Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Editing Examples, Part 2

For today's bit of color I am posting a few nostalgic photos from a 2013 trip back to Connecticut, which I just got around to downloading from my Nikon, now that my new smartphone supposedly makes the Nikon obsolete. (But so far the Nikon photos are beating the Samsung by quite a bit. Sigh.)

Dwight Chapel on Yale's Old Campus - where I was married

Harkness Tower, Branford College, Yale University

My husband founded the Guild of Yale Carillonneurs back when Harkness Tower had only ten bells. Below is the original clavier (keyboard) with my husband's photo hanging beside it.


While in Harkness Tower, my daughter and I ran into one of the current carillonneurs and were delighted to discover the Guild is still thriving, playing a carillon which is now one of the largest in the world (54 bells). [During the creation of the 44 new bells, I had the opportunity to host Paul Taylor, whose company has been making bells in England for nearly 700 years, the Taylor family taking over in 1784! He autographed a well-worn copy of Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors for me.] And now back to our regularly scheduled program . . .


Editing Examples, Part 2

Today's Mosaic Moments is a continuation of the Editing Examples series, introduced last week. Hopefully, somewhere among the samples you'll find clues to improving your own work. As before, the examples are not in any particular order of importance. Black type - the original, green - the revision, burnt orange - my comments.

1.  Too wordy. The extra words might paint a better picture of the scene, but the scene isn't that important and the extra words detract from the overall action - the hero's and heroine's eagerness to search for the smugglers' cave.

When the footman returned, he snatched up my cloak and put it around my shoulders himself, although he allowed the footman to help him into his many-caped coat. Meanwhile, Allard, his usually impassive butler's face revealing a hint of curiosity, handed Exmere a lantern.

When the footman returned, he snatched up my cloak and put it around my shoulders.  
(Mention of the lantern was unnecessary as it had been requested in a previous sentence.) 

2.  More colorful.

I buried my face in his chest, reluctant to say the words.

I buried my face in his chest, too appalled to say what I was thinking.

3.  More drama + "bringing the point home."
 
 I paused my climb, head down, and leaned against the wall. Robert was headed straight for his father. A certainty as chilling as any I'd had since my parents' deaths.

I paused my climb, head down, and leaned against the wall. Robert was headed straight for his father. A certainty as chilling as any I'd had since my parents' deaths. A confrontation so fraught with drama that my imagination balked. How did a son tell his father his wife had never left Moorhead Manor? That her skeletal remains lay in a cave not a hundred yards from the house.
How did a son say to his father, "Did you kill her? Did you kill them both?"
 
4. A better way to say it.  (Involves cutting, rearranging & adding more detail)

"This is scarcely a matter for dinner-table conversation," Exmere declared in his most repressive tones. "Though I must admit the concept of a mad hermit lurking on the moor has great appeal. I only wish I could believe it."
"Exmere," Lady Emmaline said, much shocked, "how can you say such a thing?"
"Because that means no one personally known to us is capable of murder."
To avoid any betraying glances, I kept my eyes fixed on my plate.
"No-o," Vanessa cried, you cannot mean it. Not one of us!"
"The deaths . . ."


"This is scarcely a matter for dinner-table conversation," Exmere declared in his most repressive tones. "Though I must admit the concept of a mad hermit lurking on the moor has great appeal. I only wish I could believe it."
To avoid any betraying glances, I kept my eyes fixed on my plate.
"I say, Rob!" Huntley protested.
"No-o," Vanessa cried, you cannot mean it. Not one of us!"
Robert glowered. Just when I thought he would refuse to respond to his sister, he said, albeit with considerable resignation, "The deaths . . .

5.  Incorrect information + More details needed

 There might have been a gap of more than four years between the deaths of Lady Hycliffe and Quenton Ridgeway (not at all what I meant to say), but the latest murders were more closely spaced. It was not the first time I had seen senseless murder. There had been an incident during one of those long idle winters in Portugal—I recalled overhearing Papa's words to Major Stinson: "Mark my words. There'll be another killing. The bastard's acquired a taste for it."

