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MaryJoPutney
Author. Traveler. Cat lover. Introvert.
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by Mary Jo February is Black History Month in the US and Canada. I understand that the UK has a similar celebration in October. February was chosen because both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born this month, on the 12th and 14th respectively. Until last fall, I had only the vaguest awareness of Benjamin Banneker--that he was an early African American scientist of some sort. And that was the extent of my knowledge. Then a friend visited and the Mayhem Consultant suggested I take her to see the Benjamin Banneker Museum , which I'd never heard of. Situated in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I know people who lead wonderfully uncluttered lives. They don't overbuy and if they no longer need an item, out it goes. I admire such people, but alas! I am not one of them. An online friend used the phrase "shopping in my closet" when she told of pulling out a couple of items she'd forgotten she owned. She found a garment she needed so she didn't have to buy anything new, but the phrase resonated with me. It suggested exploding closets with mysterious and possibly dangerous depths, too much Stuff, and a meditation on Too Many... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo The holiday season is full of energy, buzz, decorations, fun, stress, deliciously decadent food, gathering with family and friends, receiving good surprises and sometimes disappointment. The season is lovely--and it's also lovely when it's over and life goes back to normal! At least, that's the case for this introvert. Yesterday with the help of a friend and two of the cats (see pictures), I took down the tree and packed the ornaments away. I loved putting up the tree in December and the sparkly lights and ornaments with their own stories, but now I'm happy to have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo As my first contribution to our Wenchly Yuletide posts, I want to talk about the Yule log, which was a special, usually very large, log brought into the home to burn for the Christmas holidays. The custom is found in a number of European countries. Probably it was originally a pagan Germanic tradition that was repurposed for Christmas. I suspect the original meaning had to do with light and warmth in the depths of winter, and celebrating the winter solstice and the return of the sun. But the French go one better: their Bûche de Noël--Yuletide log--is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Titles are an important part of how books are perceived, so this month's Ask a Wench Question was: How do you come up with titles? How hard is it? Do titles matter? Have you had your publisher give your books a title you didn't like? And if that's happened, did it sell well? <G> Pat Rice: I’ve written over sixty books and a dozen novellas and coming up with a title only gets more difficult, because by now, I’ve used up every romantic word that can be put on a front cover. And over the last three... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I'm delighted to welcome my friend Kathy Lynn Emerson today to talk about her newest historical mystery, Murder in the Merchant's Hall. Though best known for the mysteries she writes under her own name and as Kaitlyn Dunnett, Kathy has also written Tudor historicals as Kate Emerson, and her long and distinguished career has also included romance, children's stories, and non-fiction. She won the Agatha Award in 2008 for best mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and has been an Agatha finalist for her fiction as well. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Visiting Australia and New Zealand at the end of the summer was lovely, but tiring. So when the Mayhem Consultant and I looked for a November vacation, we picked the simplest thing we could find: a small boat cruise that left from the Inner Harbor of my Baltimore and sailed down the IntraCoastal Waterway to Charleston. The Waterway is fascinating and not well known unless you've actually sailed on it. About 3000 miles long, it roughly parallels the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and is a collection of bays, canals, saltwater rivers and sounds. The result is a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I've been crazily pulling together collections of my Christmas novellas, including a couple that have never been digitized before, so I decided to exercise Wench Prerogative and recycle an older blog with a bit of updating. When I wrote the original of this blog, it was almost Thanksgiving, so it did seem appropriate. I’d been ruminating on the differences between being a good cook and a good baker, and Thanksgiving is a good time to talk about that because family feasting is in the air. Most of us know the basics of cooking and baking, but mastery... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Chinese Proverb: "If you want to be happy for a week, take a wife, if you want to be happy for a month kill your pig, but if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden." I think that undervalues the wife and perhaps overvalues the pig <G>, but there is no question that gardens create happiness. Which is how the Ladew Topiary Gardens came into being in Monkton, Maryland, about half an hour north of Baltimore. Harvey S. Ladew, creator of the gardens, was born in 1887 to a New York family rich enough... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo One of the pleasures of large book signings is that an author usually ends up sitting next to strangers. Over the course of two or three hours, much fun and talk occurs. This happened to me at the Romance Writers of Australia conference when alphabetical order placed me next to Eliza Redgold, a delightful author and academic who looks like one of our romance heroines. <G> In July, St. Martin's Press released her new novel, Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva. The cover is stunning and the book kept me enthralled for much of the long flight... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I've already written about my visit to Melbourne,where I spoke at the annual conference of the Romance Writers of Australia. The day after that conference ended, it was off to New Zealand for the conference of the Romance Writers of New Zealand. This is my third visit Down Under, and I firmly believe that one shouldn't fly that far without seeing both countries. As former British colonies that are a long way from the rest of the world, Australia and New Zealand have much in common. But they are also very different, and beautiful in very different... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I delivered my overdue book 90 minutes before we left for the airport to fly to Australia. I do not recommend this. <G> But it did mean that when an east coast air traffic control meltdown caused us to miss our flight out of Los Angeles so we had a lazy day in LaLa land, it was not entirely a bad thing. Luckily I'd built in several extra days to allow some recovery time from jet lag, and Melbourne was worth the wait. The Mayhem Consultant and I both loved the city, which had a vibe reminiscent... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2015 at Word Wenches
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Plaatsch, this is why NanoWRiMo is so popular-it forces one to WRITE! It sounds like you've really benefited from it. Getting down the bones of the story is essential.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2015 on Deadlines & Dreadlines! at Word Wenches
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Sue---that kind of work where you have to meet deadlines established by other people mistakes are CRAZY MAKING! It's true that fiction is all year round, but if your publisher has you slotted in a particular month and they are doing publicity around that release date--VERY BAD to leave them with an empty slot!
