Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Scavenger: Post-Apocalyptic Ebook Free Through January 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 teaser for 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 Sunday, January 22, feel free to share, like, tweet, etc!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Travel Tuesday: Find the Moroccan Cat!

This is a shot of my rooftop in Tangier, Morocco. Can you spot the cat? Do NOT give the answer in the comments section!

My next trip will be the last two weeks of February, when I go to Cairo to work on a novel and see a friend. I'll be posting plenty of photos!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A New Writing Challenge: A Million Words in 2017!

Like I mentioned in my review of my writing year, I had my most productive year in 2016 to date with 900,750 words written. I've decided to challenge myself to get to a cool million this year. I'm going to count words the same way I did in last year: fiction, nonfiction, and blogging all count. I also include editing, at a ratio of 10:1, so editing 10,000 words counts as writing 1,000. I'll round down to the nearest 250 words.

My ghostwriting career has picked up in the past year, and so more word count means more money. I also want to keep up productivity of my own books.

I've added a word count meter on the right hand margin of this blog so you can follow my progress. I'll try to update it every Sunday.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Military History Photo Friday: A Walking Stick Gun

I spotted this interesting weapon in the Medieval Museum in Bologna last month. It dates from the 18th century. As you can see, if combines a flintlock musket with a gentleman's walking stick. The perfect thing for a relaxing stroll!

Italy was a lot of fun. I'm writing a series of articles about it every Wednesday for Black Gate. I've already posted on the medieval towers of Bologna, and the Etruscan treasures in the city's archaeological museum. Another post will follow this coming Wednesday!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Feliz Día de los Reyes Magos!

Today is the day of the three kings here in Spain, coinciding with Epiphany, when the three kings or wise men brought gifts in the baby Jesus. It always made more sense to me to give gifts on this day than Christmas, and that's what the Spanish do. There's also a huge meal, because no Spanish holiday goes by without a huge meal. We get a huge meal on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, the night before Día de los Reyes Magos, etc. As you can imagine, I've been hitting the gym pretty hard to compensate.

This photo is from the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, built by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric in 504 AD. It's decorated in the early Byzantine style with lovely gold mosaics that no photo can really do justice to. Ravenna is filled with early church art and you'll be seeing plenty of it on this blog in the weeks to come.

The Three Kings are really popular here in Spain, and there's a big parade for them every year. It's interesting that there's been some changes in how they're depicted since the 6th century. Balthazar, the swarthy fellow on the left, is said to have come from Ethiopia. In this mosaic he's almost white. Until recent years he was portrayed in Spain by a guy in blackface. Thankfully now he's played by an actual African. Melchior is played by an old man and Gaspar by a young man, but in this mosaic the roles are reversed. I wonder why that happened?

¡Feliz Día de los Reyes Magos!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Writing Rules

Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group, where on the first Wednesday of the month we vent our frustrations and fears to the world. This months' question is: "What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?"

All of them. All rules can be broken. Can't write in dialect? Tell that to Irvine Welsh. Can't use adverbs? Tell that to J.K. Rowling. Can't kill off major characters over and over and over again until your readers scream for mercy? Tell that to George R.R. Martin.

Can't make a living writing? Tell that to me and thousands of other people.

There are no rules, only guidelines that can be bent if you figure out how to do it right. The idea of there being writing rules comes out of high school and college English classes, often taught by people who haven't written very much. Writers have to unlearn all this nonsense in order to get ahead. Author Dean Wesley Smith has done a brilliant series of blog posts called Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing that's well worth reading. I don't agree with everything he says (otherwise there would be no point in my reading him) and I do think he overstates his case in a few places, but on the whole I think this blog series makes excellent reading for all beginning and mid-career writers.

Happy 2017!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

My Writing Year: A Look Back and a Look Forward

So here we are at the start of another year. Time to look back at what we've accomplished in the past 365 days and what's coming up.

All through 2016, I've been keeping a running tally of my word count, including fiction, nonfiction, and blogging. I also include editing, at a ratio of 10:1, so editing 10,000 words counts as writing 1,000. While this is the first year I've kept track of my word count, I'm sure this is my most prolific year so far. I ended up with 900,750 words, an average of 17,322 words a week. While this sounds impressive, writing is my day job. There are plenty of professional writers who blow my word count out of the water. James Reasoner has written a million words a year for the past 12 years. No wonder he has 344 novels under his belt. I'm downright lazy by comparison!

The first of my novels to come out this year is the one I'm most proud of. The Last Hotel Room was picked up by Kindle Press. It's about the Syrian refugee crisis, and as I promised during my Kindle Scout campaign I donated $500 to Doctors Without Borders for their excellent work on the ground in Syrian refugee camps. Thanks for your support! I'll be donating a portion of my royalties too once I pay though my advance.

That same month I also released Warpath into Sonora, a Western from the Apache point of view. It's my first Western unless you count my Missouri Civil War novels.

On a related note, Osprey Publishing also came out with my Apache Warrior vs US Cavalryman, part of their Combat series that takes a grunt's-eye view of conflict from both sides. This is the seventh book I've written for them. You can see all my Osprey titles here.

The bulk of my work has been ghostwriting. I've ghostwritten five novels and a short story this year, plus the bulk of a sixth novel. You can read more about this aspect of my career in a post I did for Black Gate.

So what's in store for 2017? I want to hit a million words this year! I already have two ghostwriting contracts lined up, plus a bunch of my own books. You can keep track of my progress with the word count bars on the right side of this blog.

If you're a writer, artist, or other creative type, how did your past year go? What are you plans for this one? Tell us in the comments section!

Happy 2017!
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.