Friday, April 3, 2015

C: Charles Todd

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. The IWSG is also taking part in the challenge. You can find some writing inspiration during the entire month.

Charles Todd is actually a mother/son writing team. They write two different mysteries series set in England during the years after WW I. The things that draw me to the series is the intricacies of the plots but also the many ways class distinctions impacted police work. The horrors of WWI play into nearly every novel, but the terrible way battles were waged, the incredible loss of life and the guilt many of the survivors experienced. The support veterans received from the government and the public was pathetic and attitudes unforgiving for anything perceived as self-pity or weakness of spirit. The mysteries Inspector Ian Rutledge face are solved by intelligence and persistence rather than clever forensics. When I first started writing, one of the hard and fast rules was that certain time periods just wouldn't sell. Anything WWI or WWII would be rejected by every agent and publisher. Don't even mention Vietnam or Korea.

Lesson: Don't let anyone tell you what will or won't sell. If a certain time period or location is what you're interested in writing, then write it. Compelling stories, intricate plots and a captivating writing style is what makes your books successful. This applies to other things besides time periods, such as certain genres. Are vampires devoid of all popularity? Not if you have a unique, compelling take on the genre.

Some wisdom from the Old Farmer's Almanac.
It is considered lucky to born on Good Friday

"Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent."
Marilyn Von Savant

Have you ever had anyone tell you that the genre you're writing is a mistake? Have you read any good books set during one of the World Wars? Is there a certain time period a novel could be set in that you would never read?

48 comments:

  1. My genre is Women's Fiction and someone once asked if men are allowed to read it? It's a genre that raises lots of questions and causes controversies. I still don't think writing Women's fiction is a mistake. I did once research WWI for a short story from a West Indian point of view which we don't read an awful lot about. (Reminds me - I should try to get that story published). Great post btw!

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    1. I can't believe someone asked if men could read it. I think there will always be a market for Women's Fiction though they might call it by a different name.

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  2. I think you have to respect the story you have to tell. Creative people can create a story for every genre if that is their purpose. But an authentic story can only be told by the person graced with it.

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  3. Another set of novels I have not heard of. They sound like just the kind of thing my mother would love - I shall have to introduce her to them. She loves murder mystery and historical novels :). I'm not much one for historical wars, I'm more into wars with elves or space ships. I think traditional publishing can be very narrow in its ideas, but self-publishing is making them have to think much more widely.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Your mother would love these books. The book aren't about the war but the aftermath in people's personal lives.

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  4. Susan--you are so wise--couldn't agree with you more. Good writing always trumps.

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  5. Those time periods don't sell? Right...

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  6. I love the idea of not worrying about what will or won't sell. If you have a story idea in your head, then you should write it. There will be someone out there who will want to read it.

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  7. Don't worry - just write it anyway.

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  8. Very true, you never know what will sell, so if you have an idea, write on

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  9. Just make it happen, for you and only you.

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  10. Love the quote. Also, great point about publishing. I have been told similar things when I told people I write Greek-Roman era and my protagonist is Syrian...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. Exactly. I've heard that about the Greek/Roman era too.

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  11. Loved the quote by Marilyn Von Savant. Thanks for sharing, Susan.
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  12. So interesting with the mother/son team. I'll have to check this out. I haven't read too many books during war times, I tend to read current fiction if that makes sense (like set in the current time). I probably wouldn't read a book from the 1500's. That wouldn't hold my interest, I think. Love the quote from the Farmer's Almanac.

    betty

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    1. I've read some good historical fiction though not much from the 1500 era.

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  13. I've never read Charles Todd, but he/she/they seem interesting. Also, I agree with you completely; good writing is what matters!

    BLOG | BOOK BLOG | BLOGLOVIN | TWITTER

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  14. You never know what'll sell, what'll make it big, and whatever flop. Just write the story you want to write.

    Charles Toss is a new author for me.

