Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Giveaways Ending Soon

If you love books as much as I do, you love winning free books!

You have two chances to win a paperback copy of Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure. Both giveaways end on April 30th, so get your entry in today by following the links below.

Goodreads Over the Deep Giveaway
BookLikes Over the Deep Giveaway

If you already have Over the Deep, I would love to read your review. Post a link in the comments below.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Historical Fiction Survey

The following is a guest post from historical fiction writer, MK Tod, announcing the 2015 Reader Survey.

Writers and readers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought along with their backgrounds and attitudes to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both writer and reader.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? What are their attitudes to pricing or their favourite reading blogs? These and other questions have been the subject of two previous reader surveys.

ANNOUNCING A 2015 READER SURVEY designed to solicit further input on reading habits, historical fiction preferences, favourite authors and, for the first time, favourite historical fiction. THE SURVEY WILL BE OPEN UNTIL MAY 14.

If you are a reader or a writer, please take the survey and share the link [] with friends and family and on your favourite social media. Robust participation across age groups, countries, and other demographics will make this year’s survey even more significant. Those who take the survey will be able to sign up to receive a summary report when it becomes available.

         HISTORICAL FICTION IS MAINSTREAM: Less than 2% of participants said they rarely or never read historical fiction.
         GENDER MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Women and men differ significantly in their reading habits and preferences and their views of historical fiction.
         AGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period 
and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.
         SOCIAL MEDIA IS HAVING A BIG IMPACT ON READING: Social media and online sites play an increasingly significant role for those choosing, purchasing, and talking about fiction.
         BOOK BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR: 1,473 participants listed one, two or three favourite blogs.
         GEOGRAPHY: Responses to questions such as the use of online tools for recommendations and purchasing and preferred setting for historical fiction varied by geography.
         PRICING: Sadly, readers are pushing for low prices. For example, 60% want e-books at $5.99 or less and 66% want paperbacks at $10.99 or less.
         ONLINE BOOK CLUBS ARE GAINING POPULARITY: 21% belong to online clubs while 15% belong to clubs meeting in a physical location
         VOLUME OF BOOKS READ MAKES A DIFFERENCE: for example, high volume readers have different expectations for book reviews, a higher interest in tracking their books, and higher usage of online tools and social media to augment their reading experience.

Participate in this year’s survey by clicking the link and please share the URL with others

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

For the Love of History

I am driven by my love of history. It partly directs who I am friends with, what I read, and even how I name my dogs. Though I pressed for our brother and sister pups to be named Lancaster and York, the best I could get my husband to agree to was Ragnar and Rollo. I have to admit that I am amused by tiny dogs with Viking names even if it doesn't give tribute to my favorite historical era.

Vicious Viking puppies, Ragnar and Rollo
If you're like me, you cringe every time someone asks if you are talking about the disastrous divorce movie when you refer to the Wars of the Roses or a friend admits that they aren't sure if the Revolutionary War or Civil War came first. (Yes, those comments are both sadly taken from actual conversations that I have participated in.) Why can't everyone share our love of immersing ourselves in history books and documentaries?

My love of history also motivates my writing. I don't look at research as a chore, rather I love taking on the task of bringing a historical character to life in the way that I hope best suits them. I truly believe that an understanding of the past can make us well rounded, more understanding people. Besides, the true stories of the past are almost always more interesting that any fiction that we can come up with.

I admit that I would often rather spend time with a book that takes me back 500 years than participate in current events, sometimes, I suppose, to my detriment. But I just can't help myself.

What do you do for the love of history?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Baby Nerves

Alright, so my latest manuscript isn't exactly the same thing as a new baby, but it sure feels that way as I release the result of months of research, writing, and editing to my first round of beta readers. I am excited to announce that Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen will be published later this year and can't wait to get feedback from amazing readers.

My take of Elizabeth of York's life has been a joy to write since I am passionate about this era of history. As a witness of the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the mother of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth would make one captivating dinner guest. I hope that I have captured the turmoil, emotion, and faith that drove Elizabeth and formed the world around her.

