The Life of a Blog

Today, I’m looking back at the journey I’ve taken with A Writer of History. And no … this is not the end of A Writer of History. Just an opportunity to contemplate how it has evolved.

It all began early in 2012, when I decided to “push the reset button” and create a new blog to focus on the writing of historical fiction. I’d kept an earlier blog (now defunct) called One Writer’s Voice where I wrote about the business of writing and the notion of being an author entrepreneur. Ultimately, though, I decided to shift gears and create A Writer of History. You can find that first blog post about new beginnings here.

The last seven (!!) years have been a wonderful experience. One that has connected me with many authors, bloggers, and readers, and I’m grateful to all of you who have come along with me on the journey, to those who have contributed thoughts and content, and to those who visit from time to time. I’ve written 817 posts (818 if you include this one). And visitors have grown from 964 in 2012 to over 56,000 in 2018. Never would have imagined that!

At the beginning, I decided to survey those who read fiction with an emphasis on historical fiction. I thought a survey might be useful and I could share the results on A Writer of History. One of the results from that survey was a list of Top Historical Fiction Authors and from there I went on to interview some of those authors including Elizabeth Chadwick, C.W. Gortner, Hilary Mantel, Jacqueline Winspear, Margaret George, Helen Hollick and many others. I also interviewed bloggers who focused on historical fiction included Amy Bruno, Richard Lee,

Because I was writing novels set during WWI, I included many posts exploring my findings – from fashion, to military strategy, to WWI trench standing orders.

At some point, I began to receive book review requests – the first one being The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer. I was astonished to be asked for a review … imagine, someone ‘out there’ had noticed my little blog. I have to confess that I don’t do many of those anymore given that reading and then reviewing is such a time commitment. Instead, I invite authors to guest post or be interviewed, which also offers a chance to feature something about their latest novel as well as a book cover.

Over the years, various topics have attracted my interest: the role of social media and reading, the life of an author, the excitement of historical research, the daunting challenge of marketing, my self-publishing journey, and the joy of being published. I’ve also included snippets from my own writing and sources of inspiration including my grandparents’ photos and mementos.

I belong to three book clubs and have often posted about our book selections and the lively discussions we have. And for several years now, I’ve posted ‘A Year of Reading’ list with brief thoughts on each novel read that year.

More surveys followed in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Each survey was an opportunity to discover more about the world of reading and to explore what the findings mean for authors. Although time consuming, the surveys have prompted much interest and I’ve used some of the insights in my own writing and marketing as have others.

My first novel Unravelled was self-published in 2013 followed by Lies Told in Silence in 2014, and then Time and Regret was published by Lake Union in 2016 – I posted about them here and you celebrated with me.

A few years ago, I decided to focus on a themeInside Historical Fiction – to look under the covers of historical fiction and illuminate those attributes that make it different from contemporary fiction. Many writers and readers contributed their thoughts. Another theme was Successful Historical Fiction. Last year’s theme was Transported in Time and Place which began with Dazzled by a Green Door. I’ve written about the purpose of historical fiction and compiled a list from the 2015 survey of favourite historical fiction novels. Another popular series were the WWI letters home from my husband’s great-uncle who served in France and Africa. I tagged these Somewhere in France and Somewhere in Africa.

On the blog you can also find writing tips from well-known authors like Emma Darwin and personal postsWill the Real M.K. Tod Please Stand Up; Grateful for Every Day (a post following the plane crash my husband and I survived), and one on my own #metoo experiences called A Lifelong Feminist.

Much to my delight, in 2016 Writers Digest selected A Writer of History for its list of 101 Best Websites for Writers – and they repeated the honour in 2018. I’m grateful for the acknowledgement of what we’ve built together.

So my friends, it’s been a rewarding journey. You’ve helped me along the way by cheering me on, adding your voice, and contributing your posts. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to much more.

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.

 

 

 

 

6 Signs that you’re OUT OF CONTROL

I’m OUT OF CONTROL – there, I’ve admitted it. Feels better although I know that will be fleeting. What brought on this particular episode? I can’t find an email from an author who asked for an endorsement – and if you are that author, please email me ASAP. I’ve looked through every email received in the last six weeks – nada. I looked through my sent emails – zilch. I looked through deleted emails – same result. WTF, I muttered.