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  15. I have never written anything with the intention of it being published (except for a short non-fiction piece in an anthology). However, I do tend to think of what will "sell" on my blog. I am overcoming this roadblock by choosing a theme for the A to Z challenge that is dear to my heart rather than a popular theme. I by the way am not into historical fiction, but WWI and WWII are definitely exceptions.

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  16. How wonderful to have a mom and son write together. I love that.

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  17. Funny that you say it used to be a bad era to write about, as that WWI/betweentime/WWII era is my *favorite* to read about!
    I am adding this series to my reading list :)
    ~AJ Lauer
    an A-Z Cohost
    @ayjaylauer on Twitter

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  18. That is such good advice - I've always heard that if you write for the market, the market will have changed by the time you finish your manuscript. On another note, I confess I harbor a secret hope that once my kids are old enough to write/read, we'll all write a book together.

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    1. That would be so cool, Julie. I'll just be happy if one of them decides to be a writer. I think my daughter is already on her way.

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  19. I hadn't heard of them before. The books sound interesting. I'll have to check them out.

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  20. A lesson I live by, write what I want! :-)

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  21. Unless the books are non-fiction, I would rather watch a war movie than read fictional tales in book form that are set in time periods involving warfare. That Marilyn Von Savant quote you mentioned is a goodie!

    ~Nicole
    A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    The Madlab Post

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  22. I really like your thought-provoking thoughts as well as questions. You're inspiring. <3 Yes, I've had a distributor tell me that my Paranormal Romance was not marketable. It broke my heart (it just released about a month before). What a way to start its young life!

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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  23. I agree with your "timeline" concept...if it feels right, write it!

    I'm doing a book set in the 80s - and only because I love and miss those days :)

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    1. I was so busy having kids in the 80's, I mostly remember not getting any sleep.

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  24. I've never had anybody tell me I'm writing in the wrong genre, but I've had people tell me I need to start writing and it didn't matter what genre--just write.

    I'll read just about anything. Can't think of any era that I wouldn't read about.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View

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  25. A mother- son writing team? Color me intrigued!

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  26. I've never heard of them, but I really like the sound of the setting!

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  27. I've been told I'm writing in the wrong genre, in the wrong mix of genres, and in the wrong POV. Of course, I've also been told the exact opposite, about the same work. There is always someone who will say you're doing everything wrong.

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  28. Love your lesson. Great wisdom in that.
    Dropping by from the AtoZ
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere

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  29. Everything seems to be "out" much of the time, and it would be impossible to keep up. I write what I enjoy. I guess we'll see how that goes when I'm trying to sell it.

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  30. what sells even the best publisher can't judge or else why did so many publishers reject, say, Lust for Life

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  31. Love it. And what a great energy it has!!

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  32. Everyone needs to hear that lesson about what will/won't sell. If the writing is good, it WILL sell.

    Scribbles From Jenn - Visiting from the A to Z Challenge

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  33. Hi Susan - I don't this duo of mother and son - I guess that combo could work well especially re the First and 2nd World Wars ... There's a resurgence at the moment about War stories .. but lots of people have jumped on the bandwagon .. I must keep an eye out for the Charles Tood books .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I think you would like the books. They're set in your side of the pond.

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  34. I think the best books are those written by authors who are passionate about their setting, time in history, and characters. That's why it's so important to write from the heart and not worry about what supposedly sells.

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  35. I write contemporary women's fiction, and my characters tend to be very strong women who are sometimes offputting to those critiquing my work. The funny thing is, they're not evil, just ambitious and straightforward. Though I take the criticism in, I really like my protagonists and have decided to let them be who they are. It may cost me some readers, but I just feel at a gut level that I'm not doing anything wrong.

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    1. Funny how some people view strong women as unlikable when the same traits in a man are admirable. Stick to how you like it.

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  36. Setting doesn't matter to me when I'm reading. But the writer does have to do a good job with the characters. If I don't like them, I won't keep reading.

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  37. Great lesson.
    In the final analysis, you have to write what your heart tells you, and what you really enjoy.

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  38. My tastes have grown as I got older. I might try something like this now.

    Heather

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