18 December 2017

Special Guest Interview with Author M K Tod


Available on Amazon US

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Today I would like to welcome author Mary K Tod:

Tell us about your latest book

Time and Regret is a dual-timeline story set in World War One and the early 1990s. And if that wasn’t enough of a challenged, I also decided to make it a mystery. Here’s the premise: when Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. 

In the box are his WWI diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve the puzzle her grandfather has left her, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her.

What is your preferred writing routine?

You did say preferred, didn’t you, Tony. Like many writers, when I’m in the grip of a story, I could write all day every day. However, there’s also life to be lived! To begin with, I’m a planner, so I outline every novel chapter by chapter using a format I developed while working on my second novel. 

Usually, I get to my desk shortly after breakfast with a cup of coffee to get me started. I try to get up from my desk every two hours for some sort of break – sitting at the laptop all day is definitely not good for your back, your posture and, in my case, my right shoulder! One morning a week, I do blog posts and at some point each day I check on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to see what’s going on. If I can write a whole chapter—a big if—I count the day a huge success.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

A few thoughts come to mind. (1) Treat your writing seriously. It’s hard work and you only improve by writing regularly with some sort of plan or objective in mind. (2) Find a story you’re passionate about. You’re going to spend a lot of time with your story and your characters so you have to enjoy them. If you’re passionate about your characters, they will ‘speak’ to you. 

I used to think this was malarkey but it’s true that gradually you will know what your characters think, do, and say in a given situation. (3) Start building your platform at the same time as you begin your story, if not before. (4) Connect with other writers. This doesn’t necessarily mean join a writers group, although many swear by that. For me it’s meant becoming an active member of the historical fiction community. Writers are generous souls who will help you out in ways you can’t foresee. They will become your tribe and a source of encouragement and advice.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I’ve tried many techniques since becoming a full time writer and I always try to remember a simple equation: Awareness + Desire = Demand. So, your actions have to work on both awareness and desire. Blog tours are one way to create awareness and I recommend them at launch time. The effective ones charge for the service. Sites like BookBub can create a huge boost in sales as well as creating awareness. Authors need to secure reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. The more reviews the better. 

A service like NetGalley can help secure reviewers. Other authors can also help spread the word about your latest release. Make sure you do guest posts as well to drive name recognition and a chance to mention your latest novel. And don’t forget to write another book. A second book drives sales of a first novel and so on. There is no magic formula – like writing, the marketing takes dedicated and ongoing effort.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered in your research

Time and Regret is set in France. My husband and I travelled there as part my research process. We took a tour in the environs of Passchendaele and at one point our guide stooped down and brought up a handful of dirt. In that handful were bits of shrapnel. I knew intellectually what shrapnel was but I’d never seen it. Seeing it and holding it in my own hand made me appreciate the war at a visceral level.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

This is such a difficult question, Tony. If I could generalize just a bit, the hardest type of scene for me to write is a war scene. To do it right (and who knows if I have), you need to do so much research—the weapons, the strategies, the duties of various soldiers, the conditions, the terrain, the sounds and smells, the minute-by-minute actions. And then, in a way, you have to forget those details and write as if you were actually there. But I have to tell you, I love writing these scenes.

What are you planning to write next?

I’ve already written another novel with a working title of Acts of Rebellion. It’s set in 1870 Paris, a time of tremendous turmoil with the siege of Paris and the Paris Commune. My agent is working to sell this to a publisher. I’m now working on a fifth novel, which is another dual timeline story set in Hong Kong both present day and 1912. My husband and I lived in Hong Kong for three years and I’m truly enjoying the memories this story is prompting.

M.K. Tod 
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About the Author

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNook
KoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and 
Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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