Many of you are aware that being a writer these days is a challenging mission. In fact, there are so many barriers to getting an agent and then to getting published, it’s a wonder any of us remain sane. Most of us blog, we’re on various social media, we collaborate with other authors, we build and execute marketing plans – oh, and did I mention, we write novels?

Here are 6 signs that you’re out of control.

  • Your desk is a horror show – piles of papers, a slew of stickies on topics from ‘sign up for Instagram’ to ‘call Mom’ to ‘make sure X character has a hobby’, coffee cups where the residue on the bottom has started to go moldy, empty bags of your favourite snack, an article you clipped out months ago because it was crucial (can’t remember why), a card you intended to send for a friend’s birthday that happened over a week ago, and so on.
  • There’s nothing checked off on the To Do list you wrote a month ago. That is if you even find time for such lists. In my former career, such lists used to be part of my daily routine, as did the notebooks I used to capture ideas, document meetings, record commitments and so on. I was a very organized person – emphasis on the past tense.
  • You have so many emails in your inbox (or inboxes), you’re thinking of declaring email bankruptcy – yes, there is such a term. My husband did that at least once. But, of course, you’re frantic that there’s at least one life-altering email in the pile.
  • You’ve neglected to pay one of the freelancers you rely on and not surprisingly, she’s reluctant to take on any more work for you.
  • You’re so pale from being huddled at your desk that your husband, child, best friend, mother (whoever cares about you) thinks you’re seriously ill. Other symptoms of desk huddling are rounded shoulders, a bad back, weight gain and the jittery feeling that comes from too much caffeine.
  • You spend waste time on your favourite social media venue instead of tackling critical tasks. This is one of my bugaboos … when I can’t face the challenges, I hop on Facebook. Shaking my head as I admit this.

I’m sure there are more signs, but I haven’t got time to think of them 🙂 Feel free to add your experiences or thoughts in the comments.

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.

Writing is like no other career

My messy deskWalking from the kitchen where I had just had breakfast to my office (OK, it’s a bedroom with an alcove for a desk), a thought struck me: writing is like no other job I’ve ever had.

A quick explanation of my past: 5 years developing software at a telecom research company, 10 years at IBM in both technology and sales roles, 14 years in consulting (so now you’re getting the idea of how old experienced I am). And now, 6 plus years writing. So here’s my list of why writing is such a different occupation:

  • NO ONE GIVES YOU A JOB DESCRIPTION – except all the writers who’ve written books on writing and the professors who teach writing, everyone of them with something different to say
  • NO ONE REVIEWS YOUR JOB PERFORMANCE – except thousands (wouldn’t that be nice) of readers, none of whom have met you
  • NO ONE MONITORS YOUR WORK – except that little voice in your head or occasionally, if you are lucky enough to get a publisher, an editor who sets deadlines for each of an incredible number of revisions
  • YOU HAVE NO COLLEAGUES – no one to bitch to, no one to go for coffee with, no one to discuss difficult problems with
  • YOU HAVE NO BOSS – many would say this is a good thing but in my experience bosses can help set direction, clarify priorities, help you see the big picture or negotiate the politics
  • YOU HAVE NO SUBORDINATES – which means no one who seeks your guidance or to whom you can delegate
  • YOU RECEIVE NO REGULAR INCOME – in fact you can work for years and earn nothing, zip, zero, nada
  • YOU HAVE NO BENEFITS – forget pension, there isn’t even a medical plan
  • YOU REGULARLY DISCARD YOUR WORK PRODUCT – who else would put hours and hours into a small paragraph and later delete it?
  • YOU AGONIZE OVER COMMAS, ADVERBS, WORDS IN GENERAL – writing in many other careers only has to be ‘good enough’
  • IT NEVER MATTERS WHAT YOU WEAR TO WORK – even pyjamas are acceptable

That’s my list, what’s on yours?

Oh, and by the way, I LOVE WRITING!

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 and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.