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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam

  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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June 2023

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Wenches Statistics

  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

    Novellas published: 74

    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)

    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:

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    Chicago Tribune

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« Beauty is as Beauty Does | Main | a question or two for you »


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I love my name...Maggie Robinson. If I'm ever published, I'd be quite near Nora Roberts, snuggling up and basking in her radiance! I'd want to use it if I could.

I was so happy to get married. My maiden name was Lanman. If you knew how often I had to spell it (L-A-N-as in Nancy-M-as-in-Mary-A-N-as-in-Nancy), you too would be relieved to be unfeminist and take a man's name. Then I discovered Robinson easily turns into Robertson and Robison. Oh well.

I find "romance author" names usually sound romantic, i.e., fake, but that's fine. It must be fun to be a dual personality.

I think being famous for writing is a far different kind of fame than, say, movie star. I'd never want to subject myself or my family to the crazy lack of privacy...but then, I recall "Misery!"

In my brief foray around the romance writers' universe, you writers seem remarkably approachable and willing to share your expertise with readers. This is rare and lovely, but I imagine sometimes you get hassled by people who want you to get them published too. So you must live in layers and protect the deepest (your actual address, for example)for privacy. I respect whatever works for the writer, and I will not be showing up on your doorstep!

Kathy K

Other than when I was young and thought that 'Kathy' was too boring, too common [which it was, and still is, but no longer a problem as I LIKE my name] I've never thought about changing it or being someone else; although, like Maggie, I was happy to change my last name upon marriage ~ but that's a different story. *grin*
Over the years, though, I've discovered that reading, in a way, does it for me. I can escape into someone else's life and experiences for a time; it's my opportunity to have excitement, live a new life, while in the safety and comfort of my own, safe and comfortable world: I like boring!


Loretta, I -wanted- to use a pseudonym so I could live in safe anonymity, but my agent and editor talked me out of it. The practical and legal advantages were convincing. But I still occasionally yearn to invisibly someone else.

OTOH, I once knew a Regency reader who said that she wouldn't read a book by Barbara Hazard because it was such an obviously fake name. Except--it isn't it. :) I assured her the name was real, and she was missing some fine books.

Mary Jo, who has done her share of name spelling ("Mary Jo, two words, no 'e' on the 'Jo.'")


As usual, I like it both ways.

Celebrity (such as it is) and anonymity (which I guard fiercely).

The name on my novels has morphed into a pseudonym which is only ever used in the context of being an author.

In my everyday life I use a different version, which somehow has turned into my secret identity.

Jaclyne Laurin

Thanks so much Loretta for answering my question, I'm happy to know that your grocery shopping is paparazzi free!!!

I live in a very popular & sought-after vacationing area. Lots of actors summer in my part of the province. Although I've never seen Goldie Hawn or Kurt Russel at the restaurant; or encountered Martin Short on the sidewalk, I know they're around town, because people talk about their sightings...

If I ever have the occasion of seeing anybody "famous", I'd like to think I'd react like I do meeting other total strangers on the sidewalk, just nod, say 'Hi' and continue walking!

It must be very hard to give up your anonymity, your privacy and feel trapped in that persona of the 'celebrity', the 'star' or the 'best selling author' and have the freedom to just be YOU.

In response to Maggie's comment on having to spell her last name, I get that all the time, except I have to spell both my first and last names as I'm a French-Canadian living in a predominantly english town. They not only spell my name wrong, they can't pronounce it!!!


Being "famous" enough to be taken into the inner-sanctum of a library sounds like all the special attention I'd ever need--and crave!

How wonderful.

Today my PC died. I thought that sorta thing only happened to other people who really weren't as in-tune with their machine as I am.

My husband attempted to salvage it, but the hard-drive gave up the ghost. He took my mother-board, which was better than his, and transplanted it in his laptop. Now I'm not so certain of his diagnosis.

The good news is that I had my mss saved and I bought a new computer--a Mac--and am loving it, so far.

Lost all my bookmarks though, but I added back Word Wenches first. Yeah!

Val Jones

Fame is so often an accicent of circumstances. I pay no attention to it and don't feel that a "famous" person is interesting because they are famous. When I was in college (I live in Orlando), I worked in a gift shop in a large hotel. I had a lot of conversations with some famous people because I treated them like everyone else. Most of them were very nice.

Fame is like ripples in the water after a rock is thrown in. Everyone is known for doing something well, and it's the scope that makes us famous on a large scale.

People are people, and if the author writes an interesting story, I don't care what the name is on the cover. Except that if you change it, I might not know who you are when I next buy books.

Val Jones

Sorry. Posted before spellchecking. Obviously, I'm not famous for grammar. :)


Jaclyne wrote: "I'd like to think I'd react like I do meeting other total strangers on the sidewalk, just nod, say 'Hi' and continue walking!"

This made me gasp! I know what you are saying, of course, but the idea of acknowledging the existence of a 'total stranger' in any way whatever, except in some emergency, is so foreign to a Londoner that it really jumped out at me. One of the ways in which pickpockets spot tourists to target in London is that they look for the people who make eye-contact with passers-by!

I suppose this is why some visitors think Londoners are 'unfriendly'. Actually, we are kind and helpful when there is a need for it; but in our painfully overcrowded streets and trains and buses, we protect ourselves by existing in a little psychological capsule, detached from all the people around us.

I have always felt very much at home in New York City; the social rules seem to be quite similar there.


Jo Beverley

I like the idea of different names for different sorts of books, as some of the Wenches have done. I think I would really dislike being known by more than one first name. It's confusing enough when people call me Bev.*G*

People often ask romance writers if we use our own name, and are surprised when we say yes. Such a shameful occupation!