As I sent out advance copies to a few selected beta readers, butterflies swarmed my stomach, and I was assaulted with the feeling that I am revealing my very heart to people who may or may not appreciate it. Writing is a solitary activity, which this introvert is ideally suited to. Sharing my stories is much more difficult. Yet, that is the end goal. A writer opens her heart and hopes to be embraced by readers who understand her.

What was the last book and author that you felt a deep connection with? Did you let them know?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interview at The Write Chris

I was invited to be featured on Christine Henderson's blog, where I talk about writing and self-publishing. Click here to check it out!

Monday, April 6, 2015

What Were They Like?

One of the elements that I love about reading and writing historical fiction is that we can explore what historical figures were really like. How did they behave, were they happy, how can we fill in the blanks around the hard facts?

People have asked me many times how I can read books about the same people or how I can enjoy a story when I know how it is going to end. To me, it never gets old. One author's version of a person is never the same as anyone else's. I actually have a mental scale that I use when rating books about Richard III. Are they closer to Shakespeare or Penman? I love seeing how different motivations and consequences can lead up to the portions of history that we know about.

Elizabeth of York is a historical figure with many gaps to fill in her life. We know a lot about her family. As a daughter, sister, niece, wife, and mother of various kings of England, it would have been difficult to keep her a secret. But there are so many questions.

Did she love her uncle, Richard III, and did he love her? Was her marriage to Henry Tudor happy, and did she dare help him plan his attack? Upon seeing Perkin Warbeck, did she believe he was her long lost brother Richard? Did she hate Henry for killing Edward of Warwick? Was it Prince Arthur's death that drove her to try for one more son, resulting in her childbed fever death on her 37th birthday?

I could go on, but I won't. Actually, I did. My fictional take on these questions and many others are what became the basis for Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen. In the numerous novels and reference books that I have read on the Wars of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth seems to be a forgotten pawn, though she lived in the center of it all.

What do you love about reading historical fiction?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nothing on My To-Do List

I did not work for years.

Let me rephrase that. I stayed home with my three children for years, and did not hold a job outside the home.

About a year ago, I started freelance writing, which I am still thankful to be able to work on from home, but it has caused an upheaval in my daily routine. Forced to involve my kids in chores and more carefully plan my reading time, I have become accustomed to planning my day around what needs to be written today.

Since we are planning a family vacation, I put a hold on any new orders coming in. I just finished the last one. There is officially nothing on my to-do list, and I feel a little lost.

Does this mean I am going to have to do housework? Would it be lazy to spend time reading when I will soon be on vacation anyway? I am astounded that I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

But it also feels nice, quite nice.

What did you do the last time you were free of responsibilities and could relax?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Never judge a book by its cover.

Has any less followed piece of advice ever been given? We all judge books by their covers. I can almost guarantee that if I come across a book with a picture of a medieval battlefield, heraldry, or castle on the front, I am at least going to pick it up and read the back. The same book with a scantily clad lady or embracing couple will not get a second glance.

Why is this important? Because I've learned some tough lessons since I started writing and am sure to learn more. An essential one is that independent authors are their own worst enemy when it comes to book covers.

We spend months perfecting our story, formatting it for publication, and editing over and over again. Then we choose a free cover template that will inspire approximately 5 people to pick it up and read it.

I'm not just pointing a finger here. As guilty as anyone, I was cheap and impatient when I released the first edition of No Such Thing as Perfect. Here is the original cover (I only show you because we are all friends here):

About a year later, I realized my mistake and chose a designer to take my image and create something a little more impressive. Within a few days, I had this:

One is clearly professionally designed, the other not, even though they utilize the same image. Let me tell you, my first cover isn't as abysmal as others out there either, but I thought it only fair for me to pick on myself.

So, which would you be tempted to pick up? Of course, I'm hoping that you'll say the second.

For this attractive cover I had to invest a total of $10. That's right. $10. Fellow authors, we are shooting ourselves in the foot over the cost of a single paperback.

I did have the advantage with both my covers that I owned the images that I wanted to use. If you don't, your investment may double! Please, please, do so. I want to read your books, I really do. But I'm going to pass them by if you make the same mistake I made.

Do you have a cover disaster story to share?