There might have been a gap of more than four years between the deaths in the cave and three dead girls, but the latest murders were more closely spaced. I recalled an incident during one of those long idle winters in Portugal. Over a period six weeks two camp followers had been found strangled. I had overheard Papa's words to Major Stinson: "Mark my words. There'll be another killing. The bastard's acquired a taste for it." And two weeks later, just as predicted, a third murder occurred."

6.  Better details.

 With my coiffure perfect, and the whole set against the sofa's glowing gold brocade, I was reasonably certain my appearance was pleasing to the eye.

With my coiffure perfect, my carriage erect, and my gown carefully displayed against the sofa's glowing gold brocade, I was reasonably certain my appearance was pleasing to the eye.

7. Expanding a scene for More Color, Better Detail

I had been crawling around the stone floor on my hands and knees, cautiously circling the pile of bones, and now I sat abruptly, blew out a whoosh of air, and attempted to accept the reality of what I found.
Murder.  With Lord Hycliffe the most likely suspect by far.

 After crawling around the stone floor on my hands knees, cautiously circling the pile of bones, I sat back on my heels, blew out a whoosh of air, and attempted to accept the reality of what I found.
Murder.  It had to be.
Unless the killer arranged the bodies after death . . . 
Thus proving it was murder.
Unlikely. As well as impossibly distasteful. I shuddered.
Why could I not be some fluttering idiot female without a thought in her head? A female who never questioned the vast superiority of the males of the species?
Ha! As if I really wished to be such a namby-pamby creature! The truth was, Lord Hycliffe was the most likely suspect.

8.  More Clarity, more emphasis on the danger.

I knew knowledge of this cave put me in danger, and yet I had come—

I had known simple knowledge of the existence of the cave put me in danger. Investigating its contents increased the risk tenfold. Yet I had come—

Summary.
Good revisions require you to accept the possible fallacy of what you actually wrote, as opposed to what you thought you were writing.  Good revisions require you to bury the ego that insists what you wrote was perfect on the first draft. That you never make mistakes in facts or clarity, descriptive color, or . . . whatever. Good revisions require ruthless cutting of the unnecessary, artful rearrangement of certain passages, and the addition of more details for color, clarity, and emotional impact. And yes, there are more examples to come.

~ * ~

The "Editing Examples" series will be continued.
 
 Thanks for stopping by.

Grace

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.
  



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Editing Examples, Part 1

St. Maarten's - everyone waiting for what you will see in the video below.

For a video of what it's like for a passenger jet to skim the top of your head,  click here.

For the same event from a different perspective, click here.

And if the videos didn't work . . .
  Heaven forbid any pilot should land short!


~ * ~


EDITING EXAMPLES

 I carefully saved the originals of two full edits of The Mists of Moorhead Manor so I could offer some of the many revisions I made as examples of the huge variety of things we need to look for when editing our manuscripts. I have done many posts on grammar and spelling and won't be considering "copy edits" in this series. All the examples will be ways to make your writing better - more clear, more detailed, more colorful, more dramatic, etc. Hopefully, somewhere among the examples you'll find something that clicks, something that makes you sit up and say, "Oh wow, now I see!"

And no, I don't claim to be infallible. I'm sure there are even better ways to revise my originals. The whole point of this series will be to point the way, so you can look at what you've written, ask yourself, "How can I do better?" And then find a way to do exactly that.

Note:  The examples below are not in order of importance, merely in the order in which they turned up in the manuscript. As is my custom, the original is in black Times Roman, the revision in green.

1.   Too wordy or unnecessary - detracts from impact

My suspicions—for which I had absolutely no basis except his being at Moorhead at the time of all four deaths, as were nearly all other male residents of North Devon—still caused my skin to crawl.

