Monday, February 28, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays - Review - The Princess and The Penis

Blurb - A beautiful, chaste, and completely naive princess encounters a strange lump in her mattress. The lump soon morphs into a shape familiar to everyone but her, triggering her curiosity and her father's greatest fears. He frantically tries to intervene, but having a large phantom phallus in a curious maiden's bed is never a good combination.

Are you looking for a light hearted read? Something perhaps on the irreverent side? Then you should definitely take a look at The Princess and The Penis. This novelette is funny, witty, cheeky and sweet. It takes an adult look at the standard fairy tales and wraps them in humour.
R. J. Silver has a unique voice and his tongue-in-cheek style will keep you giggling right up to the sigh of contentment at the end. If you can’t tell already, I really enjoyed this book. So, if you need something to brighten your mood, or just feel like a chuckle,  click on the picture to enjoy this free read.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday PicNic ~ I Loathe my Novel...Now What?

If you’re an author, I’m sure you’ve experienced the startling fearful place you reach in your novel writing, where you suddenly and fiercely loathe your story. Why does that happen? How does a magnificent idea blossom into the creation of amazing, much loved characters that bring so much fulfillment to our lives as writers, unexpectedly become a full-fledged load of crap?

I experienced this loathing while participating in the 2010 Nanowrimo. I began writing about a young girl who tries to silently cope with many hardships at home while her father spends a tour in Vietnam. In my writing style, the setting of a story oftentimes becomes a vital character; so having grown up during the Vietnam War era, I delved into my memories of that nostalgic time and infused some of my own experiences and emotions into Maddie, my main character. Reminiscing of the early 70’s was enjoyable, and my affection for this little girl turned into love. I became so invested in what happened to her, what she was feeling, and how she dealt with her hardships, that I wrote at a frenzied pace, quickly discovering new highs and lows in her life. Maddie disclosed secrets and longings that surprised even me—her creator! But half way through, the whirling love affair with my story came to a screeching halt.

“I hate my story,” I told my sister, who was also participating in Nanowrimo. “I’m thinking about scrapping the whole thing and writing a romance instead. Something light and fun. Maybe even humorous. This story is dark and sad and… I hate it.”

My sister insisted my story was good, and loved my characters, but was ineffective at changing my frame of mind. Neither the praise nor encouragement altered my aversion. What finally succeeded were her five words of guidance… “Just shut up and write!”

With loads of resistance, I wrote. I came to a fork-in-the-road in my novel and decided to take the path I’d previously decided was a dead end. This brought a new life and love to the story and characters I’d nearly abandoned. The loathing dissipated. 

So, where does our loathing come from? Why does it appear like a sudden summer storm, and cloud our thoughts? I suppose it is fear. Fear that our readers won’t love our characters like we do. Or that they won’t become as invested in our story as we have. “What if the readers of my book think my story is stupid. What if they just can’t get into it? What if they don’t understand my characters? What if….”

We can what if ourselves until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t solve anything. Indeed, when we write, those annoying shadows of doubt and clouds of loathing will creep into our heads. They’ll seep into the smallest crevices of our imagination and try to convince us our labor is in vain. But if we keep our backs against the winds of doubt and allow them to propel us forward, our novels and our sanity will persevere.

To put it simply, we just need to shut up and write!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

SumShine Saturday~~Too many cooks won't spoil the pudding

Is there such a thing as too many minds working toward a goal? After setting up this blog site with my wenches, I found the answer to be no. Each wench, strong willed and full of opinions, made an effort to consider each other's input to make it a site to be proud of. 
We need to take the same attitude with our writing.
Consider joining a writers group. There are plenty of online writing communities if crowded gatherings are not your cup of wench ale. Critiques from other writers are, for the most part, honest. They can identify things you missed.  Sometimes a writer is too close to their work to see the flaws. Did I make that sound simple? Well, its not. You must prepare yourself. The first step—develop skin thicker than the film on yesterday's pudding.
 No one wants to hear his or her writing is … well, not perfect. After reading a critique, don't respond right away. Take a breath, put it aside and look at it the next day.  Does the feedback you initially perceived as negative now seem helpful?  Be objective.  I told you it isn't easy. In order to improve, you must take a risk, let others read your work, and graciously accept feedback. Take the critiques seriously! I'm not suggesting simply taking their word at face value. You need to validate input with your own research. When you incorporate what you learn into your writing, compare it to your first draft. You will see how valuable considering others input is.
Now, where is that pudding?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Wench Pamela!

