Finding inspiration for Time and Regret

HonfleurAs writers we bandy about the word ‘inspiration’ almost as if it were an everyday occurrence. And at times, it is. But at other times, inspiration is as difficult to grasp as a low-hanging cloud.

Time and Regret was inspired by an innocent comment made to my husband during dinner one night in France and it quickly blossomed with the aid of a lovely bottle of red wine and the view of the harbour at Honfleur. That night the broad story arc took shape – but what prompted all the other moments of inspiration that followed? The street corners and village squares, character names and physical attributes, flora and fauna, streets and cafes, bits of dialogue, excursions taken and all the small details that anchor a story in a reader’s mind.

Thomas Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” To be very clear, I’m not claiming even one iota of genius, but I do understand the notion of perspiration. And unless you do the hard slogging of researching your story, fleshing out your characters, and deconstructing the story arc into chapters and scenes – the perspiration stuff – inspiration may never occur.

Time and Regret is a dual timeline story that combines a female protagonist living in 1991, Grace Hansen, with a male protagonist, Martin Devlin, serving in World War I. Martin is Grace’s grandfather. Inspiration: have Grace brought up by her grandparents and she will be particularly close to her grandfather and constantly at odds with her grandmother. Both protagonists need to be conflicted. Inspiration: something has happened to Martin during the war that he has regretted his entire life while Grace has recently suffered a nasty divorce.

There’s a hotel in France where Grace meets the charming Pierre. Inspiration: a hotel we stayed at during our trip to France. There’s a scene in a bar when Pierre and Grace enjoy a local beer. Inspiration: my son is in the beer business and has a passion for craft beers. Grace drives around northern France in a small Renault. Inspiration: a trip to Europe after graduation where my husband and I drove a small Renault. Martin joins the 19th Battalion of the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Canadian army. Inspiration: a friend loaned me a WWI diary she had purchased off eBay and from there I researched the entire record of the 19th Battalion. At the end of the war, Martin visits the Daughters of the Empire hospital. Inspiration: an extensive search for Canadian hospitals located in England during WWI. And so it goes.

Yup, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Preorder Time and Regret from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk and other Amazon sites.

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 will be 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.

Mystery + War + Romance

TodMK-TimeandRegret-22790-CV-FTWill that be one scoop, two scoops or three?

No, this is not a post about ice cream. But, if you enjoy mysteries with a small scoop of romance and a large scoop of historical fiction, then TIME AND REGRET should be your kind of novel.

But don’t rely on my opinion. Five individuals have already given their thumbs up.

With fluid prose and a keen eye for detail, M.K. Tod takes readers on a decades-spanning journey of wartime loss, family secret and ultimately, redemption.” – Holly Smith, Managing Editor, Washington Independent Review of Books

 

Spiced with mystery and a spark of romance, Time and Regret is an immersive journey into one man’s brave but terrifying slog through the killing fields of France and Flanders during World War I. Tod’s prose brims with exquisite atmospheric detail, drawing the reader into an unforgettable story. – Juliet Grey, author of the Marie Antoinette trilogy

 

Time and Regret, equally captivating and suspenseful, presents well-drawn characters who strive to resolve past mysteries and overcome present obstacles. M.K. Tod is an impressively gifted storyteller who creates relatable conflicts and believable dangers. Highly recommended. – Margaret Porter, author of A Pledge of Better Times

 

Time and Regret is something as rare as a treasure hunt with heart. Between the gritty trenches of World War I, the romantic allure of present-day France, and the cut-throat New York arts scene, M.K. Tod has spun a gripping family drama that delves deeply into the effects of war on the human soul and takes us on an intriguing journey of self-discovery. It is a book rich in hard-won wisdom and crucial historical insights, and Tod’s perceptive voice leads us unfalteringly through some of the darkest chapters in human history to a very satisfying conclusion. Anne Fortier, author of Juliet

 

Time and Regret is a hugely satisfying novel that is rich in detail with multiple layers and perfectly paced. I found it impossible to put down. Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower

Time and Regret releases August 16 in ebook, paperback and audio versions. You can preorder it on Amazon.

P.S. – don’t hesitate to spread the word

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 will be 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.

What does your plot look like?

In April, Jane Friedman – whose banner reads ‘helping authors and publishers flourish in the digital age’ – posted an article on How to Use a Plot Planner by Martha Alderson. The post presents two typical plot lines and discusses the ways authors can visualize and change their stories. For example:

The energy of a story doesn’t remain flat, just as the Plot Planner line isn’t flat. A story grows in intensity, which is reflected in the line moving steadily higher as the stakes and the energy of the story also rise.

Using a plot planner you can show scenes “where the power is somewhere other than with the protagonist above the Plot Planner line.” Scenes showing character development involving loss, failure, revenge, self-sacrifice, anger, grief, fear, rebellion and so on also go above the line.

Scenes that go below the plot planner line show “the internal, emotional territory of the protagonist”, these are often moments of character introspection and include scenes where information is shared, where a character is planning, contemplating, problem solving and so on.

My own feeling is that many of today’s readers expect more complexity from stories. They expect multiple crises leading to a climax rather than one, and even multiple protagonists, thus making the challenge of plot planning even greater.

My latest novel Time and Regret includes two story lines, one in a more present-day world and one in WWI. Each story has its own plot line, the tension of one mixing with and affecting the tension of the other. Hopefully, I’ve managed the trick of growing intensity for readers, keeping the energy rising and delivering satisfying crises and climaxes! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah does this superbly.

plot-diagram-time-and-regret

Time and Regret releases August 16, 2016 under the banner of Lake Union Publishing.

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 will be 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.