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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

Word Wenches Staff

Wench Staff Emeritae

Contact Us


  • Want to read ALL the posts by a specific Wench? Just scroll down to the bottom of her post and click on her name!

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:

    NY Times

    • Wall Street Journal

    • USA Today

    • Waldenbooks Mass Market

    • Barnes & Noble

    • Amazon.com

    Chicago Tribune

    • Rocky Mountain News

    • Publishers Weekly


« Lady Beware! A Chat with Jo Beverley | Main | This Noisy Old World »


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I’m usually not this chatty, but I must be on a row this week. I buy books because of the author. If there is an author out there that I’ve been reading for time immemorial I continue to get their books, (unless they switch genres on me.) Because I buy so many books a month, I’m rather picky about new authors. I do look for new authors though and what I normally do is read the reviews on their books. I don’t read reviews because of the opinion expressed by the reviewer, but because usually there is quite a lengthy synopsis of the book and I can get a feel for whether I think I’m going to like it or not. On the other hand, I have made purchases of books I hadn’t planned on buying because of a good review I've read. And I have purchased books due to online chatter. I don’t chose books based on the book jacket and a video of a book would not create an urge in me to buy it.

I’ve always wondered about introverted authors being forced to be something they are not. And, I mean “introverted” in a nice way. I had an experience at a Book Expo a few years ago with an author who is one of the Queens of romance. Not one of you, although you are all Queens. Anyway, she was at the autograph booth and I was standing in this long line of autograph seekers, thrilled to death that I at last was going to meet her. I was practicing all of these wonderful witty things to say to her and I had with me my copy of the first book she ever written, in hopes of her autographing it. Of course, by the time it was my turn to get the autograph all I could do was shove the book at her, my eyes cast down to the ground. She seemed surprised that I didn’t want a FREE copy of her latest hardback book and said something about “Oh my first book!” To which I wittingly replied, “Yes, it is.” What a dork. However, one of the interesting things about this was while I was standing in line, I noticed that she was very nervous and it dawned on me that she wasn’t at all comfortable with all of us waiting in line staring at her. I’m sure she would have liked nothing better than to be at home with a cup of coffee, typing away. I could totally sympathize with her. Of course, I got to leave and she had to stay there and sign more copies. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is.

Pat, I’m looking forward to your new website.


or on a roll

Nina P

Pat, you make me want to hug you. Which I won't. I promise. I know how scary that is for an introvert.

Instead, let me see if I can answer your question “what most often persuades you to go out and look for a book?”.

Rarely am I persuaded to do anything by any form of advertising – not videos, websites or bobbleheaded dolls. I’m too busy to be bothered with the buzzing noise of hype. So I ignore it. What persuades me (and most people, I think) to poke my head up out of my box and look around is Need. Real or imagined, it doesn’t matter; once I need “it”, I’m motivated to expend the energy to climb out of my box and go get “it.”

Here’s how you did that with me.

A year ago, I visited Word Wenches for the first time because Mary Jo suggested the blog might fill a need. Motivated, I visited. She was right. Out of my box, I tip-toed around the different word wenches’ sites, yours among them, reading experts, etc…. but no new needs were created. At least none that were greater than the price tag. Then, one day, I had a need again (which stemmed out of my life) and I made a bee line to Word Wenches sure the need could be met. And it was. By you! with your very funny and very poignant post on POV. Hurray! But your action left me needing more. So, it was off to your website with me where I hungrily read experts that I’d just nibbled on before. Then I whipped out the old MC and bought, not just one book, but three. They arrived and I devoured them and went back for more. And wouldn’t you know, I told this story to others who now buy your books. And we love to talk about your work and our need “for more Rice.”

So, what persuaded me to go out and buy one of your books? You. Just you. And the questions you didn’t answer in your POV post. Questions only your books could sate. And now, I’m hooked.


Nina P

Oh, I forgot.


Susan Wilbanks

First of all, no video has ever sold me on a book, and I can't imagine that it would. (Unless, of course, you want to consider film/TV adaptations of books as VERY LONG promotional videos, since I did come to my love of Sharpe and Aubrey/Maturin by seeing the screen versions first.) But a video trailer? The ones I've seen just don't work for me, because the visuals just don't match up with the kind of images I have in my mind as I read (or decide to read) a story, and it distracts me from engaging with the story concept.

