If I were clever …

Four (!!) years ago, I posted Writing a Series Backwards. In that post, I explained that I was writing a novel about two women called Camille and Mariele, which was set in 1870 Paris.

If I were cleverer or a more experienced writer, I would have written my novels as a series. Planned them out in such a way that novel one would have naturally led to novel two and so on. Many readers love series because they become invested in the characters and like familiar friends, they wish to enjoy their company again and again picking up from when they last met. And publishers appreciate the ongoing reader interest and revenue that comes with it.

But I wasn’t that clever.

Paris In Ruins has taken the long road to publication: rejected by Lake Union Publishing who had published Time and Regret, the nail-biting search for an agent, almost two years with an agent who was unable to sell it, months of deciding whether to toss it out or proceed with self-publishing, and then months of reshaping, rewriting and editing. I even did another editing pass after an author who gave me a wonderful endorsement pointed out a few flaws.

Paris in Ruins was prompted by readers’ questions about an earlier novel Lies Told in Silence. That story begins in 1914, when a young woman called Helene Noisette leaves Paris along with her mother, grandmother, and younger brother to escape the threat of war by moving to the fictional town of Beaulieu in northern France. Helene’s grandmother, Mariele, is a widow in her mid-sixties, a woman whose past holds tragedy and secrets.

To my delight, readers were taken with Mariele and the role she played in Helene’s coming of age. They wanted to know more about her. 

What could Mariele’s story be? I pondered this question for a while and eventually asked: What if I went back to a time when Mariele was a young woman and the historical events that might have shaped her life? I did the calculation and landed in 1870. A quick search led me to the Franco-Prussian war, the siege of Paris and the Paris Commune. Wonderful! War, destruction, death, starvation, and a ruthless insurrection – all that drama. Surely, I could cook up something.

A second character threads her way through Lies Told in Silence – Camille Noisette, Mariele’s sister-in-law. Although Camille died before 1914, she features in that story through the memories of Mariele and through her house, which is located just outside the village of Beaulieu.

Two capable women. A friendship. A siege and an insurrection. Throw in a dash of unscrupulous behavior, some clandestine activities, an element of romance, the desire to protect those you love and to serve your country, and voilà, as the French say.

I’m excited to share Paris In Ruins with readers. Stay tuned for pre-order and publication details.


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 AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Ladies of the Civil War

Author G.S. Carr provides the backdrop for a series she’s written about women of the Civil War. She’s also written The Cost of Love series and one book in Westward Home & Hearts series. When not crunching numbers and gushing over spreadsheets, she’s creating stories. Her tagline is Heart, hope and love to last through the ages. Many thanks for visiting today, GS.

Women have been kicking butt and taking names for centuries. They have defied cultural and societal expectations, resulting in many great feats of courage and changes to our world on both a micro and macro level. In honor of the many wonderful women of the past that have laid the groundwork for where we are today and where we will go in the future, I wanted to create a historical romance series based on a set of brave women, fighting for a set of principles they believe in. 


This is how my newest series Ladies of the Civil War came to be. While watching a documentary about the Civil War with my husband I heard a brief mention of a woman who was in the Andersonville Confederate prisoner camp. Needless to say, that inspired me to embark on a research road trip. It was such a great experience being able to drive down to Georgia and visit the historical Andersonville site. Below is a picture I took of what the fort looked like while in use. 

During this trip not only did I leave with a new respect and deeper understanding of what many male soldiers went through. I also learned about some of their brave wives who accompanied them in the encampments. Now for those of you who are history aficionados this may not be news to you. But for this young lady who barely made it out of high school U.S. History, my mind was blown (writing historical romance has sparked my now love of learning about history). 

Andersonville Prison

Also during this trip, I found a gem of a book titled, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil Warby DeAnne Blanton and Lauren Cook Wike. If you’ve never read this book, I highly recommend it. It helped to further expand my understanding of the various roles women assumed during the Civil War. From spies, to nurses, to soldiers, and much more, they were amazing. The book highlights several women who disguised themselves as men to fight in various battles. For example, Sarah Emma Edmonds, who went by the alias Pvt. Franklin Thompson and served with the 2ndMichigan Infantry.

