Nicola here. Today, as part of our Word Wench Blog 10th anniversary celebrations, we’re talking about what makes the Word Wenches such a special group to be a part of. Some of us are founder members of the blog and talk about the reasons it was set up in the first place and the ways in which it has grown and changed. Others, myself included, became Wenches along the way and joined a blog that continues to be dynamic, diverse, and fascinating, and a group of writers who are wonderfully insightful and supportive. Then there are our readers and regular blog commenters. Again, some have been with the blog since the beginning and others have joined in along the way, and together we have created what feels to me to be a special community. That’s my view of the Word Wenches, anyway – here is what my fellow Wenches have to say, plus some photos of Wenches having fun - at conferences, at weddings, with hats and even by the sea!
Ten years ago, the Word Wenches came together because our NYC traditional publishers requested that we begin interacting with our readers through social media. For introverted writers accustomed to spending all our days in our writing caves, only coming out to meet readers on special occasions, this was a huge technological and social leap into the unknown. So we banded together and held each other’s hands and took the leap. At that time, in 2006, I was finishing up the Magical Malcolm series, starting on the Rebellious Sons, writing an urban fantasy, and wishing I could publish my satirical mystery. My how time flies!
Back then, we were barely familiar with blog software and had no idea of the electronic publishing revolution on our horizon. The first Kindle wasn’t introduced until the end of 2007. Smashwords didn’t come along until 2008. But by 2009, almost 76% of mass market fiction was self published. And that’s when authors began looking at their backlists and thinking...hmm. I reissued GENUINE ARTICLE in 2009 and haven’t looked back. The wenches and our readers gave me the encouragement I needed to continue reissuing electronic editions and to publish that first mystery, EVIL GENIUS, without the aid of traditional publishers. Thank you, one and all, for the roller coaster ride!
At first blush, it’s easy to articulate what being a part of the Word Wenches means to me. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and we authors spend countless hours crafting our stories and characters (and countless bars of chocolate bribing the Muse to hand over her fair share of Inspiration!) That’s hard enough, but the fact that tooting our own horn about our books is now an integral part of the job is even more daunting, as we tend to be introverts. So the group blog is a wonderful Lifeboat. By rowing together—that is, by sharing our mutual love of research, history, language, craft as well as the quirky things in life that make us smile—we’ve found it’s easier to navigate through the swirling currents of the internet and wave the flag so readers who enjoy the type of books we write can find us.
But for me, the Wenches are far more than a valuable promotional vehicle. It’s become a priceless source of friendship and camaraderie. Though we’re scattered around the globe, we talk every day on our group e-mail loop, occasionally about business matters but mostly about Life. We share personal ups and downs, knowing there will always be cyber cheers or cyber hugs wrapping around us. We’re not just professional colleagues, we’ve become BFFs, and that’s something special beyond words.
I was a Word Wenches reader long before I became a wench. I don't remember when I first started reading them, but it was shortly after they started blogging I think. A lot of blogs started up around then -- it was the new hot thing for authors to do. Most of them have since faded away. The wenches flourished.
In those early days they blogged every day -- seven wenches, one for each day of the week. I loved it and it became part of my morning ritual to have my first coffee of the day with the wenches, and the quality discussions that occurred from time to time in the comment stream.
But it must have been a punishing schedule -- I know today, when I have to blog once a fortnight, I sometimes catch myself thinking, "My turn again? Already?"
I do know that the following year I met Jo and Mary Jo and Pat at a small writers' conference in San Diego and expressed my disappointment that they'd switched to blogging three days a week. They just looked at me -- yes, that kind of look. LOL
I've been a Word Wench now for seven years, and it's been a wonderful experience. We still haven't all met face to face, but we talk on email every day, and we're all friends. We've supported each other through some pretty tough times, we share the ups and downs of this crazy business, and when there's something to celebrate we celebrate it. I also love it that we're an international blog -- that the sun never sets on the Wench Empire.
So thank you wenches, and wenchly readers, for the company, the laughs, the insights and the stories.
Anne, looking forward to the next ten years.
