Regency Gas Lighting

The_centennial_of_the_United_States_Military_academy_at_West_Point _New_York._1802-1902_(1904)_(14757253966)

West Point 1820

Pat here:

I am not all certain why I dove down the bunny hole of gas lighting (And no, I don’t mean gaslighting. My characters won’t be psychologically manipulating anyone! That’s just mean.)  other than that the hero of the next historical is most probably a US Army engineer. (Yes, West Point was already turning them out in the early 1800s, probably only two or three a year but we don’t want to get picky about back story, do we?) The point is, I needed to know what kind of lighting my isolated manor might have and if it could be updated. And the answer is yes, yes it can. . .

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The Bestest Time Evah


Wench balloonglow from Pat

Pat's cool vacation

Vacations, vacations, wonderful vacations.
It's summer time (up here in the northern hemisphere) and folks are travelling.

So I asked the Word Wenches, What do you remember as a really great vacation?


Pat remembers one totally-for-fun expedition.

From Pat:

Our vacations are often working vacations, or combining two purposes like family and travel, and after a while, they all tend to blend together a bit. So perhaps I’m most nostalgic about a trip IT Guy and I made alone, just for the fun of it, shortly after he retired. We finally had the freedom to leave at any time of the year we liked—no job, no kids with school, no social or business obligations.

We were a bit uncertain about our newly limited budget, so we didn’t want to do any big splurges, but we had one place we’d dreamed of for decades—the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Yes, we’d traveled that direction once before, while writing California Girl  about a Route-66-868967_640Route 66 trip. At the time, we could only admire the gorgeous balloons floating across the sky as we drove through. They were magical and all too brief. So this time, we made the trip just for the festival. I wasn’t writing a book about it. No research was involved, just pure enjoyment. We went with a tour so we didn’t have to worry about finding the best rooms or parking or any other hassle. Wench hot-air-balloons pixabay

And it truly was the most magical trip I can remember. We saw the balloon glow and the dawn patrol and watched the race from our room when we left the grounds. We sat back and embraced the beauty of the countryside and the mystical blue skies.

And I even sneaked in a visit to a special tea room to meet with an author friend of mine and catch up. All in all, a very memorable trip!

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What We’re Reading in March

 … and what a medley it is.

Joanna here, with some lovely book suggestions from all of us.Wench bujold

I’m rereading one of Lois MlcMaster Bujold’s books. The Curse of Chalion. I picked it up at the library because the librarian had it out on the Recommended Shelf and I was reminded of it. 

When we reread books we sometimes come at them a little differently or, at least, I do. This time, when I approached Bujold’s broken, exhausted, emotionally and psychically destroyed protagonist I was better able to see the honorable man beneath. It’s a new way for me to look at heroism and I’m hoping to learn from it.

This is not a Romance, but it’s a satisfying portrayal of a complex protagonist and — yes — a bit of a love story.


Andrea writes:

I’m a big fan of Charles Finch’s historical mysteries—I find his Charles Lenox series, set in early Victorian England, an absolute delight. So it’s always a treat when a new one comes out.

Now, Finch has done something really interesting with the series. In the first book, A Beautiful Blue Death, which came out 12 years ago, we meet Lenox as an established amateur detective. He’s a cultured, erudite, clever younger son, so his slightly “black sheep” profession is tolerated by family and friends (it helps that he’s such a lovely, sensitive fellow) And throughout the next nine books, we see him develop, take on new challenges, dabble in politics, get married, have a child . . . all while unraveling some very intriguing mysteries.

Wench vanishing manThen lo and behold, like the clever mystery writer he is, Finch suddenly surprised his readers with a unexpected plot twist. In his previous book, The Woman in the Water, the 11th in the series, he started writing a “prequel to the series—we meed Charles as a green cub, just down from Oxford, trying to decide what he wants to do in life. He loves solving conundrums, but everyone thinks he’s a fool to consider it as a possible career. Nonetheless, he keeps reading the papers about crime, and finds he has an idea he thinks may help solve one. The police, of course, dismiss him as fop and

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The Many Delights of What We’re Reading –June

Joanna here with our monthly round up. What have the Word Wenches been reading in June? What wonderful books have we discovered?

