It’s Been Great Fun

Screen Shot 2021-03-09 at 8.11.26 AMDear All,

A sad announcement from me today. It’s got me all philosophical and remembering.

I joined the Word Wenches a decade ago. They’ve been most excellent years. I’ve been productive in my writing, found a sympathetic niche for my blog posts, got to know the readers who gather here, and been supported all this time by the fellowship of Wenches.

It’s been great fun.

Writing is a solitary business. It’s many hours of sitting at a desk, staring at the wall and, from time to time, typing madly, muttering to yourself. When you’re a writer you know precisely where the guillotine stood in La Place de la Revolution. You can ask the mailman, “If she murders somebody and he deserves it, does she have to regret it?” and he backs away quietly.

Our writing buddies understand this and sympathize. We keep each other sane. Thank you, Word Wenches. Sanity is good.

Now I get to the meat of the matter.

These last couple years I haven’t got much written. The old brain doesn’t work as well as it once did.   Screen Shot 2021-03-09 at 8.24.01 AMThe creaky body no longer stands up to the physical and emotional demands of the writing job.

It’s time for me to retire and put my feet up and let the dog and cat climb into my lap and keep me warm. I have a decade of TV shows to catch up on. I started knitting a scarf for my sister a couple of years ago. I may finally get it finished.

So I’m bowing out of the Word Wenches, with regret and gratitude, filled with good wishes for everybody.



Ask a Wench for February: The Perfect Romance Convention

Screen Shot 2021-02-12 at 12.06.40 AMJoanna here, thinking how nice it would be to get away from all this rain.

Which leads to how the Wenches from time to time go to Writers’ Conferences where they attend sessions that help make them better writers and give talks that help other writers do the same, but mostly they hang out in coffee shops and gossip with friends because that’s what folks do at conferences.

So … what would be the most interesting spot for a conference if you could pick any time and place whatsoever?

Some thoughts on this.


Pat:  Oh my, this poses entirely too many choices. I’ll simply go with the first one that pops to mind—


Ranelagh. Maybe Mozart is playing
(Click on the image for a close up_

Ranelagh Gardens in its heyday, about 1765 when the likes of Mozart played in a rotunda painted by Canaletto.  Vauxhall would be another choice, but I like warmth, and the rotunda was heated.

Neither of them are available today in all their glory, so it would be a great joy to see how they looked as our characters wandered about, rubbing elbows with dukes and princes in the case of Ranelagh, and with maids and merchants if we choose Vauxhall.

We could have sessions with genuine lords and ladies and ask them all those eternal questions on how they wish to be addressed (do you really wish to be addressed as Your Grace, Duke? Or would your closest friend address you by the name you had growing up, Kingsley, as in Marquess of?). I would not presume to give a talk on the address question, but I would be happy to speak to The Future and Women’s Rights in Our Novels, if asked.

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Pigeons in the Park

Columba livia

Pigeon. Or dove.

Joanna here, delving into the nitty gritty of the past. Asking myself what would be familiar to a time traveller dipping into history? What would be stunningly weird?

What I’m  pondering today is pigeons.

Like, “What is a pigeon and why isn’t it a dove?” and vice versa.
One of those cases we have two words for the same thing, really. Kind of comforting to know we're stocked up with synonyms.


Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 11.35.42 AMBackground: There are 344 species in the Columbidae family worldwide. They're called pigeon or dove more or less at random. Whenever you think you’ve got some difference nailed down – like pigeons are larger and plumper – you’ll come across some tiny bitty twittering bird in the Far East that’s called a pigeon and category common sense goes flying out the window.

In other zoological news, pigeons are most closely related to cuckoos. Many of us have this problem.

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Sleeping, Dreaming, and Creating


Me, sleeping creatively

Joanna here, talking about one of my favorite things in all the world, aka sleeping. Writing is another thing I’m fond of. There’s a bit of an interconnection between these.

I tend to generate new material when I’m relaxed in the bathtub or lying in bed. I even get good work done in dreams. If I were talking about the creative process I might say I try to sleep a lot.

Let me talk about Coleridge who is a more interesting topic than many of those going

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 9.24.25 AM

Coleridge in 1795

through my mind these days. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, of  course, is the English poet who gave us such popular thrillers as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which many of us read in Middle School. It includes the poignant lines

“Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea! 
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.”

As I say, Middle School. This is stuck in my memory forever.

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Tis the Season of … Saturnalia

Ww stonehenge sunrise day of winter solstice

Among other things, this happens on the Solstice

Joanna here, thinking about the Solstice. It’s the 21st of December this year.

The Solstice can show up anytime between 20th December and the 23rd because the calendar in our cell phone or hanging on the wall does not fit neatly into astronomical reality.
Many of us have trouble adjusting to reality.

Thing is, the calendar counts the year as 365 days, even. The universe thinks it’s 365.256 days.

These thing do not match and no amount of refreshing your computer screen is going to change this. We are all playthings in the hands of the gods.

I suppose you could take a post-it note a quarter the size of one of the calendar days and let it dangle off the end of December. That would be more accurate.

Ww sagittaius

Sagittarius, looking pretty cool

Anyhow, that’s why the date of the Solstice changes from year to year.

This year the shortest, darkest day of the year, the Solstice, falls on a Monday.

After all, it’s 2020.

On the Solstice the sun will move into Sagittarius. You’d say into the House of Sagittarius, if you think of the Zodiac signs as living in fancy houses up in the sky, which I am perfectly willing to do.

Ww wagittarius stars

The stars of Sagittarius without the imagination. Less cool.


You’d think this means you can look up into the night sky and get a really good view of the constellation Sagittarius, wouldn’t you?

Au contraire, as the French would say.

When the sun is in Sagittarius it means it’s sitting on top of Sagittarius. You’d have to look directly through the sun to see the constellation. Sagittarius won’t be up at night on the 21st. It’s going to be high in the sky at noon, hiding in the light.


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