Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Last Few Days to Nominate The Case of the Purloined Pyramid!


I'm in the final few days of the Kindle Scout push for my latest novel, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid. If Kindle Press decides to publish it, those who voted for it get a free copy of the ebook. It's the same contest that got The Last Hotel Room a contract.

I could really use some help for the final push. You can sign in with your Amazon account (or take two minutes to create one) and nominate me. Also check out some of the other good books on there. A blurb is below.

An ancient mystery. A modern murder.

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

You can check out the book's page and read a sample here.

Thanks!!!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Military History Photo Friday: Historic Forts in Saudi Arabia


When we think of Saudi Arabia, we generally don't think of castles, but a fair number dot the arid landscape of the desert kingdom. One of the most impressive is Marid Castle, pictured above. Located in the ancient city of Dumat al-Jandal in the north of the country. The city dates all the way back to at least the tenth century BC. It's unclear how old the fort is, but it existed by 272 AD. It was the site of numerous battles, most recently in 1853 and 1909. During the second attack it withstood a siege of ten months before finally falling.


Perhaps the most impressive fortification was Ajyad Fortress, an Ottoman citadel built in 1780 overlooking Mecca in order to protect the holy city from raiders. Despite the Bedouin being Muslims themselves, they weren't averse to robbing Muslim pilgrims. In a controversial move, the Saudi government demolished the historic fort in 2002 in order to build luxury a hotel for rich pilgrims. This has been part of an ongoing campaign to demolish historic sites, especially ones from the pre-Islamic period or sites that remind the Saudis of the time when they were part of the Ottoman Empire.


Many small forts were built at oases along the pilgrimage route to protect the pilgrims from bandits.  Some date to the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520-1566), who had forts built to protect the main routes. This one at Dhat al-Hajj still stands, although in poorer condition than this photo from 1907 shows. It's a simple structure, but that would be all that would be needed to ward off the Bedouin, who lacked artillery.


A similar fort stands at Al-Ukhaydir, and was also built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. This photo from 1907 shows the fort at the center and some Bedouin tents to the left.


Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons, because that's probably the closest I'll ever get to Saudi Arabia.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Travel Tuesday: Traditional Sephardi Costume from Morocco


On a recent trip to Segovia near Madrid I spotted this in the local Jewish museum. It's a traditional boy's outfit from the Sephardi Jewish community in Morocco. Segovia had a thriving Jewish community until they were kicked out in 1492. Many joined their brethren in Morocco. Nowadays the Jewish community in Morocco, once about ten percent of the population, has dwindled significantly. Many left to move to the newly established state of Israel after the war and a few years later more left when Morocco became independent, fearing persecution. For more on Morocco's Jewish community, check out my post on a hidden synagogue in Tangier.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My next newsletter coming out this week, sign up for a free ebook!

The third issue of my newsletter, Sean's Travels and Tales, will come out later this week. This issue includes an article on an odd artifact I spotted in the National Museum in Cairo, a short story from my Toxic World series, and a coupon for a free ebook.

So click on this link to sign up to my newsletter. I promise not to share your email with anyone, because that's a sure way to tank my career!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Help Me Win Another Book Contract Through Kindle Scout!


I've just launched a campaign for my latest novel, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, on Kindle Scout. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, writers upload their unpublished book for 30 days, and readers get to vote on them. Those with the most votes are considered for electronic publication via Amazon, with a $1500 advance and 50% royalties. If the book is published, those who voted for it get a free copy of the ebook. It's the same contest that got The Last Hotel Room a contract.

My new book is the one I was writing while in Cairo. It's the first in a mystery/suspense series titled The Masked Man of Cairo in which each book is a standalone novel. A blurb is below.

An ancient mystery. A modern murder.

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

You can check out the book's page and read a sample here. Voting requires you to sign in to your Amazon account or create one if you don't have one. Also check out the other titles, there are some good ones.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Most Prolific Writers Ever and How They Did It

 
I'm back from my regular research trip to Oxford and am now hard at work here in Madrid. One of the projects I've been working on is a nonfiction work titled Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors. There are lots of books on increasing your word count, but none, as far as I know, focus on the actual methods of the amazing writers who manage to pen hundreds of books and thousands of articles.

I’m focusing on writers who have written at least 300 books and left behind plenty of information on their work methods. Also, they must be dead so I can look at their careers as a whole, they must have been active in the 20th century so their work is more applicable to the modern era, and they must have written in either English or Spanish so I can read their stuff. At the moment I have the following list: Isaac Asimov, Walter Brown Gibson, Corín Tellado, Marcial Lafuente Estefanía, Lauran Bosworth Paine, Ursula Bloom, Enid Mary Blyton, Barbara Cartland, Frederick Faust, and John Creasey. Other writers who have something worth quoting are given passing mention.

One interesting bit of advice comes from David Graham Phillips, who at the beginning of the 20th century worked as a journalist, pumping out hundreds if not thousands of articles. At night he wrote bestselling novels and short stories. He said of his method:

"I write every night, from about eleven until about four or five or six in the morning. Sometimes seven or eight. . .Let me urge you to work the same hours every day and never, never, never to let anything or anyone interfere between you and working at those hours. I write every night--seven days a week. I don't wait for mood or inspiration, and I don't give up because I don't begin right or am writing rubbish. I think it's fatal to give way to moods. And I'm not a bit afraid to throw away everything I've written, or to edit my stuff to the bone."

Can you think of any authors I should add? Can you suggest any good source material? This book will take a lot of research so it's going by fits and starts. I had a burst of writing when I first came up with the topic and searched through my personal library. Then I had another burst of productivity at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I bought some reference materials I'll be using for the next month. Then I might have to wait until I get back to the Bodleian before I can do another round of intense research. So unlike most of my books, I can't say when I'll be done.

You can read more about the project and these incredible writers in an article I wrote for Black Gate.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Military History Photo Friday: World War One Medals and Mementoes



Hello from Oxford! I'm here for my usual research trip, and as a matter of fact this is my tenth year. It's been a rainy summer so I haven't gotten to explore much of the countryside like I usually do. Luckily last weekend the clouds cleared and my family and I went on a hike to visit Minster Lovell, a fine old ruin of a medieval manor. Follow the link for an article I did on it.

We set out from the small town of Whitney, which has a fine little local history museum. Here are a couple of shots from the World War One section. I've always enjoyed small-town museums since the collection comes from old neighbors instead of some rich patron. I wonder who donated these?


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.

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