Susana’s Author Pals: Blair Bancroft

Susana read many of Blair Bancroft’s Regency romances in print and digital form long before she joined the Central Florida Romance Writers and met her in person. That was when she discovered some of Blair’s other outstanding talents: singing, acting, directing, and piano, in addition to blogging and editing. Blair (Grace) has shown herself to be very kind, supportive, and helpful to new authors in both the CFRW and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA. Having been a caregiver herself, she understands the challenges Susana faces during her winter sojourn in Florida when she cares for her dad.

About Blair Bancroft (Grace Ann Kone)

Blair came to writing late, partly because she had a desire to pursue a singing career and partly because her mother was a highly successful children’s book author, and it never occurred to Blair it was possible to have two such exotic creatures as an author in one family. So music was the order of the day. During college years at Brown and Boston University’s School of Music, Blair was fortunate enough to participate in operas under the direction of Sarah Caldwell and also find time for BU’s theater productions, musical and non-musical.

After five years of teaching music to elementary school students in Connecticut, Blair finally set out for New York City, where she became one of the nuns in the National Company of The Sound of Music (with Florence Henderson starring as Maria von Trapp). She also directed off-stage choruses, played piano for on-road rehearsals, and trained all replacements.

But teaching—and the lure of home and family—drew her back to New England, where she taught music in Newton, Massachusetts, and directed a production of The King and I at Newton High School. Then it was back to Connecticut for marriage, three children, and confining her performing to church. She also branched out into a new field—becoming editor of an educational publishing company, a job that lasted for the next twenty years. After moving to Florida in the 80s, she worked at a variety of jobs, from real estate to church secretary, while doing a huge amount of transportation for a daughter who was following in her footsteps as a soloist. Only after Blair’s youngest went off to college did she get one last crack at the theater, playing Mrs. Peachum in a Sarasota production of The Threepenny Opera.

Blair greatly admires women who seem to be able to do it all: handle a job, husband, children, and still find time to write. She could not. Although she “dabbled” in writing a time or two, she did not do any serious writing until her husband of twenty-five years had a stroke and she became a full-time caregiver—for the next nine years.

It took eight of those to find a publisher. Well, actually, the publisher (the now defunct Starlight Writer Publications) found her. The editor had been a judge in a contest Blair entered and requested Tarleton’s Wife as one of the initial offerings of their new company (December 1999). (Tarleton’s Wife , Blair’s Golden Heart winner, is now on its fifth incarnation and is still selling, after nearly twenty years. It also won a Best Romance award from the Florida Writers Association.)

And just that quickly, Blair’s luck changed. She was offered a contract by Kensington’s Precious Gem line and within the same year sold her first Regency to Signet (Penguin Putnam), for whom she wrote five more before the line was closed. That first Regency, titled by Signet The Indifferent Earl, won Romantic Time’s Best Regency award. (It is now available online under its original title: The Courtesan’s Letters.)

After Signet shut down their traditional Regency (think Jane Austen) line, Blair went back to where she started: epublishing, working for two different epublishers before going independent in 2011 and publishing subsequent books through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. Blair is a strong advocate for independent publishing, for being your own boss. In addition to continually expanding her inventory to a variety of genres, she has been offering Writing and Editing tips on her blog, Grace’s Mosaic Moments, since January 2011—where she enjoys sharing all she’s learned since she started typing her mother’s manuscripts when she was a freshman in high school!

Blair reports that when she finishes Book 4 of her Blue Moon rising series, and if she counts two previously published books awaiting indie pub, she has written 40 books since the mid 90s. She is also working on organizing seven-plus years of blogs on Writing and Editing into book form, which she hopes to make available by Fall 2018.

Blair has not forgotten her musical training, singing regularly—and sometimes soloing—in the choir of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Longwood, Florida.

She may have come to writing late, but Blair doesn’t hesitate to say she loves it. As an “out of the mist” author, Blair’s favorite comment on her writing is: “I can hardly wait to get up each morning and find out what my characters are going to do today.”

