Popular Posts from 2013

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Last week, I listed popular posts from 2012 as a way of sharing past writing with new readers and of curating a list for future reference. Today, I’m featuring a few of the most popular posts from 2013.

Writing Historical Fiction – Greatness and Great Times … in which I explored a perspective shared by Hilary Mantel who doesn’t “believe in inventing greatness where none exists” and “feels she can write about greatness only in historical moments that have already proved ripe for its flourishing. [Mantel] believes that there are no great characters without a great time; ordinary times breed ordinary people”. The post looks at favourite historical fiction authors and the times (as of 2013) they’ve written about.

Historical Fiction Preferences – Publishers versus Readers … in this post, I had a look at the time periods publishers were publishing in 2013 compared to what participants of the 2012 reader survey listed as their favourite time periods to read. Conclusion? Readers and publishers seemed to be at odds. I wonder if that’s still the case today?

Favourite Historical Fiction … I listed a few of my favourites and invited others to add theirs. The result is an excellent list of favourite historical fiction. In 2015, I invited over 2000 participants to list their favourite historical fiction and published that list as well, in case you’re searching for something to read!

Historical Fiction Blog – Burton Book Review … an interview with Marie Burton who has been reviewing books – particularly historical fiction – for more than ten years. Marie’s blog – Burton Book Review – is still going strong.

What’s in a Nameotherwise known as how I chose my pen name, M.K. Tod 🙂 

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Looking back – and looking forward

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Something seems to be happening at A Writer of History. Let me explain. Attracting followers is a slow process. For the longest time, you think no one is interested – or maybe that’s just my own insecurity talking. However, during the past year, new followers have emerged at a higher pace than ever before and the number of daily views is also up. Hmmm.

So … I thought new viewers (as well as those of long standing) might be interested in some of the most popular posts from the past. Today I’m sharing posts from 2012 that attracted a lot of attention. I’ll look at other years over the next week or so and perhaps ultimately create a dedicated page for them.

From the World of Historical Fiction – Readers Share Their Perspectives (2012) … a link to the 2012 reader survey.

Historical Fiction Would Be Better If … 588 readers responded with enthusiasm to the question “what detracts from your enjoyment of historical fiction”

Top Historical Fiction Authors – 2012 Survey Results … 602 survey participants provided their favourite historical fiction authors in the 2012 reader survey. Most of those nominated in 2012 were also on the surveys conducted in 2013 and 2015.

Historical Fiction – Four Top Book Blogs … readers selected their favourite historical fiction blogs/sites. Three of the top four from 2012 are all still going strong.

I interviewed owners/bloggers from each top site. Richard Lee’s interview from the Historical Novel Society captured a lot of attention.

Insights from Hit Lit and Author James W. Hall … I read Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers looking for insights. This is the first of three posts about the book. More Features of Hit Lit is the second post and Hit Lit – the final six features is the third.

Top Ten Ingredients of Historical Fiction … Having read Hit Lit, I then analyzed interviews with and reviews of top historical fiction authors, looked at articles on the ‘popularity of historical fiction’, and the top three reasons people read historical fiction from the 2012 reader survey. I pulled these together into the top ten ingredients.

As always, I welcome your feedback. In terms of looking forward, I want a new theme for A Writer of History and hope that looking back will help.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

 

Integrating symbols into a story – by Rebecca Rosenberg

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California native Rebecca Rosenberg writes historical fiction. She was on the blog a while ago talking about her debut novel, The Secret Life of Mrs. London. Beyond writing, Rebecca and her husband, Gary, operate the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. Welcome back, Rebecca.

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Have you noticed symbols in fiction books you read? Do you like them?

I love what they do in a story! Especially if they are well integrated into the story and change in meaning along the way.

Here are a few examples from my new novel GOLD DIGGER, the Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor, and a few from other authors. I hope these examples will make you think of others.

PEACOCKS! In the beginning of the story, Baby Doe has a peacock fan, a symbol of her beauty and pride. She has never seen a peacock and has always wanted to, so it also stands for her unfulfilled dreams and wishes. Mid-story, she quotes that the eyes of a peacock feather can see the future, which is unknown and uncertain for her. She tells the Silver King, Horace Tabor, she would love to see a real peacock. After they are married, he brings her a hundred; a symbol of his extravagant love for her. The Tabor’s neighbors complain about the peacocks and when they lose their fortune, Baby Doe has to sell all the beautiful birds.

