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
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
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.
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, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel,
UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from
Hi there and thank you for
allowing me a chance to share a bit of geek history with you today. My name is
Toi Thomas and I’ll be filling you in on the basics of Batman. The history of
D.C. Comic’s Batman is a long and complicated tale, but I’m going to sum it up
in 10 basic points.
10. In recent years and current
D.C. history, the Batman characters has had more character and story
cross-overs than any other character and has received the most commercial success
outside the comic book press, with Superman being his closet competition.
Now you may be wondering why
the need for a brief history of Batman. So, I’ll give you 3 reasons.
1. Batman is my favorite
superhero of all time.
2. The story and many aspects of this character have inspired details of my Eternal Curse Series.
3. Like Batman, other
characters of the D.C. Universe have inspired my writing, specifically my
Eternal Curse series and I even made a video about it. Watch it here.
A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, Toi Thomas was
born in Texas, but considers Virginia to be home. She enjoys reading, cooking,
baking, painting, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with her family.
Currently working as a special education teacher’s assistant while blogging and
writing fulltime, Toi finds comfort and peace of mind in chocolate, green tea,
and naps. For some reason, Toi admits has escaped her, she married a frat boy
who has continued to be her best friend and love of her life. She and her
husband are now tackling video production and Comicons to promote the release
of her second novel, Eternal Curse: Battleground. Visit The ToiBox of Words to learn more about Toi and her writing.
Indeed my day is not complete unless I have made at least ten people laugh.
Why? I don’t know. I guess I’m addicted to laughter and to seeing people
giggle. It’s one of the reasons I took up writing but I wasn’t the first person
by any means to write humour or to tell jokes.
have been writing jokes and telling funny stories for centuries. I was
astonished to discover even the Victorians, who I consider to be a pooh-faced
bunch told marvellous jokes: What is the difference between a tube and a foolish
Dutchman? One is a hollow cylinder and the other a silly Hollander. –
researched the history of laughter and humour before I set about my new challenge
as a stand-up comic and it is fascinating but too lengthy to document here in
one post. There are many who should be credited for this form of entertainment,
including the Greeks and Plato, and a virtual saunter around the internet will
provide you with much information. The earliest known joke is set some way back
in time—back to 1600 BC if my sources are accurate. The joke was a bawdy
one—they all were to start with—and involved a Pharaoh, some women and a
fishing line. I’m not sure how it went but I guess you could look it up.
As people travelled so too did humour. The bedrock of British humour,
sarcasm for instance, was actually brought to the UK by the Vikings, typically
noted for raping and pillaging throughout history, when they brought trade from
across the world to British shores. Sarcasm, irony and understatement are part
of the “common heritage” between Denmark and the UK. There are traces in comic
tales used in the later Old Norse sagas, such as Orkneyinga Saga where an Earl goes out disguised as a fisherman, to
help a farmer.
These sagas, largely from the thirteenth century and known for their
“laconic humour, detail examples of comedy in the face of adversity, and also
contain the roots of some Danish and English words showing more similarities in
how we communicate.
has been attributed to many story-tellers and writers such as Chaucer whose Canterbury Tales written and unfinished
in the late fourteenth century is full of wholesome bawdy humour but it is
Shakespeare who gets the prize for the first knock knock joke. It occurs in Macbeth, just after the scene in which
King Duncan is slain by Macbeth and his wife. Shakespeare juxtaposes the horror
of the murder with an amusing scene involving a gatekeeper. “Knock, knock,
knock. Who’s there I’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer hanged himself on
the expectation of plenty. Have napkins enough about you. Here you’ll need them.”…
Okay, you and I might not “get” the humour there but trust me when I say an
Elizabethan audience would have been chortling merrily at it.
knock jokes are not as puerile or childish as you might think. The first
documented one was in 1934.
the most important part of the house.
then, they have become more sophisticated and now are conduits for other forms
of humour such as anti-jokes, puns, the new interrupting knock knock joke, the
reverse knock knock joke and so on. I’ll spare you my routine at this point.
