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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

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  • 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


« The Scent of Books | Main | Marie Brennan & Lady Trent: An Interview with Dragons »


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Nelda Sue Hargo

these days we substitute the word "carry-on" for carpet bag.

Sonya Heaney

Imagine how awful it was on those long, long journeys in the past, with women in corsets, hats, gloves, and seventy-million layers of underthings…

I know it’s rude to not talk to the people next to you, but – for example – the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles is 14+ hours. 16+ hours on the popular route from Sydney to Dubai. If you start talking to strangers then, you’re stuck chatting with a new friend when you just want to sleep!

For those of us in Australia, when a trip to many places in the world takes more than a full day (it has taken as long as 42 hours to reach my destination in America or Europe), you give up on looking sexy for your trip! This is definitely TMI, but I tend to wear older underwear for the first half of the trip, throw it away in the toilets at the airport in Asia/the Middle East, and wear fresh things for the rest of the journey!

I’m getting REALLY good at packing for travelling now. Because of my contact lenses, I have to take a couple of kilograms of eye-stuff on my trips, so I’m already at a disadvantage.

However, I recently came home from a month overseas with only 10.5 kilos (23 pounds) in my souvenir-shopping-stuffed suitcase. I’m pretty proud of my packing skills these days. :)

Susanna Kearsley

I still always wanted a carpet bag :-) Which probably comes of having read Anne of Green Gables at a young and impressionable age. Carpet bags always sounded infinitely wonderful to me. (Although Miss Leslie does warn NOT to pack anything into one that might be ruined by getting wet, in the event of your bag being soaked through by rain or an unfortunate encounter with a puddle...)

Susanna Kearsley

Sonya, I like the underwear trick. I lived in South Korea for two years so can completely sympathize with your long flight woes. And well done you to only come back with ten and a half kilos of souvenirs! I'm pretty economical with packing, too -- if I'm travelling for research I can go for a few weeks out of one carry-on suitcase. But conferences, with their multiple events (and Regency evenings) are a different thing altogether for me, and I always have to take a proper suitcase. (If only to have room for the books I'll bring back :-)


I love travel and have gotten pretty good at minimal packing. When DH and I go for a couple days I can manage with just my backpack. My main tip is to pick a primary color. So for the trip we took last week I used black (sometimes grey or brown) so all tops worked with black slacks and all shoes worked with black. All jewelry was cool (vs. warm) and so I had several options with few items because they ALL matched. I've never gone on those epic flights you guys are mentioning, but I will make note of your tips! Susanna, I've always thought a carpetbag sounds heavy, LOL but I would love to at least see one sometime. Love the hat by the way!

Mary Jo Putney

Susanna, I am AWED by the fact that you not only have a hat box, but will actually use it to carry your turban. *G* Otherwise, the principles of packing haven't changed much. As a frequent traveler, my rule is never carry more than 2 items, one for each hand, and make sure both are lavish with zippers. Anything untethered risks getting lost!

Amy J

I adore this whole post - thanks for your approach to things. :-)

Sue McCormick

I overpack, but I have learned to cut down on how MUCH I overpack. This comes about because my various medical glitches may lead to embarrassing moments — s 2 emergency outfits make sense to me. (For me and my husband travelling together, make that 3 suitcases and a carry-on apiece.)

Still, two suitcases plus a carry-on will work for plane, train, or bus. We expand the "toys" a bit when going by car.

Lillian Marek

I can remember when white gloves were virtually required in the summer, but washable cotton ones were much more sensible than kid. Especially if you had to travel on the subway!


My gram used to wear lovely soft grey ones. Cotton or silk, never kid. She said they showed less dirt than white. I just always thought they were so elegant. I think I got my love of hats from her because she ALWAYS wore one.


I always pack a wash cloth, plastic bags, a flashlight, a clothes pin and extra sugar packs.

Nicole Labossiere

ok, was your gentleman of whom you knew nothing a model for romance cover art? He certainly looks it, and I can certainly understand your failure to follow Ms Leslie's advice re that topic.... Nicole

Vicki L.

I am a serious over packer. I try, I really, really try not to. I could never get by with just a pack or a carry on.

It isn't that I have tons of make up (actually none) or clothes, it is because I have to have my fleece bits to sleep with and stay warm. A fleece jacket...a hat to keep the light out of my eyes while traveling...etc, etc.

And all those "Things" I might need. I keep taking things out but then I add things. Binoculars, camera, kindle, tablet. Things out but then a magazine or two, a crossword puzzle book, a paperback . Things out then....

Oddly enough, sometimes I throw in something I've never thrown in before and whoever I am traveling with ends up needing that EXACT item. So then my over packing becomes reinforced again.

My entire family makes fun of me and yet....they know I will have whatever it is they need because I threw it in at the last minute!

I can when traveling by plane manage with a suitcase, backpack as my carry on and a large purse for under the seat. For car traveling...well....definitely my pillow, an ice chest, bag of food...etc. Because if you can't take food and a cooler with you, what good is car traveling?

As my sisters look in awe at what I take but are then totally happy that HEY! I have the snacks and drinks they need RIGHT THAT moment. (there goes that reinforcement to "over" pack again.)

I'm in a dammed if I do, dammed if I don't catch 22 situation. But never since 2004 have I traveled without an entire bag of cough drops with me even if I don't have a cold.

That year we were on a 24 hour cross country trip by car when I came down with a cold - I was quite profligate with my cough drops...until we couldn't find any along the trip...I nursed those last 2 cough drops for 500 miles. Nothing is open in Kansas and Colorado along the interstate at midnight, 2 am, 4 am, 6 am etc.

