Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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.

Friday, April 17, 2015


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.
1. The Batman character wasn’t created as a show stopper. He was just another character in the Detective Comics series called “the bat-man”, created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger.

2. His first appearance of Detective Comic issue 27.

3. His famous origin story didn’t appear until issue 33.

4. In issue 38, Robin made his first appearance as a kind of kid-Watson to Batman’s-Holmes.

5. The actual comic book title Batman didn’t appear until 1940.

6. Catwoman and Joker didn’t appear until issue #1 of the Batman title.

7. In the beginning, Batman carried and used a gun. This was later changed when writers decided that a boy who watched his parents get shot may not like guns.

8. The 1960s TV show was a decline in Batman detective creativity, but was a boost in popularity and resulted in several new villains. (It was inspired by a Hollywood costume party.)

9. Batman was one of the first and still few superheroes without any super powers.


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. 
That’s all I have for today. I do hope you have enjoyed the visit and will maybe consider picking up a copy of a Batman comic book and perhaps even a copy of my Eternal Curse Series. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

HISTORY and HUMOR by Carol E. Wyer Humorous Novelist/Blogger

Laugh now, cry later – Erma Bombeck


Laughter is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal and I have written at length about the benefits of laughter: 
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.

People 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. –


I 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.


Humour 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 knock jokes are not as puerile or childish as you might think. The first documented one was in 1934.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Rufus who?

Rufus the most important part of the house.

Since 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.


Humour 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.


Many 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?”

“No,” says Paddy, “We’ll still be friends.”

In 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.


My 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.


From 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.
Carol E. Wyer
Humorous Novelist/Blogger 

"A laugh every turn of the page"
Signed author with Safkhet Publishing 
Blogger for Huffington Post

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Michael McCormick, Vietnam and Me

My work 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 away. 

The 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. 

After 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:


“I think war is a crime, if you don’t believe me, ask the infantry, ask the dead.”  

“With this work, McCormick takes his place among the other important chroniclers of this period.”

“Sean McBride had survived his war in Vietnam. At the age of nineteen, he was about to be decorated with the Silver Star Medal, the third highest military award for gallantry in action.”

“His experience in war had shaped his thinking in unique ways. He knew he was different from other men." 

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