirls jumping on a sand dune in Dubai. (Other gallery photos below.)

Dubai - a stopover on the way to Singapore

 The girls have also made at least three trips to Argentina (to visit family), as well as "doing" the Mediterrean, Venice, and London with the extended family in 2015. I frequently wonder if they have any idea how privileged they are. (When speaking with them, you'd never know they'd ever been out of Central Florida.) 

~ * ~

The Trials and Tribulations of 
Setting a Gothic Novel in Bath

Okay, as I admitted when I embarked on my latest Gothic (supposed Gothic), Bath—beautiful, far-from-eerie home to the elderly and infirm—seemed a highly unlikely setting for a Gothic novel. And, as I suspected might happen, the story so far could best be described by that Regency expression:  "Neither fish nor fowl nor rare roast beef." Sigh.

But as a long-time "out of the mist" author, I sit down each day, eager to find out what happens next. Yes, I made a list of possible death sites and this time I actually know the identity of the villain (villains?) in advance. (A rare occurrence.)  But, oh horrors, I have put a hero's Point of View in a Gothic novel. A POV that reveals he is not the villain.  What fun is that? Gothic heroes are supposed to be suspicious. But the supposed hero of The Abandoned Daughter did commit a sin for which the heroine is not about to forgive him. So in addition to an increasing count of dead bodies, we have the required Conflict.

But wait! Conflict is a "must" for Romance. Eerie atmosphere and mysterious deaths generally considered the only "musts" for a Gothic novel. Eerie . . . in Bath? I could, perhaps, add massive clouds of fog rolling off the River Avon, church bells tolling in the middle of the night, the sound of heavy breathing behind a hedge in the Sydney Gardens labyrinth. Oops, we already have that last one. As well as passages that sound more like Mystery than either Gothic or Regency Romance. (In addition to sounds of Grace grinding her teeth.)

So, yes, it's hard slogging with this one. Advice to my writer friends:  stick with haunted castles, ghosts, a lone heroine against the world. And yet, I'm enjoying the challenge. Hopefully, the tenet of "suspended disbelief" will hold true, and The Abandoned Daughter will be a "good read," if a bit of a Frankstein's monster.

~ * ~

In a moment  oddly reminiscent of Dubai (above), three Citrus singers, including Cassidy, jump on the beach on Florida's Atlantic coast after a performance in Daytona. These jumpers, with a startlingly clear reflection.

Photo by Susie Reale

This "popped up" on Facebook. Love it!

 ~ * ~

A classic Gothic Romance to illustrate this week's post:


After the death of her father, young Serafina Blackthorne of New Haven, Connecticut, becomes a reverse immigrant, traveling from the New World to the Old. To her grandfather, who lives on Dartmoor, a place where eerie legends abound and where she discovers, to her horror, she is marked for death by the Blackthorne Curse. The more Serafina attempts to outmaneuver the Curse, the more she seems to jump from the frying pan into the fire. She finally has but one hope left. But does her childhood friend really want to save her, or is he destined to be her executioner?

Author's Note: This book is a Gothic novel set in the Regency period—a style of story where a young woman finds herself basically alone and battling threats to her life, some from humans, some from possibly supernatural sources. But in spite of all the angst, it is also a romance. I hope you will enjoy reading this tale in a style made famous by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis Whitney as much as I enjoyed writing it.

~ * ~

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Shocking True Story


😃 Found on Facebook 😃

 ~ * ~


Straight from the mouth of a "Reverend Canon" of the Episcopal church . . .

On Sunday morning, January 14, 2024 (and, yes, the date is significant) I was at pre-church choir practice at Church of the Resurrection in Longwood, Florida. We had just made our way through "Lift Every Voice and Sing"—a rather unfamiliar hymn that changes from major to minor and back again in the course of three phrases. Definitely not our most stellar warm-up! And, suddenly, the priest who was substituting that morning—a retired canon of the church—walked over and said:  "I have a story to tell you about that hymn. The 8:00 service sang it very poorly, and I'm hoping you'll give it the respect it deserves."

Naturally, rehearsal stopped dead, and we listened with avid ears, though we had no idea just how dramatic his story would be.

Grace note:  The most shocking part of this story up front—it is from 1994. Not the 60s, 70s, or 80s, but 1994. (Both canon and town shall remain nameless.)

Our tale-teller (just a priest at the time, not yet a canon) had recently been called to a church in South Carolina. Now, the last black church in that town had closed in 1990, yet as he looked at his congregation, he saw not a single black face. As he tells the tale, his birthday was approaching—February 13. He announced that he wanted a special birthday present from the church. They were to call every member of that black church and invite them to Sunday service. 

But when he asked the organist to play "Lift Every Voice and Sing"—what is called the national anthem of the NAACP—the organist refused. The priest actually had to threaten to fire him before he agreed to play it. (And, yes, that's the hymn we had just struggled over in rehearsal.)

