AWARDS WON: RWA RITA, RWA Honor Roll, RWA Top 10 Favorite, RT Lifetime Achievement, RT Living Legend, RT Reviewers Choice, Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews, Golden Leaf, Barclay Gold, ABA Notable Book, Historical Novels Review Editors Choice, AAR Best Romance, Smart Bitches Top 10, Kirkus Reviews Top 21, Library Journal Top 5, Publishers Weekly Top 5, Booklist Top 10, Booktopia Top 10, Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement.
BESTSELLER LISTS: NY Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Waldenbooks Mass Market, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Chicago Tribune, Rocky Mountain News, Publishers Weekly.
sholmes [at] holmesedit.com
We have another batch of book winners! The following intrepid and incredibly smart people won books for leaving comments to our blog posts: Barbara Elness won a book from Pat. Jody Allen scored a book from Susan by leaving a comment on guest Euan Hague's interview. Not to be outdone, Nancy Fields won a book from Anne. Cara/Andrea's guest Teresa Grant awarded a book to commenter HJ. Cate Sparks won a book from Jo. And last but not least, Jorie won a book from Joanna. Congratulations, winners!
Thanks to all those who contributed fishy sounding titles for our April Fools/Poisson d'avril post.
Your clever and fun suggestions gave the wenches a good few chuckles. I said we'd give a prize to the best title suggestion and there were so many good ones, we had trouble deciding on just one, but in the end the decision went to Nancy G for her suggestion "Sweet Savage Sturgeon."
I'll be contacting Nancy to get her address.
Thanks for all the fish.
. . . That's what we're calling it here in Wenchlandia. In case you hadn't heard, two Wench books have finaled for Romance Writers of America's RITA, and another Wench has been awarded RWA's Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement honor. Wenches rock!
Bride By Mistake by Anne Gracie and Too Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott are RITA finalists in the Best Historical Romance category! Way to go, ladies!
And the cherry on top is Mary Jo Putney, who will be honored with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement award at RWA's annual conference in Atlanta, GA this coming July. (Couldn't happen to a more deserving person!)
by Mary Jo
Often our monthly Ask A Wench post is a reader question that all the Wenches answer in our different ways. But today’s compilation is rooted in Christmas pictures. Anne sent us a photo of some of her holiday decorations, another wench noticed the beautiful gemstone bonsai tree and other polished stones—and we were off the races! Or perhaps the quarries. <G>
It turns out that all of the Wenches love stones and minerals, and we love taking about them. We could have easily generated a multi-part series on Stones We Love, but I restrained myself. We'll start our rock stories with Anne and her bonsai tree:
I love stones, too, and compulsively bring them home from my travels because they're pretty or I like their shape or they evoke a place I loved in my memory. I have round white stones from a beach in Brittany, rugged mountain-shaped rocks from Montana, smooth wave-washed pieces of colored tiles from the south of France, shards of slate from a sliding mountain of slate in North Wales — and much more.
I've had Aussie customs officers heave up my backpack to check it and say, "Gawd, this is heavy. You got rocks in here or something?"
And I say, "Yes, and books."
I also have a couple of friends who are fossickers —— they dig for gold and gemstones as a hobby, albeit a fairly serious one. They go bush (to remote locations) several times a year and camp and fossick and dig. They also dig for opals and I've bought a few beautiful stones from them. I also have these stones (in the picture) that they were going to toss into the garden. They're not valuable, but they're beautiful stones with tiny gleams and glitters of blue, aqua and red opal in them (more visible in the sun than in this photo) and I love them, not just because they're beautiful, but because my friends found them and polished them and gave them to me.
Stones, gemstones and rocks can bring very good energy -- light and color and beauty -- to the home and for writers. I've collected some lovely rocks and stones over the years that I've stashed around the house and in my office, where they catch the light and help to inspire (and distract!) me while I'm working. I find them very soothing and fascinating.
And because most of them were gifts from friends, they have additional meaning and personal connections. My son's girlfriend is an amateur gemologist and rock collector, and I've learned a lot from watching her identify, categorize and rank the stones she collects; she also displays them at gem shows. Several of her discoveries in the wilds of Virginia and Maryland have found their way onto our bookshelves and into our garden, and into my office, where I like to think they're happy clustered on windowsills or on the desk.
Among the stones in my office are several amethyst geodes of various sizes, including one that's a gorgeous purple cavern big enough for a fairy or a dragon figure (and they've been in there, believe me!); a beautiful polished phantom crystal with curls and whorls and tiny scenarios within the stone; and a big fist-sized chunk of raw lapis lazuli that a friend brought from Brazil. Lapis has very good energy for writers, so I keep it near my computer. That saturated blue is chalky in its raw form, veined with other stone material, and just gorgeous. Medieval artists coveted lapis lazuli, and carefully chipped and ground the stones into a powder to mix with egg (and later oil) to create the heavenly blue that was considered rare and costly in the medieval era.
I also have a crystal point a friend brought from Madagascar -- a split terminus quartz crystal about ten inches long, heavy, full of depth and beautiful cloud like veining. You can just feel the powerful energy in it. I clear my crystals now and then with running water and sunlight, as crystals can pick up dust and get a bit dull -- and they can absorb energies around them just like little radio transmitters; it's good to keep those energies clear so the stones won't refract the stale energies right back at ya. So they say!
I've travelled around a good bit, so the rocks I keep are small rocks. Me, being practical, you know.
Every one of my rocks has a story. Some are presents -- that carved bird perched on top of the pile so protectively is a present from a friend who carves rock. Some of my rocks I've found. The jasper -- that's the irregular big brown-red chunk on the right -- is from the Southwest of the United States. The carnelian, a bit above it, is the same color, but translucent. That's from Iran. It rated a special professional polishing.
To the right, the dirty-looking, complicated quartz crystal is what they call a 'desert diamond'. You find those out in the middle of the sands. This one is from the Nejd in Saudi Arabia. You'll be all shook up from driving in the dark, off-road. There's, oh, just desolation all around and some scrub brush and big stone cliffs a mile or two off, still black. It's dawn behind you because you're looking west. The sun comes up. You see a glint way off. That's your crystal. You go racing off to get there before it's lost again.
And there's that egg-shaped sort of pink rock in the center. That's from the north part of the coast of Maine, from the beach. There's a layer of granite that underlies the coast that's about pure pink. They made buildings of this 'Red Beach granite' or 'Pembroke granite' up and down the Northeast a hundred years ago.
The egg shaping comes from the washing of the sea. I picked it up when I was twelve or so and thought of the years it took and the accidents of time that made a neat hen's egg out of some boulder. So cool, thought I. And I still do.
I keep my rocks in a basket where the first sunlight hits them.
They just light up.
We collect stones on our Scottish holidays, usually round ones that have been washed down by the burn that runs past our holiday cottage. They sit in our garden at home so that we have a ittle bit of Scotland with us all the time. They make great paperweights if we actually get the chance to sit reading in the garden!
My most prized poseession, though, is a piece of chalk that was cut to restore Ashdown House. They opened up the original 17th century quarry to do this and my husband begged a piece from the restoration guys and had it engraved for me. Most people don't get it and wonder why I have a chunk of rock on my desk!
I also have some sarsen stones (mine are a bit smaller than the ones in the photo!) which are the local sandstone rocks washed into extraordinary shapes during the Ice Age. There are may legends around them. They are the stones that made Stonehenge and Avebury stone circle. The holes in them were made by the roots of palm trees
ROCKS!!! I love rocks! My friends give me such a bad time about my passion for rocks. I'm always finding pretty rocks in my driveway gravel, in the pasture, on day trips to various places like Mount St. Helen's (I have a lava rock from there), and many other rocks, geodes, ammonites, agates, crystals and petrified wood collected over the years. Below are some of my water washed stones from Prince Edward Island.
Our webmistress Sherrie Holmes has some amazing stones, too.
A former co-worker's mother was an artist who hiked the rugged Hell's Canyon trails along the Snake River that borders Oregon and Idaho. When she found out that the Hell's Canyon dam would flood a section of the canyon rich in historic pictographs, she made it her mission to preserve as many of them as she could for posterity. She did it in a unique way: first photographing them, then painting their exact replicas on rocks from the area. She donated her painted rocks to a local museum, which sold them to tourists. Her generosity helped keep that small museum afloat.
When my co-worker showed me samples of her mother's rocks, I begged her to sell them to me. Despite the fact the museum was the only outlet for those rocks, her mother made an exception and allowed me to buy several pieces, after which she turned the money over to the museum.
This one us irregularly shaped, and each of the four sides has a different pictograph from Hell's Canyon.
Mary Jo again: I have my share of amethyst geodes and pale blue fluorites and pretty pebbles and minerals (of which I don't always remember the names!) The only one I'll show here is actually a piece made by my sister, Estill Putney, who is a professional stone carver. It was created as a memorial for the Virginia Tech shooting, which took place in her home town. The orange flower is made from a rare shade of natural alabaster. The carving presides over my dining room.
Mary Jo, adding more of Anne's opal boulders
‘Tis the day before American Thanksgiving, and many of us are going in all directions as we travel, or welcome friends and family, make lists of items we might have forgotten for the feast, and if we’re hosting a gathering, we might be doing a hasty clean up that involves shoving things into closets and hoping they don't explode.
In the midst of busyness, it’s good to pause and take a deep breath now and then. Thanksgiving is mostly a North American holiday, with Canadian Thanksgiving held earlier, on the second Monday of October. There are other countries that have their versions of Thanksgiving as well. The holiday is rooted in harvest celebrations which go back to pagan times.. After all, having grown and preserved enough food supplies to take the community through the harshness of winter is an achievement well worth celebrating!