March 18, 2018

Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart

Destroyed crops in Florida and Spain. Acts of terror? Corporate warfare? Or simply businesses held to ransom? Whatever the motive, Ashley van Dyne, president of an organic foods business, needs the tough Hispanic entrepreneur, Rafe Guererro, to help her put a stop to the damaging sabotage. The resulting cultural clash of both business and romance resounds across two continents. And, as if the problem weren’t big enough already, they both have teenage relatives caught up in the ongoing disaster.


The Blackthorne Curse

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.


Blair Bancroft: The Welshman’s Bride

FOUR Books in a Month??

Somewhere around December first of 2015, I began to wonder why I was feeling so harried. And finally it came to me. Without ever intending to get myself into such a fix, I had actually worked on four different books in November. My advice to writers? Don’t do it. The experience was mind-boggling. In fact, I’m still suffering from shock as I write this, half-way through December. Here’s how it happened:

I was happily finishing and editing my latest Regency Gothic, The Welshman’s Bride, when word came that Rebel Princess, Book 1 in my new SyFy series, Blue Moon Rising, had been accepted by Kindle Scout. This sent me into a frenzy of reading the fine print in my contract, inquiring about what I had to do next, getting permission to add my other books to the end notes, and creating said end notes. Naturally, selling Book 1 inspired me to look at Book 2, which is finished, but I just had to read it again because I had a sneaking suspicion it needed more than a little revision. This, of course, ended in a complete rewrite of the last two chapters. And right in the middle of that, Book 3 insisted on being born. The words simply refused to stay in my head until the other projects were complete.

Alas, I soon discovered I had visualized the start of Book 3 in the wrong place. It absolutely had to overlap Book 2. Which meant a scene in Book 2 needed to be rewritten to match the expanded scene from a different point of view in Book 3. Aargh! Thus, four books in one month.

Seriously, writers, do not do this. It messes with the head. Two books, maybe. As authors approach the end of a book, I think most of us allow thoughts of the next one to intrude. But four books at once ends in Confusion Rampant. In my case, the head-leaping from Wales in 1818 to a rebellion in the distant future, then back. Over and over again.

Did The Welshman’s Bride survive this cavalier treatment? I can only hope so. By the time you read this blog, it should be available on Amazon, Smashwords, and other online venues. Will you find the rebellion in space popping up in Wales? Perhaps a spaceship hovering over the rugged Welsh scenery? I can only hope not. But who knows? After the November I had, anything is possible.

So what about my poor Regency Gothic that nearly got swamped by three SyFy books? For those who might wonder what I mean by Regency Gothic, that’s a name I invented for a first-person Gothic novel set in the Regency period. (Most classic Gothic novels have Victorian or Contemporary settings. For example, the masterpieces of the genre by Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. They are almost all based on women alone and threatened, with their husbands or gentlemen friends as the chief suspect. You might call them tales of murder and suspense, with Gothic atmosphere.)

In my Regency Gothics I tend to create heroines who are far from perfect. In The Welshman’s Bride I’ve taken this a step further, presenting a heroine who stumbles from one disastrous situation to the next. If you like your heroines noble, self-sacrificing, cheerful, and flexible about subjects such as a husband’s mistress, then you may not like Jocelyn Hawley Maddox. If, however, you like to read about heroines who have human faults, then she’s just the girl for you. Here’s a peek at The Welshman’s Bride.

Welshman's Bride 05 Final copy

Although it seems likely she is being married for the magnificence of her dowry, Jocelyn Hawley accepts an offer of marriage from a Welshman. And quickly discovers she is as unprepared for marriage as she is for her new family—a mother-in-law who insists on living in Wales’ Medieval past and a sister-in-law who seems to be trying to get rid of her. Jocelyn is also plagued by the problem of her husband’s mistress and a series of disastrous incidents—some potentially lethal—that dog her footsteps. As she grows more alienated from her husband, who barks at her to “grow up,” she finds herself the classic stranger in a strange land. Where it appears someone is trying to kill her.

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Thank you for joining me today. Whether as an author or as part of your daily life, I hope my cautionary tale will keep you from doing—as the old saying goes—“biting off more than you chew”!

Blair Bancroft, Longwood, Florida, December 2015