Sunday morning came. And the "invited guests" wept and cried out when they heard that hymn. The priest went ahead to ask that every one of them register as a member of the church. And they did.


Our choir was both shocked and spell-bound by this tale. We begged him to tell it to the congregation - which he did, asking that all sing the hymn with "gusto." And we did, but not just the choir. I have never heard our congregation sing with such enthusiasm. It was a precious moment, which I immediatelyknew I must share with my readers world-wide. 

Repeat:  This tale is all the more shocking, as it took place in a time when most of us thought the Civil Rights movement had broken the grip of segregation in the south.

~ * ~

This week's featured book is my third Regency Gothic, The Demons of Fenley Marsh, the hero based on a character in one of my first-ever attempts to write romance, maybe as long as 50 years ago while still living on Long Island Sound in Connecticut. (Just love those wounded heroes. Resurrected a somewhat similar character years later in The Abominable Major.)

When the widowed Miranda Tyrell escapes a dire situation in Kent by accepting a position as governess in Lincolnshire, taking her young son with her, she never dreams she is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Instead of peace and safety, Miranda discovers the flat agricultural plains and salt marshes are rife with tales of mysterious fires, gutted animals, and strange sights and sounds in the night. Her new charge is a disturbed nine-year-old known as the Demon Child. In addition, rumors supported by the local curate claim that her employer, a badly scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, is a demon. And those are only the beginnings of her troubles as she attempts to teach two fatherless boys and deal with her wayward heart, which she swore would never love again.

 ~ * ~

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, January 13, 2024

Kindness - Friends, Neighbors & Strangers

From Facebook - no attribution or location

One of Facebook's spectaculars (photoshopped?)

Wow! It's Pay Up or else.



 Every so often I post to Facebook instances of kindness I have encountered, but in this dark time when words such as genocide, dictator, drone strike, censorship, and starvation are being bandied about. When hate seems to rule—religious hate, race hate, gender hate, thought hate, alleged patriotic hate—and civility seems to have disappeared into the dim recesses of the twentieth century, I believe it is important to credit the many people who still live by the rules of decency, of caring for others—even perfect strangers. In fact, these people are the world's only hope. No matter how horribly governments govern, how violent the criminals and terrorists among us, most people still come under the category called, "the salt of the earth." Those who survive without hate. Those who reach out a hand to their neighbors, even to perfect strangers. It happens all the time; only occasionally do these gestures make the news. (Sigh.) So, below, I'm going to enumerate some of my own experiences with "kindness" and hope this list will help keep the spirit of caring alive and well in what appears to be a world gone mad.  

Friends. Not so surprising when friends reach out to help in time of need, but I want to list the choir at Church of the Resurrection as what I call my second family. Knowing they are always there, whether it's just a warm greeting, helping me with the giant task of moving music folders from one file cabinet to another, or putting a stand-up footer on the bottom of my cane, someone is always ready to help.

Neighbors. I am blessed to have kind neighbors living on both sides of me. (Alas, the ones across the street recently moved away.) These are the neighbors who bring up my recycling bins from the street, the neighbors who transfer my newspaper from the driveway to my kitchen door. The neighbors who bring me the Amazon packages delivered to the their house instead of mine, the neighbors I can count on to come running when I can't reach the @#$% smoke alarm that won't stop beeping! The neighbors who consistently let me know they're always available if I need help.

Strangers. Most remarkable of all, the kindness of perfect strangers. The ones who simply smile, compliment my sparkly hat (a frequent occurrence), or hold open doors. The instance that most sticks in my mind occurred shortly after I moved to Longwood when a boy of 8 or 9, a good ten feet ahead of me, paused and held the door to a store open for me. And how many times I have asked someone taller than I—which is nearly everyone—to take my favorite yogurt down from the top shelf. Add in the nods, smiles, and excuse-me's that happen every trip to the grocery store, and yes, I have hope the world is not going to hell in a handbasket, as the saying goes. That kindness and, yes, civility will endure because without it, we are truly doomed.

CIVILITY - what a better world this would be if it were practiced outside our neighborhoods; say, in the world of politics, the world of international relations, the world of humanity. And, yes, in the world of religion where all too often kindness is reserved solely for those who think the same way we do.

Moral of this tale:  Spread kindness wherever you can. It very well may be our last resort.

~ * ~            

I like to think that kindness is a quality practiced in all my books, but when I went to look for examples, I had to scratch my head. Even in the mildest Regency Romance, the heroine must face adversity; i.e., kindness is sparse. In the end I decided to choose The Lady Takes a Risk, part of the Regency Warrior series and the book that would lead to The Abominable Major and the Matthew Wolfe series. And, oh yes, it is one of the many books in which Jack Harding makes a timely appearance.

