IMG_5226Mary Jo

I'm happy to announce the first ever digital release of my novella, The Dragon and the Dark Knight!   I've written a number of novellas and shorter works because they're an enjoyable change of pace and give me the chance to go to new and different places. They can also be quirkier or more humorous than full length novels.  In short–fun! 

The Dragon and the Dark Lord was originally published as a longish novella in the DragonCover Lovers anthology with Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, Karen Harbaugh, and me.  The four of us were friends and enjoyed working together, and we did three different romantic fantasy anthologies: Faery Magic, Dragon Lovers, and Chalice of Roses.  Most anthologies are started by an editor, then they look for authors, but for these three, we authors put together our ideas and sold publishers on them.  Which has also fun.

The four stories in the anthology were all very different.  I loved twisting some of the traditional. dragon tropes. <G> Here's the blurb for my story:

Base-born Sir Kenrick of Rathbourne has earned his living as an itinerant tournament knight. His skill supports him and his squire, but his dream of a manor and wife and family seems impossibly distant.  Then he hears of a wealthy baron in Cornwall who is looking for a champion to slay the dragon that is terrorizing his lands. The reward will be a manor by the sea.  Kenrick believes dragons are only a legend–but the prize makes the story worth investigating.   

But there really is a dragon–and a dozen knights have failed to vanquish it.  And when he finds a luminous lady in distress, the real challenge is protecting her and her dragon…


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Eight Writers Walk into a Regency-Era Ballroom…

Last chanceNicola here. Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing excerpts from our Word Wench Christmas Anthology, The Last Chance Christmas Ball (which is currently still on special offer in the US and Canada in the run up to the festive season – you can find it here!) A number of commenters have asked about the process we went through writing the book as a group project (thank you!), so we’ve updated a post from 2015 when the anthology first came out explaining a bit about this and about the individual stories that we came up with. Today's blog title actually came from a review of the anthology that was in Publisher's Weekly: Eight Writers (collectively known as the Word Wenches) walk into a ballroom and wreak fabulous, shimmering holiday mischief all over the place."

Jo Beverley, who drew together the original post, described it as “fun: at times the sort of fun you get from a camping holiday with unpredictable weather and odd creatures invading the tent.*G*” Which is to say that it wasn’t without its challenges. Some of these were logistical. We’re based around the world. Even within the US there’s a considerable time difference between east coast and west coast, but then we add in England, which is five hours ahead of the east coast and eight hours ahead of California. Pat was getting up when Jo Beverley and I were thinking about dinner, and Anne, in Australia, was going to bed round about the time America woke up! Even in this modern age we often had to wait many hours for the answer to a continuity query.

In addition, of course, we are all strong-minded authors who enjoyed a good discussion over many, many plot points and other issues! But we did have fun, and as you'll see, we all love Christmas stories.

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In the Bleak Midwinter: The Last Chance Christmas Ball

Belsay Gloomed by AnneBy Mary Jo

Eight authors collaborating on an anthology is not the simplest of projects, but we Wenches thought it would be fun to work together, and The Last Chance Christmas Ball (now on sale for a mere 99 cents!) was the result. Our Kensington editor, Alicia Condon, suggested we might do something like a holiday ball where our characters can meet and mingle. This sounded like a fine idea, so we agreed. We had no idea how much work it would be to integrate the stories into a larger framework!

Jo Beverley created a wiki for us so we could add information about the characters and setting so instead of constantly asking things like the name of the butler or the village, we could look it up. This was very convenient.

Then the negotiations began! We talked about our requirements. Susan King, for example, specializes in Scotland so we created a setting in Northumberland, which is next door to Scotland in far northeastern England. A certain kind of great house was required. A promising house was found and modified. I casually talked about how we could have a wounded soldier in the tower as an example of what we could do, and then realized I really did want to write a wounded soldier in the tower!

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Friends, Lovers, and Strangers

by Mary Jo

Years ago I read about a study that looked at the difference between meeting someone ONEPERFECTROSEART and having a crazed affair that burns out quickly, and passions that becomes life-long true love. Their conclusion: there IS no difference at the beginning.

A romance is about the courtship, the developing relationship, and a romance writer's job is to make that relationship believable so that when readers close the book, they can smile and know the couple is together forever. 

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What we’ve been reading in April

Wordwenchesbaloghby 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.

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