What DOES persuade me to buy a book, roughly in order of priority:

1. Prior experience with the author's books.
2. Recommendations from trusted friends.
3. Meeting an author either online or in person and feeling enough of a "meeting of the minds" that I expect to connect to their books.
4. Reviews.
5. Browsing in a bookstore, being intrigued by a story's concept, and reading the first few pages to get a sense of the author's voice and skill.


I avoid video ads for books because they give me a very concrete impression of a book's contents. Video ads act on me in the same way that the "real people" covers of the '70s do; I make an instant decision to read or not based on images rather than the work itself. I don't like to make snap decisions about books so I don't watch the video ads.

Susan, your list is great. I hope you don't mind if I use it as a starting point. :-)

Things that hook me in order of sharpness:

1. Prior experience with the author's books
2. Recommendations by authors I like (not cover quotes)
3. Meeting an author either online or in person and feeling enough of a "meeting of the minds" that I expect to connect to their books
4. Online discussions that alert me to interesting plot points
5. Reviews

Hooks 2 & 3 are fairly new to me since I only recently started surfing author websites and blogs; but they've proved to be almost as effective as #1. Some brief examples:

I've added Honorary Wenches to my buy list since they were featured on Word Wenches.

I bought The Smoke Thief on Jo's recommendation.

I'm eagerly awaiting The Silver Spoon by Stacey Klemstein, who I don't know from Adam, based on a blog remark by Linnea Sinclair.

Patricia Rice

Oooo, Typepad has let me come out of my invisibility cloak today! Cool.

Whether or not any of you know it, you're telling me what I want to hear. I really really want to believe readers buy based on author and reviews. But the more I read the industry news out there, the more I think we're moving totally to web-based communication, which scares heck out of me.

Where do you find your reviews? Where are the best places for reader/author discussions?

Nina P

Hey Pat!

I agree that we may be moving toward a totally web-based communication modus operandi. But hey, who is better equipped to use such a form a communication that authors trained in using words convincingly? :-)

As to reviews, I've read a few on Amazon but, by and large, I don't allow them to influence my purchase. I can form my own opinion, thank you very much.

The two places I go for reader/author discussions are History Hoydens and here. I've added four new "non-wench" authors to my read list as a result.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about trying to get people’s attention, it’s that you have to meet them where they live.

Hope this helps a little.




Pat - I feel your pain. I'm an introvert who changes - like Spiderman or Superman, or Superwoman, when at a cocktail party. I can pretend to be the life of the party, and Voila! I am. It's called "lying," I think. (and the effects of white wine.)
As for videos and suchlike, right now, I haven't the time. If everyone's doing it, I suppose I'll have to. I do have some delicious interview videos over at Romance Novel TV, but don't have time to do my own yet.
I was going to say how easy Dickens had it - but he went on tours, giving readings and hands on author massaging.
Shakespeare was an actor.
Jane Austin and Emily Dickenson were able to communicate themselves succesfully while staying at home.
But I believe, I truly do believe, that writers belong at their desks.

Pam P

Happy Birthday, Susan!

Here's my list of what I usually go by:
1. Prior experience with the author's books.
2. Recommendations from trusted friends, a lot of that coming online with reader groups and blogs so popular now. I don't get to many, but do belong to one reader discussion group of varying opinions, and often try someone new recommended there as we all get to know one another and who matches our likes/dislikes, or even persuade others by their comments to try something.
3. Excerpts that catch my interest for whatever reason, pull me in once I get to it and I'll try someone new.
4. Meeting an author either online or in person and feeling enough of a "meeting of the minds" that I expect to connect to their books.
4. Reviews - not so much for me, unless I come across certain reviewers with tastes that match mine, or those that detail more what worked/didn't work for the reviewer - gives me a better feel and honest thoughts. I look more to some reader blogs now.

One way I've got to a site for a new-to-me author or found out about their book is through contests, so that does work. Videos can be fun, but I agree, what do you really find out about the book, unlike an excerpt that hooks you, and those don't just have to be the beginning pages. Myspace and places like that, I personally don't care for and won't join anything there.

I think for the majority of us it comes down mainly to recommendations by those we know and/or trust, who tend to like the same type of stories we've read and enjoyed.