The daughter of a duke, determined to escape her father's candidate for her hand, proposes marriage to the former colonel of an elite cavalry regiment, who is escaping his wartime memories as a hops farmer in Kent. Not only do the newlyweds have to learn to adapt to one another, but to their dismay, they discover that for the veterans of the Royal 10th Hussars, the war is not yet over.

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, January 6, 2024

A Dessert Fit for Royalty

Recipe below

Starting the New Year with samples of the wonder of the English language—the Confusing and the Colorful.

From Facebook:


A Dessert Fit for Royalty

 Today's blog features a recipe I may have posted two years ago, but as I prepared it for Christmas dinner this year, I realized the instructions could use a few more details, particularly for the grandgirls who were interested in trying it. So here is an updated version of a recipe I adapted from a 1973 magazine. 

Special notes:  

1. The mold in the photo looks great, but molded desserts have gone out of fashion, probably because they are so hard to unmold without making a disaster of all your efforts! Therefore, I make my Nesselrode Pudding in a big mixing bowl and simply dish it up in fancy cut-glass dessert dishes. It could also be transferred to a big glass serving dish where the colorful ingredients can shine through without all the hazards of "unmolding."

2.  This is a "make-ahead recipe" that needs to sit overnight. It is also time-consuming, so do not wait until the last minute. 

3.  The original recipe does not mention whipping the cream, but my family liked the fluffiness that resulted—rather than the "jel" feel—so I adjusted the instructions. If you want to use a mold, whipping the cream is likely not be a good idea.





 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup sugar, divided (1/3 cup goes into the stiffened egg whites)
¼ tspn salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated**
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tspns rum extract or sherry extract
¼ cup golden raisins*
¼ cup sliced almonds (toasted)*
1/3 - ½ cup candied fruit*
1 cup heavy cream [whipped]
Toasted slivered almonds (optional)
*Amounts are flexible - more to taste than to exact measurement. Chopped pitted dates are also an option. I used “Extra Fancy Fruitcake Mix.”) 

To toast almonds, heat in dry Teflon-coated skillet, stirring frequently until lightly browned.

Original Instructions (added words in brackets): 

In top part of a double boiler, mix gelatin, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt. Add milk and egg yolks and beat with rotary beater or whisk until blended. Put over simmering water and cook, stirring until mixture thickens slightly and coats a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in flavorings. Chill, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened but not firm. [approx. 90-115 min.] [Near the end of the chill time, whip cream, set aside.] Beat egg whites until almost stiff but not dry.** Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff. When gelatin mix is slightly thickened, fold  nuts, fruits, stiff-peaked eggs, and [whipped] cream into gelatin mixture. Pour into a 1½-quart mold*** and chill overnight. Unmold on serving dish and, if desired, sprinkle with toasted almonds. Makes 8 servings.

**Eggs will likely not form stiff peaks if even a small amount of yolk falls into the bowl.

***See Special Notes above.

~ * ~

This week's featured book is one of only two of my books that is more classic contemporary romance than mystery, suspense, Gothic, etc. It's set in a world I know well: Medieval Fairs and the Society for Creative Anachronism. (I gave away all my costumes only when I moved to the Orlando area in 2007.)



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.

Author's Note:
My thanks to the Florida Gulf Coast shires of the Society for Creative Anachronism for providing so much colorful detail for this story. And to the John & Mable Ringling Museum for all the years it hosted truly grand Medieval Fairs.


"Lord and Ladies! Prepare thyself for an enchanting tale of mystery and romance! . . . I had a great time reading this novel! Bancroft's characters are funny and heartwarming. I found myself rooting for all of them. The connections between them are genuine, their troubles tugging on my heartstrings and their successes making me smile. . . . Bancroft couldn't have chosen a more original background." Heather Eileen, Romance Junkies

"Blair Bancroft gives us an excellent tale of two people who have wrapped their hearts into a cocoon of self preservation. Kate's history is a horror story of abuse and neglect. Michael's present as a patrol officer is often filled with the dregs of society. Both have felt they had to keep others at a distance to survive. The tale of Mona and Bubba, Kate's friends, is a mixture of heartbreak and strength that adds much to the book. The author does a great job of weaving their relationships while giving us an education about people who crave simpler times when chivalry was alive and well." Dee Dailey, The Romance Studio

"I just finished reading a great book. It travels through time, but not in the usual manner of time travels. There is no element of disbelief. . . . It brings the reader into the story not by guile or subterfuge but simply by telling a compelling story. The hero is a man for all seasons . . . Lady Knight an outwardly strong woman who has built a wall around her senses. Can Officer Turco scale that wall? I highly recommend this book. If you love historicals or contemps this tale is for you as it has both elements and is a great mystery. FoxladyCarey

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

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)