My suspicions—for which I had absolutely no basis except his being at Moorhead at the time of all four deaths—still caused my skin to crawl.


 2.  More detail needed

 I brushed my hair, pinched the wan cheeks reflected in the pier glass, and finally levered myself to my feet.

After brushing the tangles out of my hair, I pinched the wan cheeks reflected in the pier glass, and finally levered myself to my feet. 


3.  Sharper, more colorful

 "Quite hopelessly. For my love is far more impossible than yours." 
Even  though I was quite certain I knew the answer, I asked the question anyway. "And does he love you?"
"He never speaks of it, but sometimes I see it in his eyes."


"Quite hopelessly. For my love is far more impossible than yours."
 "He adores you." As soon as the words popped out, I felt Lord Hycliffe's wrath scorching the back of my neck. 
"He never speaks of it," Vanessa admitted, "but sometimes I see it in his eyes." 


4.  More clarity, color & drama

"You mean because I am a cripple?"
I suppose I did, but I could scarcely say so. "Anyone can see David is not only devoted to you, he adores you. Surely that has to count for something."
"Clearly, you have lived too long out of the country."
What could I say? Had we fought the French so long that some of their egalitarian philosophies had seeped, willy-nilly, into our minds? I hung my head and was silent.
"He will never declare himself, will he?" Vanessa said, more a statement than a question.
"The customs of our society will not allow it."

"You mean because I am a cripple?"
"I mean," I returned carefully, knowing I was treading on thin ice, "that with a marquessate at stake, there can be no doubt about the possibility of heirs."
A shadow passed across her face, her blue eyes turned to ice. "Nor would I make a grand sight greeting guests at the top of the staircase."
"Forgive me, I should have kept my thoughts to myself."
"Clearly, you have lived too long out of the country. You are not as hidebound by our class system."
What could I say? Had those of us on the Peninsula fought the French so long that some of their egalitarian philosophies had seeped, willy-nilly, into our minds? I hung my head and was silent. David would never declare himself. The customs of our society would not allow it.


5.  Clarity ( Readers don't always see what is so clear in our minds - sometimes we have to spell things out.)
 
Huntley's eyes went wide. "But you let her hang on your sleeve the entire time they were here."

Huntley's eyes went wide. "But you let her hang on your sleeve the entire time they were here. 'Tis clear they expect an offer when they return."

 
 6.  Correcting Missing Information

Note: I realized I was not being true to my heroine's character when I did not have her persist in trying to find a certain smugglers' cave.


"I assumed you and Huntley and Kenrick must have found it a wondrous place to play when you were children."

"I assumed you and Huntley and Kenrick must have found it a wondrous place to play when you were children." I did not mention that I had returned to the folly twice, each time failing to find the opening into the cave.

~ * ~

The "Editing Examples" series will be continued.
 

 Thanks for stopping by.

Grace

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Mists of Moorhead Manor

Apologies to those who were expecting the start of a new editing series this week. Due to the publication of The Mists of Moorhead Manor—now available on Amazon and Smashwords and coming shortly to B&N and other online distributors—the Editing Examples series has been put off until August 23rd.




The Mists of Moorhead Manor is a Regency-set Gothic in the tradition of Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and my own previous novel, Brides of Falconfell.

Penelope Ruth Ballantyne has lived at the tail of the army all her life, experiencing the rigors of life in India, followed by five years of war in Portugal and Spain. Not surprisingly, now that she is orphaned, she accepts the most challenging position available, companion to an invalid who lives on the edge of Exmoor in northern Devonshire. After years of constant travel, Penny longs to settle under one roof, find a true home. Instead, she encounters hysteria, mysterious deaths, a nasty rival, and the constant fear of dismissal as she attracts the attention of more than one young gentleman in the household. Though the only one she truly sees is Robert, Lord Exmere, heir to Moorhead Manor. Together, they face a startling dilemma worthy of the judgment of Solomon.

