AAW: Favorite Furnishings!

by Mary Jo

Image003This Ask A Wench blog was inspired when we started talking about furniture in our private Word Wenches email loop, and we found out that we all had stories about favorite things!

Here is the question I asked: "Do you have a particular piece of furniture that you cherish? Tell us its story!"

And here are the replies:

From Pat Rice:

I HAD wonderful pieces that I cherished—the Victorian sofa my stepfather reupholstered in lovely wine and cream to match my Tudor-style dark oak living room; the dark oak dining table that was our very first piece of “bought” furniture, the one with scars in it from little hands pressing too hard with writing instruments while doing homework; the beautiful Bentwood rocker from my mother that I rocked my babies in… and the magnificent handmade mahogany Queen Anne bedroom suite I bought with my first big royalty check. ( the pic shows the table and the antique sideboard I picked up at a yard sale!)

They’re all gone now, left behind when we moved across the country to a modern cottage on the Pacific coast. These days, we live with NICOLA.Seaborn's chair thrift store bargains—because new, they probably cost more than all the above furniture did when we bought them. I no longer feel guilt at dumping a designer leather couch when we move to a house where it doesn’t fit. I can buy an even better one in a design that matches. Throw away furniture—it’s a Thing.

Nicola contributes a "Slightly macabre piece!"

 When I was a child my grandparents, who lived with us, bought an 18th century grandfather clock that stood in the hall, its loud tick filling the air and somehow giving a sense of reassurance and permanence. I loved that clock! I loved its painted face and the fact that it was much taller than I was, and that it had been made in the North of England and was so old.

Fast forward fifty years, and when we were clearing my parents’ house I really wanted to take that clock home to live with me. But there was a problem. It was too tall. Or our ceilings were too low. Whichever way you looked at it, it didn’t fit. We thought about taking several inches off the bottom of it, which wasn’t really feasible. We even thought about lowering a small part of the floor but that was even less practical. In the end I had to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen. My step-brother has it now and as he loves it too, that’s good enough for me.


Read more

Ask-A-Wench about. . . audio books

Anne here, with this month's ask-a-wench question, a thought-provoking question from Janice (and for which she'll receive a free book).  Thanks, Janice.

With the popularity of audiobooks and the increasing ease of obtaining them, I am seeing more comments and reviews from readers talking about books they listened to rather than read in print. Has this affected your writing process at all?   I know when I have to compose something I hear the words in my head and then I put them on the paper. I know some people put the words on the paper and then read them aloud or in their heads. The sound and the rhythm are very important – but I don't have to think about how they will sound if someone else says them. Is this a consideration for you?

Christina said:  I don’t listen to audiobooks myself – I’m a very visual person and don’t like having things read out to me as I need to see the words. I don’t usually read my work out loud to myself either, except occasionally a bit of dialogue. Therefore, I never used to take them into consideration at all when writing my own stories. They were just something my publisher had done, and I never even listened to the author copies they sent me when audiobooks used to be on CDs. I received two and kept one for my shelf, while sending the other to a second cousin of mine who was blind. A couple of times, I had to provide a pronunciation list for the narrator as some of my books contained Japanese words, but I had no direct contact with anyone and never checked whether they got it right.


Then I changed publisher, and to my surprise they asked for my opinion on the person who was to record my first book for them. I listened to a few different narrators and agreed one of them was the best. As far as I was concerned, my input was over, but that turned out not to be the case. Again, I was asked about pronunciations, since I had included a whole bunch of words and phrases in Old Norse. When adding those, it never occurred to me that some poor soul would have to read them out loud. In my head, I’d pronounced them the way I thought might be right, using Swedish as my guide. However, for the purposes of the audiobook, guessing wasn’t good enough. So I had to consult with the kind lady who had helped me find the right words in the first place – she has a PhD in Old Norse and speaks Icelandic too. Then I had to learn to pronounce the words myself, before teaching the narrator how to do it. We had a session via Skype, which was great fun, both of us tripping over the unfamiliar sounds and laughing. There’s a lot of guttural stuff in Old Norse, and sometimes you sound like you’re just clearing your throat <g>. For every book since, I’ve had those sessions with the narrator and we are both getting used to Norse words and phrases. I’m even tempted to use them in real life sometimes! Doesn’t þegi þú! (pronounced THEY-ghi THOO – the TH as in the word ‘three’ and then a throaty ‘g’ as in the Scottish word “loch”) ) sound much better than ‘shut up!’ for example? So yes, these days I do think a little bit about what I’m adding to my stories, but if the words need to be in there, my reader and I will simply have to learn how to pronounce them.

