Little Totems?

By Mary Jo

This month’s Ask A Wench Question:

Many of us have little totems around, like stuffed animals or dolls or fairies or dragons. Do we give them personalities and stories as we do characters in our books?

Christina:  I used to always carry around a tiny Piglet (from the Winnie the Pooh stories), as a lucky mascot, but he got so grubby from being in my handbag that I had to leave him at home. He was also on the verge of losing his nose, poor thing! He was only the size of my palm so quite small and fragile. But he is still well-loved and hopefully sending me luck from the cupboard where he now sits next to a cleaner twin that someone gave me, thinking I could just swap him for a new one. Of course it doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind having two.

I don’t usually use stuffed animals or dolls as inspiration for my stories, but I do give a lot of them names. And in the case of my doll collection, being an incurable romantic I can’t help but arrange them in pairs on the shelf. As I mentioned in a blog post last year, I collect Barbie dolls, but my younger daughter also got me into Monster High dolls. They are absolutely gorgeous, based on monsters and mythical creatures but made to look pretty, and their clothes and accessories are superb. The majority are female, but there are some male ones as well and I’ve matched them up with suitable “girlfriends” on my shelf. If I ever write any more YA stories, I might well use them as inspiration!

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Irish Adventures (Part I)

Christina here, and I’ve been out and about following in the footsteps of the Vikings again. This time my research took me to Ireland, a country I had never visited before. I loved it!

As I live near the Welsh border, my husband and I decided to take the ferry across from Holyhead on Anglesey. It’s only a three-hour journey and we were very lucky with the weather so had smooth crossings both ways. I’d never been to Anglesey either and will definitely be returning to that part of the world (as well as north Wales) as soon as I have the chance. Going off on a small tangent here, I’d read about Anglesey recently as part of my Roman research. Ynys Môn as the Welsh call the island, was apparently where the Celtic druids had their stronghold. There they made their last stand against the Roman army in AD 60 but they were completely crushed, and their sacred groves destroyed. Very sad! But I digress …

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On the Shelf . . .

Andrea here. Oh, fluttery sigh! Is there anything that makes an author and book nerd’s heart go pitty-pat more than NEW BOOKSHELVES? At the moment, my answer is a resounding NO!

The trouble had been building for quite some time. It began with the overflowing closets, which to forced boxes of author copies to begin lurking beneath the large pine table in my workroom. (I don’t know what hanky-panky they got up to at night, but I swear they began to multiply.)

As the shelves above my work counter had reached their capacity, I began putting single books on the tabletop, vowing I would get moving on new shelves. Yes, you can see where this is going . . .

The stacks were soon of lethal proportions—ie, if they fell on me, I was toast. Finally, after uttering some very bad words for the umpteenth time because I couldn’t find a reference book that I knew was buried somewhere in the chaos, I decided enough was enough. I had spotted an ad featured a special sale on custom bookshelves from Closets By Design, and picked up the phone . . .

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A Third Georgette Heyer Quiz

Anne here, and today for your entertainment, I’m presenting another quiz — the third Georgette Heyer quiz, where we test your knowledge of her novels. It’s just for fun, and it doesn’t matter if you get most of them wrong, but I hope some of the quotes will make you smile, and encourage you to read (or reread) her books.

Make a note of your answers, check them on the link at the bottom and come back and tell us how you went, and whether you enjoyed it, found it too hard or too easy.

1)  “M’sieur, I am as a slave to my wife.” He kissed the tips of his fingers. “I am as the dirt beneath her feet.” He clasped his hands. “I must bestow on her all that she desires, or die!”
“Pray make use of my sword, ” invited X. “It is in the corner behind you.”
Who is X in this encounter?
a) Sir Tristram Shield
b) The Marquis of Alverstoke
c) The Duke of Avon
d) Lord Damerel

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Strawberry Leaves and other Fruitful Images

Nicola here. Perhaps it’s because everything feels so serious at the moment with political upheavals all around the world, but today I decided to be a bit frivolous and blog about fruit. Way back in 2015 I wrote a blog on the Word Wenches about pineapples and their significance as symbols of wealth and status. I was reminded about this a week ago when I went on a special tour of the Ashdown estate, into the nooks and crannies where we are normally not allowed to visit. There, tucked away in a barn, were some truly enormous stone pineapples which used to adorn the gateposts at the bottom of the drive! I’d never seen them before, or even any pictures of them, so it was amazing to see this throwback to an earlier age of the house. If you were meant to judge a family’s wealth and its prestige by the size of their pineapples, then the Craven family had some huge ones!

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