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MaryJoPutney
Author. Traveler. Cat lover. Introvert.
Recent Activity
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by Mary Jo Recently I saw an article in the Sunday feature section of the local newspaper about a book called When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You. Written by Kio Stark, a writer and teacher, the book is the text of a short TED talk she gave; you can listen to it here directly. Her basic thesis is that brief friendly interactions with strangers enrich our lives and create a better sense of community. (This is particularly valuable in a world of people who are glued to their electronic devices!) The reason the article so... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Quilting is a very ancient skill, probably dating back to ancient Egypt and introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders. It's wonderfully practical for warmth, or protecting a knight from chafing armor. These days we usually associate quilts with lovely cozy bed coverings, but they've also evolved into a beautiful form of craftwork. A friend of ours is a honcho in the Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild and she always notifies us of the guild's biennial quilt shows. It's a treat to visit the shows, which are held in sprawling school gymnasiums, and only held every two years because... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Word Wenches
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Mary Jo here, and as always, the Word Wenches are reading diverse and wonderful things! First up is Nicola Cornick: This month I’ve been reading The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox. It’s dual time frame novel set in the present day and in the 1970s (which seems almost contemporary to someone my age!) and spans London, Tuscany and Hollywood. Victoria Fox is better known for her blockbusters in the style of Jackie Collins and this is something completely different from her. It’s being described as a gothic suspense novel like Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and it certainly has some dark... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2017 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Romance is read around the world in many, many languages. For a writer, it's a huge benefit if one's native tongue is widely spoken and widely read because that means there's a sizable publishing business: writing groups, editors, publishers, agents. All the paraphernalia that help aspiring writers learn and grow and become published. I've often thought how hard it is to be a very talented writer in a small language group where there isn't the structure to support budding talents. (To the left are two editions of LOVING A LOST LORD, Japanese on the left, Indonesian on... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at Word Wenches
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LOL! While my 'twixt book activities may vary in detail, the gist is very similar. One thing I also do is Lunch, as in call friends to ascertain that we're both alive and kicking, and set up a time to Lunch.
Toggle Commented Feb 22, 2017 on The List of Ten Desired Things at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo The Mayhem Consultant and I like to take winter vacations to warmer, sunnier places, and that generally means the Caribbean, which can be reached from Maryland with a mere four hour flight. The warmth and sunshine are reliable, but the bonus is that the Caribbean is like a spilled jewel box of islands, each with its own unique character. This year's main vacation was a cruise on a Windstar ship, the Star Legend. Because it carries only 212 passengers, the ship can visit small, out of the way islands. Such islands don't have large modern ports, so... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2017 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Years ago I read about a study that looked at the difference between meeting someone and having a crazed affair that burns out quickly, and passions that becomes life-long true love. Their conclusion: there IS no difference at the beginning. A romance is about the courtship, the developing relationship, and a romance writer's job is to make that relationship believable so that when readers close the book, they can smile and know the couple is together forever. There are a number of popular tropes that can be used to build relationships. Perhaps the most common is lightning... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2017 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo There is something very charming about miniatures--ask any doll collector. The beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water is famous for having a detailed model of the village itself--and there is even a model within the model. <G> And in the Baltimore area, we have Christmas train gardens! The idea was new to me when I moved to Maryland, but train garden charm is irresistible. They were often in firehouses, where the firefighters used time between calls to do the painstaking work of setting up elaborate landscapes of town and country and multiple trains. A small mall near me,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2017 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Christmas has many kinds of celebrations, from watching one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol to feasting with family and friends to crazed shopping, but at heart, it has always been a religious holiday. Christ's Mass = Christmas. Many, many people go to services: Children's services, candlelight services, midnight masses. I saw a news story that in Belgium, on Christmas Eve school children put lighted candles on the graves of over a thousand Canadian soldiers who died in the liberation of Belgium in World War II. I love this image from thegraphicsfairy.com which shows people... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2016 at Word Wenches