developed from bawdy into the more sophisticated forms we enjoy today. The
British are considered to have an advanced sense of humour. I suppose due to
the fact we are stuck on a windy, grey island full of potholes, we have to find
something to alleviate the situation. However, not all nationalities share the
same sense of humour. For instance, what a Brit might find amusing, an American
might not. (Although, in my opinion, we both seem to like puns and Monty
Python.) The French do not in general, have the same sense of humour as us, as I
discovered when I gave a talk to an ex-pat group in France. Little did I know
that secreted in the audience were several French teachers who had dropped by
to learn about humour in writing. After the talk, one of them came up to me and
said, “Eet was a verrey good talk but I did not understand your first joke.
What do you call a Frenchman in sandals? Philippe Fellop!” I had trouble
explaining it to him.
jokes are at the expense of others. The French love jokes about the Belgians as
do the Dutch and people from Luxembourg. For the British that would be like
telling jokes about the Irish or for our friends across the pond, jokes about Bubba.
There is a famous joke about a Belgian truck driver getting stuck under a
bridge. I told it at a dinner party in France to gales of laughter yet the same
joke fell flat on a UK tour. On the other hand, that same UK audience laughed
like mad at the joke about Paddy and Mick in an aeroplane: Paddy says to Mick,
“If the plane goes upside down, will we fall out?”
says Paddy, “We’ll still be friends.”
Norway, Denmark and Finland they laugh at the Swedes and vice versa. Jokes
about Dutch people being tight-fisted or scrooge-like with money tend to be similar
to jokes we tell about the Scots.
own love affair with laughter and humour began many years ago. A child of the
seventies, it appears I was born in the right decade. Evidence points to the
fact anyone who was a child in the seventies is more likely to be light-hearted
and enjoy a laugh. The 1970s were the golden age of sit-coms and comedy on
radio and television and as a young person, I recall watching endless comedy
and entertainment shows.
story telling to literature, art, music, radio and television, humour has
played a part in our lives, releasing tension and helping us to feel better
about ourselves. It will continue to develop, dependent on sociological views
and individual, reflecting our feelings and views about life and provide that
necessary antidote to life with its woes. So, if you are feeling down, drag out
an old comedy DVD or sing along to Always
Look On The Bright Side of Life. You’ll feel a lot better.
is mostly about the Vietnam war. My novella, Across The Pond by Michael
McCormick, deals with the trials and tribulations encountered by Vietnam
veterans, both during and after the Vietnam war. The United States sent it’s
young men into battle in Southeast Asia, used them once and then threw them
war itself was particularly brutal, especially during the Tet Offensive of
1968, in Hue and along the DMZ, in the northern part of South Vietnam. More
bombs were dropped on Vietnam during the war than were dropped in all of World
War II. It is estimated that between one and three million Vietnamese died.
Fifty thousand young American’s died.
all this carnage, when the Vietnam veterans returned home, they were treated
very badly. The U.S. Government, the American people and the very society that
sent them to war in the first place scape-goated the veterans. They were blamed
for the whole mess, cast out, ridiculed, called suckers and rejected. This is
me during the war, second from left.
Across The Pond by Michael McCormick is the story of a young American who fights for his country during the war in Vietnam, only to be rejected when he returns home. The author based the story on his personal experience as an infantry squad leader who served in combat. Ron Kovic, author of Born On The Fourth of July writes in the foreword, "This little book with it's deeply compelling narrative grips the reader from the very beginning and does not let go. It is written with the violence and fury of Leon Uris's Battle Cry, and the tenderness and compassion of a simple poet. I believe it will be recognized as one of the important books to come out of the Vietnam war."
Michael McCormick is the author of Across
The Pond. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps just out of high school
at the age of 17. Soon after, he found himself in battle in the jungles and
rice paddies of Vietnam. He was nearly killed on several occasions, but managed
to survive and return home at age 19. After the war, Michael earned his B.A. in
psychology and his M.A. in clinical psychology. He lives in Oakland, California
with his wife Gina. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.