We have particularly exciting books this month.Wench glass

First up, Anne.
[Warning: cookbook ahead]

Anne here. As usual, I've read a lot of books in the last month. I've always been a prolific reader and it doesn't matter how busy my life gets, reading is a necessary part of my life. 
I caught up on my Louise Penny reading, with GLASS HOUSES, a book I bought a year ago and discovered I hadn't read. Absorbing and entertaining, as always, this is #13  in her Chief Inspector Gamache crime series. 
Sharon SWench shinnhinn — Mary Jo put me onto Sharon Shinn's fantasies first, and after her recent post I discovered that some more of Shinn's books were now available to me on kindle. I read and enjoyed the first two in the series — TROUBLED WATERS and ROYAL AIRS then discovered that book 3 and 4 are not available to me on kindle. Sigh. So frustrating to know that they are on kindle but not if you live where I do. I really HATE geographical restrictions.
rump grump grump.
Finally I read a biography, which I don't often do. It was Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David. She was a food writer,  famous before I was born, but who taught me a lot about cooking when I was a student living in a share house, and using an old penguin paperback of hers, FRENCH PROVINCIAL COOKING. I think it was as much the quality of her lyrical, evocative  prose and the little stories and anecdotes that prefaced some of the recipes that enticed me most. I bought all her books I could find, some from used book stores, and am happy to say they're all back in print.
I blogged about Elizabeth David some time back — you can read it here — and I found her biography fascinating, not least for the portrait of the difficult and unconventional woman behind the elegant and evocative writing, but also because of the difficulties she had with her various publishers. 

Pat brings us magic and what I'd call a "comfort read."
Pat here–I'm desperately seeking escape of any sort and a good getaway is hard to find. But here's a couple I've read in recent months that fit the bill.

Wench libraryTHE LIBRARY, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDER,  Mindy Klasky

Mindy writes fun paranormal chicklit, and one of her best characters is Jane Madison, a librarian who discovers she’s a witch. In Jane’s books, she has a magical warder assigned to keep her from creating magical disasters. David Montrose, that powerful DC warder, has his own series now, and we get to see all the problems he’s facing behind the scenes. Not only are his personal problems mounting, but magical DC is on the brink of warfare because of his best friend’s actions, while Jane’s talent is blossoming. He’s juggling more than fire balls to solve everything at once, without being demoted again. It’s a fun fantasy ride!


Lovely women’s fiction with a protagonist who was deserted by her adventure-seeking husband and left to survive on her own. She buried herself in raising their child, giving up the travel and hope of family she’d always wanted—until her husband comes home and wants back in her life again. She has to learn to live and trust and develop new relationships. There’s a lot of fun travel tidbits since she acts as a home-bound travel agent. I would have liked to see her learn enough to actually achieve some of her goals instead of just a potential new love, but it was a pleasant journey worth taking for the fun.

Mary Jo with what sounds like a fun read.

Mary Jo here. I had a delightful time reading the latest Trisha Ashley book, The House of Hopes and DreamsHer books Wenches house are usually about creative heroines in their thirties who are rebuilding their lives (probably in Lancashire), and in the process they find a great eccentric guy who is just right for them.  In HHD, the heroine, Angelique Arrowsmith, known as Angel, is a passionate and talented stained glass artist whose life has just fallen apart. 

Angel's lifelong best friend is Carey Revells, whose enthusiasm and skills as a home renovator have made him a reality TV star on a cottage makeover show, but he and Angel haven't met much in person since they left art school and she went north to work with her older lover, a famous stained glass artist.  The book begins with Carey recovering from an accident that left him bedridden for months and cost him his TV show and his girlfriend.  Then a solicitor informs him he has inherited a large, historic, and rundown house from an uncle he never knew he had. 

Wenches xmasThe house needs lots of work, and it happens to have a stained glass workshop created by Carey's great-grandmother, a noted glass artist.  So very shortly, Angel is living in the house, helping Carey, fixing up the glass shop, and coping with an alien looking black Chihuahua mix that likes biting male ankles.  Soon the house is flowing with friends, workmen, a film crew–and plenty of hopes and dreams fulfilled as well as an old mystery unraveled.  If you like friends-to-lovers stories, this is for you! 