Blow out the candles
Sing Pamela a song
Celebrate a wench’s birthday
All day and night long.

For those who love teeny
Our computer wahine
Come by and play
For her birthday today.

Plunk a scoop full of ice cream
On a mega-wedge of cake
Pop a top off the bubbly
Give your Wench butts a shake.

Happy Birthday, Teeny Wench Pamela!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: The Emerald Atlas

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Childrens (14 April 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0857530186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857530189
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

They were taken from their beds one frozen night, when the world was covered in snow. The silhouette of a tall, thin man has haunted Kate ever since.

Ten years on, Kate, Michael and Emma have grown up in a string of miserable orphanages, and all memories of their parents have faded to a blur. Arriving at Cambridge Falls, the children quickly realise there is something different about this place – and Kate feels sure she has seen the dark, crooked house before.

As they exlplore, they discover an old, empty leather book. The moment they touch it, an ancient magical prophecy is set irrevocably in motion, and the children are thrown into a dangerous alternate reality of dark enchantments and terrifying monsters. Only they can prevent the terrible event that will ruin Cambridge Falls – and stop the world from falling into complete devastation.

I was fortunate to receive The Emerald Atlas as an advanced review copy. The accompanying letter warned that the moment the first chapter was read, everything else would fall to the wayside. Never have truer words been written.
The opening chapter sets the perfect tone for the book, instantly upping the pace to get your heart racing and putting you on the edge of your seat, but also envelops you with a fierce sense of love and protection.
The Emerald Atlas is told through the eyes of abandoned children Kate, Michael and Emma as they bounce from orphanage to orphanage (though they shall fervently deny they are orphans) when an un-held tongue over a swan hat lands them at the home in Cambridge Falls. The moment the children arrive at the foreboding place, they know something is amiss; and not just because there aren’t any other children living there.
The characters of Kate, Michael and Emma are strong enough to lead the reader through the story, and in the process makes you fall completely in love with them. They are charming and sympathetic and I dare anyone not to chuckle at their brotherly and sisterly antics.
As the story evolves, so does the history. Stephens does such a good job of describing his fantastical lands you forget you are reading fiction, and instead believe it is a long-lost part of history that would certainly make our own more entertaining. He throws many sub-characters into the mix, heroic and stubborn dwarves, strong and handsome giants, beautiful and deadly witches.
The Emerald Atlas will haunt your waking thoughts, and possess your sleeping ones as you try (and fail) to keep one step ahead of the story and try to figure out what twist may come next. It has an essence of Lord of the Rings, with similar creatures and powerful objects, and a heart not unlike Harry Potter, finding three children desperately clinging to the ghostly memories of their parents as they learn they aren’t as ordinary as they once thought.
The book has its fair share of heartbreak, triumphs and exhausting battles. Almost without trying, it keeps readers attention and leaves them aching to know what happens next.
The first of three books, The Emerald Atlas sets the bar for which the other two books will need to measure up. I doubt the author will have any trouble in this and I am eager to see what adventure Kate, Michael and Emma will take me on next.
I believe The Emerald Atlas has earned itself a spot among the great literary works of fantasy. Adults and children alike can fall in love with its secrets and mysteries. This book can proudly sit aside the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

Thrills, chills and other scary tips

Okay, so you want to write a scary or suspenseful scene for your short story or even your novel. What should you do? Fill it with blood? Violence? An axe wielding psychopath? Maybe. If – and only if – it suits your storyline. After all, who wants a machete wielding Jason jumping out smack in the middle of a historical romance? It’s important to be appropriate with your villains and the emotions surrounding them. Believability is vital to a suspenseful scene.
Remember to use the five senses. Draw your reader in with the coppery scent of blood underlying the cloying sweetness of spilled perfume. Make their eyes see the shine on the blade, the flat black of the gun, the tremor of a hand. Have them taste the dust floating through an old barn, the sour, bitter bile rising to choke them, the salt from warm tears. Compose a symphony of sound, the lightest footfall, the shallowest breath of air, the sudden snap of a broken branch. Delve into physical sensations, the skip of a heartbeat, the texture of rough hands on tender skin, the cold slice of wind cutting deep into marrow.
If you have engaged all five senses and still find your nail biting scene is meandering along the slowest trail, try shortening your sentences. You control the speed of the action by lengthening or shortening your sentences. Longer sentences slow a scene down. The shorter ones speed it up. Like the shower scene in the Psycho movie. Stab. Stab. Stab! Quick punches of information will fill a readers senses with the tension you want to convey.
There is one more thing. It’s a small thing, but can take your scary scene and change it into something verging on ridiculous. Exclamation points! Yes! They really can be overused! Abused! And will distract a reader from the tension you wish to create! Can you hear me yelling at you yet? Please be oh so sparing with the humble exclamation point, he’s rather shy and doesn’t like to come out all that often.
So there you have it, engage the senses, shorten your sentences, and only judicious use of exclamation points. (Wow, I sure did a lot of babbling for something that could be summed up in one sentence!) Now that you have some basics for the suspenseful scene, go write something that will make your heart pound.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday PicNic ~ I Hear Voices