During further research I found out about a woman named Cathay Williams. She enlisted in the Army under the name William Cathay on Nov. 15, 1866 (post Civil War) when she was only 22 years old.

 Cathay was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry and traveled throughout the West with her unit. Her bravery makes her go down in history as the first documented black woman to enlist in the Army (even though U.S. Army regulations forbade the enlistment of women at the time).

I was honored to learn about this amazing woman! I stand upon her shoulders, and the shoulders of many other women just like her, who bucked the status quo and changed the course of history. My hope is to live a life worthy of their sacrifices and create a new wrung in the ladder for the next generation. 

So needless to say, I had to give these women a story. The inspiration was too good not to use. And that is how three women, Henrietta, Ruth, and Abigail came to be. During a slightly inebriated game of cards, these friends make a promise that they will all find a way to serve the Union Army. And if navigating how to fulfill their promise wasn’t enough of a challenge, of course I had to toss in how they try to navigate the complicated landscape of love. 

Book one, Lady of Secrets, is already available on Amazon. Book two, Lady of Disguise, will be released soon. Henrietta is catapulted down a path of intrigue, coded messages, and intelligence operations. And Ruth disguises herself as a man to fight as a Union solider. 

These books were so much fun and an absolute honor to create. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Happy Reading!  

I understand your fascination with women serving in the army, GS. I remember reading of several women who served alongside men when I was writing my WWI novels. Such courage is hard to fathom.

Lady of Secrets by G.S. Carr ~~ Henrietta Wright is a Free Colored woman who teaches reading and writing to anyone who enters her classroom. At least she was, until a drunken night with friends catapults her down a path of intrigue, coded messages, and intelligence operations. All in service of the Union Army. She can’t tell anyone what she’s doing, including the handsome Irishman she knows she shouldn’t want, but can’t seem to resist.

Since stepping onto American soil, Elijah Byrne’s only goal has been to survive another day. That is until Henrietta burst into his life and made him want more. She was never meant to be his – her fiancé can attest to that – but she makes him long for things men like him aren’t lucky enough to have. When she asks for his help, he can’t resist tumbling with her into a clandestine expedition that could cost them everything—including their lives.


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 AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Telling History

In Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA, author Jerry Blanton illustrates the importance and effect of the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the rise of feminism, equal rights, the Gay Liberation Movement, music and much more. Having personally lived through these times, I’m eager to hear his thoughts on writing history — or as Jerry says, telling history.


Telling History by Jerry Blanton

My love of history began as the son of an NCO in the United States Air Force. Through my first twelve years, I was raised on or around air bases of the Strategic Air Command. One day I accompanied my father to an airfield where I saw silver jets: fast fighters like the F-86 and massive bombers like the B-29s and the B-36s. I was awed by their power and speed. Airbases often exhibited older fighters: P-38s, P-47s, or P-51s. Dad explained those were planes from World War Two. Then I asked about wars, whom we fought, when and why. He explained what he knew.

By three years old, I read and wrote because my older sister taught me what she had learned at school. I became a storyteller, and I read, devouring classic comic books about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Julius Caesar and the conquest of Gaul. I read my family’s large illustrated Bible about Saul, David and Solomon, and the Christ. We lived in Japan, and my questions became broader and deeper: Why are Japanese so different from Americans? Why did we fight them? Why are we no longer enemies? My parents acquired a set of books called A Picturesque Tale of Progress, which revealed history from prehistoric times until the founding of modern democracies. I read all nine books by nine. From libraries, I read history about the United States. In fifth grade, I gave a memorized speech on the Civil War. While most students spoke five to fifteen minutes, I gave an hour-long overview of the Civil War, discoursing on major battles, the generals on each side, the number of troops, how the battles were fought, and the killed and wounded until the other students and the teacher were glaze-eyed.

A bona fide history buff, my favorite readings are histories and biographies. My first attempt at historical fiction in 1980 was a semi-autobiographical novel of a baby boomer from birth through the sixteenth year and titled Boom! (self-published 2010).

