Tag Archive | RWA

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.


Wareeze Woodson: An Enduring Love

Blog commenters qualify to enter to win Susana’s September Giveaway, a lovely necklace from London’s National Gallery (see photo at right). Don’t forget to include your email address!

Interview with Wareeze Woodson

Susana: Tell us about your writing journey and what it took to get published.

Wareeze: I’ve been an avid reader for years and have always rearranged the ending of the story to suit myself, especially if it didn’t end in the proper manner. Only happy ever-after endings are allowed, and even those do not always end as I would like.

Years ago, I forgot how many, I attended a seminar on writing. We were encouraged to submit a few pages for the agents to review. When my turn arrived to talk to an agent, he told me I was too fat and unattractive to continue writing. He suggested I give up. In his opinion, it was a waste of my time as I’d never make it.

That was certainly discouraging, but after attending writing classes and growing much older, I joined the group Romance Writers of America. One would say, I am a glutton for punishment and stubborn to boot. I joined a critique group in my local chapter of RWA and polished my craft. I met a publisher at The Lone Star convention who decided to take a chance on me. Now I’m a published author. A long and sometimes very hard journey, but I made it.

6376129 copySusana: What inspired you to write An Enduring Love?

Wareeze: A neighbor lost her husband during the war, but he returned. Instead of going their separate ways, they worked to build a life together again. I admire that effort.

Susana: What’s the most interesting fact/tidbit you learned while researching your book?

Wareeze: Most of us realize how few rights women had in the 1800s, but tons of readers still expect the heroine to act as women do today. Fat chance! A husband had total rights of ownership of the children, crudely put, but true. He could forbid his wife the privilege of even seeing her children if he decided to do so. When a woman married, even a wealthy woman, every dime became her husband’s. He could spend it on anything he so desired, even gamble it away and deny her a new gown at his whim. A family could arrange a trust fund for her children, but her wealth passed from her father’s or brother’s hands to her husband.

Susana: What do you like most about your hero?

Wareeze: I admire a man who does the honorable thing regardless of the cost to himself. Rhys thought his wife was dead, and he moved on. He struggled to find his love for her again, a man of strength and conviction.

Susana: What do you like most about your heroine?

Wareeze: I admire her ability to live through the pain of rejection with pride and dignity. She made the very best of a bad situation.

Susana: What are you working on next?

Wareeze: A Lady’s Vanishing Choices is my work in progress, my 4th period romance set in the Regency era.

This one is a romantic thriller, complete with a serial killer/spy all rolled into one. Taking the gig without her uncle’s permission, she views a man burying a body. In her haste to escape, she nearly runs over the hero. He’s trying to find a traitor, and her family is under suspicion. Is she innocence, a mere dupe, or is she involved? Can he save her or should he even try? Will she let him?

About An Enduring Love

Born and raised in Latvia, Rebecca Balodis marries Rhys Sudduth, an English diplomat. Shortly thereafter, he is summoned home to attend his father’s deathbed. Rebecca cannot accompany him at the time and becomes trapped in the turmoil plaguing her country. He is informed she died in the upheaval.

Final-An-Enduring-Love-(med) copyNearly four years later, she escapes and arrives in London with their son in tow. Arriving in the middle of his sister’s ball is very awkward, especially since Rhys plans to announce his betrothal to a young debutante later in the evening.

Trouble, tangled in suspense and danger, follow her from Latvia. Can this pair ever find or even recognize an enduring love? Is it worth keeping?



The gangplank of the Dragon’s Stirr had been lowered ready for Latvian passengers to board. The creak of the ropes tying the vessel to the dock rasped Rebecca’s nerves, reminding her that soon Rhys would sail back to England without her. Devastated by the thought of such a loss and at such a time, she swallowed hard. How can I bear to let him leave me behind?

Standing on the dock in the mid-day sun, she tried to hold back her sobs and for a moment, she feared her knees might give way beneath her. She clinched her jaw, trying to hold steady and caught the lapels of Rhys’s finely tailored jacket with trembling fingers. A rising ocean breeze stirred his dark hair and swirled her skirts about her ankles as he placed his hand over hers.

When Rebecca gazed into Rhys’ deep blue eyes, Gorgi Weister’s words intruded. Sudduth is almost believable when he claims undying devotion. I admire his talent. Her chest burned with apprehension and she gulped a deep breath. What if Weister is correct? Does Rhys wish to abandon me as Weister implied?  

Weister’s sly innuendoes and the sound of his mocking laughter circled in her mind, but she pushed such negative views aside. Guilt for allowing a moment of doubt to fester filled her with shame, but that too, she brushed aside. Ne! I refuse to believe Rhys would desert me. Although we have only been married a few months his love is strong and will endure forever, as will mine. Nevertheless, doubt crawled into her head, impossible to completely deny. Still, why would a government official such as Gorgi Weister attempt to stir trouble with lies? It made no sense!

About the Author

I am a native of Texas and still live in this great state. I married my high school sweetheart, years and years ago. We raised four children and have eight grandchildren, and grandchildren are Grand. At the moment, all my children and my grandchildren live within seventy miles of our home, lots of visits. My husband and I still love each other after all these years the stuff romance is made of, Happy Ever After!


