• We've been blogging since May of 2006, making us one of the longest-running group author blogs on the internet.

Sign up for Blog notifications

  • Please enter your email below to sign up for notifications when we publish a new blog post.

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

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

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

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


« What I'm doing now. | Main | And the Winner is ... »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Okay, just a wild guess, but the bottom picture is Stolen Princess and the one above it is Captive Lady?

I love hearing how an author works, how her story comes together. I didn't always understand it, but I'm learning, since I'm a 'pantser' (a word I learned here and describes me perfectly).

I decided I wanted more for my stories and took the HtTS course. I had a new idea pop in my head the other day and so far, I'm working with the 'word collage' of ideas and thoughts right now and things are coming together!

So, maybe this will help to get a more cohesive, better written story (unlike my posts here which tend to ramble ;-) )

Do you keep your collages after you're done? Do you reuse any of the pictures? And where is your collage while you're writing?

Mary Jo Putney

LOL about Barbara Samuel's "begin to ruin it." Such an apt description of when we move from the dream of story to the nitty gritty reality. :)

Your process sounds not unlike mine. I think of it as the 'Eternal Crockpot of the Creative Mind." Some story bits stew away for years before I find where they fit.

I'd never heard of Katie Malua, but she's wonderful! A haunting mixture of Slav and Celt, it appears.

Mary Jo

cheryl c.

I love the collages. I am a visual learner, so I understand why using a collage could help an author. The collages look attractive enough to frame them for your office. Do you do anything like that with them?


I love to hear about the writing process! I'm a writing teacher and writer wannabe, so I love hearing new ideas. The collage thing is something I've just started hearing about in the last year and think it's wonderful! No reason why we have to keep everything in our heads all the time. :)
Great post!


I just posted about you and your Stolen Princess, Anne, in a discussion on another blog of dastardly deeds authors do. I haven't forgotten that puppy! :)

I think the collage idea is fascinating, but I'm hopeless at them. What I have found that does work well for me is an idea I adapted from the Noodlers' video collage suggestion. I have slide shows for all my characters and the places they inhabit. Like you, I'm not interested in features. I prefer the ones in my head. I use the slide show to help me see body language, emotional responses, isolated moments. I use music the same way. One of my favorite scenes in my WIP came when I was stuck and listened to Keith Urban's "You Look Good in My Shirt."

Linda Banche

Anne, I love your stories, so whatever you're doing, keep it up.

Like theo, I'm a pantser. More than once, I've thought of a great title and wrote the story to match the title. I do write an short outline, but the story will probably vary from the outline.
I find the main scenes come out fully formed, but trying to write the connecting scenes is awful. And then I sit there and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. Curse of the pantser.

I wonder if it would be easier to plot more. But one thing I'm positive of--this writing is very hard work. Anne, and all you Wenches, I'd glad you persevered to write all your great stories.


Linda, I am SO there! I had several scenes for one book but I couldn't write the connecting scenes to save my life! I was so discouraged, I put it away and went back to my linear writing. I have a few opening lines or a scene, I know the ending and I write from point A to point B.

I am trying this different approach, but if some things don't work for me, I know I'm not 'stuck' with them, that I can maybe utilize parts of the process and incorporate them into my own 'style'.

And I just always feel so humbled when any of you Wenches posts how you write. You all make it sound so easy. :)

Back to my obscure Greek mythology research....

Maya M.

I'm fascinated by these collages. I think I'd like to try doing one for the story just finished (better late than never!) and see if the process (ha!) of doing that makes me want to tweak anything in the MS.

So - at what point would you do such a collage? When you're still figuring out or when it's firm? Because if you change anything - does that mean you go back and glue new pictures over the old, no-longer-applicable ones?


I find it interesting... the thought processes that result in a readable and enjoyable book.

Thanks for writing for my enjoyment.


The first time I heard an author talk about her characters as people who take on lives of their own and take a story in their own direction, I was fascinated. The author I am referring to is Linnea Sinclair who writes character driven science fiction romance stories. Every time I hear another author say the same thing, I am even more impressed with people who can write.

I am an avid reader and not a writer so the whole idea of having characters living in one's head blows me away. I'm also a teacher and this year we have a new writing curriculum. One of the units is writing fiction stories. We have to go through a lengthy process of helping our students develop characters. With that in mind, I'm really glad that authors are willing to share the background behind their own writing processes. I shamelessly share what I learn on-line from each of you...and I do give you credit! Thank you!

Susan Scott

It's always fascinating to see what inspires other writers, and also to see how none of us follow the same path. Many thanks for sharing yours, Anne! :)


I am a wannabe writer, and I found the idea of using a collage very fascinating. There are so many ideas and images that I imagine, but with out seeing a concrete, sometimes it's hard to harness them, put them in order and march them out onto the page, painting a true picture of what I've imagined. I am always so amazed and impressed (and humbled!)by the authors of the books I read, who manage to do this so beautifully. Sharing their processes is a wonderful gift to those of us who are trying to join their ranks!

Anne Gracie

Sorry for the delay in responding -- I've been away from the computer.
Theo, I'll never forget a wonderful and very dignified romance writer shuddering at the term 'pantser.' "We are organic writers, Anne," she said. "Remember that -- organic."
Which is better than an image of underpants flying in the breeze... LOL.
And yes, you identified the collages correctly.
I do keep the collages -- I couldn't imagine tossing them out, as a friend of mine does after she's finished the book. I'm actually very fond of mine. I have the old ones propped up on the top of the bookshelves in my study. They're not framed, but pinned onto very light cork boards (which you can see from the pics) and I buy a new board for each collage. The current collage hangs at eye-level when I'm sitting at my computer, so instead of sitting staring at the screen, I can turn my head a little and stare at the collage.