The House of Hopes and Dreams is right up there with my very favorite Trisha Ashley, The Twelve Days of ChristmasWhich, by happy chance, is only $2.99 in the US Kindle store.  So if you haven't read it, here's your chance for a Christmas in July.  It will make you happy and hungry. <G>


Andrea brings us some frank words about a favorite author,
and dives into Sharpe's Rifles. Wench punish

Andrea says:  I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth George’s long-running Thomas Lynley detective series for ages. But after she shook up her readers by killing off a major character, I , like many, had a hard time getting back into it, feeling some of the books that followed lost the the sort of subtle psychological insights and interplay that made the books so interesting. I decided to give the last one a try and was heartened to feel George was getting back her mojo. I recently read her latest one, The Punishment She Deserves, and was happy to feel that George is back in top form. 

The plot begins with the apparent suicide of a well-respected churchman in a sleepy English college town. He ’s been picked on an anonymous tip accusing him of abusing children. Lynley’s sidekick, Barbara Havers is part of the two-person police team from Scotland Yard sent to do a routine investigation as the suspect supposedly hanged himself while in local police custody. Her superior is anxious to do a drive-by check up, but feisty Barbara can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right . . .
And so begins a probing to college binge drinking, protective parents and an intricate weaving together of mother-daughter relationships from a variety of backgrounds, probing into parental expectations/yearning for their children’s future, and what a parent will do to protect a child. I found it a complex, nuanced and sensitive story that deal with many modern day issues. Watching Lynley and Havers work through some of Wench waterlootheir own personal issues was also interesting to, as I like them both very much. It’s good to see them back in fine fettle and moving on with their lives! 
This month I also re-read Bernard Cornwell’s Waterloo, one of the swashbuckling Richard Sharpe books set in the Napoleonic Wars. My current Lady Arianna WIP is set in Brussels and the battle, and I had read that the book is used in many military colleges because it’s such an accurate description of the battle. Cornell is a masterful storyteller, and the non-stop action is riveting—and heartbreaking because of the carnage. I’ve made some notes for my own story about battle locations and timing (don’t worry—there won’t be so much blood and gore!) and reminded me of how much I enjoyed the entire series. If you haven’t read it yet, get Sharpe’s Tiger, the first book, which is set in India . . . you’ll be in for a rollicking ride! Wench brass
As for me, I was reading S.A.Chakraborty's The City of Brass. This is the first in a fantasy trilogy based on a Middle Eastern mythos. It's a road trip through magical lands — unfriendly lands full of demons. Much adventure. If I say Djinns and flying carpets it doesn't come close to describing the intricate worldbuilding.
There's Revolution and palace intrigue among the magical. So satisfying.
City of Brass is Book One of Three so the ending is problematic It's not quite a cliffhanger, but close. And it's good enough to have me looking forward to Book Two.
So that June in the Wench Reading Year.  A good 30 days. How's it been with you?

Spring Cleaning

Daffodils in snow 2011c

Really stupid daffodils

Joanna here:

I’m in my fiercely picturesque little house in the mountains, not so much snowed in as iced in. When others can comment smugly on being under a foot or two of snow, I have to tag along behind saying, "I know it looks like only a little snow. But it’s ice. Solid, serious ice!" I punctuate.

Which brings us to Spring Cleaning .The vernal equinox is March 21 and charging down upon us at a great rate, even if some few of us Wenches are doing the blizzard thing.

My daffodils all up and down the woods were getting to be a big, sassy, yellow crop. They are now all frozen except for about a dozen I’ve got inside. I ran up and down the hill in freezing winds to save them. This morning I stopped by the pots of fuchsia in the kitchen and told them they should be durned glad I didn’t decide to put them out on the back porch last week when everything was all warm and enticing out there.

But I digress. Spring Cleaning.

For me this is moving al the furniture and sweeping underneath. It’s slapping a dab of paint on the door jambs where my cat sharpens her claws in the wood.(Twenty-two million trees outside and she comes inside to sharpen her claws.) And I’m metaphorically mudwrestling with all the computer problems I’ve been living with so patiently.



Wenches stack anne

Too many books? Impossible.

Pat says: 

Wench flowers mjp

Mary Jo's garden

Spring cleaning? What is this called spring cleaning? Every so often I get it in my head to paint a room or move the furniture and cleaning happens, but that’s seldom in spring. In spring, I’m outside in the garden. So maybe spring cleaning is hauling out dead leaves, spreading weed emergent killer, and planting pretties? Although this spring, after a rainy winter, we hired a window cleaner. All the glass in the house is now sparkly. But note, I didn’t do it!