Regency Dressmakers and Their Fabrics

By Wareeze Woodson

Dressmakers, historically known as mantua-makers or a modiste fashioned custom garments for her clientele. Sewing everything by hand took several hours of labor, and the more elaborate the gown, the higher the price. Many times these women sewed well into the night to finish a gown for a special client. A modiste or dressmaker sewed a fine seam. A straight stitch is hard to make, but the best dressmaker’s of the day sewed twelve straight stitches in an inch of fabric. What an artist!

Fabric, available and most often used during the Regency period, were varied. Silk, satin, wool, velvet and cotton each had its place in the construction of a garment. Satin weaves, twill weaves, and plain weaves are the three basic types of weaving by which the majority of woven products are formed.

Some of the names of these fabrics in the finished state are as follows:

Silk, the most favored for the soft feel and the easily draping properties of the fabric, was much in demand. Satin and velvet were woven from silk. The differences rest with the weave of the threads.

Satin was much in demand as well. There are several types of satin made in different ways. Satin is usually a warp-faced weaving technique in which warp yarns are “floated” over weft yarns, although there are also weft-faced satins.

Baronet or baronette has a cotton back and a silk front, similar to georgette.

Charmeuse is a lightweight, draping satin-weave fabric with a dull reverse.

Double faced satin is woven with a glossy surface on both sides. It is possible for both sides to have a different pattern, albeit using the same colors.

Duchess satin is a particularly luxurious, heavy, stiff satin.

Faconne is jacquard woven satin.

Farmer’s satin or Venetian cloth is made from mercerised cotton.

Gattar is satin made with a silk warp and a cotton weft.

Messaline is lightweight and loosely woven.

Georgette is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crape fabric named after the early 20th century French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante. Originally made from silk, georgette is made with highly twisted yarns. Its characteristic crinkly surface is created by alternating S- and Z-twist yarns in both warp and weft. Georgette is made in solid colors and prints and is used for blouses, dresses, evening gowns, and trimmings.

Crêpe or crape is a silk or wool fabric with a distinctively crisp, crimped appearance.

Cambric or batiste, one of the finest and most dense kinds of cloth is a lightweight plain-weave fabric woven in greige, then bleached, piece-dyed and often glazed or calendered. Initially, in the 19th century, it was made of linen, then cotton. Cambric is used for linens, shirtings, handkerchieves and as fabric for lace and needlework. Cambric was originally a kind of fine white plain-weave linen cloth made at or near Cambrai. White linen cambric was used to fashion fine shirts, underwear, shirt frills, cravats, collars and cuffs, handkerchiefs, and infant wear.

Nainsook is a fine, soft muslin fabric. (cotton)

Lawn cloth or lawn is a plain weave textile, originally of linen but now chiefly cotton. Lawn is designed using fine, high count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel. The fabric is made using either combed or carded yarns. When lawn is made using combed yarns, with a soft feel and slight luster, it is known as “nainsook”. The term lawn is also used in the textile industry to refer to a type of starched crisp finish given to a cloth product. The finish can be applied to a variety of fine fabrics, prints or plain

Lawn is a lightweight, sheer cloth, crisper than voile but not as crisp as organdy. Lawn is known for its semi-transparency, which can range from gauzy or sheer to an almost opaque effect, known as lining or utility lawn. The finish used on lawn ranges from soft to semi-crisp to crisp, but the fabric is never completely stiff. Lawn can be white, or may be dyed or printed.

Batiste is a fine cloth made from cotton or wool or a blend, and the softest of the lightweight opaque fabrics.

Kerseymere is a fine woolen cloth with a fancy twill weave.

Trims used for decoration: Ruffle, frill, or furbelow is a strip of fabric, lace or ribbon tightly gathered or pleated on one edge to add as trim to a garment or bedding and such.

The term flounce is a particular type of fabric manipulation that creates a similar look but with less bulk than a ruffle. A flounce is created by cutting a curved strip of fabric and applying the inner or shorter edge to the garment. The depth of the curve as well as the width of the fabric determines the depth of the flounce. A godet is a circle wedge that can be inserted into a flounce to further deepen the outer floating wave without adding additional bulk at the point of attachment to the body of the garment, such as at the hemline, collar or sleeve.

Fringe is an ornamental textile trim applied to an edge of an item, such as drapery, a flag, epaulettes, or decorative tassel.

French bead edgings, worked muslin jaconet, embroidery, knotted ribbons and pearl rosettes were also used to enhance a creation.

Terms for apparel: Gowns, day dresses, walking-dresses were all dresses and includes a ball-gowns, riding apparel along with travel garments.

A pelisse was a short cape, shawls and cloaks, many fur-lined were worn to protect the wearer from a chill in the air or on occasion to display a new purchase.

A caraco was a jacket like bodice worn with a petticoat and had sleeves to the elbow, a popular style.

Panniers were side hoops worn under the petticoat with a caraco.

A redingote was a gown with a tight bodice and long sleeves with a collar much like a man’s jacket. The petticoat formed the front of the gown with an overskirt to match the bodice.

Gloves, some short to above the wrist and some covered the elbow, were always worn in public or gathering outside the home.

Hats and bonnets of every description were also worn for any outing. Dressmakers often made hats as well.