But thankfulness can be for more than just the harvest. I’ve asked the various Wenches for a few words each on what they’re thankful for:
I love the aromas of Thanksgiving, the roasting turkey, the cooking sage and celery, the baking pumpkin and apple pies, and outside, the scents of autumn leaves and woodfires. This Thanksgiving, as all others, I'm grateful for the never-ending supply of books to curl up with after dinner, and for the ability to shop online so I needn't go out in the cold and stand in line when I'd rather be reading!
After experiencing the terrifying force of Hurricane Sandy, Cara/Andrea is thankful that her family and neighbors, as well as her house and all the irreplaceable memories inside it, survived unscathed. She's also grateful for things like power, electric lights and the fact that she will be enjoying hot food on the morrow (cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches begin to taste like cardboard after several days.) But most of all, she's grateful for all her wonderful friends, whose warm hugs and sense of humor kept her smiling through all the chaos. Now, as romance writers, we Wenches all write about love . . . but as Winnie the Pooh says, "You don't spell love, you feel it."
(Above is a picture of Joanna's beautiful cat, creating beauty in a simple moment.)
I am on holiday (for which I am very thankful <g!>) so I'm sorry I don't have time to contribute to this post but I do wish all Wenches a very Happy Thanksgiving!
We don't have Thanksgiving in Australia, but I do have a journal in which, from time to time, I list seven things I'm grateful for. It's an excellent thing to do, even when you're feeling totally miserable and down — especially then, in fact. And why seven things? I don't really know, I probably read it somewhere. I think the theory behind it is to push yourself to think of more than the obvious things. And I don't just list them, I write about them in a little bit of detail.
Doing this regularly has changed me in small ways. One of the things I once wrote I'm grateful for is that the increased planting of native vegetation in the suburb I live in has resulted in more native birds living around me, so I wake up to the sound of lorikeets chittering and magpies carolling. Now every time I notice them, I smile and it lifts my mood.
I don't write in my journal every day, and I don't do a gratitude list every time — that would be a bit too Pollyanna for me — but I try to do it regularly enough for it to make a difference in how I perceive my life. If you're interested in learning more, here's a link,
I could also add in that right now I'm extremely . . . slurp. . . thankful for . . . slurp. . . mangoes. The mango season has just started here and. . . pause to lick fingers . . . they're delicious!
Here in England we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but Canada does, so I'm used to the concept. It's not one of my traditions, but I'm always up for appreciating the good stuff in life. So, I'm thankful for good health, my lovely family, and the fact that my writing is going very well, plus my nerine bowdenii, which puts on a lovely display of flowers at this time when nearly all the rest are dead. I hope everyone reading here has as much or more to be thankful for.
I've always figured if you're lucky enough to feel happy just because -- Hey, look! The sun's come up! -- then you're going to have something to be grateful for most mornings. I am in this felicitous situation.
This year, I've pulled up in a safe harbor after a long tumultuous time. The sun's coming in the window. Lunch is simmering on the stove. I'm doing work that I love. (I'm currently studying a map of London in 1800 which is where my head is at.) I work in blue jeans and tee shirt and stretchy red slippers with nifty pompoms on them.
I've kept a gratitude journal for years, jotting down a few thoughts at the end of the day when/if I think of it -- and if I'm too tired, I try to tick off a few thankful thoughts on my fingers as I go to sleep. Lazy girl's gratitude air-journal! I figure it works as well as ink and paper. It's the thought that counts, after all.
This year at Thanksgiving--a time when we're reminded to be thankful for all that we have--while the turkey is roasting, the pies baking and the potatoes simmering, I'll look around and be thankful for family and friends, for health and happiness, for being able to do work that has meaning for me. And I'm thankful for the small things too. This will be a quiet Thanksgiving for us, with two of our kids working that day (medical people don't get a break, but we're all grateful for what they do), and I'm looking forward to a quiet, peaceful day of cooking, football, reading, and taking some time to just plain enjoy a simple day off. I'll be thankful for the savory, sweet, a bit rich dinner (why do this just once a year? I love the Thanksgiving menu!) And I'm particularly grateful that I'll be finally over the flu by Thanksgiving day (I am thankful for antlbiotics!)
And I'm thankful just to be aware that gratefulness is truly important on Thanksgiving Day, and every day. Or as one of my sons once summed up Thanksgiving gratitude years ago -- "I feel great and I feel full!"
I have so much to be grateful for! I love this holiday, which is a warm, friendly gathering of some family and friends with everyone contributing and no football games on the TV. I’m very grateful for good health, and glad the election is over, and all those ads that came with it! I’m grateful that I can write stories, and there are still people who want to read them. I’m grateful that cats have soft fur and purrs. (That’s the Elusive Lacey on the left.) And I’m grateful to a world that has (mostly!) useful technology that enables us to connect with our friends and readers.
Sherrie Holmes, Word Wench Whipmistress:
Every day is a blessing to me. From my early childhood I was known as a Pollyanna, always managing to see the good in every situation. I never outgrew that. In fact, I have a little booklet where I record 3 things I'm grateful for, every day. (Well, almost every day!) The great Victorian writer, humorist, and editor, Edward Sandford Martin, summed it up for me: "Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."
Last year, a diagnosis of endometrial cancer changed my life. I made it through surgery with flying colors, and the news was good: they got it all. It hadn't spread. No chemo, no radiation. They say you can judge a person by the company they keep. If that's so, then I must be a very fine person indeed, because I have the best friends and clients in the world. They surrounded me with love and support and prayers during my ordeal. Support came from quarters I could never have imagined. If there's one thing women do well, it's that they know how to support each other!
This Thanksgiving I will put on my Pollyanna hat and reflect once more on the bounty of my blessings, not the least of which includes two comedian dogs who are a daily inspiration on how to live with a heart of gratitude, and an equally comedic cat with a penchant for stealing pencils off my desk.
MJP again. At Anne's suggestion, here's a link to a wonderful little clip that says so much about the spirit of thankfulness.
What are you grateful for this year? Life tends to cycle through ups and downs, but even in a down cycle, there are usually a few bright spots for which we can give thanks. Just to add to someone's small pleasures, I'll give away a copy of my most recent historical romance, No Longer a Gentleman, to someone who leaves a comment between now and midnight Thursday.
Mary Jo, adding a picture of a harvest corn dolly similar to the one that hangs on the door of her office as a memory of living in England--an experience I am eternally grateful for.
Posted by MaryJoPutney on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 06:53 PM in Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Cara Elliott, Food and Drink, History, Jamie Quaid, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Mary Jo Putney, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Research, Sherrie Holmes, Susan King/Sarah Gabriel | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Andrea Penrose, Cara Elliott, gratitude journal., harvest festivals, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, lorikeets, Mary Jo Putney, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Pollyanna, Sherrie Holmes, Susan King, Thanksgiving
I hope all of you in the path of monster storm Sandy make it through safely. Here in my town we are still without power and likely to be in the dark until next week. Luckily I have a small generator to keep some basic appliances running, but there's no Internet-- just my trusty I-phone which is keeping me in touch with the world. So I am invoking the Wench Emergency Rule and posting an old blog from several years ago. Seeing that I am doing a lot of reading by the fire with my kerosene lamps providing a mellow glow (made even more mellow by copious glasses of scotch) I thought it fitting to choose one on the history of the library. And hey, it's even more fitting as I have a new book releasing on November 20!
So without further ado, please read on!
Cara/Andrea here, just back from a fabulous research trip to London. Alas, timing was such that I missed meeting up with Jo and Nicola for a Wench Tea Party, but it was still an amazing experience—but more on my travels in my next blog!
Today I’m talking about libraries—I made a stop at my local branch the other day, intending to pick up a Harry Potter DVD and a biography on Casanova that I had read about. But as often happens when I walk by the display of new acquisitions, my gaze strayed and I found myself drawn to a lovely book entitled “The Library: An illustrated History.” How could I resist! (That’s a pic I took of the Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, not my local branch!)
Tucking it under my arm, I hurried to the check-out, grinning like a Bedlamite. One of the things I love about libraries (and bookstores, though they are a more expensive delight) is that serendipitous discovery, that unlooked-for treasure that sends a happy little thrill coursing down my spine. Now some of my friends find that shopping for clothes or shoes lifts their spirits. But me, I’d much rather have a good book than a pair of bargain Manolo Blanicks (okay, maybe I’d like the book AND the Blanicks.)
That said, “The Library: An Illustrated History,” by Stuart A. P. Murray and co-published by the American Library Association, proved to be a fun journey through the centuries, with plenty of offbeat digressions on the development of printing, paper, and the notable bibliophiles in history who were passionate about the written word.
According to the ALA, Americans made 1.3 billion visits to libraries in 2008, and borrowed over 2 billion items. Now, I happen to love little tidbits of information like this. But I have to confess, though there were many modern fact and figures, the most interesting part of the book for me were the anecdotes from history. So, without further ado, here are some of the things I learned . . .
“Library” derives from liber, the Latin word for book. The earliest known library was discovered during the 1970s in the ancient city Ebla, in modern-day Syria. Dating back to around 2500 BCE, it contained close to 20,000 clay tablets written in cuneiform, the earliest form of written language.
The Egyptians developed the first paper-like material (papyrus), which was used for elaborate scrolls. (The Greeks called papyrus rolls biblion, and the clay pots where they were stored bibliotheke—a place to keep books.) Using this new “technology” as well as clay tablets, they compiled the renowned ancient library at Alexandria. It is said that the library at Pergamum, in Asia Minor, began to rival Alexandria and so the Egyptians refused to export papyrus to them. Undaunted, Pergamum began to use calf, sheep and goat skin to write on—and so the Latin word for such material became pergamenum. Which explains our word “parchment.”