Us Geminis get to celebrate NOW!
All the best, and the best to all,


Pat, you really nailed how we writerly introverts learn to fake extroversion for limited periods of time. The motivator, I think, is that we want people to read and enjoy our books, which means they have to know the books exist. Hence, promotion. Sigh.

Mary Jo

Susan Wilbanks

"Where do you find your reviews?"

I've been an All About Romance reader almost as long as I've been a romance reader. I also visit Dear Author and the Smart Bitches. I read RT, but I don't go by their rating system--I'm just as likely to love a 3-star and hate a 4.5-star book. It's more a way to see what's out there and if anything by a new-to-me author sounds intriguing.

"Where are the best places for reader/author discussions?"

I enjoy this blog, Risky Regencies, and History Hoydens. But I don't think I'd know author blogs existed if I weren't an aspiring author involved in the writing community myself.


Well.... sigh. I know how much time you folks spend on this blog, your websites, etc. I think perhaps it's better time spent than in personal appearances if that makes you feel any better.... YES the people lined up at a particular store may be very excited to see you and have you autograph a book, but by being online, Anyone, Anywhere can connect with you. Anytime.

I don't think your time is being wasted... and if you're introverted, I'm thinking this is a preferable way to promote or interact....no hands to shake/ germs to share...no excrutiating booksigning incidents....and I hope, lots of healthy adoration for those minutes when some positive feedback would come in handy.
YES - awareness of your new book and excitement about it are generated...and you feed the loyalty of a portion of your reader base.

I'm new at this, but presently a wee bit hooked on peeking at your blog and sites at work on my breaks and lunchhour...when I don't/can't effectively read your books but can anticipate when I'll have some leisure to do so.
Your blogging is highly entertaining and informative...and I HAVE actually bought Wench authors' books just because you're here. I came on Jo Beverley's recommendation after I (in an completely unaccustomed fashion) sent her a fan email once I'd run out of her books to read. She suggested a couple of authors....and this Blog! So... I found the rest of you. You clearly had to be wonderful to be here...and the tenor of your posts just underlines that.

Reviews sometimes suggest purchases to me, but so often I disagree with the reviewer (-; Descriptions of the storyline are good: excerpts are even better - hence the value of your websites. An author name in a context that suggests they may be *similar* to a book or author I like is enough to have me searching out their site, reading excerpts, and pulling booklists (Also what I need your websites for! Complete booklists, nicely organized, so I Can Buy Them All.) One good reading experience of even a portion of a book can make me glom the entire in-print backlist of an author at once (hence the size of my TBR pile and the weariness of my Postperson. I should really tip him/her well next Christmas....)

And once I've enjoyed a couple of books by an author, I'll even trot around trying to find used copies of their out of print backlist. I've even emailed publishers and suggested that certain books be reprinted. I doubt they're efficient or market-driven enough to pay attention (don't get me started on the weird ways of the publishing 'industry') but since they SHOULD listen, I do it anyway. (-;

My brother does little online promotion (he answers questions on a couple of lists/message boards but has no website)...a pity, but his stuff sells anyway -maybe due to the fantasy/gaming genre connected 'world'. He does go to conventions and spends basically 24 hours a day talking to fans there. That takes a great deal of energy and he is very introverted - so he limits this to 3-4 per year (he could go at least once per month, all over the world). I think it would be better for him to do it all online! (I suggested a Blog and sent him this address as a good example, actually...)

My mother, even more of an introvert, also spends a huge amount of time talking to children about her books...but she also wants to interest them in North American history and in creative writing...so perhaps the energy expended is worthwhile in an intangible sense. She has a website, but her readers are a bit young to blog.

I've often wondered how you made the decision to blog and to establish a site... or to put together Videos for Youtube and pages on Myspace... but I guess it's all about reaching your target markets. Virtual works with the younger generation (I'm a Media Librarian in a College - these kids experience community a bit differently than we did/do!) and they are Extremely Visual. (-;

My two $ - sorry - subject was just too interesting.... (and are you an accountant, Pat? I am too. I use it to get rid of people I don't want to talk to at parties...And if they persist and ask me too many tax questions, I look serious and concerned... then ask them for their full names. Works VERY well. And yes, I admit to being very wicked.)