Mary Jo, the story bits that sit and stew gently on the backburner or the brain for years are always the ones worth writing I suspect. Some story ideas or shreds just haunt you until they're written, others drop from sight never to be thought of again.

Anne Gracie

Anne, collaging is not just a matter of keeping things in our heads, it's also a process of letting the mind play, as the subconscious mind selects and arranges pics in an unplanned way that sometimes gives you insight into the story.I hope you enjoy the process. It's not for everyone, but for me it's fun, as well as being inspirational.

Oh, Janga, you're not the only one who remembers that hapless puppy. In fact I have a friend, an author who I won't name, who occasionally phones me from the US and disdaining the usual hello, announces herself with, "Killed any puppies lately?" LOL.
I haven't seen the noodlers video collage stuff -- I presume you're talking about the wet noodle posse. I'll chase it up. A good buddy of mine is a noodler. Thanks.

Anne Gracie

Linda and Theo, I really sympathize. I, too have tried to be more of a plotter-in-advance, but for me, it results in one of two outcomes: I either get bored with the story because I know how it works out, or the characters refuse to cooperate and take the story in another direction completely.

With the connecting scenes, have you ever tried just leaving them out? Readers can easily make the leap from one time and place to another. I know if I'm struggling with a scene, sometimes it's my subconscious telling me I don't need it. Other times it's because I'm not clear on what the scene is doing, so I make a list of what it has to achieve, write it quickly and roughly, mark it for revising later, and move on.

Maya you can do the collage at any time. Some people have it finished before they start it, others add to it at whim. The first one I did (Perfect Kiss) was after the draft had been done. I'd had some pics before that, just pinned on a board, and then I became interested in the collage process, so I used them as the basis and added to it, and in the process, some themes and linkages became clearer. For me it depends on how clear the story is in my mind -- some I can finish quickly, others I add to and rearrange as I write my way into the first few chapters. Then I glue all the pics down.

Glad you found it interesting Louis. It's a different process for each of us.

Anne Gracie

Patty, you're welcome to use anything I say here. There are also a lot of really good writing sites listed on the links page on my website.
I did a course once where the teacher made us all complete a lengthy file on each of our characters, including interviews with them, etc. Of course, I did it, but the moment I started to write, completely different (and much more individual and interesting) characters appeared on the page. All the pre-work I'd done was useless. LOL.

Susan I love how we all approach the same job differently. As I said, the post was inspired by a discussion with a writer friend. I'd love to hear how all the WordWenches approach a new book (hinty-hint hint. ;)

Jana, I hope you play with the idea and see if it suits. There are times you'll never find the image you seek, except in your mind, but for me the best thing about the collage is that it's a window into the world of my book. I can't see everything from that window, but it's real and it's there. Best of luck with it.

In fact, best of luck to all the aspiring writers in Wenchland.

Anne McAllister

Janga, right there with you on the killing puppies issue, said the nameless author in the US.

I think your collages are gorgeous, Anne. I even tried one, as you may recall. The trouble was, none of the people looked remotely like they ended up feeling in my head. Now I just collect things on the computer and flip through it slide-show like, as one of your commenters did. It helps a lot. I'm not as visual as kinesthetic, as far as I can tell. It's all gut level, with a bit of auditory thrown in.

Anne Gracie

Hah! Flushed you out with that one, eh, Ms. McAllister? LOL. I will be doing penance for that puppy forever, I see.

It's not so much the look of the person that's important for me, it's the expression in the pic. And the world that surrounds them.
Anne McA made a story collage on a box once, that I was very taken with. I liked the idea that the story was in the box and the box was just a hint of what was inside.

Anne McAllister

But like the movie, it was The Wrong Box! Or the wrong people on the box. And the wrong place, too. But it's a very nice box. It just doesn't go with the story I eventually wrote!


Anne, I am leaving some connecting scenes out now. I was one of those, "But these are my words. I can't cut any!" When I first started. Now they all get highlight, delete if they don't want to cooperate.

Right now, I have a scene I've been working on and I'd cut that too, but it's where the H/Hn meet and neither one of them is agreeing on what they want. grrrr

And did you notice? I didn't make one mention about the ***** ? I knew why you did it, but I was still so sad... *sigh*


Anne Gracie

Theo, it's a sign of a serious writer that s/he's prepared to cut hard-won words, so well done you on the cutting. But yes, I think you do need to keep the hero/heroine meting, LOL.
Have you tried rewriting the intransigent scene from a different point-of-view, or starting in a different place?
And BTW, I was sad, too about doing what I did to the you-know-what, but it you-know-whatted in a noble cause, and at least it didn't suffer. ;)


Anne, you made me laugh with the you-know-what :-) And yes, at least.

I'm going to have to do something. Getting them together isn't the problem really. But the minute I do, the Hn becomes almost a different person and I don't know why! *sigh* I just have to keep working through it. But it sure is a PITA. And I hate to keep moving forward (about half is written) because I never liked their first meeting and what they do and say will affect several things later on.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Social Media

Word Wench Newsletter

  • Word Wench Newsletter
    By signing up, you are agreeing to receive the Word Wenches monthly newsletter. We will never spam you or share your info. You can easily unsubscribe from the mailing list by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails.