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Author. Traveler. Cat lover. Introvert.
Recent Activity
by Mary Jo Hi, there! Today we are lucky enough to welcome Karen Harper as a return guest. Karen has been writing even longer that I have <G>, and she's known for her versatility and superb research. She started out with historical romance and has since branched out into main stream historical, romantic thrillers (including contemporary Amish suspense), and historical mysteries. She isa winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award. (Note the many varied covers included in this blog.) A New York Times list bestselling author, among other honors, Karen is with us today to tell us about her just... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo I'll say this up front: Kathleen Gilles Seidel is a marvelous writer. We are both members of the Washington Romance Writers chapter of RWA, so I've know her for many years. At the WRW annual retreat, a slot would always be reserved for her to talk fascinatingly about some aspect of writing. (She has a PhD in English from Johns Hopkins University, so she's really good at this sort of thing.) I've heard many of her thoughtful lectures and stories as well as being addicted to her writing. So I feel very pleased that she's agreed to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo Today, we're resuming our sadly interrupted anniversary celebration, and I have the pleasure of welcoming Eloisa James and Lauren Willig, both of whom have wonderful insights to share with us. First up is Eloisa James, who has been a visitor to Word Wenches for both her romance and for her delicious memoir, Paris in Love. Today she ponders romance and what might lie ahead in our genre: Eloisa James: I read widely in romance sub-genres, with the exception of scary Romantic Suspenses. I’m just going to make a more-or-less haphazard list of the trends I’m seeing, skipping... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo Today is Memorial Day, which honors those who have died in military service. As a child, my sibs and I would accompany my father to the city cemetery to place flags on the graves of military veterans. Today, all honor to those who have served. It’s rather fitting to use this day to wind up our week of mourning for Jo Beverley. It's time for the Word Wenches to return to regular programming, including a more somber continuation of the tenth anniversary of this blog. (I can imagine Jo saying crisply that it's time to pull up... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo It is with the deepest of sadness that we announce that our beloved Wench sister, Jo Beverley, died this afternoon. It was not a surprise, but the end came more suddenly than any of us expected. Jo had quietly been through a very dangerous bout with cancer about five years ago, and had come through with flying colors. The cancer was discovered to have returned some weeks ago, and it moved very quickly. We all hoped for another miracle, but it was not to be. Jo died very peacefully in a lovely care home in Yorkshire that... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo Can you believe it? Today is the 10th anniversary of this blog--that's 597 years in internet time, you know. <G> The world has changed, publishing has changed, we've all changed--yet here we are, still musing about romance and history, interviewing interesting guests, and inviting you all to join in the conversation! The idea for a historical romance writers' blog was sparked when Susan King and I were having lunch with Eileen Buckholtz, our friend and web wizard, and she suggested that since we were interested in blogging, a group blog was the way to go: more content,... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo As usual, we're reading quite a range of books! From Joanna Bourne: I’m always happy to read Mary Balogh. This one is Only a Kiss. Very fine. The slow development of the relationship delights me. As always, the romance comes to us in growing trust and understanding between the two protagonists. This one is about letting go of past pain and guilt and finding new love. It’s a gently joyful book for all that as these two find each other. And next up -- Beautiful writing in this one by Susanna Kearsley. Named of the Dragon. Just... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at Word Wenches
by Mary Jo Anne Gracie has already posted an excellent overview blog of the Romantic Times convention in Las Vegas. So now I'll poke around in some of the corners of the experience shared by Anne, Pat, me, and about 3,000 other people. We three Wenches were all at the special reception of historical authors for librarians and booksellers. And mighty are the librarians! Darlene McKenzie of Ravenna, Ohio is the SuperLibrarian, and I LOVE the back of her T-shirt! Morgan Perry of Independence, Missouri is wearing the red T-shirt with LIBRARIAN spelled out in silver sparkles. She said it... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2016 at Word Wenches
From Mary Jo: For a change of pace this month, we're going to talk about good books that we've loved, but which might have fallen from view for one reason or another. This is not exactly the same as comfort reads, though there is some overlap. So here are some overlooked books that we enjoy, and maybe you will, too! I was inspired to suggest this topic to the other Wenches when I saw that Again by Kathleen Gilles Seidel is now available as an e-book. A two time RITA winner, Kathy writes books that are subtle, intelligent, deeply observed,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2016 at Word Wenches
Mary Jo here. Are you familiar with the six word story? Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was sitting in a bar (naturally!) when he was challenged to tell a complete story in as few words as possible. He replied: For sale. Baby shoes, never worn. And there it is--a poignant six word story of hope and loss. More recently, the idea of a six word memoir has been crystallized by Larry Smith in the Smith Magazine , an online publication devoted to populist story telling. Everyone is invited to participate. The tagline on the homepage of the website is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2016 at Word Wenches
Mary Jo here to talk about my winter vacation! Jamaica has a rich and varied history, not to mention an abundance of warmth and sunshine which makes it a pleasing winter destination for pale, shivering Northerners. The island is also large enough to have a well developed culture--and cuisine. Which brings me to the weekly farmers' market in Ocho Rios. A couple of years ago, we stayed at the Jamaica Inn, a laidback boutique hotel with a lovely little beach, and a history of hosting famous people like Winston Churchill, Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe on their honeymoon, among others.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Word Wenches
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
1 reply
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
1 reply