Blogging Historical Fiction

My historical fiction blog is called Tea at Trianon. I post daily on matters of faith, culture and history, with an emphasis on the French Revolution. The blog has about 65,000 hits a month, with roughly 20,000 unique visitors a month. It has led me to meet fascinating people from around the world, authors and scholars, many of whom contribute to the blog with their own writings and commentary. 
Having a blog has led to some remarkable experiences for me, such as being invited to be a speaker at  2009 Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, NZ, one of the most grace-filled events of my life. It was a joy to travel to the other side of the world and find brothers and sisters who share the same Holy Catholic faith. Most of all, the Tea at Trianon blog puts me in touch with my readers and allows me a forum in which to share my research and discuss both history and faith.
I will share some tips about historical fiction blogging (and blogging in general) that I have learned:

1. Don’t be afraid to reach out and build relationships with non-Catholic and/or secular writers. History, like science or music, is a “universal language.” There are people from all different backgrounds who love historical truth and want to know What Really Happened. Use that common ground to make friends and build relationships. It is important to reach everyone, not just other orthodox Catholics. Visit other blogs and make comments. Ask to review historical novels. Write balanced reviews.

2. Know your material inside and out. If you are going to engage in dialog with other historical writers, you must know what you are talking about. You must be able to back up every statement with references. Even if other historical writers do not agree with your conclusions, they will respect your research if you show that you are familiar with your sources.

3. Never be afraid to express your convictions. When dealing with non-Christians and non-Catholics on a professional level, it is important to be fearless in upholding the truths of the faith with charity and simplicity. This does not mean that you always go out of your way to tell people that they are wrong or bad. Use discretion and prudence; wait for teachable moments. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and fortitude. Stick with the issues, do not get personal, be kind but firm in your beliefs. Not only are we commanded to do this by Our Lord, but you will find that many people respect convictions that are bravely expressed. Even if you make enemies, the faith must be upheld.  

4. Have original content on your blog. Post your unique research and views.  This will not only generate traffic but interest in your work. Make your blog a place like none other, a genuine resource and a place for historical research and discussion.

5. Use social networking. I have found Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon to be indispensable in generating blog traffic and book sales. It is also a great way to build relationships with other writers. Remember that other writers will be able to help you like no one else can. Other writers can review your work, blog about your work, and link to your posts. They give moral support and encouragement. In the world of historical fiction (and life in general) friends are a priceless resource. You can learn from them. And there is no such thing as a small enemy. You will make enemies (everyone does) but do not make them frivolously.

6. Become thick-skinned. Be detached from your work. One of the reasons I use a pseudonym is that it helps me to be psychologically detached from both criticism and praise of my books. Do not let praise or criticism go to your head or heart to make you vain or bitter. Do not let yourself become discouraged by criticism and/or rejection. Learn from it. Be humble. Be able to discern constructive criticism from someone who just has an axe to grind.

7. Use blogging tools such as LinkWithin, Add to Any and the Facebook and Twitter widgets. Make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts and find related content. Make your blog a place for people to click around on as they find information that intrigues and inspires.

8. Cultivate a sense of humor. You cannot blog without one. Do not take yourself too seriously. Have fun. Be creative. Make mistakes and learn from them. Respond to difficult comments with humor and irony rather than with sarcasm and bitterness. Remember that sarcasm is not wit; it is merely venom. Show respect for other people even if you disagree. Every person who visits your blog is your guest and should be treated in a welcoming manner. However, DON’T BE A DOORMAT. There are people called trolls who have no other life than to harass bloggers. Delete them. Do not engage them. They just want to waste your time.

9. Blog on schedule. Be consistent. Let your readers know what to expect and when to expect it. If you plan to blog once a week, fine. Stick with it, so people know when to tune in. I blog twice a day. It is a good idea not to go overboard and blog too much in one day, especially if you are blogging about heavy stuff. People are easily overwhelmed.

10. Encourage readers to subscribe to your feed. There are all kinds of widgets for that and it helps people to know that you have a new post up. It generates hits although it may not seem that way at first. Remember that it takes time to build up a readership and that you are not going to be having 3000 hits a day overnight. It takes time. It has taken me five years. Your main focus should be on content, not on hits. Have excellent content and the hits will come eventually. And if the hits do not come then at least you have published something worthwhile. Always aim for quality and do not worry about quantity. Ultimately, as Catholic writers, we are writing for God, to give Him glory, not to glorify ourselves. We do our best for Him, and if it is His will, our work will bear fruit and help others on their journey to Heaven.


Elena Maria Vidal is the author of the historical novels Trianon, Madame Royale, and The Night’s Dark Shade. Please visit Elena at her Tea at Trianon blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

About ElenaMariaVidal

Elena Maria Vidal grew up in Frederick, Maryland and is the author of the historical novels TRIANON, MADAME ROYALE and THE NIGHT'S DARK SHADE: A NOVEL OF THE CATHARS. Elena has been a contributor to Canticle Magazine, Touchstone Magazine, The American Conservative and The National Observer. In April 2009 she was a speaker at the Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the Eastern Shore Writers Association. She currently lives in Maryland with her family and is working on a historical novel about her Irish ancestors. Elena blogs at http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/.
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4 Responses to Blogging Historical Fiction

  1. Antonella says:

    Thanks Elena.I'll try to follow your advices, although I have a hard time understanding how to use the social media. Let's say that I start twittering and compose a Facebook page. Why should people go there if they don't go to my blog?
    I started a blog more than a month ago and I have to admit that it's a little difficult to keep on writing without knowing if people are reading me. I've had only 3 comments so far (two of them deleted by mistake!).It's not that I'm looking for glory, I'm just hoping for some feed-back. Meanwhile, I write for myself, for my son (who is an atheist) and for the glory of God.
    I visited your blog yesterday and I'll put it in the list of the blogs I follow.

  2. elena maria vidal says:

    Thank you, Antonella.

    You need to have a site meter so you know how much traffic you are getting. You can't always go by comments. I don't get that many comments at all. FB and Twitter generate traffic because people find blogs and articles that they were unaware of. For instance, if you write something about Catholic writing you could post a link to your blog post on the Catholic Writers Guild Page so people can see it. When you tweet use hashtags such as #amwriting #catholic so that people all over Twitter can find your posts. You can slowly but surely build a readership if you use the right tools the right way. It takes a LOT of time and patience to learn the ropes but it is worth it in the long run.

  3. Veronica Maria Jarski says:

    Elena Maria Vidal,

    Your advice was so very helpful and inspiring. Truly! Historical fiction is something that I love to read and hope (some day) to write. It's in the queue after my next two writing projects. :)

    Thanks for the great advice regarding historical fiction!

  4. elena maria vidal says:

    Thank you, Veronica and may God and Our Lady guide your writings!