Read more

What We’re Reading!

Here's a round up of what the wenches have been reading this month. In the comments, let us know what you've enjoyed. It's a great library builder!


The girl and the sword The Girl and the Sword by Gerald Weaver (UK link) is a historical epic in the true sense of the word. It covers decades and looks a great span of ideas and history. It’s set in the 13th century and tells the story of Pauline de Pamiers who is a young girl from the oppressed Christian sect, the Cathars, and how she refuses to accept subjugation but forms an alliance with one of the most famous crusaders of all, Simon de Montfort. There are big themes in this book – the role of women in medieval society, the establishment of parliamentary democracy, the dominance of religion.

Whilst the character of Pauline is fictitious, Simon de Montfort was, of course, very real and in his author’s note, Gerald Weaver talks about taking an “American” view of a man who has primarily been written about by English historians. It’s fascinating to see the different perspective that he brings to the character and actions of de Montfort, seeing someone who has often been dismissed as an ambitious opportunist as, in fact, a fundamentally good man who was responsible for sowing the seeds of democracy.  Whilst I might not have agreed with his interpretation of some of de Montfort’s actions, I did love the sheer swashbuckling scope of the story. This Simon is a real hero of integrity, courage and action. Pauline is an admirable woman and their relationship is a tender and true love story. My favourite aspect of the book was their dialogue which was funny and clever and very entertaining. So if you are a fan of epic historical novels with feminist heroines and knightly heroes, this could be the book for you.

Read more

What We’re Reading in January!

The vanishingNicola here, introducing this month’s What We’re Reading. As usual we’ve got an interesting mix, and we’re really looking forward to hearing about your latest reads as well. Looking at my Kindle, all the most recent books on there are recommendations I’ve picked up from the other Wenches and these posts.

Having read every single one of the Jayne Castle Harmony and Rainshadow series, with attendant dust bunnies, I turned to the Arcane series and now to the Fogg Lake series, which is a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal elements. There’s a Midwich Cuckoos vibe going on here. Years ago, the small town of Fogg Lake experienced something called The Incident, a mysterious explosion in the cave system beneath the town. The residents were knocked unconscious and when they recovered, they found they had new psychic powers.

Book 1 in the series is The Vanishing,written under her Jayne Ann Krentz name. Catalina Lark and her friend Olivia St Clair witness a murder when they are teens but no one believes them as it took place in the caves of their hometown Fogg Lake, and people think they were hallucinating. Years later, Olivia disappears and it becomes clear that someone is hunting the witnesses to the murder. Catalina sets out to find her friend with the help of Slater Arganbright, a mysterious operative from a shadowy law enforcement agency called The Foundation.

There are lots of parallels with the futuristic books in terms of the special powers that the protagonists possess, the strong heroines and the very hot heroes and even hotter romance. But – no dust bunnies!

Read more

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Stencil.default (1)Nicola here, wishing you a very Happy Christmas to those who celebrate the festival and happy holidays to everyone celebrating their traditions. Today is the first day of Word Wenches’ annual tradition of short daily blogs over the Twelve Days of Christmas.

This year for the first time in as long as I can remember, and possibly the first time ever, I’m spending Christmas in a hotel. Every year for the past forever we’ve either been at home, hosting family and friends, or visiting them as their guests. This year, though, my mother-in-law went into a care home near my sister-in-law’s home in the North of England so we are staying nearby in order to see everyone over the festive season. I’m writing this before we go and I’m wondering what it will be like. The hotel promises all manner of wonderful treats: delicious food including the full Christmas dinner, festive afternoon tea, carols and other live music and the chance to work off all the food in the gym and pool. It sounds great. But even at Christmas I find I still think about writing – will it be the sort of hotel that would be a good setting for a murder mystery? Stencil.default (2) What will our fellow guests be like? Will there be rows – or romances? (I’ll be taking note!) Will it snow??? All will no doubt be revealed as our Christmas trip progresses! Wherever you are in the world and however you celebrate, the Wenches wish everyone peace and joy in the year ahead.

How are you spending the holiday season? Will you be at home, or away? Are there any special holiday traditions you enjoy with family and friends?