Mists is currently available for Amazon Kindle and on Smashwords. You can find a 20% free read on Smashwords.

  For a direct link to Mists on Smashwords, click here.

  For a link to Mists on Amazon Kindle, click here.

~ * ~

For this week's bit of extra color . . .

Riley on the runway at Modeling Camp, August 2014

Riley, the "winnah" at Suwanee poker, a last laugh before school begins Aug. 18th.

After our cruise, that is.


 My daughter reports this is the "impulse buy" food at the check-out counters in Suwanee country (North Florida).

I shudder!

 ~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by.

Grace

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rockets, Tea Party & "Oh my!"



Delta IV launch - taken from Victory, July 28, 2014

Somehow launches never get "old."  No matter that most of us have seen them time and time again and that there were no humans aboard, we still turn out to watch. This time from the advantage of being about ten miles from the launch site, on board the casino ship, Victory, and headed out to "gambling" water, three miles offshore.

Hopefully, the link below will connect you to my son-in-law's video from ignition up into the heavens.

Click here for Delta IV launch from Cape Canaveral

More on our experiences aboard Victory a bit later. 

Our big excitement from the day before was an event I host only every eighteen months to two years - a really fancy children's tea party with "old-fashioned" games, such as Button Button, Hokey-Pokey, In and Out the Window, and Tug of War. The grandgirls made and decorated fancy candies and cupcakes and helped me make elegant cookies in various colors and shapes. My daughter and I also made the traditional tiny tea sandwiches, plus including special requests for deviled eggs and "baby hot dogs"! Each girl received a sandalwood fan with a pink sheet listing "The Language of the Fan." A big hit. As was another tea party tradition - pouring boiling water on a tiny tea ball in a transparent pot and watching it blossom into a "flower" about 4" wide. And this year a number of the girls were adventurous enough to actually try the resultant tea!
































The girls enjoying their fans

~ * ~

Aboard Victory:

Why I have children who enjoy a bit of gambling now and then remains a mystery when neither my husband nor I, nor any member of the family I know of, enjoy it. Nonetheless, on Monday night our party of seven headed off to Port Canaveral (just south of the Kennedy Space Center) to board the casino ship, Victory. Most of our group had gone gambling the previous Monday, and my daughter was chosen as a finalist in their high-prize karaoke contest, so I joined them for a night out on the Atlantic. That it looked like a previously delayed launch was actually going to happen while we were there made the evening out all the more attractive.


And except for an encounter with an idiot my mother would have described as having "no couth," it was a great night. Even if you don't care to gamble - the trip is worth the price. The food is good, the karaoke lounge comfortable, and the open lounge on the top-deck a great place to have a drink, look at the stars, and enjoy the seabreeze. In fact, we got an unexpected bonus when a series of thunderstorms out in the Atlantic provided an incredible light show all the way back to port.

Note: If you book online, you get a voucher that covers your food, two drinks, and a start on your gambling. And to top that, the staff was gracious and friendly. As for the the idiot mentioned above, he went home with his tail between his legs after a near silent encounter with three highly incensed males in our party. A "wow" moment I hadn't anticipated when, over supper, I recounted the details of my experience with a modern-day Neanderthal. (It took the rest of the trip, but they found him!)

And, no, I don't get a special discount for touting the Victory. It truly is a fun way to spend an evening. 

~ * ~ 

FREEBIES

Cecilia and Belle, packaged as a two-fer under "Cecilia," will be a free download from August 1-5 from Amazon Kindle. These novellas are a look at the seamier side of Regency London, frank but not erotic.


Special Note: I'll be at a booksigning, with nineteen other romance authors, at the Mount Dora Library this Saturday, August 2,10-1. For more info, here's the link. Click here.


Next week, I'll likely be starting a new Editing series. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Eventful Week!