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By Mary Jo One of those questions authors get asked regularly is when we knew we were meant to be writers. I was asked this recently and remembered that I once blogged on this topic in the Dark Ages of the internet--over ten years ago in June 2006. I decided to look that blog up and see what has changed. My answer hasn't, but the publishing world has. Some knew they were born to write from their earliest days. I am not one of those. The bald fact is that I knew I was a writer when I was offered... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I've heard of ugly Christmas sweaters in casual ways, but I had no idea what A Thing they've become until I read an article in the Baltimore Sun by Brittany Britto. (I tried to link, but couldn't, sorry!) It used to be that ugly Christmas sweaters were just ones that someone gave you that weren't to your taste. Now they're about play and dressing up, which is why there is now an "Ugly Christmas Sweater Day," and it's December 16th. There are even websites! (The Christmas present sweater above is from Tipsy Elves, and it's kind of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo The holiday season is a busy time, but the Wenches never stop reading! Here are some books we've enjoyed recently. From Pat Rice: For over-the-top emotion and a well-written circus that would make a perfect Bollywood film, try A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR by Sonali Dev. Strictly speaking, this is women’s fiction, but it’s also Bollywood, so you know among the tragedy and unrequited love is a happy ending. We have the intrepid young woman from India, married at the age of five but never having met her husband after the wedding day, who fights all odds to gain... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2016 at Word Wenches
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Ridiculous amounts of snow! Yes, that's Syracuse. *G*
Toggle Commented Nov 29, 2016 on That Winter in Wales at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo I was doing some research reading and came across a sentence saying that in days long gone, the typical breakfast for most people was was cooked grain mixtures. I looked at that and thought, "Hello, oatmeal! And its cousin, corn flakes!" Which led me into reflecting on how some things travel down through the centuries, maybe with variations but the underlying food is the same. (Picture below is a German breakfast buffet from Wikipedia by Torsten Seiler from Cologne, Germany) Breakfast means literally to "break our fast"--eating after the hours of sleep. In places where people do... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at Word Wenches
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By Mary Jo Terroir has nothing to do with terror, horror movies, or upcoming Halloween. Instead, terroir is a French word derived from Latin "terra" and French "terre" meaning the earth. Most often it's used to refer to the natural conditions of soil, sun, weather, climate, et al, that produce specific flavors in food and drink. In other words, it's the agricultural version of "we are what we eat." We all more or less know this even if we don't think about it much, but in wine cultivation, terroir is an important concept. I might add that I am no... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2016 at Word Wenches
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by Mary Jo Last week I wrote about our safari to Botswana, which was a great getaway with pampering and fine food and lovely, hospitable people. But even though tales of Tarzan and amazing wildlife loom large in our imagination, safaris and elephants are only a tiny portion of the vast, ancient, and diverse continent of Africa. Which is why today I want to talk a bit about modern Africa. In particular, I want to talk about Johannesburg, a world class city and one of Africa's major hubs. We spent almost a week in "Jozi," partly because it was the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2016 at Word Wenches
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Stephanie, we were gone 18 days, which is not insignificant. It was a great trip but I missed my cats!!!
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Andrea, you'll love it! I'm working on how to get an elephant into one of my Regencies, but it won't be easy. *G*
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Dee, we're lucky that all our African experiences have been lovely, but I can see where a bad one would be very off-putting. You live in such a lovely place that there is no need for more travel!
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Sue, how interesting!! Giraffes are gentle herbivores, but they are very large and very strange, so it's not surprising that they could freak out a very small child. But you were safe in your father's arm, which makes it a lovely memory.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Annette, thanks for the kind words. Part of the fun is sharing the experience with others.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Mary T, like you, I loved the cats most of all. The lions were laid back and the leopard was busily hunting for lunch and ignoring us. Lovely to watch them.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Faith, I think the Mayhem consultant and I were just born with the travel gene. Such fun to visit far-off places!
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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Teresa, giraffes are gentle herbivores--but they have a kick that can kill a lion if they're attacked. Do not mess with giraffes!
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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A safari in Botswana may sound exotic and dangerous, but it's only exotic. Not dangerous at all!
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2016 on Seeing the Elephant at Word Wenches
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