SILVER DOLLARS! Horace Tabor gives silver dollars away to everyone he meets as a symbol of his open-handed generosity, which gets out of hand. At his funeral, everyone gives Baby Doe silver dollars as a tribute to him.

In GOLD DIGGER, Baby Doe Tabor is deathly afraid of the Chinese miner foreman, Chin Lin Sou, since she’s never seen Chinese people before. Chin scares people with his towering height of 6 feet, 6 inches, incongruous blue eyes and few words. Imagine her fear when she has to work side-by-side with Chin in the gold mine! However, when she is in trouble, Chin transforms himself to a Pixiu and protects her through many dangerous situations.

PIXIU! A Pixiu is a mythological Chinese creature who protects its human master. Pixiu have the frightening head of a horned dragon and the fierce body of a lion, with clawed feet and feathered wings which fly between Heaven and Earth. Pixiu crave the smell of gold and silver and like to bring their mastersprecious ore in their mouth. Pixiu is said to have feathered wings with which can fly between heaven and earth.

In THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON (2019 Gold Medal winner of world’s largest book competition, the IPPY’s) is about the love triangle between Houdini, Jack London his wife, Charmian. Symbols have a lot of meaning.

Jack London dictates his stories to his wife, Charmian, who types up his work on her trusty Remington typewriter. They spend every morning together, with him telling her stories, then in the afternoons she edits and embellishes them. Charmian always serves Jack, and he likes it that way. Later, when Charmian starts writing her own books, she gets him a new-fangled ediphone to record his stories for a secretary to type up later. Through these symbols, we understand that the London’s relationship is changing and Charmian is standing up for herself. Jack throws the ediphone at a palm tree and breaks it, unhappy with the change.

FOOD! In THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, Charmain has a sensual relationship with food, which symbolizes her unrequited love/lust for her husband, Jack London, and her taste for the exotic and unusual, which is both Houdini and Jack. Charmian loves Dungenous crabs, oysters, raw bonita fish…and in Hawaii, she eats fried masala and in New York, gooey Gogosi pastries and cheese and mushroom strudel.

SUFFRAGETTE DOLL. Perhaps my favorite symbol is Bess Houdini who carries a suffragette doll in her carpet bag. The doll is a symbol of the children she longs to have, and also the times where women have not yet earned the right to vote. Former showgirl Bess Houdini is the least likely person for educated Charmian London to befriend, and yet what the doll symbolizes is meaningful for both of them. Bess gives Charmian the doll when she leaves for Hawaii, symbolizing their shared desires.

I asked my author friends for examples of symbols and their meanings from their novels.

From author Martha Conway: “In my novel THIEVING FOREST, Susanna Quiner follows her five older sisters after they’ve been abducted from their Ohio cabin in 1806. She takes with her a turkey hen bone, which her father, now dead, found in a field after a herd of buffalo ran through it, and he gave it to Susannah. It is Susanna’s symbol of luck, and of family, and of change. (It was the last buffalo they ever saw.) Later, after she loses the bone, she receives a necklace of turkey hen bones from a Chippewa chief as a symbol of good will.”

 

From author Ann Howard Creel: “In my upcoming novel, MERCY ROAD, the main character wears a baby locket given to her by her father as a symbol of his love.  After she loses everything in a fire except what she was wearing at the time, including the locket, she also sees it as a symbol of survival.  Later in the novel she passes it on to someone headed to the front in hopes that he survives.

In THE UNCERTAIN SEASON, a wealthy socialite gives a homeless waif a blue satin evening gown as a gift, so it begins as a symbol of well wishes.  But the dress ends up causing harm to the girl, therefore it transforms into a symbol of misguided charity and the gap between the social classes.”

So, what symbols have you noticed in the novels you’ve read?

How interesting, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing how you and others have woven symbols into your novels. I don’t consciously do this, however, I’ve had readers comment on the symbolism they’ve found 🙂 

GOLD DIGGER, The Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor, by Rebecca Rosenberg.  When Baby Doe’s family loses everything in a fire in 1878, the twenty-year-old is forced to marry and go west to prospect a gold mine. Abandoned and running the mine alone, she finds true passion with Silver King Horace Tabor, married and twice her age. When scandal and economic ruin threatens Tabor’s life, Baby Doe is forced to make a painful choice.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.