I hear voices.

There are hordes of voices in my head, mumbling, chattering, even screaming—demanding I divulge their stories. Sometimes they talk fast and all at once; often at the most inopportune times. That might explain the recurrent incidents where I drop everything and frantically hunt for a pen, pencil or lip liner…anything that allows me to jot down words, ideas or remarkable quotes.

Sometimes the voices only whisper. They don’t reveal their tales so freely, so I’m forced to do grueling research into their pasts, eavesdrop on their private conversations, and wrench out their stories while they’re kicking and screaming. They make me work hard to acquire their dribble, so I retaliate by displaying their secrets for all to read (muaaah).

I’m telling you, the voices are relentless, exhausting, and make me look and act bizarre. In reality, I’m sane. No really! The head-babbling din triggers my occasional lapses of good sense and makes me forget to do the simplest tasks…such as eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom. My idiosyncrasies and blunders are all due to the distracting voices in my head. Nevertheless, telling their stories is gratifying.

To state it more simply, I'm a writer.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

SumShine Saturday~~Rejections

Rejection, refusal, denial, rebuff, denunciation, dismissal, elimination--All these words mean the same thing. In this case, it means the answer to your query letter is NO.

 Rejections are a painful part of a writer's journey.  It's like running a marathon and falling just short of the finish line.  You can see where you want to be, but must have endurance to get up and continue.  The road to publication is full of skinned knees. I wish I could offer an easy fix to the pain of a negative response in your mailbox.  Rejection is so … so brutal. I know that, but it gets easier. I promise.

 No one outside the writing world really understands the reasoning behind the drive of a writer. They cannot fathom why anyone would submit their body and mind to self-imposed, sleep deprived, solitary confinement in front of a computer writing for hours at a time. Therefore, refrain from telling anyone other than your fellow writers about your rejections. They can't empathize. Fellow writers can. After accepting their hugs, place a band-aid over your ever-thickening skin and move forward.
Every writer receives rejection letters. Like baby steps, the first one is the hardest, the next a little easier, and then you do not stumble anymore. You persevere, and head to the post office with a new pile of queries. You will never receive an acceptance letter if you don't.

Post every rejection by your desk. Someday, you will smile and say, "Those are the steps it took to get to publication."


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Security Blanket

As mentioned in About Us, I’m at the stage in my writing where it is time for me to seek representation. My novel is so polished it could give a diamond a run for its money and I’ve confidence in my work. But just because the book is ready doesn’t mean I am. Time for homework.

The way I did mine was to stock up on the best publishing books, a copy of the Writer’s Handbook (or The Writer’s Bible as I think of it) and read query and synopsis tips till my eyes bled.

This isn’t a post on how to put together the perfect submission packet or how to write the feared and dreaded query letter. It’s about a question I haven’t been able to get out of my head since reading The Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Rachel Stock.

Why do you want to publish your book?

Sounds an easy question, right?

Go on, answer it then.

It’s a question all agents and editors will ask you, and the answer you give in return is vital. Is it for money? Fame? Because your mum said it was good enough to be published? It would look nice on your desk? To have your work out there in the real world? For me, the answer was an odd one – one I didn’t even realise was true until the thought was there.

I want to be published because I want to be someone’s security blanket.

I can’t remember when I first read The Nanny by Melissa Nathan, but I remember how I felt. The warm, squishy feeling that comes with reading a deliciously romantic story, the spark of attraction with a hunk of a leading man, the awe from knowing I held something special in my hands.