We go to Anne. She’s nice and warm and I am all envious.

Anne here.

Even though it's autumn in Australia (we don't say "fall" — it's always "autumn") I'm approaching a kind of spring cleaning in that I'm

Wenches fend

What? You have clutter?

preparing (in between bouts of writing) to pack up my house and move out, in order for it to be renovated. Years of precious clutter are going to have to go. I'm a pack-rat, and even though I've battled this tendency for ages, teaming up from time to time with Flylady, and Marie Konda, and Feng Shui and think I've done pretty well, as I look around me, I have to confess I've only scraped the surface.

Still, there is a book to be written and a deadline creeping towards me, so that's my priority for now. If I can't manage to write AND declutter and pack up the house, I'll have to pay someone to stuff it all in boxes and store it, and I'll sort it out the other way. Like that old TV show — Your Life On The Lawn, where they'd empty a family's household goods and furniture — everything! — into the back yard, and then they'd only take back inside the things they really wanted.

Still, I'd rather do it all myself before I have to move. I don't have a date yet, so there is still a possibility I can finish a book AND pack up a house. Do you believe in fairies? No, me neither.


Susan says:

Right now the only one doing spring cleaning around here is my husband, who's outside as I write this, pushing the snowblower up and Wench Henry Meynell Rheam - A Maid Sweepingdown the driveway. So much for spring. But soon, like the the trees and flowers, we'll all be wanting to freshen up our look after the gray winter drear, emerging and blooming a little in the warmer temps and sunshine. For me, first off, I want to get fresh air in, stale air out. I like to clean a little, paint a bit, move some furniture–I want things to look and feel different once spring arrives. Really I'm not a stickler about a clean, organized home (as a mom to three boys, my housekeeping standards sank long ago!). I'll email the garden guys to do the yard clean up, sign on for a boatload of mulch, visit the garden centers and bring home some new plants and get those in–beyond that, I'm not much of a gardener (the allergies remind me of that each year!).  
Spring can be so energizing and lovely, but deadlines take precedence over seasonal changes. If there's time, I might tackle my office and sort out the papers and books, dust off the knicky-noos, or clean the closets, haul some things off to Good Will and generally straighten up. But spring cleaning is often an ideal more than a reality. This spring I'm working toward a deadline–so if I get anything done beyond opening the doors to let the fresh air dance around and blow out the old air, I'm doing good! The rest can wait a bit!    
Wench cleaning bear andreaAndrea admits cleaning isn't something she thinks about much:
Spring cleaning . . . hmmm, does that mean we only have to think about scrubbing and vacuuming four times a year? Now that’s an idea I could readily embrace! I am  not one of those people who subscribe to the “cleanliness is next to godliness” view of the world.  I do like things moderately neat, but a wee bit of dust here and there peacefully coexist. I do take a rather odd satisfaction in reordering my clothes drawers for the seasons. Winter sweaters go into storage closets as I delight in neatly folding spring top in lovely orderly piles. They look so organized . . . for about a day. My idea of luxury is having house elves, who would joyfully come in and scrub the bathroom every week. (Teddy heard me grumbling and has volunteered to take on those duties, in addition to copyediting myy manuscripts. I think he deserves an extra pot of honey.)
Mary Jo joins in with:

I've known people for whom spring cleaning is a near sacred rite, using toothbrushes to scrub Wench duck mjogrout, moving furniture to see what lurks below, and excavating cabinets and closets. 

I am not one of that breed.  I like to maintain a general orderliness, but to be honest, if I can't see dust and murky accumulations, they don't bother me.  I'm on the short side, so I am blithely unconcerned about the tops of bookcases and the dusty moldings.  My house is large, and many strange and curious things can migrate into hidden places.  On the whole, I believe in letting them rest in peace. 

Spring is often a time for general medical and dental appointments for me and the cats.  It's also a time to get the deck pressure washed and to think about what flowers to plant in the boxes out there. 

I notice flowers a great deal more than dust. <G> 


What about you? Are you planning an overhaul of the house, or your body, or your computer right about now as the seasons change?