Friday the 11th -Hailey finished up "Skate Camp" with a performance as Anna from "Frozen"
with Mom Susie, otherwise known as my official photographer!




Sunday - a dozen of us at Señor Frogs on I-Drive for a wild afternoon of World Cup soccer (more below)



Tuesday - a double rainbow over Orlando - taken with ipod as the Smartphone died!









Thursday - Birthday Girl - Cassidy turned 8.





Friday the 18th - a visit to Winter the Dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium


 
Riley at Clearwater Beach - the Gulf Coast is SO much nicer than the Atlantic!
Hmm - remind me why I left my home within a mile of the Gulf of Mexico to move to Orlando - 
oh yes, that's right, all four reasons are in the photos above.




More on Watching the World Cup in Orlando

Could we stay home and watch the World Cup in comfort? And in English? (Not that the snarkiness of the ESPN announcer doesn't make me cringe!) Oh no, we had to drive to what is locally known as "the attractions," the heart of Orlando's tourist corridor (next to Universal Studios & about 5 miles from Disney) and watch the game at something called Señor Frogs. And in Spanish! Not that anyone could hear what was being said as the noise level was off the scale.

For those not familiar with Orlando, International Drive is where the tourists without small children stay. Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and I-Drive are the grown-up versions of Disneyworld. An Orlando version of the London Eye is currently under construction. We drove by the base of it, which already towers over the whole area.

We had reserved a table for 15 at Señor Frogs, and close to that many showed up - all wearing blue and white, waving Argentinian flags, and certain Argentina was going to win. The atmosphere was electric - we could only locate three German supporters among the sea of blue and white. There were Argentinian supporters chanting and doing snake dances through the aisles. And tables of all girls screaming their hearts out for their heros. Plus a DJ determined to split every eardrum in the house - before, after, and at half-time.   

But I have to admit it was fun. Some of the outfits were amazing, including a lady wearing blue and white "wings" sticking out from the side of her head and a German supporter who had a tall fake fur hat in black and red with three small soccer balls nesting in the top. At the end of the game my daughter ended up kneeling on the table taking photos of him and his celebrating friends with each of their cameras. Now there's a magnanimous gesture for you!

And all those commercials in Spanish were fun, even if the outcome of the game wasn't what we'd hoped. It was a mad month of soccer and, frankly, I'm ready for some good old American football after a steady diet of "futbol." (We had one new immigrant from Colombia at the table, by the way, and I swear she screamed louder than all the rest of us put together. And, believe me, that was pretty hard to do.)

Since we saw so few German supporters at Señor Frogs, I was surprised when so many cheers broke out when Germany won. I suspect it was our many Brazilian tourists who wouldn't root for Argentina if their lives depended it. (This was explained to me very kindly by my son-in-law, the Argentinian who refused to root for Brazil against the Netherlands.)

Oh yes - I don't know what ESPN showed, but Telemundo, without saying anything, panned over a well-known face in the audience. Vladimir Putin. 

And to finish out the week, today - Saturday - is my birthday. I planned on NO photographs of me - the grandchildren are much cuter - but . . .

Saturday the 19th - Enjoying lunch at Spice on Lake Eola


Baked brie en croute - Yum!

Slight Accident - Cassidy kicked over the cake box - I understand it had pink roses and "Happy Birthday, Gramma," around the base. But after Susie put one of the layers back in place and remolded the pink frosting into a heart (hands on), it tasted just as good, and was far more memorable than just your same old-same old birthday cake!
More years ago than I care to remember my mother used to take me on the Swan Boats on Boston Common. This was my first Swan Boat ride since - incredible views of downtown Orlando, but was it hot!

Cassidy and I have been sharing birthday fun ever since she was born - though we didn't quite expect her to kick over the cake!
~ * ~

Next Mosaic Moments - c. August 1st - hopefully with a pub date 
for The Mists of Moorhead Manor


Thanks for stopping by.

Grace

For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.