The Romans came up with the ‘codex’ form of book, in which scrolls were folded into “pages”. (Julius Caesar is credited with being the first to do so with his dispatches to Gaul.) This form evolved into cutting the folds, allowing for writing on both sides of the sheet. Stiff covers, usually of wood, were used to protect the pages, and thus we have the origins of our modern book. (Today, a codex refers to a manuscript from the Middle Ages or earlier.)
Theft of books has been a problem throughout the ages. In the Middle Ages, the monastic libraries took to chaining the most popular books to desks and lecterns. On my recent trip to Oxford, I visited the Bodleian Library and actually saw this in Duke Humfrey’s medieval library, a section that is still open to scholars today. (Nicola informed me that people who apply for research privileges must sign a pledge that includes a promises not to burn the books—the danger from candles were a huge threat in medieval times.) Because of the chains, the books must be shelved with the pages facing outward.
Book curses have also been employed (with questionable results.) One of my favorites is a Medieval Spanish warning: Him that stealeth or borroweth and returneth not this book, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck by palsy and all his members blasted. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails and let the flames of hell consume him forever. (Uhhh, the nickel a day fine for overdue books at my local library seems quite mild in comparison.)
For me, one of the most interesting early bibliophiles was Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. A scholar and politician, he compiled a spectacular collection of books, coins and antiquities during the mid-1500s, including the original manuscript of Beowulf and the Lindisfarne Gospels, a seventh century illuminated manuscript from northern England.
The Cottonian Library used a unique system of cataloguing its books. Fourteen busts of famous Romans were placed atop the various bookshelves and cabinets, and each item of the collection was listed with the letter of its Roman (N for Nero, etc.) a letter for the shelf, and then a Roman numeral for where on the shelf it sat. In 1702, Cotton’s grandson bequeathed the collection to the state, and in the 1750s, the British Museum and Library took charge of it. I find it endearing that the British Library still keeps Cotton’s original books organized by his “Roman” system. (The Dewey Decimal Classification didn’t come into being until 1876.)
Our Library of Congress was established in 1800, in the same act that authorized the transfer of government to Washington, DC. At first, it was, as the name implies, only for members of Congress. Thomas Jefferson, an avid bibliophile took a great interest in recommending acquisitions. When the nascent collection was burned to a crisp during the War of 1812, (Nicola, we forgive you Brits) Jefferson offered to sell Congress his private collection of 6,487 books (appraised at $23,950) to begin anew. Now, that’s one government expenditure that I heartily agree with!
One of the things that struck me as I read the book was the incredibly wide range of libraries there are around the world—from a traveling burro with a book sack slung over its back in rural Columbia to the dazzling splendor of the Vatican galleries, they come in all sizes and shapes. And some are artistic treasures in their own right. The contents are mind-boggling as well, from the broad scope of the New York Public Library to the innumerable arcane and eclectic specialized collections. Books, books, books—what a source of constant awe and delight! (here's my library . . . not quite as impressive as the sleek, modern new British Library shown above.)
Now that you heard my “show and tell”, have you made any fun “finds” at the library recently? And have you visited a library, famous or otherwise, that simply awed you? I’ll never forget my first visit to the old British Library, where I saw the original manuscript for Jane Eyre on display.
Greetings! This coming Friday, October 26, Nicoloa Cornick's guest will be Blythe Gifford.
Blythe is launching a new series (the Brunson Clan Trilogy) set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the Tudor era. The Return of the Border Warrior is the first book in this series. The Chicago Tribune has called Blythe's work "the perfect balance between history and romance."
Please join us this coming Friday and enter the Tudor world of the Scottish borders!
(Photo credit: Jennifer Girard)
Okay, no one actually asked us why we live where we do, but a discussion was triggered by Joanna Bourne’s recent move into an aerie in the Blue Ridge mountains. It was such a fun discussion that we thought we’d share it with you.
I'm very lucky. I don't have to dream about where I want to live. I can have it. For me, this means high up in the mountains, in the deep woods.
I lived for many years in big cities. Those were good times in a lot of ways. City life is exciting and rich and varied. But I never got used to the car exhaust and the dirt -- the paper litter -- and worse -- underfoot. I get pummeled by the noise. I'm offended by the endless yammering of advertising. There are just too many people.
I'm escaping all that. I'm not Thoreau with his "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach." I'm not so philosophical. I just plan to enjoy the place.
My little house up here is surrounded by silent air and rocks and the green things making a hard living from rock. There's nothing meretricious. Nothing false or mean. You can put out your hand and under it is meadowsweet, clover, pussytoes, moss and the grey slate that's rested there a million years. There is no square foot I walk on that isn't subtle and true to its nature. Nothing has been reduced to the horrible simplicity man imposes on his surroundings.
This is all just achingly beautiful.
I lived in a small town for the first few years of my life, moved on to cities for the next twenty years and then retreated to country villages when the city bustle became too much. Now that I am getting older I am planning the move back to a small country town, so I am going full circle. Our current cottage is in a hamlet of 25 houses. It's designated a hamlet not a village because there no shop, pub or public transport. It's a drive of about 8 miles to the nearest town. We've been cut off by snow in winter before now and also by floods.
I enjoy the community feel here, I find the beautiful countryside inspiring but it can also be an isolated place for someone who works alone. I'd prefer to be closer to shops, restaurants and cultural activities. I do like people around me, but on my own terms. Where would I live if I could? I'd divide my time between a house by the sea and Mompesson House in Salisbury, the perfect sized Queen Anne town house with the amenities of the city but tucked away quietly in the historic cathedral close. The only problem is that I doubt the National Trust would be prepared to give it up to me!
I grew up shifting house (and school and sometimes country) every couple of years because of my dad's job, so I was keen to settle when I grew up.
I live in Melbourne, which is ranked as one of the world's most livable cities. It's the second largest city in Australia (4.1 million) and was founded in 1835. It boomed after the 1850's gold rushes and was for a short time in the 1880's, one of the world's biggest and wealthiest cities. That Victorian-era wealth is still visible in the many public buildings and terrace houses in the inner city.
My house isn't far from the city centre but it's in a quiet area, close to parks and a creek and nature trail, where I used to walk my dog every night. This is a painting of the Merri creek at dusk — my local creek— done in 1885 by Tom Roberts. There are more trees now, and just over the horizon there are houses and flats. But it's still lovely.
I can walk to shops and cafes, it's a quick trip by public transport into the city and there are wonderful restaurants in all directions — Melbourne is a "foodie" city. I'm close to the university, and the museum and have four public libraries at my disposal. I have a house in a small, tangled garden, and though if I listen carefully, I can hear distant traffic, I usually wake up to the sound of birds singing in the trees outside my window— rainbow lorikeets and magpies, usually, which is magic. This is the sound of lorikeets.
If I moved, I'd probably move to the country near the beach. I used to live next to the beach, near here — this is Charles Conder's 1888 painting, "A Holiday at Mentone." I do miss my nightly walk along the beach, which is these days populated with joggers. But really the only thing I want to change about where I live is my house — I need to renovate or rebuild. But it's such a disruption I keep putting it off.
I could write books about dream homes. Probably already have. <G> I'm a house-aholic, as anyone who has followed my career can attest. We're ever in search of our dream home. But after going through so many of them, we have become jaded. Every home has flaws. They're things, just like the furniture in them. It's the ideas populating your head and the people populating your life who are more important.
I hope. Because we'll be dumping 40 years worth of collections and making the final reduction in scale from our peak at about 6k square feet and a quarter of block of land to 1400 sf on a postage stamp.
I think we'd need at least four houses to cover all our desires! minimum.
Joanna's aerie is gorgeous, but I wouldn't want to live in such isolation. Like Jo, I prefer to have people around as long as they're not too close and they don't bother me. <G> In fact, I'm a born suburbanite—I want trees and a country feel, but with lots of upscale conveniences nearby. I grew up on a farm in homogeneous rural country which was lovely, but—homogeneous. I certainly didn't hate it, but I couldn't wait to get away (and skipped a year of high school in order to get away sooner.) I yearned for exciting diversity and crowds to disappear into and a chance to find my own tribe, though I wasn't as articulate about it then. So I went to a fairly large university and found that broader world and never lived in rural western NY again.
I lived in California and England before docking in Maryland, and I like it here. There’s great diversity in the terrain, from ocean to mountains. It’s in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard and has a moderate sort of temperament that appeals to me. My present house is surrounded by trees and feels rather rural, but everything one can need is within a few miles. Perfect!
Growing up in the Adirondacks in a small town near Lake George NY, surrounded by spectacular views of mountains and lakes, where the air is sweet, clear and tangy with pine, kind of spoils one later for a great place to live -- especially if one has to leave, as I did as a teenager when my father was transferred to a company in Maryland. In some ways the Adirondacks reminds me of parts of Scotland, one reason my heart is in both upstate NY and Scotland.
I still live in Maryland, a great place with some very pretty scenery...but I will never ever, being Northern born and bred, acclimatize to the ghastly humidity or the long, hot summers -- and, being Northern, the winters here are dampish and icy rather than snow-globe beautiful (okay, and winter can be treacherous and bitter in the north, but writers can stay indoors and dream instead of venture out on snowy days!). So I wouldn't say I'm living in my dream place. I'm here more or less by default, and my family is here, in a nice suburban home with all the amenities and conveniences. I go up north (and off to Scotland) whenever I can, which helps balance living with beastly humidity and a low mountain profile in the distance.