In 2009, I began a historical novel told in flashbacks about a former master and former slave who became business partners after the Civil War, and I self-published it (2011). Ex-slave Moses and ex-master Joshua left the South, went west, and wound up creating a ranch in the mountains of New Mexico: The Sunrise Valley Ranch. I researched to set it in the West during conflicts with Native Americans. The book is titled Long Shot, which is a double entendre. Joshua had been a Confederate sharpshooter picking off Union officers from a distance with a powerful rifle; his decision to live and work together with Moses was an idealized attempt to heal the wounds of slavery, another long shot. A main character of the novel is Marshal Buster Kendrick who tries to solve a series of robbery/killings, and whose trail leads him to the Sunrise Valley Ranch.

In 2014, I got a telephone call from a man with an idea for a novel about a German Christian doctor who wound up being a U-boat commander in WW2. He claimed it was based on a true story. I met the caller who showed me his research and a one-page plot outline. He said, “I’m not a writer. Do you think you could write the book?” I said I could, and we signed a contract. I would earn the first $95,000, and we would split whatever the book made after that. I had to research on-line because I had never been to Germany and was not an expert on U-boat operations. After two and a half years, I completed the manuscript, but I found my partner had cardiovascular disease and had been hospitalized and nearly died. I wanted a professional editor to review it, but he hedged, so I said I would pay for the editing. The developmental editor turned the book into a very good novel primarily through deletions (too many footnotes and one inconsistent passage). iUniverse published the book, and I chose the graphics. The book Nightmare Enemy, Dream Friend (2016) has received good reviews and compliments from readers. The narrative is told in the third person about Luther Weitgucker born in 1911 in Dresden. Raised a Christian, he goes to med school and graduates in 1936. By then, Hitler has been in power for three years, so Luther finds he cannot grow a private practice. To feed and shelter his young family, he joins the Kriegsmarine. Luther becomes a very good submarine commander (a nightmare enemy to the British and Americans), but he is not a Nazi and adheres to his Christian values and his medical ethics and tries to save sailors from ships he sinks, including a Welsh captain and fellow Christian, with whom he becomes friends (a dream friend).

Researched and written over two and a half years, my current book concerns the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. Since I lived then, my research involved making sure of dates and events and discovering background information. This narrative is told in first person by one twin brother: Matt Conklin. He and his brother Max are intelligent but are not exactly alike. Both doubt the necessity of the war but take different routes. Matt seeks alternative service to fighting while Max joins ROTC and goes to ‘Nam as a military journalist. The story spans from 1963 (the twins are high school seniors) to 1975 (when the war finally ends). Along the way, they encounter racism, feminism, the beginning of LGBTQ rights, antiwar radicals, and psychedelic drugs—all the turmoil of those years. Matt is spiritually sensitive, and ghosts (his killed buddies, some famous people, and deceased lovers) appear to him and ask things of him. The book published in September this year is titled Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA. It has gotten an early good review and, surprisingly, seems to appeal to millennials, grandchildren of the boomers.

Many thanks, Jerry. Your post reminds me how serendipity and personal history play a role in the stories we write. 

Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA by Jerry Blanton ~~ It is the early sixties as Matt Conklin and his twin brother, Max, graduate from high school amid interesting yet chaotic times that include the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the rise of feminism, gay rights, and the use of psychedelic drugs. Matt and Max could not be more different in their views of war, civil rights, and the part physical chemistry plays within relationships.

Matt is a romantic idealist who stands up to civil rights abuses and the atrocities of war. While pursuing his dream of becoming a writer, he crosses paths with bigots, women who want to marry him, antiwar radicals, drug dealers, and gay friends struggling for societal acceptance. After he becomes a teacher to the disadvantaged, Matt craves intellectual stimulation and experiments with drugs. But what no one knows is that the spiritually sensitive Matt is receiving visits from ghosts who ask things of him. As the years pass, will Matt emerge from his struggles determined to live his truth or resigned to live a life he never wanted?


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.