Missing in Action …

Dear friends – since beginning A Writer of History in 2012, I’ve posted twice a week almost every week. While there were times when I struggled to find a topic that would illuminate the topic of reading and writing historical fiction, for the most part the creative juices flowed with the able and welcome assistance of other authors, readers, and bloggers.

However, the last two or three months have been a challenge. Not only have I worked very hard alongside the wonderful team of volunteers putting on this year’s HNSNA – Historical Novel Society North America – conference, but I have also released Paris In Ruins and dealt with my increasingly frail mother. The workload has been heavy.

Beyond that, my mother’s decline has been difficult to watch and has affected me emotionally, draining my usual can-do attitude and approach to life.

Please bear with me …

On the good news front, on Thursday, author Sarah Taylor will share thoughts on dialogue and character in historical fiction. And when the conference is over, I’ll be able to share my notes from some of the panels and presentations I’ve moderated. So stay tuned!

Many thanks for your ongoing interest and support.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, PARIS IN RUINS, is available for pre-order on Amazon USAmazon CanadaKobo, and Barnes&Noble. An earlier novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Looking back – and looking forward

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.


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.


The Writer’s Toolbox

Best-selling author Kate Forsyth is conducting a workshop at the next Historical Novel Society Conference which takes place in June 2017 in Portland Oregon. I asked Kate to give a description of the workshop and it sounds fabulous. If you aren’t already signed up for the conference, please consider it! A great place to mingle with readers, bloggers and authors in the historical fiction community …. and you can sign up for Kate’s workshop as well.

THE WRITER’S TOOLBOX – a workshop with author Kate Forsyth

Writing is an art, and therefore mysterious and intuitive. But it is also a craft, like building a cathedral or weaving a tapestry. And just like any other craftsperson, a writer must acquire the tools of their trade.

Learning how to best use these tools is part of the writer’s journey towards mastery … and it does not matter how long you’ve been writing or how many stories you’ve created. There is always something new to be discovered (and sometimes re-discovered).

I have written more than forty books, of all shapes and sizes, and every single one has thrown up new problems to be solved and required new skills to be learned. And, of course, what can be learned can also be taught. I love teaching creative writing; I love seeing that moment of epiphany on someone’s face when something that had been incomprehensible suddenly becomes pellucid.

I have taught barefoot children in schools with dirt floors and lectured to academics from all over the world at Oxford University. I have run writing retreats in Fiji, Greece and the Cotswolds, and given masterclasses from Aberystwyth to Alice Springs, Chicago to Chichester, Singapore to the Scottish Borders. In Australia, my home country, my workshops have been known to book out in minutes.

Yet every single workshop I teach will be different. Until I meet the people who have come to spend one hour or one day or a week of their lives with me, I will not know what it is that they need. Often they do not know themselves.

How to create characters that seem alive. How to spin a story that is so riveting, so compelling, that the reader becomes addicted to it, unable to stop turning the pages, wishing it would never end. How to still the shrill voices in your head and find that place of intense and single-minded focus. How to control your reader’s physiological reactions to your story, so that their heartbeat quickens and the hairs stand up on their skin.

Words are nothing more but black marks on white paper, and yet they have the power to enchant, seduce, anger, disgust, and reduce to tears. Margaret Atwood said ‘a word after a word after a word is power.’

So find your hammer and chisel, sharpen your axe and your auger, lay out your squares and templates, and prepare to learn how to design the architecture of your own imaginary cathedral.

Many thanks for telling us about it, Kate!

You can discover more about the conference by clicking this link.

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, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. 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.