Mary Jo Putney

LOL! I had the same thought, Nicole.

Teresa Broderick

That was a great post! I hope you have a marvelous time. (I'm green with envy). I was happily reading along until I came to the bit about the mousetrap and why you'd need it. Horror!!! I'm terrified of mice and rats. When we moved into our new house my husband had to mouse proof the house before I'd move in. I'll be lying in bed tonight now thinking of that mousetrap :0:0

Nancy P.

A neck pillow so that you can read without getting a neck ache.


The Container Store has pads of preprinted packing lists for a trip. It's useful, as otherwise I find I've packed 6 of something I only needed 2 of and none of something I very much could have used. In today's technology-dependent world, my husband and I always remind each other to bring our cell phone rechargers.


Thanks for an enjoyable post, Susanna. I hope that your travels to Portland are smooth and that you have a great time at the conference. Travel tip ~ if flying, move around the cabin as much as possible. I invariably take a paperback as well as my Kindle; heaven forbid my technology should fail and I'd be left bookless.

Mary M.

Susanna, I'm so glad you joined the Wenches. I love the research you share. The hunky cover model doesn't hurt, either!

I have learned to pack so sparingly that I was able to do over 6 weeks in southeast Asia with just a carry-on and extra item. My extra is a zippered Ikea food bag, pretty and very useful. Instead of a purse, I use a close-fitting fanny pack, which I stuff in the Ikea bag to fulfill the 1 + 1 limit at boarding. I still find on every trip I've included stuff I don't use, so I'm still paring down. I think if I needed, say, a bonnet and redingote, though, I'd ship them ahead. I just hate dragging extra baggage around airports.

I ALWAYS include some toilet paper and Imodium--if I don't need them, someone around me will. Someone mentioned a clothespin: the clip kind is so useful for keeping curtains closed to dawn sunlight (and nosy passers-by in motels). One thing I love these days is e-books, eliminating that heavy layer of "hard items." I just use my oversize iPhone, leaving the heavier iPad at home. What bliss to have weightless books to spare when I travel!

Karen H near Tampa

He is a cover model named Vikkas Bhardwaj and he is gorgeous!

Annette Naish

What a wonderful post and all the terrific suggestions. I used to work for FEMA. When I traveled, at times I would be gone for a long time. It took awhile for me to learn to be careful not to overpack.

My helpful suggestion, the packing cubes you can get at the Container Store. And most of all, pack your good humor. There will be times when things do not go well. Being patient and trying to look at things calmly, is a huge gift you can give yourself.

Lillian Marek

So did my grandmother—even to go to the grocery store.

Susanna Kearsley

Thank you, Amy. Im really glad you liked it.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Sue, emergency outfits are ALWAYS a good thing, regardless. I always pack one outfit Im sure I wont need, and I always end up needing it.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

My grandmother wore gloves and always looked so stylish. But I never thought about how hot your hands might get while wearing them.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Oh, yes, hats are wonderful things. On men as well as women. Even in the late sixties and seventies when I was growing up, there were a lot of hats around. I miss them.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

All very good suggestions, Connie! Thank you.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

He was indeed. One of the perks of my profession (even if it sometimes means I have a lot of explaining to do to my husband when he sees the conference photos...)

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Vicki, to me it sounds as though you dont overpack at all -- you pack exactly the right amount, and end up with exactly what you need.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Sorry to give you nightmares (mousemares?) I had pet rats at university (rescued from the psychology department) so Im generally fine with rodents, but I DO have a thing about creepy crawlies, so packing a good fly swatter is probably a better idea for me.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Do you know, I always tell myself I should get one of those because they look so practical and comfortable, but every time Im at the airport I completely forget to pick one up. Adding it to my list. Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Packing lists are fun to make, too, Susan. (Im an engineers daughter so I love making lists for any reason) (and leveling things). And yes, how did we ever survive without cell phones?

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Thanks for the advice. And I do in fact have one of Mary Jos books on my iPad (she very sweetly sent it to me when I wasnt feeling well) but I have to finish writing a chapter before I can let myself read one of hers. Bribery is a powerful tool when Im writing.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Mary, Im happy to be a wench, also. Its like having a group hug of friends around me at all times. Just wonderful. And I love your travel tips. I think its fun that all of us are horrified of running out of reading while we travel!

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Annette, that is the best advice. One of the best things about being a writer is that having to wait for a flight delay just gives you more time to people watch. Nothing is ever a waste of time, really.

Sent from my iPhone

Susanna Kearsley

Stephanie, the primary colour rule is a good one. For this trip I tried to keep everything blue and white, mostly. (And Im glad you like the hat)

Sent from my iPhone


Really fun post! I can't imagine traveling in Victorian times. I like to travel light! I have a list of items that I DON'T pack... have packed in the past and never used, so why bring them along? Things like a small bag of jewelry, camera equipment for "just in case" but never used, multiple pairs of shoes to match outfits, etc. Instead of accessorizing, I spend time experiencing my friends and family and surroundings. I have learned to make that the focus, and not all the things I should have left behind.

Susanna Kearsley

I have always secretly wanted a hat box. Found this one on eBay. I figured Id never have a better excuse to buy one :-)

Sent from my iPhone


Rather than books, I take magazines that I've been meaning to read. I toss them as I finish them, leaving room for souvenirs on the return trip.


Thanks for sharing

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