What's my dream home? A castle. A manor house. A cabin by a mountain lake. If I could pick one home, any home, that could be mine ... I think I'd go for Scott's Abbotsford. To me, that's a little bit of what is surely heaven.
I grew up in suburban Tacoma, within walking distance to school, mom and pop grocery stores, the neighborhood park, and streets so safe kids could play in them. But it was definitely “city,” and my sister and I yearned for the rural life since early childhood. Maybe we were influenced by the popular Westerns on TV that glorified the pioneer life.
While a city can be alluring and exciting, it can also be draining. I never feel drained in the country. Instead, I am energized. The country life fills a deep primal need in me.
Where would I live if money were no object? Smack in the middle of a national forest. I’d like about 100 acres of forest and meadow of my own, surrounded by a 10-foot chain link fence. I wouldn’t forsake my social life, because there are very few places left anymore where you are completely isolated. I’d still attend my weekly critique group meetings and do things with my sister, and participate in holidays and go out to dinner and movies. But my deepest desire is to live away from the city’s fast pace, invasive lights, and intrusive security cameras. I want a place where I can shed the city trappings and feel closer to Mother Earth.
I’ll never forget the time I was riding my mare in the woods on one of the old logging roads behind my barn, when she suddenly stopped and looked up. I looked up too, and saw a huge owl glide by, just over our heads, coasting silently with wings outstretched. It landed on a dead tree several yards ahead, then folded its wings and turned to look at us. It was a magical moment that both my mare and I enjoyed in reverent silence. You don’t get that in the city.
I think I’m the only Wench who is living just a few miles from where I grew up. Now, I haven’t been here all my life—for a number of years I lived right in Manhattan, and unlike some of the others, I find a lot to like about big cities. One can often feed off the bustle and energy in a positive way. And then there are the wealth of cultural attractions and opportunities, especially in New York, as well as the restaurants, theaters, shops and all the quirky little places tucked away in unexpected places that surprise and delight.
But at heart, I find the simple beauties of nature even more appealing, so I’m up here in the woods now, where I can see deer and foxes and a gaggle of funny crows who often come quork around in my front lawn, just below my writing window, and make me smile. The subtle hues of a sunset over the nearby Long Island Sound, the textures of a country stone wall, the way the sunlight plays on the wild raspberries growing in my backyard—these all make me stop and appreciate what really matters whenever I start to let myself get tied in knots by life’s everyday stresses.
So, despite having not strayed too far afield from my roots, I feel I have the best of both worlds. I have the country and solitude, which suits my introvert nature. But the city is just an hour away, and I’m often there for the day. A half hour in the other direction and I’m in New Haven, where I can take advantage of all the fascinating lectures, art, music and films that go on at Yale University.
As for where my dream home would be? A villa in Tuscany, where the light and the deep connection to the earth and to history is very powerful, would be wonderful. So would a chalet in the Swiss Alps—I love the majestic sense of space, the quiet and the vistas of mountains.
It's so interesting to think about why we choose places to live. I already knew that I like to be close to things whereas others value solitude, but when Joanna claimed her cabin was fine because "There's a grocery store, library, and restaurants about ten miles away..." I cyber-shrieked, "Ten
miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" We live in a small town within walking
distance of shops, library, doctor etc etc. Our nearest city, Exeter, is 12
miles away, but we need a really good reason for such a Big Trip.
I grew up in Morecambe, and we walked to nearly everything. Lancaster was
about 4 miles away and going there was an occasion. Mind you, we didn't have a
car. I wonder how many people in North America grew up without a car. That
shapes our patterns.
There's also a cultural pattern in our perception of distances. Apparently most
communities in England (hamlets, villages and such) are less than four miles
from each other, leaving aside moors and such. To illustrate, as I said, the
Big Smoke is 12 miles away, but between are Starcross, 4 miles away, Kenton, 6
miles, and Exminster, 8.
My other requirement for an ideal location is the sea. I was born in a room
overlooking the sea and grew up on the beach. Everything is different when
we're close to the sea -- the air, the light, and perhaps even the earth.
Seismometers can pick up the waves hitting land from hundreds of miles away, so
it's possible we can sense the earth's heartbeat beneath our feet. And miss it
if it's not there.
MJP again. "Home" is a profound influence on our lives and souls, whether it's a home of the heart or a home of circumstances. How do you feel about where you live? And where would you live if you were free to choose?
Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill....
Mary Jo, who lives inside the Baltimore Beltway but can watch deer right outside her living room windows
Posted by MaryJoPutney on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM in Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Ask-a-Wench, Cara Elliott, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Mary Jo Putney, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Sherrie Holmes, Susan King/Sarah Gabriel, Travel | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Abbotsford, Andrea Penrose, Cara Elliott, cities, country, domicile, England, Home, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Mary Jo Putney, Maryland, Mompesson House, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Sherrie Holmes, Suburbs, Susan King, Virginia, Washington
The Wenches are happy. Joanna is happy. Joanna's publisher is happy. The Black Hawk is happy. Yesterday, Joanna won a RITA for her 2011 historical romance, The Black Hawk. The announcement was made yesterday at the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Joanna was so sure she wouldn't win that she hadn't even left room in her suitcase for the RITA. We suspect Joanna has now found room for that little statuette in her luggage! Big congratulations, Joanna. Couldn't happen to a nicer person!
On Wednesday, July 11, Pat will host an interview for returning Honorary Word Wench, Eileen Dreyer (aka Kathleen Korbel). Eileen will be discussing her newest historical romance, It Begins With a Kiss. Please join us Wednesday, and if you leave a comment you'll go in the drawing to win an Eileen Dreyer book!
Mary Jo here, hosting the sixth anniversary celebration for the Word Wenches! This is a long time for a blog to survive and flourish. But we’re still having fun, still finding new topics to chat about, and new people to have as guests.
Today, the Wenches reminisce about how they came to Wenchdom. The announcement will be at the end. (And no, it isn’t that we’re shutting down!) So here are the Wenches, and covers of books they published the year that they joined the blog.
I remember, six years ago, having an email discussion with Mary Jo and Pat about starting up a group blog, followed soon after by a lunch with our shared website guru, Eileen, who brought more ideas quite literally to the table - and the fledgling concept of Word Wenches was born.
At the time, I was writing Scottish historical romances for Avon as Sarah Gabriel, having already written several historicals as Susan King. When I moved to Avon as Sarah, I was secretly hoping to write bigger mainstream novels someday as Susan. Sarah G. wrote two more historical romances, To Wed a Highland Bride and Highland Groom -- and then Susan K. got the chance to research and write Lady Macbeth followed a couple of years later (these research-heavy books take time!) by Queen Hereafter.
Exploring the differences in writing for hardcover/trade over mass market genre has been exciting and challenging, and I hope I've grown as a writer and historian (certainly I've learned more patience...) . Currently I'm balancing several writing projects at once, so life is a bit crazy at the moment. I'm researching historical novels while converting my old Susan King backlist to ebook (Black Thorne's Rose, Laird of the Wind, and others are now available, with more soon). I'm also writing some nonfiction history, a refreshing change, as it needs a different focus and voice.
Yet one of the brightest highlights of these past six years is the Word Wenches. When I was first published, a very well-known author (I was so in awe!!) told me that the most valuable thing I would find as a published writer would be the friendships. She was right. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be a Wench -- and to be able to call each Wench a true friend. That's part of what makes our little blog so special, I think -- we truly care about the blog, our readers, our books, and each other.
2006 seems a millennia ago in book terms! I was still writing contemps, Magic Man and Small Town Girl were on the shelves, and my husband had just taken a new job and we'd moved to St Louis. These days, my contemporary romances are on the e-book backlist shelves, the MAGIC series is being reissued, I'm writing about the contemporary descendants of the Magic characters, and producing original e-books and writing urban fantasy. What a long, strange trip it's been!
I knew I should blog and started to, but really couldn't keep up with it. Maybe some people love to journal, and others don't, so the Wenches was a great way to do my bit. When I got Mary Jo’s e-mail inviting me to join the Word Wenches, I said yes immediately. I really like what we’ve built here, and that we've created a flexible, dynamic group that can adapt to the ever-changing blogosphere.
Like Jo, I thought blogging would be A Good Thing, both for promotion and as a way to interact directly with readers. I knew darned well I'd never manage one on my own, but with friends? All of a sudden, an exciting idea took shape.
Since I knew how busy we all are, I suggested that we enlist Sherrie Holmes, whom I knew from the Regency loops, to keep us organized, a job she's done beautifully ever since, while keeping us wildly entertained behind the scenes. <G>
Over the last six years, I've changed publishers and added a new genre, YA historical fantasy, and it's all good. I like blogging, even though it takes time away other things, like writing books. It's fun to delve into random topics, and it's fun not to have to worry about every word the way I do on my novels. I also like the chance to interview other authors whose work I admire, like <BLARE OF TRUMPETS!!!>:
In May 2006 I was probably working on the last of my "perfect-in-the-title" series, The Perfect Kiss. I was already a big fan of the Word Wenches as writers, but I can't remember exactly when I first started reading the blog. It was pretty soon after they started blogging I think, but in those days I was a bit shy about leaving comments. It was my regular morning ritual — to read the wench blog and all the comments — I loved the level of interesting discussion in the comment stream.
