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.

 

 

 

 

A Lifelong Feminist

Articles about feminism, #MeToo, and women’s anger are everywhere. I’ve been avoiding the topic. After all, this is a blog about historical fiction. However, given the events of the past week, I can’t remain silent any longer. As a lifelong feminist, I owe it to myself and to others to share a few thoughts.

Thankfully, my story isn’t nearly as horrible as those that have captured widespread attention such as Christine Blasey Ford, Gretchen Carlson, Rosanna Arquette, and Stormy Daniels. Nonetheless, each incident remains vivid in my memory.

When I was eight or nine, my family spent several weeks of the summer sharing a cottage with another family. The fathers came up on the weekend while the mothers managed a brood of five children who were delighted to swim, invent games, and generally hang out without much supervision. No helicopter parents in those days. Ruth and I liked to wander along the dirt road that led to the cottage collecting wildflowers or bullrushes or whatever else caught our attention. One day, we stopped in front of a small ramshackle house set back from the road and noticed a man sitting on the porch.

He was a bit scruffy – although I doubt that concerned us – and he looked old to me. Of course, anyone over 30 would have looked old. He asked us if we wanted a glass of coke. We were thirsty. Coke was a treat. Ruth and I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer and followed the man inside. We sat together on a couch that had seen better days and sipped our drinks.

I don’t remember any conversation – perhaps I chattered away, perhaps I was tongue tied. But I do remember feeling shocked, when he undid his fly and pulled out his penis. Ruth and I were old enough to know that such behaviour was unacceptable and quickly fled the premises. Consistent with others who don’t report such incidents, I never told my parents.

When I was fifteen with the still developing curves of that age, I was at a family gathering. I don’t remember the occasion but I do remember the great-uncle who fondled me in a corner while sipping his gin and tonic. The first time he touched me, I thought it must be a mistake. The second time he touched me, I politely – I was a girl after all – extricated myself from his presence. I didn’t report this incident either.

When I was about 34 and working for IBM, the department I was in had a party – a staff-only party so no spouses invited. We must have been celebrating something, perhaps a successful sales year, perhaps a new product launch. At any rate, food and drinks were served and there was music and dancing. My boss asked me to dance. He was a nice guy, a bit loud and full of himself, but basically a nice guy. I said yes not thinking about the fact that it was a slow dance. A few bars into the song, when he pressed against me and I could feel his hard-on, I walked away. Never said anything about that one.

A year or two later, I had an afternoon meeting with a client. In those days, I managed a sales team and this man was one of our biggest clients. I don’t remember what we were discussing but afterwards, he asked if I’d like to have a drink. He was an important client. I said yes. When he propositioned me in a dark corner of the bar, I told him in no uncertain terms that his behaviour was unacceptable. Did I tell my boss? No. Did I tell my husband? No. I felt stupid, so I didn’t tell anyone.

As a woman working in relatively senior roles often dominated by men, there were other issues to contend with: verbal innuendos, crude talk, personal slights, opinions ignored, ideas taken by male bosses with no credit given, being excluded from after-hours events. Over the years, it adds up.

All women experience incidents such as these. Let me emphasize that – all women. It makes me furious.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with resilience, a wonderfully supportive husband, two great children, a loving family, and a great group of friends.

Thanks for listening.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – AND OCCASIONAL RANTS – 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.