Friday, 24 June 2016

The Battle of Bannockburn: A Victory for Scottish Independence

On the first day of battle, Scottish leader Robert the Bruce engaged in single combat with the English knight Henry de Bohun and knocked his brains out with an axe. This led to a surge in Scottish morale and a charge that broke the English lines. Robert the Bruce later complained that this blow broke his favorite axe.

In the light of current events, I thought I'd mention that it's the 702nd anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, when on 23-24 June 1314, a Scottish force destroyed an invading English army, securing Scottish independence.

The First War for Scottish Independence was already well underway. Stirling Castle in Scotland was held by the English but under siege by a Scottish force. The defenders had already agreed to surrender if they weren't relieved by mid-summer. The castle was vital to the war effort of both sides since it dominated the route into the Highlands.

King Edward II of England personally led an army of an estimated 2,000 heavy cavalry and 15,000 infantry, most of them longbowmen, to relieve the castle. Facing him was an army under the Scottish king Robert the Bruce numbering no more than 10,000, only about 500 of whom were mounted.

Stirling Castle

Repeated English cavalry charges failed to break the Scottish formations and after two days of bloody fighting, the English withdrew, having suffered heavy losses. They would suffer more. As they made their way south, they were harassed by a Scottish pursuing force and isolated English soldiers were set upon by local peasants. King Edward got away, but 700 men-at-arms were killed, another 500 captured for ransom, and up to 11,000 English infantry never made it home. The Scottish lost at most 4,000 men, although some historians put their casualties much lower. Stirling Castle surrendered and Scottish independence was secure for a time.

Scotland did, of course, end up in the United Kingdom eventually, but will it remain so? With every single Scottish county voting against leaving the European Union, some by huge margins, there is almost certainly going to be another vote in Scotland regarding the independence issue. Hopefully no one will get their heads caved in with an axe this time.

Images courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The earliest depiction of the battle comes from the Scotichronicon (c.1440), a book of Scottish history written by Walter Bower

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Handed in the Final Edits for The Last Hotel Room

This morning is submitted the final edits for The Last Hotel Room to Kindle Press. They'll look them over and shoot back some edits of their own, and then the book will be on preorder. Watch this space!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Last Hotel Room Selected for Publication!

My novel The Last Hotel Room has been selected for publication by Kindle Press. Thanks to everyone who voted for it during my Kindle Scout campaign, and a big thanks to my brother-in-law Andrés for the great cover! Everyone who voted for it will get a free ebook copy when it comes out in a month or two. When I have an exact publication date I'll post it here.

Thanks a million!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Military History Photo Friday: Images of the Mexican-American War

I'm currently taking a break from book four of my Toxic World post-apocalyptic series to write Warpath Into Sonora, a Western about a group of Apaches getting caught up in the Mexican-American War. So here are a couple of images from that conflict.

The top image is a daguerreotype of the Virginia regiment and Webster's battalion in Saltillo, Mexico, courtesy of the Yale Collection of Western Americana. It was taken in 1847 or 1848, making it one of the earliest military photographs ever taken. The men are formed up in front of a row of buildings while a couple of people on the right stare at the camera, probably wondering how that strange box on legs worked.

Below is a painting commissioned by the U.S. Army. It shows a fight in Resaca de la Palma, Texas, 9 May 1846. Captain Charles A. May's squadron of the 2d Dragoons (now 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment) slashed through the enemy lines in an attack that climaxed the opening campaigns of the war. A force of 2,500 American soldiers under Zachary Taylor shattered the Mexican force of 6,000 and ejected it from Texas

Warpath Into Sonora is proceeding well and I should have it to my beta readers by early July. Then it's back to the apocalypse!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Last Three Days to Nominate my Novel on Kindle Scout!

I'm in the final days of the Kindle Scout contest for my novel, The Last Hotel Room. 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.

My book is the one I was writing during all those trips to Tangier. It's set in contemporary Tangier and deals with refugee crisis. A blurb is below.

He came to Tangier to die, but life isn’t done with him yet.
Tom Miller has lost his job, his wife, and his dreams. Broke and alone, he ends up in a flophouse in Morocco, ready to end it all. But soon he finds himself tangled in a web of danger and duty as he’s pulled into scamming tourists for a crooked cop while trying to help a Syrian refugee boy survive life on the streets. Can a lifelong loser do something good for a change?
$500 of my advance will go to a charity for Syrian refugees.

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. I could use some voting love!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group: About to Lose A Contest

It's that time again, when the Insecure Writer's Support Group airs its angst to the world. I have two bits of angst myself. The first is that I've just come back from my writing retreat in Tangier to all the distractions and annoyances of regular daily life. In Tangier, since I had few distractions, I was hitting a daily goal of 4,000 words. Not a chance I can do that here, but I have to keep from getting discouraged.

The main discouragement is that my novel The Last Hotel Room, is not doing well over on Kindle Scout. This is an Amazon popularity contest where those books that get the most nominations are considered for a publishing contract. My book is 22 days into its 30 day voting period and it hasn't garnered enough votes to make it into the Hot & Trending column, which I suspect is what Amazon is really looking for.

Part of the reason I'm not doing well is that I'm truly craptastic at self-promotion. I'm also up against a lot of books in the "Literature and Fiction" category that are actually F/SF/H. There are separate categories for that, but people double tag their books to get more visibility. I can't do that too since my book doesn't fit into those categories. Ah, well!

If I don't win the contest at least the book will be out this month. It's ready to go.

Keep on writing!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Back from Tangier!

I just flew back from Tangier, and boy are my arms tired!

Actually it's my fingers that are tired from all the writing I did. Now that The Last Hotel Room is up for nomination on Kindle Scout (please vote!) I've been working on some new projects in my regular Moroccan writing retreat. The first is a ghostwriting project that takes the characters to Morocco, plus I'm also writing a Western. Yeah, it takes some stretching of the imagination to do that one while living in a Moroccan medina.

Anyway, I had a great time as usual, seeing old friends and making some new ones. Being away from email and editors helped me focus on the writing, getting 4,000 words done on most days. While I write for a living and usually have a good daily word count, when I'm in Madrid there always seems to be some sort of distraction or unavoidable timesuck that keeps me from usually hitting so high.

So what's next for the traveling writer? I might have a quick trip here in Spain this month, but otherwise I'll be in Madrid until mid July, when we head up to Oxford for our usual summer stay. After that maybe Turkey and definitely Tangier!
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.