An advantage of being slow with one of these collaborative posts is that by the time I get to it, my sister Wenches have already said
everything of importance. <G> Ten years ago blogging was the Hot New Thing, but I knew darn well I couldn't be clever and entertaining very often, so safety in numbers!
As Susan said, "We've always wanted the Word Wenches blog to provide readers with a virtual place to mutually enjoy and explore historical fiction, history and sundry."
I do a lot of "sundry." <G> Other Wenches do brilliant historical posts, while I'm more inclined to wander into odd corners. And that's part of the fun of a blog: it gives me a chance to briefly explore things that will never fit into whatever book I'm writing.
But the best thing about the Word Wenches is the community we've built. Once upon a time, writing was a lonely business with authors sitting in icy garrets and morosely sharpening their goose quill pens. No more! Now we can share triumphs and disasters and everyday annoyances, like cats who sit on keyboards. No matter what the challenge, I know the other Wenches have my back, just as I have theirs. That's a blogging benefit I never expected--but I'm grateful for it every day.
I'm the last wench in. The newest one. Like Anne, I was a long-time follower of the Word Wenches before I became one. Now, for me, the Wenches have become a writing 'family' spread all about the world.
I live on a mountain top far out in the country. Beautiful, quiet . . . but also pretty much empty of people. Squirrels, we got and raccoons, snapping turtles, bear, and coyotes. Not so much great herds of humanity. Even when I drive 12 miles or so into town, it is not a sophisticated place with a vibrant literary community. It's more John Deere than John Donne.
So I make my writing friends online, mostly, and see them in person only rarely, at conferences.
The Wenches have helped me so much in times of trouble in my life. They've joined me in celebration of the many good times. And nobody understands better the difficulties and triumphs of a writer's life.
So I raise a glass to the Wenches. Happy Tenth. All for One and One for All.
My sister Wenches have eloquently expressed what it means to be Wenches, and I echo that. When Mary Jo and I sat at lunch with Eileen Buckholtz, our web guru, those years ago and brainstormed an author blog, then asked some writer friends to join us, none of us dreamed we would still be doing this a decade later. The original Word Wenches included Mary Jo, Jo Beverley, Pat Rice, Edith Layton, Susan Holloway Scott, Loretta Chase and me. We were friends who bonded further over the blogging process, and worked very hard to keep it fresh and interesting and running well with the help of the original Wench Whipster, Sherrie Holmes. We learned how to organize the effort by working collaboratively and cooperatively--and we managed the bumps as they came along. A few years later, sadly we lost a few of our Originals, and happily welcomed Andrea Pickens, Anne Gracie, Nicola Cornick and Joanna Bourne into the fold; when Sherrie retired we welcomed the wonderful Melissa Beverley. Recently with the sad loss of Jo Beverley, we're transitioning and moving forward again. The Wenches may not always know what's around the next corner, but we'll figure it out and help each other do so. That's Life.
What never changes is the core friendship, support and collaboration we share. We cheer, we commiserate, we step in to help, and we tap each other's talents and abilities, adding to the quality of the blog and the depth of the friendships. We email every day, some of it blog business. Part of our longevity is that we each have a balanced, positive perspective on what's most important as writers, as professional authors, as bloggers, as women and as friends. No one opinion overrides the whole, and we focus on what's best for the blog and what it can offer. We've always wanted the Word Wenches blog to provide readers with a virtual place to mutually enjoy and explore historical fiction, history and sundry, a place they can always find something informative and entertaining, a place that's like a parlor with friendly, familiar faces--authors and readers--where readers feel welcome to check in, comment, ask questions. Along the way we've forged a strong group of friends--and that love and respect for each other infuses the blog and makes it better for all of us. I'm proud to be a Wench, proud of what we've accomplished over the years--two print published anthologies as a blog group is pretty remarkable!--and I'm honored to have such wonderful friends.
Thank you from all of us to all our readers for being a part of the Word Wench community and contributing so much. I hope we all have the experience of belonging to a group that enriches our lives, either online or in person. The Word Wenches is one such place – please tell us about those groups of friends, colleagues, readers or others that you feel add richness to YOUR life. Prizes will be awarded to commenters accumulated over the anniversary blogs and we will be drawing names next weekend!