Friday, 6 January 2017

2016: a year in blog posts

My last post talked about the year I had in real life, but this week is the by now traditional summary of the year as seen through my blog. I am always interested (and usually surprised) by the posts that have caught people’s attention over the year. As ever, I have to point out that I use Blogger and Blogger’s analytics really aren’t very good, so I can only say which posts were the most widely read: I just don’t have reliable figures on how many people saw each one. I can say that the number of people reading my blog seems to rise every year, possibly in part because of people who have discovered it through Twitter. I also seem to have the odd surge of interest from Russia. Friends of mine who have experienced similar numbers of hits from the former USSR put it down to lots of Russians interested in their books, but I suspect it’s hackers. But then I’m a sad cynic.

Anyway, enough of the caveats. What was my most popular blog of 2016?


This was, by a considerable margin, the most widely read post I have ever written.

Jane Jackson produced a lovely new book in 2016: The Master’s Wife. It’s a historical novel with much of the action in Egypt. It includes scenes where our heroine travels into the desert and lives for a while with the Bedouin. 

I loved the book. I was particularly interested in the way that Ms Jackson handled scenes and situations not a million miles from events in Burke and the Bedouin. Like a lot of male authors writing stories where heroic men (and they almost always are men) fight off hordes of evil villains without a petticoat in sight, I have always harboured a deep suspicion of that sub-genre capitalised as Historical Romance. It’s an area where Jackson has a fine reputation with several nominations for major awards from the Romantic Novelists Association.

It turns out, though, that Jackson is also a fine historical writer even if no bodices are being ripped and a heaving bosom is never pressed against a manly chest. But I do think women do history differently from men and I describe some of the differences here.

This was a straightforward review of a book by an author I admire. It’s a romance, though, and I’m not big on romance. I said so in the review and this seems to have excited more interest than I expected, making it one of my most-read posts ever.

Although this was only published in December, it was my third most widely read post of the year. Well, when I say “my” I mean it showed up on my web-site: it was actually written by Jenny Kane, guest-blogging here as she has decided to move into historical fiction and was writing about the Robin Hood legend and the real-life background to The Outlaw’s Ransom. She’s been on my blog before and she was very popular then too. Perhaps I should just give up writing myself and pass my blog over to her.

I really enjoy Nell Peters’ work, but it’s difficult to say why. I worry that it might be because we share a warped sense of humour. Anyway, I gave up on trying to review them and asked her onto my blog to speak for herself. The result was one of the weirdest posts I’ve ever seen here and (disturbingly) one of the most popular.

Terry Tyler has been amazingly supportive of my writing, so I was very nervous when I sat down to read hers. It’s always awkward if you read a book by someone you know and don’t like it. Fortunately I did like it.

Why so many readers for a straightforward review? Because Terry is a star at using social media, that’s why. If you have books to sell, it’s worth watching her to see how it’s done. Terry’s Twitter handle is @TerryTyler4 and she blogs at

This summer I gave a talk on James Brooke at the Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival. Swords featured.

This was a short post suggesting that people might come to see it. Following Terry Tyler’s advice, I promoted this like mad, with the result that hundreds of people read the post. Sadly, not nearly as many made it to mid-Wales to see the talk, but you can’t have everything.

If you want to read about the talk itself, have a look at Presenting the Fact behind theFiction.

So that was my six top-rated posts. Looking back, it does seem that perhaps they are rather more about other people and their books than about me and mine, but I did appear on a lot of other writers’ blogs when Back Home came out, so I can’t really complain.

Just outside the top six was the compulsory post about social media – always a popular read. (Social media and other random thoughts). Further down, there were some serious posts about history and quite a lot about the metallurgy and art of non-European swords. (It’s a thing of mine.)

A very pretty knife

Unusually this year, there was only one post from me on tango and this barely made the top twenty. But if any of you want to know how to persuade someone to dance with you without saying a word, I wrote about this in August.

So, there we are. Book reviews, guest blogs, history, swords and tango. Yes, that is pretty much the story of my life. Why not join the party? It’s nice if you subscribe to the blog, though I’ve finally fixed the ‘Comments’ section so you should be able to write about anything that interests you here without being subscribed. Or comment on my author page on Facebook. Or, if you prefer to make very pithy comments, there’s always Twitter: I’m @TomCW99.

I look forward to hearing much more from you in 2017.