It seems to me that book signings would attract your most ardent fans, but do very little to promote your book beyond those people who would have bought it anyway.
I would much rather you spent your time writing instead of doing publicity. Publicity should be the publisher's responsibility, not yours. If book signings or lectures are a fun part of the job, then do them, but if not then stay home and write or do something you do like to do.
I tend to pick books by author (or sometimes by series if I can't place the author's name.) I find new authors by wandering around the bookshop (or library) shelves and pulling out anything promising (right period, good title) and reading bits of it, sometimes chapters) This is not an infallible method and I do end up wasting my money sometimes. I wish there was a way to reward authors. If a book is fabulous and I will read it again and again, shouldn't that author get more that someone whose book I will toss as soon as it is read?


Many thanks for all the birthday wishes!

And now HAPPY BIRTHDAY LORETTA!! (The last, but certainly not the least) of our Week-o'-Gemini-birthdays here at the WordWenches.*g*


Maggie Robinson

Happy birthday, everybody...for the rest of the year!
When I was just a reader, I did not even know places like WW existed. Now that I'm trying to write, visiting blogs and websites is a fascinating glimpse into the minds and hearts of successful women. I say, do whatever you have to do to capture the interest of your audience, but make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to write! The pages speak louder than any video...altho I do think places like Romance Novel TV are too cool. Seeing one's favorite authors in their natural habitats is a treat. Not too many of you come up to the woods of Maine!


If I'm buying a new author there are two things I do to decide if I'm going to try her. 1)I go to Amazon and read the reader comments, a good deal of them. A few people saying the book is a walling banger never puts me off as there are always people who are just not satisfied with a story/author. 2) I look at the blurb on the back of the book for the ingredients I most enjoy in a story.
If this seems like a winning combination I give her a try and in most cases one book leads to a second and so on. If I have read the author and like her work that does not mean I buy all books from her. If she goes off in a direction I don't like to read she has lost me until she goes back to a formula I will buy.
As for book signings if there are more than one author, I also being shy have a hard time speaking to strangers and only visit with the authors I have read that drew me to the signing in the first place.
If I am looking for new authors I spend time at the Romantic Times boards, then cross reference with Amazon. I've noticed some authors there plugging their books, but I've never tried an author because of her being there. It's really more about what others think. I think this is why some authors with message boards have an advantage, if their book is getting bad reviews their loyal fan base will write good reviews of the latest book. And some authors ask their loyal posters to write reviews on Amazon for them.
And BTW I love your books!

Pam P

Happy Birthday, Loretta!

I'm just checking my emails and few blogs, then going back to reading Not Quite a Lady, which I just started now that it came in the mail yesterday.


I have always bought a lot of books, but since discovering the Word Wenches blog the quality of my book choices has soared.

Before discovering the Online Romance World through WW, I relied mostly on bookstore browsing--cover, title, a quick peek inside. I didn't know anyone else who liked historical romance to schmooze with--and signings? what are those? whose should I go to? and who comes to Portland anyway? I bought a lot of things that I was unhappy with once I got home.

Wenches and wenchlings have suggested so many books here that I have read and loved that I'm going to have to get some new bookcases for all the keepers I've collected. I am extremely grateful to all of you for a year of Top Quality Reading!

Thank you for Shana Abe, Judith Merkle Riley, Barbara Metzger, Barbara Samuel, Jennifer Crusie, Naomi Novik, Candice Hern, Elizabeth Vaughan. . .and so many others. . .and of course all the Wenchly backlist which I have happily glommed, particularly those Magical books of Mary Jo's and Pat's that helped me realize I Still Loved That Kind of Thing.

(Of course, now I notice things I never noticed before in my reading: the Missing Corsets, the Cotton Shifts, the Manly Shirts That Button All The Way Down. . . but that somehow makes it all more fun!)

Patricia Rice

Ohhh, I do love our readers! You're telling me all the things I love to hear. I enjoy getting together with loyal readers occasionally, but I enjoy doing it from home much better. "G" So blogging suits my natural tendencies.

Lisa, thank you! Will you go post on Amazon for me? "G" I will admit that I never look at my own reviews. One bad one can ruin my week, so I prefer not to waste my energies that way. But there have been some excellent suggestions for review sites I need to program in and get in the habit of checking.