I do remember when I met Mary Jo and Jo and Pat at my first NINC (Novelists Inc) conference in March 2007 and I made some comment about them changing the blog from a post every day to only 3 times a week — that was a word wench addict speaking. I do remember their expressions when I said how I missed the daily dose of word wenchery. I have to laugh now, when as a word wench, I look at my calendar and exclaim, "Another blog? Already?" because it's quite hard to come up with something fresh every fortnight. I don't know how they each blogged once a week and still managed to write books.
I joined the word wenches in October 2008 and I remember how thrilled I was when I read the email from Mary Jo inviting me to become a word wench. It's a wonderful group and I'm still very proud to be a word wench. (His Captive Lady was published that year.)
Now We Are Six . . . I love that I get a chance to trumpet A. A. Milne’s classic title, as it reminds me that from a very early age on, books were such an important part of my life. And they still are! Six years ago I wasn’t yet a Wench—and I wasn’t yet Cara Elliott or Andrea Penrose! So, much has changed for me personally as well as for publishing in general since 2006. E-readers were still just a flickering diode, bricks-and-mortar stores were still dominating the reading landscape, and I was just transitioning into mass market historical romance.
Things keep moving at cyber-speed, and there are a lot of crazy ups and downs in the book world, but for me, a constant has been the sense of camaraderie and community that comes from being part of this amazing group. I remember very well getting the call from Mary Jo asking if I’d be interested in joining the Wenches . . . and I nearly fell off my chair. Me? Needless to say, I was speechless with shock. And with excitement at the chance to rub cyber-shoulders with such wonderful authors. We’ve all become great friends, and have a wonderful time together, sharing laughter and our love of good books, as well as hugs when there’s a bump in the road.
It’s a very special part of my writing life, made even more so by the fact that we get to interact with such a wonderful group of readers.
2006 was an exciting year! It was the year that my first book for HQN, Deceived, was published. I was working on the follow up, Lord of Scandal, that spring. At the same time I was in the second year of my MA in Public History at Ruskin College in Oxford and was working very hard on my dissertation on heroes and hero myths. There was a lot of writing of one sort or another going on! I also remember wonderful holidays in Norfolk and Wales that year and a memorable trip to Atlanta for the RWA Conference.
I heard of the Word Wenches early on and was over-awed by their combined star power, their fabulous books and their historical knowledge. I dropped into the blog regularly but I never imagined I would ever become a Wench. When Anne Gracie emailed me to invite me to join I almost fell off my chair with shock and excitement. My husband says I didn’t speak for half an hour! I learn a lot from reading the blog and I love that. I also enjoy the fact that the blog has an international feel with Wenches on several continents and I love the discussions with the other Wenches and our readers. It’s wonderful!
Six years ago I'd just come back to the States after many years overseas. I did all the settling down things you do. Picked out a dog and cat from the animal shelter. Put the kid in school. Bought a house. Planted peonies. I was on a roll.
I'd been agented for a couple of months at that point, and we'd begun what would turn out to be a year-long quest to sell that The Spymaster's Lady. I was working away on Lord and Spymaster, figuring if I couldn't sell a historical set in Napoleonic France, by golly, I'd sell one set in Regency England.
When Word Wenches showed up on the internet, I read them regularly. Pretty soon, the Wenches were bookmarked because they kept popping up whenever I went searching for some interesting historical material.
Zip forward a few years. I met Anne Gracie in person at the RWA National Conference. What a lovely, funny woman. Through her, I meet the other Wenches. I was delighted and very surprised to be asked join Word Wenches. Leapt at the possibility, though. Snap.
So here I am, the most recent, baby Word Wench, with a bare two years tenure. Still, as they say, wet behind the ears.
Mary Jo again.
As you can see, the theme of fellowship is an important thread here. It doesn't matter that we haven't all met in person, or that we're scattered across three continents. (The latter is part of the fun!)
Writing is a solitary profession, and while we’re mostly introverts, we need to spend time interacting with out tribe. And the Word Wenches—and our readers—are a tribe.
Now for the announcement: we’re publishing a Word Wenches Christmas anthology this year! MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE will be released by Kensington on September 25th in a trade sized edition. (The larger size of paperback.)
It contains eight Christmas novelettes, one by each current Wench, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. After reading the proposals, I was struck by how characteristic they are. Whatever themes Wench a writes in her full length novels is right there in short form. <G>
The anthology came about rather like the blog itself. I think it was our web goddess Eileen Buckholtz who first suggested the possibility. (She's a born marketing genius.)
We kicked the idea around for quite some time until we agreed on what we wanted to do. Susan organized our short synopses into a proposal, we sent it off—and lo! Multiple offers! I was amazed. But delighted. <G>
Win a copy!
So—come October, a copy of Mischief and Mistletoe will be sent to one commenter on this blog between now and midnight Thursday.
In addition, last summer regular Wench reader Jane Irish Nelson suggested that we should do an anthology. We didn’t say anything then, but we think she deserves a book for figuring out what we were up to. <G> Jane, remind us in October if we forget!
So there we are: six years of Wenchdom. Of history and humor, learning and laughter, philosophy and fellowship. Nothing is forever, but we're still going strong. We hope you'll continue to enjoy the journey with us.
Do you like anthologies? Holiday anthologies? Any comments on our six years of blogging? Please share!
Mary Jo, Susan, Pat, Jo, Anne, Andrea, Nicola, Joanna, & Sherrie the Cat-Herder
Posted by MaryJoPutney on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:06 PM in Andrea Penrose, Andrea Pickens, Anne Gracie, Books, Cara Elliott, E-books, History, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Mary Jo Putney, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Sherrie Holmes, Susan King/Sarah Gabriel, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (84) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Cara Elliot, Christmas Anthology, historical romance, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne. Sherrie Holmes, Mary Jo Putney, Mischief and Mistletoe, Nicola Cornick, Patricia RIce, Sarah Gabriel, Susan King, Word Wenches, writer fellowship
. . . Imagine eight little Wenches as small girls, each curled up in a big comfy chair, lost in the pages of some wonderful book . . . Anne's recent post about A. A. Milne and our beloved bear-pal, Winnie the Pooh, inspired us Wenches to think about our own favorite books when we were just small.
1. The Blue Fairy Book, Red Fairy Book, Pink Fairy Book, Green…and so on. There were lots of different colours!
2. Various "horsey" books by Christine Pullein-Johnson and her sisters, Diana and Josephine
3. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
4. Slim Tales, a series about anthropomorphic mice
I loved Tom Corbett. And Lucky Starr. And all of Heinlein's YAs. I guess I was ten or twelve ...
This is going back a ways. I know I read about anything I could get my hands on. I loved the Narnia books. They're magical. I read all kinds of traditional fairy stories and legends. The Once and Future King. Oh. One book I remember enjoying when I was very young was Kingsley's Water Babies.
And I indulge myself with this, from Milne (it is better read aloud):
The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
I grew up in a house with only four books--classic plays like Ibsen that no one read but me. I can remember as a toddler grabbing Little Golden Books at the grocery so I got The Little Engine That Could and The Poky Little Puppy. I had no school library until fourth grade, where I remember starting on one end and working my way around, but if they had A. A. Milne, I was too old to consider it by the time I reached “M.” When I was able to order from Scholastic, I started with Pride and Prejudice. No one read to me, so I was completely on my own in my choices. When it came time to read to my own children, I had no background to call on. I started them on Seuss and Berenstains and they were reading on their own before age four. Dr. Seuss books are the ones my family quotes. Want to hear Red Fish, Blue Fish? My kids did eventually get Winnie the Pooh, but they read those books to themselves. So while my childhood reading material might have covered everything from Walter Farley to Dostoevsky (because I found a classic literature reading list), I missed out on all the favorites.
Mary Jo Putney:
Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids, yessss!!!! That was Asimov in YA mode! The school library had only that one Lucky Starr book, but did have all the Heinlein YAs. And I read and reread and RE-read them. And I read all the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet books.
I've never read A. A. Milne or Paddington Bear or even Maurice Sendak. Nor The Secret Garden or the Wizard of Oz, among many others. A lot of the kid classics simply didn't come my way. If they had, I'd have read them, because I went through books like locusts through a field!
I read every horse book going. Pretty much all our reading matter came from English publishers in those days. There were some home grown — the Billabong series, old fashioned even when I was reading them, and various others. But I read everything I could get my hands on, didn't matter what kind of book and quickly went through all the books belonging to my older brother and sisters. Some books made it to Australia from the US. The Bobbsey twins and Cherry Ames came from the US, but I wasn't keen -- they belonged to my older sister. I was more about the animals. So, Thunderhead, Flicka, The Silver Brumby (brumbies are wild horses in Australia), Finn the Wolf hound, Wild Brother (Mary Patchett), and more.
The first stories I remember having read to me — probably because they were family favorites and we read them over and over again — were Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne. And loads of AA Milne poetry read aloud, much of which I still remember and can quote. I also loved the Pookie stories by Ivy Wallace. Pookie was a white rabbit with wings, who lived with a little girl called Belinda. I read pretty much any Enid Blyton book I could get my hands on — she was an incredibly prolific English children's author, who went out of favor for a while —political correctness, some of which was justified and some was plain silly. And also people thinking kids need to read only "good" literature, instead of fun reads. She's available again now, but some books are pretty dated. She was writing in the 40's and 50's and there's a bit of residual racism in some of the books. When I was little I liked Enid Blyton's Faraway tree series,and later it was the Famous Five, the "Mystery of" series (the Five Find-Outers and Dog) and her "of Adventure" series - Valley of Adventure, Mountain of Adventure etc, which had four children and a cockatoo (Kiki) and various other animals.
