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.

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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

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cats of Cairo

Snoozing in the garden of the National Museum

Anyone who travels in the Muslim world will notice something--there are an awful lot of cats around. There's a big tradition of loving cats in Muslim society, especially Arab society. The Hadith even has a story about how Mohammad was sitting with some of his followers preaching when a cat curled up on the corner of his robe and went to sleep. When Mohammad finished his sermon the cat was still asleep, and rather than disturb it he cut off the corner of his robe.

In my last two writing retreats in Cairo, I met plenty of Egyptian cats. Here are a few.

Begging for food at a restaurant at Saqqara
Admiring the sunset along the Corniche on the banks of the Nile
The disused back staircase in my building has been taken over by cats
Admiring some historic Muslim architecture

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Join the Write1Sub1 Challenge



In my post on this year's writing goals, I mentioned that I am planning to write a short story every month this year. To help make sure I do this, I've revived an old Facebook group I used to be a member of. Write1Sub1 takes its inspiration from Ray Bradbury, who one year wrote and submitted a short story every week.

So this year we are going to write a short story and submit a short story every week. They don't have to be the same short story, because you probably want to let a story sit for a while before going back and editing it with a fresh set of eyes.

Many of us (including yours truly) are more novelists at heart, so if you don't think you can face a weekly challenge, you can write and submit once a month.

When I did this challenge back in 2014, I tried the weekly challenge. I burned out after four months, but got 16 stories written, many of which got published in magazines and anthologies and the rest assembled into a collection I indie published. It really does work!
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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