MJ, yes, I'm an accountant. I retired my CPA license some years ago, but I think it's perfectly legit for me to call myself an accountant, don't you? "G" I'm not surprised your brother isn't comfortable with web promotion. A couple of us had tried it on our own but found it time-consuming, which is why we decided to make the blog a joint effort. It makes more sense for us to pool all our readers since we draw from a similar market, and spread the fun around. We're convinced that the computer will be the best way of finding books in the future, so we needed to be comfortable with the forum. So far, knock wood, it's working far better than we hoped.

Thanks for all this wonderful input, folks! We're getting as much information from our readers as we hope you're getting from us!

Pam P

It's a lot easier for readers,too, to find a group of you all in one place, easier for us all to keep up and spare some time for writing and reading.

Jane George

An intriguing premise and (I hate to admit it) the quick author comparison is what will get me to pick up a book. A quick scan of the writing style is what seals the purchase.

And an even worse confession, I will read at least part of any free book. And I've found new fave authors in genres I wouldn't normally gravitate to by reading freebies.
Those giveaways work!

Keira Soleore

Wenches and Wenchlings, hello. I'm back from my vacation and catching up with my fav blogs.

Many, many happy returns of the day to Susan and Loretta. Hope the next year brings you more success and happiness.

I love seeing book videos because it gives me an insight into the book. However, I never see book videos of authors' who I don't read. So, its only when I've already bought or decided to buy a book, am I interested in the video.

However, I ADORE Romance Novel TV's author interviews and book signing videos, just as I love this author blogs. Getting to know an author, plays a huge part in my book buying. I prize loyalty highly, and while I'm not averse to trying new authors out at all, in a pinch, I'll go with an author I know, instead of a story that might look interesting on the back, but the author is new.

While I'm primarily a historical reader, I've followed authors across trends and never regretted it so far.

As far as reviews go, I read the New York Times' Book Reviews for most fiction and nonfiction by authors new to me. However, for new romance fiction authors, I go solely by recommendations from people whose opnions I trust.

Pat, what I took a long-winded way to say was, "It doesn't matter to me personally even if you do zero promotion. I'll always buy your books."

Elaine McCarthy

What I do is log onto amazon.com and check the ListMania or other reviews of people who have loved books I have loved. This has become less effective over time, as I have now read most of the books that tend to appear on those people's lists, and there's a huge repetition factor. Which kind of worries me, in fact. I want to know who the NEW wonderful writers are, not just get directed again and again to the ones I've already got on my shelves. I don't think any of you jumped to the best seller list with your first book; is there anybody now occupying that "from" from which you all rose to glory? How can I find them?

Patricia Rice

This is all fantastic information, thank you! Given the amount of time, effort, and money we have to put into promotion, anything that narrows and defines our market is marvelous information.

Why be ashamed of reading free books?!! I do it all the time. Writers often get ARCs for quotes, and if we truly enjoy the books, we buy them when they hit the shelf. But those freebies at conferences are very useful in finding new authors.

Which leads us to Elaine's insightful comment, and I wish I had a ready answer. I, too, am often stuck buying the same old, same old because they're authors I know and trust. And I make a very decided effort to hunt for new authors because I have the income (and the tax deduction!) to buy new books and the dedication to see that good writers get recognition. But recently, most of the new and exciting writers have been in fantasy because editors demand such narrow parameters in historicals. And because I'm picky, okay? "G" Mary Jo tells me I'm a Uranus and in need of constant change, which I can't find in an industry that demands sameness. So while I may enjoy a new writer's Regency-set historical, my Uranus is yawning because there are limits to what one can do in that world, and I've pretty well read them all. So I'm torn between saying "This writer is worth watching" and "This writer has nothing new to say." And thus, sadly, I say nothing, too. Maybe this blog will kick me out of that rut.


(-; Pat - once an accountant, always an accountant. I haven't practiced in nearly 6 years, on either side of the border, but I still have all the stuff hangin' on my walls.... and am always asked to be Treasurer of everything. Sigh. (Now I teach librarians basic finance stuff so they can stretch their budgets to buy your books. )

Mary Falls

What moves me to go out and buy a book? First is the fact that I have a voracious appetite for reading. #2 I do read the newsletters that tout a new book coming out. #3 I regularly check the bookshelves when I am buying groceries. #4 I also check new authors at the library and pay attention to friend's comments.
Once I find I am pleased with an author I will buy most every thing they have written and keep them for future rereading. To me a good writer is like a friend coming in for a cup of coffee... a cherished visitor always welcome in my house.

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