Cara Elliott/Andrea Penrose:
I started reading early on and quickly moved on to longer books with pictures. Stuart Little and The Wind in the Willows (with drawings by Arthur Rackham) and Howard Pyle's books on King Arthur, Robin Hood and Otto of the Silver Hand stick out in my memory. Even back then, I loved a rollicking good story! Winnie the Pooh was one of my early favorites too!
Fairy tales, first and foremost! I had a Tall Book of Fairy Tales that I adored, and also a big book of Greek myths that I hauled around everywhere with me. I loved Winnie the Pooh and Milne’s poetry, and I read my mother’s poetry books when I was very young—I remember Longfellow’s “Hiawatha,” “Evangeline,” R. L. Stevenson -- I loved the rhythms and word beauty, though I didn’t understand them then. (My highest praise of a book when I was very young was to draw a princess in crayon on the flyleaf. To me, a flyleaf was just a blank sheet of paper begging for a princess, and the best books got the best princesses!)
My favorite children’s books, besides dear Pooh, were all the Pippi Longstocking books, which I read over and over, as well as Beverly Cleary’s Ellen Tebbits. I moved on to The Five Little Peppers, then Little Women and Little Men, and kept on going….
Your turn now! What were your favorite reads when you were just small? Some of the Wenches are going back to read their favorite children's tales again (and some of us are reading the ones we never got around to!) -- and we'd love to know what you all loved to read, too . . .
Posted by Susan on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 03:08 AM in Andrea Penrose, Andrea Pickens, Anne Gracie, Ask-a-Wench, Books, Cara Elliott, History, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Mary Jo Putney, Nicola Cornick, Patricia Rice, Sherrie Holmes, Susan King/Sarah Gabriel, Writing Topics | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Anne here, continuing our discussion of mystery/crime stories. It started when I mentioned on our Word Wench loop that I was going to talk about mystery series, and the wenches started to chat about crime novels they'd been reading. And when the wenches get chatting about books...
So here, as an Ask A Wench post, are the word wenches, chatting about crime novels.
Nicola: I've just ordered Elizabeth Bailey's latest, The Deathly Portent. She writes Georgian crime/romance. I enjoyed the first in the series, The Gilded Shroud, very much so am looking forward to this one.
Cara/Andrea: Oh, must look for that one too, Nicola. The first one was great.
Anne: I've been meaning to order it. I used to love her historicals. Her FRIDAY DREAMING is one of my all time favorite Regencies.
Joanna: Lately I've been reading my way through the C.S. Harris mysteries. They're set in my own time period. Regency mysteries. And a long-time favorite Historical Romance author, Roberta Gellis, wrote a series of Medieval mysteries solved by the formidable Magdalene la Bâtarde, madame of the local brothel. The series starts with A Mortal Bane.
I'm about to read an Anne Perry (I had dinner with her once at the Surrey International Writers Conference. We agreed that Fouché was the most interesting figure of the Revolution.) as soon as I finish the CS Harris I'm in the middle of. How's that for Historical Mystery?
Jo: I like the Gellis ones a lot, especially as she shows how being a whore in theright circumstances could be a better option. I always like the way Gellis doesn't pander to conventional, modern expectations.
Cara/Andrea: I enjoy Anne Perry's books, especially the later Hester and Monk ones. I feel she does a good job at peeling back the layers of personalities, and deals with the complex conflicts of human nature in a thoughtful way. It seems to me she grapples with the good and evil that is inside everyone, and how people choose one path or another—and tells a good story in doing so.
Nicola: Other historical crime I enjoy - Ellis Peters and Susanna Gregory but most of all C. J. Samson. I love his Tudor mysteries featuring Matthew Shardlake. The one about the sinking of the Mary Rose haunted me for days.
Sherrie: Has anyone here read any of the Alexander McCall Smith #1 Ladies Detective Agency books? I have 2 of those as audiobooks. I’m looking forward to them. I also have several of Sue Grafton’s ABC series (A is for Alibi, etc.) and I’m really enjoying them.
Mary Jo: I read the McCall Smith books for the characters and the wonderful sense of a healthy, deeply loved African society.
Sherrie: I’ve also become a rabid Neil Gaiman fan. He writes everything—fantasy, YA, graphic novels, comic books, screenwriting, etc., and has won just about every award there is. I love his The Graveyard Book, about a young man who was raised by ghosts in a graveyard. It’s an odd and charming book with very dark undertones and clever humor.
Anne: I love Neil Gaiman, too, Sherrie, and was lucky enough to hear him talk when he came to Melbourne last year. The Graveyard book is wonderful.
Susan: Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer - my sons love reading his stuff. I've tried Coraline and one or two others. Sherrie, if you like Gaiman and some of the darker fantasy stuff, have you tried Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer series? Deep, beautifully written, moving, challenging and brilliant. I got my sons hooked on those when they were teens, and now they're huge Gene Wolfe fans.
Thinking about historical mysteries, I'd have to say that Lindsay Davis and Falco are probably my favorites, along with Ellis Peters and Cadfael, and Elizabeth Peters everything. I've read more of the Falco and Cadfael series than any other long series.
I love the early Amelia Peabody books, but got overwhelmed with the sheer number of books and fell by the wayside. And I agree, Jo, I did enjoy the other Elizabeth Peters mysteries quite a lot, particularly the art history ones. I was thrilled that she wrote a mystery about a missing Tillman Riemanschneider! <g>
Totally love the Barbara Michaels ones as well. Love ghosts. I watch all those ghost shows on TV. Some of them are beyond stupid, and I still love them.
Susan: Perhaps my favorite perfect mystery, single book, is Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. I wore out a paperback of that one years ago, and bought a new edition a few years back just to read it again. It's excellent. The hospital stuff for the Inspector is of course dated (he's laid up in traction in the hospital, deals with a robust and bossy nurse, and out of boredom tackles the enigma of Richard III) but that can be seen in a historical perspective by now! And the rest is just classic, brilliant sleuthing and characterization.
Mary Jo: I'm another lover of Tey's THE DAUGHTER OF TIME It made me a confirmed fan of Richard III. <g>
Nicola: Oh yes! I love all Josephine Tey's mysteries but that one will always be closest to my heart!
Anne: My latest glom is Louise Penny. I read the first one while on the plane heading to my retreat a couple of weeks ago and ordered the rest of the series when I landed. They arrived last week and I've now read all except the last. I like crime, especially cosy crime that's beautifully observant about people, which this is. And I have very fond memories of Quebec from many years ago, so it's lovely to revisit.
Cara/Andrea: Anne, thanks for the mention of Louise Penny. I have been hearing wonderful things about this series and meant to get one of them, Now it's moved right to the top of the Must Get list. I think she's going to be at the mystery conference I'm going to in Washington DC later this month, so will look forward to meeting her too. The conference is much smaller and more low-key than RWA.
Authors all tend to hang out in an author's lounge during the day, and last year I got to sit around and chat with Rhys Bowen, whose Royal Spyness series I love.
This year another favorite of mine, Charles Finch is on the list of attendees—as is Elizabeth Peters! I think she's in her mid-eighties, so not sure how much time she'll spend in public, but she really is one of my all-time favorites, so would love to just rub shoulders with her for a bit.
Joanna: I signed next to Rhys Bowen at RT last year. (I think it was last year.) I told her I loved Her Royal Spyness. Very nice woman. Interestingly enough, RT seems to be good for mystery writers too. She was very popular.
Cara/Andrea: Oh, fun, Joanna. Yes, she's delightful. And as the Spyness books have a fun romance element, they definitely cross over to romance readers.
Anne: I am so envious of you guys who have conferences all around you and famous and beloved authors attending. We really do suffer the Tyranny of Distance here (title of a famous Australian history book.) I love the Rhys Bowen books -- Mary Jo put me onto her last year. And Elizabeth Peters -- Crocodile on the Sandbank is an all time fave, of course and I also loved Die for Love. I've never heard of Charles Finch. Will investigate. Thanks
Cara/Andrea: Anne, Crocodile on the Sandbank is one of my all-time favorites. I adore Amelia and Emerson, and the start of the series has some priceless moments.
Charles Finch writes a very nice Victorian mystery series. It's very low-key with charming characters and well-woven plots. I like his writing, so do give him a try. The first book of the series, A Beautiful Blue Death, won a lot of awards.
Yes, we are lucky in that conferences do allow a chance to meet favorite authors.
Joanna: I'm going to join everybody else in loving Elizabeth Peters and the remarkable Peabody and Emerson. I also like her her modern supernatural mysteries written under the name Barbara Michaels. Ammie Come Home is a classic.
Mary Jo: I've read a lot of mysteries in the past, but I'm not much into them these days--I've gotten too wimpy to find murder entertaining, I guess. But like the other Wenches, I adore CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, though it's because of the hilarious romance and the marvelous voice of Amelia Peabody, who is one of the great historical heroines.
Among modern historical mysteries, I find Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness books, set in England in the early 1930s, to be enormous fun. The heroine, Lady Georgiana, is 34th in line to the throne, being a great granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her position means she's supposed to act like a lady, without having any money to support her royal bloodlines. <g> They're great, frothy fun, especially the one where she's sent as a royal emissary to a royal wedding in Transylvania.
And last but hardly least, I mustn't overlook the Regency chocolate mysteries of our own Cara/Andrea! Writing as Andrea Penrose, she's published two delicious mysteries, SWEET REVENGE and THE COCOA CONSPIRACY. Not only mystery and chocolate, but romance! What more can one ask for????
So, are any of your favorites mentioned here? Any we've missed out? Do you have others to suggest? Go for it.
