Trials and Tribulations of Writing

Rice_TheIndigoSolution_800(1)Pat here: Unlike my psychic heroines, I have nothing insightful to tell you as we dive into the new year. I’m still trying to figure out what day of the week it is after the holidays, and almost missed my blog date because I haven’t updated my calendar yet. I have accounting worksheets piling up all over my desk for my personal taxes and those of an organization I work with. Who can write a book with all this new stuff spinning in the brain? Maybe I need that crystal ball!

Yet I continue to wade into the fray of writing mysteries. I’ve written characters for forty years now, savoring their romances and conflicts, and I still learn something new every day in how to depict their personalities. But mysteries. . . require actual plotting.

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What We’re Watching in September

Howdy.  Joanna here.

This month I’m doing a little departure from the usual Wenches’ What We’re Reading.  This month it’s What We’re Watching.  What movie, what TV, what paintings, what real life scenes have impressed and moved us recently?

Fair_House_Farm_cropFor me … I love non-fiction. The life of the duckbilled platypus. The Mongol Empire. The genetics of cats.

Recently I’ve been filling my leisure time with BBC and A&E documentaries on British History. One of my exciting finds — I get excited by history — is Tales From the Green Valley.  Five archeologists and historians live for a year on a farm on the Welsh border, wearing the clothing, eating the food, using the farming techniques and following the household customs of 1620. It’s exact, detailed, authentic

(Well … I caught them in one bit of  ‘folk etymology’ error — the origin of the phrase ‘upper crust’ to mean ‘rich folks’. Not 1620. It’s Nineteenth Century.)

This Tales From the Green Valley is a nitty-gritty, hands-on-the-plough, realistic view of a way of life that continued in some aspects till Victorian times. Interesting for its own sake. Interesting as the background upon which our stories are enacted. Fascinating to watch. 


Andrea also recommends a non-fiction TV series. She says:  09-2388M

I very rarely watch television. I know there are really good shows, with fabulous writing, but when I have some down time, I always gravitate toward curling up with a book to relax.
However, a friend of mine recommended that I watch the PBS special seven part series on "The Roosevelts—An Intimate History" (the wonderful thing is you can download and watch all the episodes on your computer!) So I tuned in for the first one—and was absolutely hooked. 


IMG_4294Nicola takes us right to Real Life.

Nicola here. This month I am watching the sea at Bamburgh Castle on the north east coast of England. We've had the most glorious weather and calm seas so far but tomorrow there is a storm promised. I find the sea so soothing and refreshing and walking along the beach has filled me with ideas and inspiration. It's wonderful to be here and see the geese flying overhead on their journey north and the castle silhouetted against the sky.

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What We’re Reading in February

Hi Folks. 

Joanna here with a round up of the great reads that got us through a blustery cold February.

Wenches discovery witchesMy own wonderful read was Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches, Book One in the All Soul's Trilogy.  The elements of this story — withces and vampires living among us, ancient manuscripts, conspiracies, ancient secrets — are familiar.  They seem almost hackneyed.  What lifts this book above the ordinary is Harkness' beautiful writing. 

And … well … the first book of the trilogy is set mostly in Oxford.  I'm a sucker for Oxford. 

I've already acquired Book Two in the trilogy, Shadow of Night, and look forward to settling down in a comfy chair with it.  Maybe when we get this next wave of snow that's coming in. 

Cara/Andrea saying:Wenches heir apparent

I’m very interested in the Edwardian era, so when I read the great reviews for The Heir Apparent, Jane Ridley’s new biography of “Bertie,” King Edward VII, I immediately grabbed it.

It’s an absolutely fascinating read. Ridley had access to extensive Royal archives and private family correspondence—and the picture painted of Queen Victoria, Albert and their extensive brood and relatives is  . . .well, I’m not quite sure of the adjective to use. Chilling might be one of them. Talk about a dysfunctional family! It’s a wonder poor Bertie wasn’t committed to Bedlam. He actually comes off as a very sympathetic character, far brighter and more interested in the welfare of his country than he is given credit for.

On the other hand, the Queen and her consort come across as cold, manipulative people who had absolutely no emotional interest in their children. It also gives a wonderful look at the social whirl of the Victorian age, with descriptions of the house parties, the foreign travel, the royalty of Europe. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the time period.


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