Thursday, 24 May 2018

Back from Tangier and Working on a New Mystery

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Tangier for ten days to work on a novella, which has now morphed into a short novel. I got 27,000 words done while I was there but the weather was too beautiful and my friends too friendly for me to get the entire thing done. Then I came home to two big ghostwriting deadlines. Oh well.
The first draft of the book, tentatively called Tangier Bank Heist, is almost complete. It takes place during the days of the Tangier International Zone, when from 1924–1956 Tangier was run by several different European nations plus the United States. My gumshoe is a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade of the Spanish Civil War and he now lives in Tangier solving crimes and trying to help the poor. He gets his biggest case yet when his girlfriend loses her savings when the bank she put her money in gets stolen. No, not robbed, stolen. The book is based on a true story, and a bizarre story it is.
Watch for it soon!

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Another Writing Retreat in Tangier

It's been a while since I've traveled to Tangier to do some writing, so I'm going to remedy that by heading down there for ten days to write a mystery novella. That's right, I intend on writing a 30,000 word novella in ten days. That's only 3,000 words a day, and without the distractions of the Internet or ghostwriting, I should be able to do it.

So what's the mystery about? Well, that will remain a mystery for the time being. All I'll say is that it's set in the International Zone period, when from 1924–1956 Tangier was run by several different European nations plus the United States. It was a wild and somewhat lawless place, and a great spot for my detective to make a living. The action will take place shortly after WWII so I can use many famous residents in the supporting cast, such as William S. Burroughs and Paul and Jane Bowles. Should be fun.

If you want to see what Tangier looks like, I'll be regularly updating my Instagram account.

See you when I get back!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Update on my Books

Things are pretty busy here at the fiction factory. First off, the print edition of The Case of the Purloined Pyramid is finally out. Also, the Kindle edition is only $1.99 all this month in the Amazon US store.

I should have had the print edition out a while ago but I've been buried in ghostwriting assignments. I just finished one for a client that turns out to be my 52nd book-length project, 40 of which are novels. I finished it on Sunday and took Monday off. I needed a break!

Next up is another ghostwriting project, plus a mystery under my own name set in Tangier during the International Zone era just after World War Two. Yes, I'm going back to Tangier for ten days to write it next month. Should be fun!

Then summer will be right around the corner, time to finish up the next Toxic World book plus a nonfiction book I'm writing on the writing habits prolific authors. No, I'm not one of those yet. To be covered in my book, and author has to have written at least 300 books. I may never reach that level!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Some Good News and Some Bad News

Bad news first. . .Kindle Press is no longer taking submissions. As of today, the Kindle Scout Program, which was the one way to get into Kindle Press, is shutting its doors. Kindle Press will continue to market the 200+ books it already has on its list.

So it looks like The Last Hotel Room and The Case of the Purloined Pyramid will be the only books I will have with Kindle Press. While I am disappointed that I won't be able to launch a campaign for The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus later this month like I intended, I can't say I'm all that surprised. Kindle Scout always felt like an experiment. Amazon was trying out various marketing strategies (with us as paid guinea pigs) to see what works and what doesn't. I suppose after more than two years in operation, they got their data and are moving on.

The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus, the next in my Cairo detective series, is now with the beta readers and will come out in a month or so via Kindle Direct Publishing.

In other news, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid is on sale in the Amazon US store only for $1.99 until the end of April. So if you didn't vote for it during the Kindle Scout campaign, here's a chance to grab it. A big thank you to all my readers who helped support my two campaigns. I wouldn't have been publishing with Kindle Press without you!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Military History Photo Friday: The L3/35 Tankette

I was digging through some old photos the other day and came across this one of yours truly at a military museum in Rome. I'm standing beside an Italian L3/35 tankette. Tankettes were a popular idea for some nations in the Interwar period. As the name implies, they were miniature tanks, smaller and faster than the behemoths of the First World War.

The L3/35 was first mass produced in 1936 and measured 3.17 x 1.4 x 1.3 m (10.4 × 4.59 × 4.27 ft). It had a top speed of 42 km/h (26 mph), weighed 3.2 tons, and had a crew of two--a driver and gunner. Armament was a pair of machine guns. At its thickest, the armor was only 12 mm (.47 inches).
The tankette served in the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and large numbers of them were sent to help the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Their thin armor made them vulnerable, and having the guns fixed to the front meant the tankette had to be turned to bring the weapons to bear. Abyssinian warriors would rush up behind the tank and stuck their swords into the tracks, which was often enough to disable them! In the Spanish Civil War they had to face tanks sent to the Republican army by the Soviet Union like the BT-5 and T-26. These were real tanks with cannons and turrets and everything. You can guess how well the little Italian models fared.

By World War Two, the L3/35 was obsolete, but that didn't stop the Italians from fielding large numbers of them in North Africa. The British made short work of them. It's amazing any survived to end up in this museum!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

My Second Cairo Mystery Novel is in the Editing Stage!

The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus, the second in my historical mystery series The Masked Man of Cairo, is now in the editing stage. I finished the rough draft a couple of days ago, finally squeezing out some time from my busy ghostwriting schedule.

The sequel to The Case of the Purloined Pyramid sees Augustus, Moustafa, and Faisal teaming up again to solve another murder. This time an Old Kingdom sarcophagus appears in Augustus' house while he is asleep. He opens it to find the former chief of Paris police dead inside! How did such a huge sarcophagus get into his house unnoticed, and why did the murderers deliver the body to Augustus? You'll find out when it's released.

If you want to know about the release of this and other books of mine, consider signing up for my newsletter. It comes out every two months or so and includes a short story, travel article, news, and a coupon for a discounted or free book.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Book Review: Look and Move on by Mohammed Mrabet

Look and Move OnLook and Move On by Mohammed Mrabet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mohammed Mrabet is a Moroccan writer and artist who has lived most of his life in Tangier. This is his memoir of the days when it was an international haven for writers, artists, thieves, con men, homosexuals, pederasts, and the idle rich. Like For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri, it shows the flip side of this foreigner's paradise, the life of poor Moroccans struggling to survive and often having to serve the newcomers in various unpleasant ways.
Mrabet didn't escape this. At the age of sixteen, he got taken up by an American couple who vied with each other for his sexual favors. They take him to the U.S., where he has more fun with the local Puerto Ricans and blacks than he does with the staid middle class whites. There are some hilarious scenes of culture clashes in these passages. Later he meets Paul and Jane Bowles, who launch his career as a writer. They, too, take him to the States with similarly numerous results. We also get to follow Mrabet's adventures with European swingers, falling into matrimony, and his rather Zen philosophy of life.
While I found this slim volume fascinating because I've spent a lot of time in Tangier and read a great deal about its history, someone who isn't a fan of the place will miss a lot of the references. For example, Marguerite McBey is mentioned but nothing is said about her important place in Tangier society. I hope this work is republished with a long introduction to explain the context to those readers who have not learned about it from other sources.

View all my reviews
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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