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2015 on Deadlines & Dreadlines! at Word Wenches
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You survived your first deadline! Well done, Cynthia. Christmas stories don't have much flex in the timing.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2015 on Deadlines & Dreadlines! at Word Wenches
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Luckily, deadlines DO almost always have some flexibility. Way to go getting your book in! Enjoy a few bon bons. *G*
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2015 on Deadlines & Dreadlines! at Word Wenches
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Sonya--very true that burning, possibly panicky, passion often produces the best work. Would that we could hop directly to that state and skip the frantically floundering that gets us to that state of creative white heat!
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2015 on Deadlines & Dreadlines! at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Several of us are under the deadline gun at the moment, so I thought it would be interesting to do an Ask A Wench about how we each deal with deadlines. Or in the term Pat Rice coined, Dreadlines! As usual, we differ greatly. <G> The Question: Deadlines — do you love them? Hate them? Would you be unable to function without them? Do you always finish early enough that the point is moot? Or do you flounder desperately as the sword of Damocles drops faster and faster? The Answers: Anne Gracie here. I've always had a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2015 at Word Wenches
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ROFL! What a fine and funny way to start the day. Thanks, Nicola. *G* Kathy Lynn, I particularly like your comment!
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2015 on The Age of the Euphemism at Word Wenches
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Ah, magical, Anne! I'm another great fan of Masefield's immortal line, and like you, I never pass up a chance to go to the sea. I've been to many beaches around the world, but a favorite is one on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgins. A pale empty swathe of sand, turquoise seas--and pelicans, not penguins. *G* And yes, I also pick up bits and pieces and there is more than one piece of tangled driftwood around here!
Toggle Commented Aug 7, 2015 on The Sea . . . at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! The Romance Writers of America annual conference is held in New York every four years because it's traditionally the headquarters of American publishing. I go mostly to see friends and touch base with my publisher and agent and other professionals. The four Wenches present--me, Jo Beverley, Jo Bourne, and Cara Elliott (we like to call her Cara Jo <G>) had a nice Wenchly breakfast because we so seldom meet face to face. On the other hand, Pat Rice sagely said, "RWA is where introverts go to die," and it's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Being crazy busy, I thought I'd invoke Wench Privilege to run a classic blog, and I came across this, one of the earliest blogs I ever wrote way back in 2006. I decided to update it with new pictures, mentioning what has changed, and what has not. One of the signature features of newish American homes is the deck—a broad sweep of wood on which one can slap mosquitoes, dodge wasps, burn slabs of animal flesh over a grill, and wreck one’s skin. From which description you may correctly deduce that I’m not a big fan of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo The publishing world has changed so much in the last dozen years! This anthology was first published in 2004, when independent anthologies were rare indeed, and it was produced as a fundraiser for the SOSAmerica, Inc. charity (CARE packages to deployed soldiers). The volume was edited by award-winning Silhouette author Mary Kirk. As Mary said in her introduction, "The Journey Home is about the wounded hero. The man who does what he must. The soldier who risks his life for his beliefs, his family, his country. It’s about the man who goes to war and discovers, when... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I love a movie that combines real history with period elegance, powerful themes, and a good romance, and Belle is such a movie. It's based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an 18th century woman of mixed blood. Her mother Maria Belle was an African born slave in the West Indies, but her father was a British naval officer, Captain John Lindsey, who eventually became an admiral. After her mother's death, Dido's father took her to England and put her into the keeping of his uncle, Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2015 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Due to stealth and cunning, I was able to acquire an early copy of Word Wench Anne Gracie's The Spring Bride, third in her Chance Sisters series. I volunteered to interview her about the book, which gives me an opportunity to gush about it. <G> I love the Chance Sisters, and I'm not alone in that. The first book, The Autumn Bride, made several "best of the year" lists including Library Journal and NPR, and was also a RITA finalist. The Winter Bride received several starred reviews, an RT top pick, and was voted Favourite Historical by... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2015 at Word Wenches
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