Even now when I’ve had a bad day, feel blue, or just want to spend time with old friends, I pluck The Nanny from my over-crowded shelf and dive into Melissa Nathan’s charming and intoxicating world. That book is my only security blanket. I always know exactly where it is when I need it, as I inevitably do sooner or later.

And that is why I want my book published.

I want to evoke the same feelings in someone else that Melissa Nathan did in me. I want someone to close my book with a smile on their face – to gush on the phone about it, to insist their friends go out right now and get a copy. I want to make people happy. I want people to fall in love with my characters; smile when they smile, laugh when they laugh…hurt when they hurt.

Most of all, I want people to reread my book. To be unable to part with it. To pass it in a bookshop and smile, touch the cover and remember how they felt when they read it for the first time.

P xx

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays - Lost in the Forest

For your reading pleasure, a short tale of love on Valentines day.

"You've got a piece of my heart on your face."

My wandering mind snapped back to the present. "What?"

"You've got a piece of my tart on your face, I can see it, so don't try your 'Miss Innocent' act with me." Justin's hazel eyes twinkled with delight at having caught me so completely unaware.

I flushed, both with guilt for having filched his tart and for having been caught daydreaming about him. We were best friends in high school, lost touch through the college years and had just met up again recently. Unfortunately, he seemed only interested in taking up our friendship where it left off.  I, on the other hand, was having embarrassingly vivid fantasies involving the two of us: a deserted island with an amazingly well-stocked hotel room and a hammock strung between two palm trees.

"Sorry, I got hungry while I was waiting for you. Did you get it?"

"Oh man, you won't believe it, Cass, I got it! I thought the guy wasn't going to part with it but once we started talking, he realised I wasn't just collecting for the cash value but for the love of it ... he let me have it for a song!" He laughed at his play on words.

"So, show me."

He carefully pulled a box from the backpack sitting on his lap, setting it on the table between us. His voice filled with a passion I wished was reserved for me alone. "This is a seven-inch vinyl record, released in 1955 by Bell Records, in mint condition." As he pulled the record from its protective sleeve, a small sigh of appreciation escaped him. "Cab Calloway, side A - Learnin' The Blues, Side B - Unchained Melody. Can you believe it, Cass?"

The unvarnished pleasure on his face made something inside me squeeze. It was easy to create intimate fantasies about the two of us; he was sexy in that 'boy next door' kind of way. You couldn't help but want to have a taste of all that yummy goodness. But I had been careful not to let my daydreams wander farther than his sculpted body. Once the heart gets involved, you're lost. I was determined to stick to the path; the forest is only scary when you're lost in it alone.

"That rounds out your collection now, doesn't it?"

"Yeah. It's kinda bitter sweet, you know? So much of my spare time has been spent collecting all of Cab's records, recordings, anything with him in it or on it. It's done now."

I could see the bitter half of the sweet inching its way onto his features, making him look like a lost little boy, and that painful little squeeze happened again.

"We need to celebrate. What do you say to a cheap bottle of wine, Chinese take-out and The Blues Brothers?"

He raised an eyebrow in question of my choices.

"What? This is your celebration so it should be done with the things you like best. Besides, I ..."  I finished my statement on a mumble.

"What was that? Did you admit to liking The Blues Brothers?"

I nodded, rolling my eyes upward and pursing my lips to suppress a grin to match his.

"I knew it! I knew you were a closet Jazz junkie."

"I wouldn't go that far but the movie was funny and it's not all that wonky scat stuff"

"Wonky? Wonky! Just for that I get both fortune cookies."

Our banter and laughter carried us out of the cafe and continued while we picked up the evening's entertainment. My stomach kept doing flip-flops every time he touched me, and the tight little squeezy sensation came back and took up residence near the vicinity of my heart.  A fat cranberry-scented candle burned between us. Its mellow light flickered, creating interesting shadows on the plains of Justin's face as he laughed at my dismal efforts to use chop sticks.

He came around the table to show me how to hold the recalcitrant pieces of wood. His large warm hand enveloped mine. His deep voice sent small tickles of pleasure through me. His eyes sparkled and seemed to be speaking of more than friendship. I cursed myself as eight kinds of fool when he returned to his side of the table.

Sometime between the second glass of wine and the middle of the movie, I finally admitted to myself that I was in love with Justin. He was my best friend and I had no idea what to do about my newly acknowledged but not so new feelings for him.  I was well and truly lost in the forest.