I've used my own name all along and managed anonymity anyway. Local media in Canada rarely shine a spotlight on genre writers, and when they do it seems to go right past most people. I remember once when a news hook meant I and a couple of other authors were on every form of media in Ottawa over a two week period. I felt the world must be sick of seeing and hearing us. Not a person, even people in local shops etc, mentioned it. No one has ever taken down my name in a shop and gasped, "Not... THE Jo Beverley!"

I like it this way. Perhaps we really do get what we wish for.

Mind you, on a few occasions at bookish events I've been pointed out to fans, who then approach me warily. "Are you REALLY Jo Beverley?" Now it could be that I don't look enough like my photos, though I don't try for glamor shots, but it seems to be, "Are you truly a real, live, author-who-I-love-to- read, here in my ordinary life?

Which is pleasant, as long as they don't faint, which one woman almost did. But it was very hot and crowded.

Jo :)


Neat question!
I am as anonymous as the fellow who sang "Mr. Cellophane" in the musical "Chicago."
My pseudonym- Edith Layton - was requested by my first publisher. They thought "Edith Felber" was too ethnic.
"Ethnic"? I'd never heard it before I met my husband and I didn't know what the heck it was. (German)
Still, what's in a name?
So if I had to change, I wanted it to be "Edith Leighton." But they thought that was too puritanical! A "Y" they thought, would make it happier.
I am utterly anonymous as Edith Layton.
I just pubbed my first book as Edith Felber, and I still am!
Except, my son Adam Felber, is sorta famous for his gig on NPR's "WAIT, WAIT, DON'T TELL Me" and for his first novel, and his blog.
And my daughter Susie Felber, is a writer and comedian, and online with her blog too.
But even then, folks tell me that they just don't make the connection.
You - or rather - I, can't win.


I am late commenting on comments because I spent yesterday in NYC--where I made eye contact with nobody--and today doing the usual Sunday catch-up.
Maggie, you do have a great author name, and your notion of authors living in layers covers the situation very nicely. Kathy, I like my safe and comfortable world, too, which explains why I chose writing rather than one of the performance arts. And in my book, giving a talk or workshop is a performance art. Mary Jo, you have to wonder, don't you, what kind of person decides not to read a book because an author's name sounds fake. That is one of the stranger stories I've heard. Meanwhile, I wonder what pseudonym you would have used if you could have used one. Margaret, your secret is safe with me, since I don't know you by any other name. Jaclyne--first, my humblest apologies for spelling your name wrong. As the other Wenches will tell you, I've been somewhat brain damaged the last couple of days. I'll fix it ASAP--not my brain, your name. Re saying Hi, I'm with AgTigress. Maybe it's the part of the U.S. in which I grew up, or growing up in a small city, but I, too, simply cannot say Hi to strangers (in public places, that is, not social events where you are supposed to "mingle") except in the special circumstances where etiquette seems to require it--as when one is exercise walking and encounters other exercise walkers. Even then, I tend to forget because I'm busy not making eye contact. *g* Cathy, thank you for restoring the Wenches first. Val, I once had a job where I occasionally encountered famous people, but being shy anyway, let them make the first conversational gambits. AgTigress--good analogy with NYC--and yes, I think one does need to make a safe psychological space for oneself in environments like these. Jo, I think you're right about the surprise and thrill of meeting the real person--rather than seeing her/him as a celebrity. I've felt that way many times upon meeting an author whose work I admire. Edith, I can't believe they thought "Leighton" was too puritanical! I still remember the excitement Jo describes, of meeting you actually live and in person. But that is the nice, comfortable fame, isn't it, of those who write books meeting those who love them?

Jaclyne Laurin

For those of you who can't comprehend saying 'hi' to total strangers on the sidewalk, you have to understand that I live in a very small town in central Ontario (pop. 12 500). When I was in my early twenties and had to take public transport and negociate busy sidewalks to get to work in downtown Montréal, I have to say that I DID NOT acknowledge strangers. I kept my eyes to myself and usually carried around a book or magasine to avoid having to look around at people.

But the fact is that in my small town, which I've been part of for 14 years, I've come to feel safe and comfortable in my surroundings. People are very friendly and will say 'Hi' back!

Sherrie Holmes

From Sherrie:

Hmph. I guess I'm weird. *g* I'm a naturally friendly person. I smile at strangers, say "good morning" if I get on elevator and there's someone already in it, and I'm polite to clerks at the cash register. I once attended a "how not to get mugged" seminar and the speaker said to make eye contact and nod or say hello. He said muggers generally won't mug someone who might be able to identify them. Go figure!

When I became single again, I went back to my maiden name, and that's the name I use as a writer. I'll never forget how pleased my mother was when she found out I was going to use my maiden name as an author. She was so proud I used the "family name." It meant a lot to her, and it made me glad I'd decided to do so, because it gave her so much pleasure. ("My daughter, the writer.") But then she used to say "hi" to strangers, too. *g*


Jaclyne, there's definitely a difference. It would probably seem rude, in a small town, *not* to say Hi. You reminded me of trips to rural parts of ME and Virginia, where etiquette calls for acknowledging passing strangers.
Sherrie, I had a very dear friend who was like you. Our exercise walks were never very brisk because she not only said Hi but would start up conversations with strangers if something interested her about them (and just about everything interested her--she was a remarkable, wonderful person).
And having been a clerk more than once in my life (starting from childhood--child labor in my parents' store--yes, it's true), I try to be polite to anyone dealing with Jane Q Public--though some clerks (the minority, I'm happy to say) do make politeness a real challenge.

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