Writing Short!

MaryJoPutney_SunshineforChristmas_1400By Mary Jo

More than you ever wanted to know about writing short fiction!

I became hooked on books as soon as I learned how to read, so it's no surprise that when I got a computer, learned word processing, and decided to see if I could write, what I dived into was a book: a full length Regency romance, The Diabolical Baron.

Clearly my natural instinct was to write long.  My Signet Regencies were supposed to be 75,000 words, but two of my first four drafted at about 125,000 words.  Ooops!  Nonetheless, when I was invited to write a Christmas novella for the second Signet holiday anthology, I couldn't resist saying yes, so I had to learn to write a lot shorter.


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Favorite Christmas Stories

Last Chance Christmas Ballby Mary Jo

The original Christmas story is of the journey to Bethlehem and the newborn infant who was laid in a manger, and the holiday has been inspiring Christmas stories ever since. They are stories of warmth, family, and love, of kindness and reconciliation.  One of the most famous is the poem "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" written in 1823 by Clement Clark Moore.  The depictions of Santa Claus, the chimney, and the sleigh pulled by reindeer have helped shape the imagery of American Christmases ever after. 

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Farewell Jo Bourne

Anne here with the other Word Wenches, farewelling Joanna Bourne, who has been such a beloved member of our community for more than ten years. Jo-Head shot

I first "met" Jo through her writing. It was 2008. I was in New York for a conference, and meeting with my editor. I was in her office, about to leave, when I said, "Is there anyone you think I should be reading? She pulled The Spymaster's Lady from her shelf and handed it to me. It hadn't yet been published — Jo and I shared the same editor.  I read The Spymaster's Lady on the plane on the way home and wow! It blew me away. 

I met her in person in 2009, the night she won her first RITA for the Spymaster's Lady. It was a thrilling night all around. Wench Jo Beverley presented her with it — seems Joanna was almost fated to become a Word Wench.

JoannabourneRITA2009I interviewed her here, and the following month Joanna joined us as a word wench. This was her first post. And since then she's become a valued member of the word wench family. You can catch up with her previous posts here — there's a wealth of Jo-reading. And now, over to the other wenches . . .

From Pat:  Jo, I totally wish you well in your retirement but secretly hope the imps of creativity crawl out of their holes and start chewing on your fingers. Your brilliant, funny, creative mind needs a good outlet, and I need my Job fix of humor on a regular basis. I’ll miss you so much!

For those of you who have only read Jo’s books, dig around on the Wench blog and look for her epistles. Humor lurks under every word and insight. Behind the scenes, when the wenches are talking, she’s even funnier and pithier. And if you haven’t read Jo’s books, do so now! As you can see by her pictures, she looks like a mischievous imp, not an evil mind who grips you by the throat and won’t let go!

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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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