When the movie ended, Justin chattered happily about Cab Calloway's part while he helped me straighten up my apartment. His voice washed over me, sending me drifting right into one of my favourite fantasies as my hands washed dishes on automatic. I came back to reality in time to catch only the last half of his question. Heart racing, I turned towards him. His eyes radiated uncertainty.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"

"Never mind, it was silly. I never should have said anything. We're great the way we are, aren't we?"

"Yes, I mean no, I mean - just ask what you asked again, please."

There must have been some of the desperate hope I was feeling reflected on my face because the strained worry left his and he flashed one of the sweetest, most dangerous, smiles I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

"I asked if you thought there could ever be anything more than just friendship between us."

My answer came out as an extended sigh. He stepped forward and placed a tentative kiss on my lips. The world tilted. I giggled from the overwhelming release of my pent-up emotions and threw my arms around him. I told him about being lost in the forest, scared because I thought I was the only one in love. He in turn told me of how he was in love with me in high school and had been thrilled to find me again. He'd been hoping for the chance to change his image as 'just a friend' into something more substantial.

We talked, cuddled, kissed and did it all again. I wanted to ask him to spend the night but I was worried it might be too soon. He must have read my mind. Laughter and love twinkled in his eyes as he spoke the words that would send us tumbling into my bed and towards our future filled with so much more of both.

"Seeing as we're lost in the forest together and it can be scary when you're there alone ..." His love filled-grin had my head nodding with anticipation before he even posed the question. "Would it be okay if I crashed here tonight?"

Picture supplied by Dreamstime

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Wenches Welcome You!

Aren't strange things supposed to happen on the thirteenth? It's not Friday the thirteenth, so no need to watch over your shoulder for a machete weilding guy named Jason. Nope, today is Sunday the thirteenth.  A day to celebrate the birth of the Wench Writers blog!

Okay, so what's so strange about the Wench Writers? Well, first of all, we call ourselves wenches, (in the servant workers sense; not the offensive use of the term.) Secondly, well I suppose you haven't read our About us section yet.

Wench Writers isn’t a brand. It isn’t artificially manufactured for gain or glory. And it definitely isn’t something boring. So that’s what we aren’t. How about what we are? Wench Writers was formed organically, more a sense of being than physical label. The truth is…anyone can be a wench writer. All we ask is you share the same thing that brought us four together – an insane, all-consuming, unbridled passion for writing. Sounds easy, right? Well it is.

Click the Follow button and become an official Wench!

We will review books, and if possible, talk with editors, agents and publishers.  Being generous (and sometimes wacky) wenches, we'll share the good stuff with you.

So, Welcome to our blog! Mirriam-Websters online dictionary (a writer’s best friend) has two definitions for welcome. We prefer the second – to accept with pleasure the occurrence or presence of. For as cliché as it sounds, it is our pleasure to have you here on this special day. We hope you will take some time to explore our blog and enjoy what we have to share with you. Enter our contest. For those looking for a browse, stop by the Wenches pages for a read of their writing. Ask us questions. We are here for writers and readers alike.

You’re gonna love being a Wench (or Woncho).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Very First Wench Writers Giveaway!

Welcome to the first giveaway here at Wench Writers!


The Wenches have compiled a list of their favourite books about writing. The lucky winner can pick from one of the four books shown above. This contest is open internationally. The book will be bought brand new for the winner, and shipped anywhere the Book Depository does.

Entering couldn't be simpler. All you have to be is a follower of the blog. Fill out the form below and be entered into the giveaway for the book of your choice.

Now, there are extra points up for grabs. The more points, the better your chances of winning! The choice is up to you - do one or do them all. A total of 24 entry points are available.

+1 point  for following the Wench Writers blog

+1 point (each) for following the Wenches' individual blog
Pamela       All About Me
Summer     J.M. Powers Romance
Summer2   Stellar Surprise
Nic             Scripts, Scribbles and Snapshots
Rain           Rain Chapman - Author

+1 Point (each)  for following the Wenches on Twitter

+1 point (each)  for liking and friending the Wenches on Facebook

+ 1 point for mentioning this contest on Facebook

+1 point for tweeting about this contest

+10 points for blogging about this contest.

The contest closes on Sunday, February 27th at midnight EST. Any entries after that time will not be accepted. We will announce the lucky winner on Friday 4th of March.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Join the wenches for the blog launch party on  the 13th of February 2011 at 2:00 PM EST!
Meet the women behind the ink, take part in our awesome giveaway and make some friends.
Hope to see you here!
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