On Friday, April 6, Mary Jo will interview returning Honorary Word Wench, Eloisa James. Eloisa will talk about her memoir, Paris in Love, describing how she and her family (and her dog) ran away to Paris for a year. The book launch is this week--a perfect time for us to interview Ms. James!
Time to announce new winners! Since our last winner announcement we've had several more blog commenters join our list of monthly book winners. Triple winners Ellie Berger, Jenny Reed, and Felicia Ciaudelli won books from triple guests Elizabeth Rolls, Terri Brisbin, and Michelle Willingham. Another guest, Madeline Hunter, awarded a book to Linda Young. And rounding out the month, Cate Sparks won a book from Patricia Rice, and Sherri F. scored a book from Mary Jo Putney.
Tomorrow, Nicola Cornick interviews author Julie Cohen, whose latest book, The Summer of Living Dangerously, is out this month. Reviewers label the book "warm and funny." It's the story of Alice Woodstock, who escapes her past by donning period clothing and conducting tours of a stately Regency home. But her past catches up to her when the man who broke her heart returns.
Join us for Julie's interview on Monday, March 12!
Happy Leap Year! Wednesday, February 29, is Leap Day, and on that special day, Anne Gracie will host guests Terri Brisbin, Michelle Willingham and Elizabeth Rolls. They will talk about their stories in Royal Weddings Through the Ages, released this month. Join us on Wednesday and let's talk about royal weddings!
You've no doubt read all the rave reviews for Joanna Bourne's November 2011 release, The Black Hawk.The book is definitely a reviewer favorite. It's also a reader favorite, as evidenced by the results of the All About Romance annual reader poll. The votes are in, and The Black Hawk made a sweep, claiming wins in seven (seven!) categories:
The Wenches join with all those intelligent and astute readers in congratulating Joanna for such an astounding accomplishment. Well done, Joanna!
Hi, there! For today’s Ask A Wench, I delved into the Wenchly question jar and came up with this one from J. Wishard:
"Let's have an authors fashion show of sorts. Why not ask the Word Wenches to describe or show a photo of how they dress to "write/work". And do any of them have a piece of clothing that is their "lucky" writing clothes, such as lucky socks?“
This turned out to be a lot of fun! First up:
Ok, so this photo was taken a little while ago but I still have a penchant for rolling my jacket sleeves up when I work and I also love a bit of fancy headgear! My favourite hat is big and furry and was bought at a vintage sale. When the weather gets really cold I have been known to wear it at my desk because I feel the cold when I'm sitting still and writing. I have a lucky silver ring which I bought in the Orkney Islands and which is patterned with runic designs.
This is me in my favorite vintage Hawaiian shirt, all energized by that tropical magic and caffeine.
I’m not superstitious, which smacks too close to paranoia for my logical mind. No lucky socks or sandals. Heavy sweaters and corduroys in winter, turtlenecks and jeans for the mild seasons, capris and button shirts in summer. My one peculiarity is that I never, ever do T-shirts. Don't even own one. And I never have pics of myself around the house. I'm sure we all look like Anne's photo at our desks!
What do I wear when deep in the writing? Mostly plain, comfy stuff in gray and black. (I love black – I’d wear it every day if I could!). Some of my favorite pieces of author-mode clothing are pretty tattered by now, but crazy soft and comfortable. I also love plaids, not just because I write Scotland, but because I love tartan patterns and colors.
Here are some items from my current writing wardrobe: a gray sweatshirt that I’ve had forever – note the tattered sleeve with the hole in it! (Liz Claiborne petite, really soft and a great fit; I’d love to find another just like it) … a black long-sleeve tee … and another favorite piece, a plaid quilted vest that’s great for winter and cooler air-conditioned nights too … and flip flops, which I wear year round. And I love this simple jewelry piece, a chunk of amethyst and citrine wrapped in silver wire that looks like a thistle!
So in writing mode, I’m all about flip flops and ragged gray sweatshirts. Nothing fancy. It’s so not me – and darker, quieter tones help me to focus amid the distractions of an active household where something can easily lure me away from my office and the work to be done! Once the writing takes over, all the rest can vanish for a while.
Lucky socks? Nope. Pashima shawls? Nope. And certainly not corsets or crepe de chine. Alas, my writing garb would definitely not make the fashion plates of La Belle Assemble. I dress for comfort, which currently means something warm and fuzzy, like Ugg sheepskin slippers and a polarfleece pullover.
Now, some people collect stylish little stiletto heels and slinky shifts, but my closet is crammed with Patagonia Snap-Ts, Nike dri-FIT and North Face wind-foil. Most are black or earth shades—I tend to like neutral colors—but I do have a few snazzy colors like red, limes and mango, for when the mood strikes me. (No correlation between wearing hot colors and writing hot scenes . . .but maybe that's something I should think about.)
I'm afraid I just wear what I'm wearing. As I always dress comfortably around the house, it doesn't matter what I'm doing -- reading, writing, cooking etc. I wish I had lucky socks, a pashmina of passion, or undies of inspiration, but sadly, no.
Mary Jo Putney:
Like most of the Wenches, I write in comfort clothes, usually oversize knits from Lands End and L. L. Bean. Like Pat, cord trousers and sweaters in winter, lighter clothing in summer. I always kick my shoes off (loafers in winter, slides in the summer) and write in my (not particularly) lucky socks. Very boring.
THEN—I read Jo’s entry and realized that I do indeed have pashminas of passion. Lots of them, in different weights and colors for the seasons. My house isn’t particularly cold, but as I sit at a computer, my joints like a bit of extra warmth. Here’s a picture of some of my pashminas of passion. The adorable little sheep is Lamb Chop, whom we met in Rotorua, New Zealand. It was love at first sight for her and our bear, Wellington, so she came home with us. (Antipodean females are very intrepid travelers!)
I don't wear anything particularly special to write in, but I do believe it's important to dress appropriately — to dress like an author, walk like an author, talk like an author, grunt and squeak and squ—er, I forget the rest of that quote.
So I dress in a simple, elegant, casual manner that befits my lifestyle. For instance this is the kind of thing I throw on most days — that's me walking from my bedroom to my office (pic by Kat from bookthingo) I have a variety of such outfits, naturally. One for each day of the week.
So nothing fancy, or special, like lucky socks for me. Just simple, tasteful, comfortable clothing.
MJP: So that’s the Wenchly fashion show! If you think that most writers make Casual Friday look like formal wear—you’re probably right. Except for Anne!
What do you wear to work? And what would you wear if you could choose whatever you want? <G>
Cara/Andrea is very excited to announce that 7 of her Andrea Pickens traditional Regencies—including the RITA final The Storybook Hero are now available exclusively on Amazon at a very good price—just in time for Valentine's Day!
Oh, my, do we have more winners! Pearl Berger started off this round by winning a book from Nicola. Ora E. Amis and Laura Jordan both won books from Mary Jo. Helene Grannes won a book from Anne. Double winners Ann Stephens and Kathryn each won a book from Jo. And last but certainly not least, Artemisia won a book from Joanna. Congratulations, winners!
Tomorrow is the Chinese New Year, and what better way to celebrate than to have a guest interview! On Monday, January 23, Wench Mary Jo will interview returning Honorary Word Wench, Eloisa James, who combines the best of 3 worlds: a writer, a professor, and a mother.
More winners! Lots more winners! Janice Jacobson won a book from Cara/Andrea. Maria Durst won a book from guest Christina Courtenay. Susan awarded a book to Betty Hamilton and Joanna likewise awarded a book to Grace Burrowes. Shelley Bagby and Ruth Berger both won books from Pat, and Susan Knight and Suzy won books from Anne. Pearl won a book from Nicola. Congratulations, winners!
Writing can be a demanding physical activity – especially when it goes on for days on end. Authors spend LOTS of time at computer keyboards and with pen and paper too, endless hours of repetitive movement with perhaps not the greatest posture, factors that can take a toll on various body parts. But writers have plots to resolve, characters to develop and deadlines to meet, so we push through and get the job done. And we deal with discomforts best we can.
The physical nature of writing mostly involves sitting –- as fingers fly over the keys, wrists may be angled; shoulders may be tight and hunched, necks forward, eyes straining to see what’s on the screen; and backs, hips, legs and feet must support those all-important writing muscles in the hands, fingers and eyes. Not to mention the physiological needs of the brain (that would be another blog entirely)!
Yet do we take breaks often, walk around, stretch our legs and backs, shake our hands and arms? Not regularly, if the creative urge is in force and the deadline is near. Are the chair and desk a proper fit, with the back well supported, spine balanced, arms relaxed, feet on the floor? Not always. Even in the best ergonomic circumstances, writers could be leaning and slumping while typing at lightning speed. We put in long hours in the same chair, go without sleep, and fuel ourselves with caffeine, further tightening stressed systems and muscles.
Recently the Wenches were chatting about this and discussing what helps us. It all started when Wench Anne’s doctor put her into wrist braces after the havoc wrought by a recent deadline blitz. “I gave myself tendonitis/carpal tunnel, so have been staying off the computer for the most part,” she told us one day.
