Monday, 22 May 2017

Best Rolltop Desk Ever


Spotted this at the Museo Lazaro Galdiano here in Madrid. It's a rolltop desk from the 18th century. If I ever get a bestseller I'm getting one of these as my writing desk.

Today's the last day you can get my post-apocalyptic adventure story The Scavenger for free!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Scavenger: Post-Apocalyptic Ebook Free Through May 22

I'm offering my post-apocalyptic story The Scavenger for free on Amazon for the next five days.

This story is a 67-page adventure set in my Toxic World series, which starts with the novel Radio Hope. The Scavenger a standalone story, but it gives a different perspective on some of the places and characters that appear in Radio Hope.

The blurb is below:

In a world shattered by war, pollution, and disease, a lone scavenger discovers a priceless relic from the Old Times.
The problem is, it's stuck in the middle of the worst wasteland he knows--a contaminated city inhabited by insane chem addicts and vengeful villagers. Only his wits, his gun, and an unlikely ally can get him out alive.
Set in the Toxic World series introduced in the novel Radio Hope, this 10,000-word story explores more of the dangers and personalities that make up a post-apocalyptic world that's all too possible.

I'd like to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. So please, between now and Monday, May 22, feel free to share, like, tweet, etc!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Word Count Wobbles

You might have noticed the word count meters I have on the right-hand margin of this blog. It helps my readers keep track of where my projects are and helps inspire me to write more. The book I'm currently working on the most is The Masked Man of Cairo: The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, a neo-pulp detective story set in 1919 Cairo. I'm almost done with that, but I've been almost done for a couple of weeks. At first I thought it would be 60,000 words. Then I upped it to 65,000. Then a minor character sent the plot sideways and I corrected it to 75,000. Now I really am almost done and it will be 75,000 words or a little less.

This is unusual for me. I can usually guess the final word count of a novel to within 5%, even before I start. I know how a story feels to me. Perhaps it's because this is a new genre for me.

You'll also notice that annual goal of one million words. I just reached the one-third mark on that yesterday, but of course we are slightly more than a third of the way through the year. I'm going to have to pick up speed if I want to hit that goal.

Then there are the other two books. Emergency Transmission, the fourth in my Toxic World post-apocalyptic series, has been on hold for the past couple of months. I'll get started on that again the first week of June. Last but not least is The Saga of Egil Thorfinnsson and the Weaklings, a historical fantasy about Norse Greenland. That was a novel that stopped dead in its tracks years ago before I really hit my stride of daily productivity. I've put it up there to remind myself to finish it someday. And I will. Someday.

Then there's all the ghostwriting I'm doing. . .

I update the word count meters every Sunday if you want to watch my progress!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Military History Photo Friday: A Viennese Death Organ from 1678


I was rummaging through some old photos yesterday and came across some from the Military History Museum in Vienna I took back in 2013. The museum has an incredible collection from the 16th century up to modern times, with an especially strong World War One section. More on that in a later post. Today I'm sharing something from a bit earlier, an attempt to make a quick firing gun from 1678. It was constructed by Daniel Kollman, a gun maker for the Holy Roman Empire.

By this time guns were in common use on the battlefield and armor was on its way out, but guns still suffered from the fact that they could only fire one shot and took a while to reload. Various attempts were made to solve this, such as making guns with two or more barrels. Another solution was to put rows of guns on a carriage. This device was called a ribauldequin and appeared as early as the 14th century. It also earned the name "organ gun" since its barrels looked like the barrels of a church organ, although the music wasn't as good.
Because I couldn't get behind the ribauldequin, I couldn't see its firing mechanism. I presume it was a series of flintlocks that set off the powder in the barrels. It would have made quite a nasty antipersonnel weapon against a closely packed group of pike men, one of the more common infantry formations at the time. Reloading it must have taken ages!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Military History Photo Friday: Traditional African Weapons

A collection of Kpinga, a type of throwing knife used by the Azande people of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. They were equipped with various blades to increase the risk of cutting when thrown. They were high status items, only used by elite warriors (it must have taken some training to throw one accurately!) and were also given as part of the bride price when a man wanted to get married.

Last week I blogged about an interesting collection of African shields at the Ethnological Museum in Cairo. It's one of many attractions in that wonderful city that I got to visit while writing my next novel, The Masked Man of Cairo, which I'm happy to say is almost done.

Besides the shields, the museum also has a collection of African weapons, mostly, I believe, from the Sudan and captured during the Anglo-Sudan War, when the British fought the Mahdi from 1896-99. Like with the shields, I'm hardly an expert, so any help identifying these objects would be highly appreciated.

All photos copyright Sean McLachlan. Sorry about the quality of some of them. The display cases are in desperate need of a good cleaning!

Various knives and cleavers.

The sign says "sticks used by drummers" but they look like clubs to me, and are in the weapons room, after all.

A variety of spears. The broad-leafed blades are typical of those carried by the Mahdi's army.
The top broadsword was a typical type used by the Mahdi's men. The sword on the bottom has a sheath made of crocodile skin. What better way to show off your manliness?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Got A Short Story Published!

A short story of mine, "The Witch Bottle" has just been published in the Hero Lost anthology. This anthology, published by Dancing Lemur Press, brings together twelve authors of fantasy on the theme of lost heroes. Here's the blurb.

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero's redemption!

You can get it at Amazon, Smashwords, and various other outlets. The ebook is $4.99 and the print paperback is $13.99.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Military History Photo Friday: African Shields

A variety of shields. The small round ones in the center are Ethiopian. One on the left has decorated brass fittings. The one next to it is made of hippopotamus hide. I believe the other shields are from the Sudan and Kenya, but I'm not sure. That skinny one on the lower left is a Dinka shield. The Dinka are from south Sudan and their shields only covered the hand, with the rod being used to parry blows. The shield on the right just above the elephant tusk is made of a turtle shell.


One of the more unusual museums I visited on my recent trip to Cairo was the Ethnological Museum. This is a very old-school museum with displays that don't look like they've been changed much in the past fifty years. It contains a good collection of costume, day-to-day objects, and weapons and armor. This includes an impressive array of East African shields that I'm showing here. In the upper floor is the Ethnographic Society with a lovely Victorian lecture hall and a sizeable library.

Located just off Tahrir Square, the heart of the famous 2011 revolution, it's one of the best guarded museums I have ever seen. Part of the grounds have been converted into a police headquarters. To get onto the property I had to go through a metal detector and show my passport. Then a cop with a machine gun escorted me to the museum. From there a museum official followed me from room to room until I left. No one is stealing these shields!

I'm far from an expert on African shields, although I am familiar with the Ethiopian forms. Unfortunately there was no signage in this room to help me. My identifications should thus be taken with a grain of salt. Any help identifying these fascinating pieces of African militaria would be highly appreciated!


The top shield is made of the plastron (belly part of the shell) of a giant turtle.
Two more shields. Like the vast majority of the shields in this collection, they are made of animal hide, which was strong enough to counter blows from clubs, arrows, and spears, but useless against bullets.
Two Ethiopian style shields. They may actually be from Sudan as this shield type was used there as well. They may, in fact, have been captured during the Anglo-Sudan War, when the British fought the Mahdi from 1896-99. Several weapons in the collection certainly come from the Mahdist army. I'll be showing those in a later post.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.