Most of the Wenches—Anne, Mary Jo, Susan, Nicola, Pat, Andrea, Joanna and Wench Whipster Sherrie-- have developed physical glitches from long writing hours. Mary Jo recommends the liberal use of wrist braces. “With all the deadlines I've faced in the last year or two, my wrists are doing some serious complaining," she says. "Some days I wear a brace on each wrist and another on each elbow. Susan's son, Dr. Josh, made a good suggestion when I hit him up for free advice—wear a wrist brace to bed because at night the wrist can get bent in ways that exacerbate the nerve damage. I gave it a try, and saw an immediate improvement. Still a ways to go, but haven't had any bad episodes since then. Now wrist braces are going into my travel kit as well as a pair on my bedside table!” Wrist support at night is a first line therapy—if wrists are still weak and troubled, more help may be necessary.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the bane of writers -- an inflammation in the sheath that carries nerves from the wrist into the hand, it can result in pain and even long term damage. It can occur in people who perform prolonged repetitive motion, resulting in repetitive stress injury, or RSI. Other diseases and conditions can bring on carpal issues too, but keyboard use is a frequent cause in writers.
Symptoms “most often occur in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. If you have problems with your other fingers but your little finger is fine, this may be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. A different nerve gives feeling to the little finger. You may first notice symptoms at night. You may be able to get relief by shaking your hand,” reports WebMD’s page on carpal tunnel. “Tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive work, such as uninterrupted typing, can also cause carpal tunnel symptoms,” states medicine.net.
Wench Nicola says she sometimes has RSI issues from keyboard use, and is getting treatment for it. Mary Jo is trying contrast therapy, recommended to her by a writer who has found relief this way for wrist and hand problems. A physical therapy technique, contrast therapy involves alternating hot and cold water immersion for hands and wrists (and is used for other injuries). The changing temperatures can reduce swelling and improve circulation and therefore healing.
Of working on her laptop with her wrists at awkward angles, Wench Joanna says: "Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford points to a spot on his elbow and says, 'This doesn't hurt?' I'm like that, except I don't have a spot on the elbow. The other aches go away, but the wrists keep at this ouching thing and I feel very stupid. Is there a Carpal-Tunnel-Stupid Syndrome? That's what I have...so now I wear a wrist brace when I sit down to work for a long time. Everyone who sees this thinks I have injured myself in some accident, so I try to look like I ride horses or ski or engage in other enterprises more interesting than staring at a computer screen."
My own experience with carpal-tunnel-like symptoms -- numbness in the hands and fingers, pain in wrist as well as elbow and shoulder -- originated in a pinched nerve in the cervical vertebrae, affecting nerves feeding into the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. Allergies prevented me from taking anti-inflammatory meds, so I went to a chiropractor, whose treatments released the pressure in my neck. Years ago I learned wrist and hand exercises that help the overworked wrist and hands, and I try to do them fairly regularly. They gently stretch and align the wrists to keep the nerve sheaths in good shape. Yoga has also helped me, along with other stretching movements.
Anne also finds that exercises help; some very good routines can be found in this YouTube video.
“Just now I’m in wrist bands and splints galore after seeing a hand rehab specialist," Anne says, "little thumb splints to wear day and night for a few weeks and hand/wrist splints for sleeping in and spending time in during the day. Look silly, feel like a martial arts person, but it's remarkably comfortable.”
Our Blog Whipster Sherrie also gives thumbs up (as it were) to wrist braces night and day when needed. She prefers rigid wrist braces to wear at night. “Another suggestion is to make sure your keyboard is flat,” she says. “Raising the back of the keyboard forces you to cock your wrists instead of keeping them straight, which is very straining.”
Mary Jo and myself, among other Wenches, are devoted users of ergonomic style keyboards. Mary Jo’s keyboard is a nifty little thing that is split in two without the number keypad, and adjusts to hand span. I use a curved keyboard that helps keep my hands and wrists at a good angle. And Mary Jo and Pat use trackball mouses (mice?), further taking strain off the hands. I notice that using my laptop, with its plain straight keyboard, can trigger wrist issues, while my curved keyboard at the desk relieves my wrist discomfort.
Jo Beverley has taken keyboard and typing comfort a further step by using the Dvorak key system.”The Dvorak keyboard layout has the keys in different places,” she explains. “The QWERTY one was designed for early typewriters, and while it does put
least used keys in out-of-the-way places and common ones and patterns in the middle, it also had to deal with the type on the long arms sweeping up to hit the paper. Keystrokes that frequently happen next to each other need to be separated on the arms or they tend to clash. But Dvorak simply arranges the keys for least hand movement when typing common language such as English.Once one's learned it, it makes using an ordinary keyboard very fiddly!” Jo says. Just about any computer can now be switched to Dvorak.
In the midst of our email discussion about wrists and such, Wench Pat Rice broke her wrist and is now dealing with that while writing. “Not sure what I can add to the ergonomic discussion aside from don't break your wrist!” she says. “I find a trackball is my best friend, but one geared for the right hand doesn't work so hot on the left. I've also learned that a Dvorak key system is built into MS operating systems, even a left-handed one. Keys can be popped off the board and moved around to work with Dvorak -– the key system makes soooo much more sense than stretching our fingers to reach keys.”
In terms of the larger ergonomic issues a writer faces, Sherrie claims “I am the queen of comfort!” She converted a huge recliner into a desk chair by attaching wheels. Now she reclines at the desk with her keyboard in her lap—and it’s handy for watching movies on her large monitor as well, so Sherrie’s all set for desk comfort!
Mary Jo, Jo Beverley and myself have all invested in Herman Miller Aeron chairs. Wench Andrea adds "I write too slowly to have wrist problems, but I'm saving my pennies for an Aeron chair because my back does occasionally flare up, and I've heard such wonderful things about it."
The Aeron is not only ergonomically aligned and comfortable –- it’s also a beautifully designed object that is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. I love my Aeron, which I got in the smallest of three sizes. This chair fits me, and I'm under five feet tall. For many short people, most furniture is too big, causing back strain from the feet hanging down, and so on. Aeron comes in sizes A, B and C; size "A" has a shorter, narrower seat depth and lower arm height. I also had the legs of my desk shortened (thanks, dh!). Now the physical stress of writing is much improved.
The Wenches have each managed to create a good level of physical comfort and support as we write. We've had to do that. Ergonomics can save writing careers. Wrist braces, exercises, Dvorak keyboards, Aeron chairs, customized desks and other measures are heaven sent for career authors -- and for anyone else who spends long hours at the computer.
Do you spend lots of time in front of a computer or laptop too? What have you found that helps you? We'd love to know your experience with wrist strain and other writer-related hazards.
(<-- one of the books that challenged my wrists and back!)
Tomorrow Nicola Cornick welcomes back Honorary Word Wench Christina Courtenay. Christina writes historical romance with a trace of the Far East, but tomorrow she will talk about the lure of Scotland as a setting for historical romance. Please join us Monday, December 12, and find out why Scotland has endured as a popular venue for historical romances.
We have another batch of winners! Congratulations to the following book winners: Rachel Grime and Lisa Hutson each won a book from Nicola. Malvina Yock won a book from guest Kerry Greenwood. And last but not least, Gail Mallin won a book from Mary Jo.
HOLIDAY STOCKING STUFFERS
We have just the thing for you last-minute shoppers: stocking stuffers! Namely, some Wench classics, anthologies, and novellas in many formats, all of them suitable for tucking into those holiday stockings! Just click the below links to do your shopping. Season’s greetings and best wishes for a Happy New Year to one and all!
Three of Mary Jo Putney's classic Regency Christmas novellas are now available in e-book form as Christmas Mischief. Happy holidays!
Nicola Cornick’s novella is “The Pirate’s Kiss” in the Christmas Wedding Belles anthology.
Patricia Rice’s Christmas Surprises anthology is available at Regency Reads.
Jo Beverley’s Winter Fire (Christmas at Rothgar Abbey!) is perfect for the holidays.
Susan King’s The Black Thorne's Rose (Author's Cut), is available in e-book for Kindle, Nook and other e-book venues.
Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!
Tomorrow, Anne Gracie will be interviewing Australian author Kerry Greenwood, author of the fabulous 1920s Phryne Fisher crime novels, currently being filmed as a very classy TV series, and the contemporary Corinna Chapman mysteries, set in Anne's home town of Melbourne. Kerry will be giving away a book to some lucky commenter.
Then on Friday Susan Fraser King will interview returning Honorary Word Wench, Nina Paules, proprietor of eBook Prep and eBook Discovery. Nina will talk about the world of e-publishing, and she'll be giving away an Amazon Kindle Fire to a commenter (commenters wishing to be in the drawing for the Kindle Fire will be asked to complete an entry form at Nina's Web site). See interview on Friday for details.
GUEST JO ANN FERGUSON:
Do you like European cathedrals? Then join us on Monday, October 24, when Jo Ann Ferguson (who also writes as Jocelyn Kelley, J.A. Ferguson, and Jo Ann Brown) visits the Word Wenches to talk about cathedrals, among other things. Jo Ann's latest book is Gentleman's Master, a Lady Priscilla Flanders/Sir Neville Hathaway
romantic mystery historical.
Margaret Dean won a book from guest Jennifer Kloester. JaneAnn Railey-Clear won a book from Mary Jo, who used her blog topic suggestion. C.D. Thompson won a book from guest Laura Resnick. Annie Donahue won a book from Jo. Leslie Lemon won a book from Mary Jo. Congratulations, winners!
Olivia Searcy won a book from guest Eileen Dreyer, and Dee Thompson won a book from guest Laura Resnick. Congratulations, ladies! Your books will be in the mail shortly.
Would you like to be eligible to win a book, too? All you have to do is leave a comment! Winners are most often chosen from those who leave comments. Your next chance will be coming up the end of this month: on October 24 Mary Jo will host guest Jo Ann Ferguson, who'll be blogging about European cathedrals!
May 20 - Jeannie Lin (host: Pat)
May 22 - OUR 7th ANNIVERSARY! (We'll be blogging about historical desserts!)