Friday, 18 January 2019

The Last Hotel Room is on sale for 99 cents!

Just a quick note to say the Kindle Press has put my novel about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, The Last Hotel Room, on sale as a 99 cent ebook on Amazon US until Friday, January 25.
A portion of the proceeds goes to help refugees.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

My Travel Year: A Look Back and a Look Forward

The Duomo in Florence, Italy

Is January 17 too late to write a retrospective? I'm not sure.
As my regular readers know, I'm a bit of a travel junkie. Well, this year I only got half a fix. While I did some fun trips, I didn't get to any new countries. I hope to remedy that in 2019.
In 2018, I went to Tangier twice, because it's a great place for a writing retreat. I know the city well, I have friends there, but it's also quiet and I can get some peace and work. I also traveled around Spain a bit, most notably the historic city of Córdoba. The highlight of the travel year was visiting Florence. I have been around Italy a bit, but I had never seen the jewel in its crown and I must say I was totally blown away. I must get back there sometime. Anyone who lives art, architecture, and history will be absolutely stunned for the entire time they are in Florence.
So what's up for 2019? For the next three weeks I'll be in Egypt to work on my next Cairo mystery novel. I'll be based in Cairo seeing friends, but I'll also be exploring places I haven't seen before in the Western Desert. This will be my fourth trip to Egypt but there's still heaps I haven't seen.
I also hope to go to Morocco again, although probably Fez instead of Tangier. I've never seen Morocco's most ancient and religious city even though I've been to the country at least ten times. There will also be some more travel around Spain, the usual England summer stay, and hopefully a second trip to Egypt near the end of the year.
So when will I fit in that new country I want to see? I don't really know, but Tunisia is calling my name!
I write up my travels on the Black Gate blog, so if you'd like to read more, head on over there and put my name or one of the place names I mentioned into the search field. You'll get plenty of reading and pictures. I also put travel stories in my newsletter, as well as pictures on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The interior of the great mosque in Córdoba, Spain

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

My Writing Year: A Look Back and a Look Forward

Well, it's that time of the year again when everyone starts making resolutions, so here goes.

First off, let's look at what happened with my writing in 2018. I came out with four books under my own name. Right at the beginning of the year, Kindle Press published the first in my Masked Man of Cairo mystery series, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid. This was the book that won the Kindle Scout contest in 2017. Thanks once again to all of you who supported my campaign. Amazon also bought the rights to put that book on Prime, which has really helped sales for that book and the second in the series, The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus.

I also started a new mystery series, this one set in 1950s Morocco. The first book is called Tangier Bank Heist. I closed out the year with a nonfiction book called Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors.

So four books under my own name in a year. Not bad, but I want to ramp it up in 2019. The problem is that I am a ghostwriter as well, working for a few different clients writing novels in several genres. It's fun, it keeps me eating and traveling, but of course it takes up time and energy.

So my main writing focus this year is to carve out more time for my own books. I decided to write 1,000 words a day of my own fiction this year. I quickly revised that resolution to 7,000 words a week. You see, life happens, and there will be days where I won't get to around to writing my own stuff because of illness, travel, family stuff, or looming deadlines for my clients. You can follow my progress on various projects on the right-hand column of this blog.

It also reflects how I write. Since being a ghostwriter means I'm working on two and sometimes even three novels at the same time, I tend to write in clumps. I'll do 3,000 words for Novel A, then set it aside for a couple of days while I work on Novel B and revise Novel C. This helps keep forward momentum. When I need to stop and think what to do next in one novel, I can work on another while my subconscious works it out.

My other resolution is to study more about marketing. This has always been my weak spot and I spent a fair amount of time studying marketing and putting techniques into practice in 2018. In 2019 I'll be doing that even more.

I'll also try to blog at least once a week here, and update my author's Facebook page three times a week. Facebook seems to be the way most readers prefer to contact me, so I'll keep you all entertained with updates on my work and travels, as well as interesting archaeology news. I'll also try to come out with six issues of my newsletter, a free publication that includes a travel piece, a short story, and a coupon for one of my books with every issue.

It's going to be a busy year and that's the way I like it!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

End of the Year Ebook Sale!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

If you're stuck at home immobilized because you've eaten too much, try some discounted reading on me. From December 25-January 1, all my titles at Smashwords will be 50% off as part of their Year End Sale. My titles there include the Trench Raiders series, my Civil War novels, my book on Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors, and a few other goodies. The discount will automatically be applied at checkout. You can find all my discounted books on my Smashwords page.


(This was written ahead of time. When you read this, I'll be in Tangier working on another North African mystery. I'm really enjoying writing those.)

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors

I just came out with a new book. Unlike my usual novels, this one is a book on writing craft. Called Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors, it is exactly what it says on the tin. I've studied the habits of authors who have written hundreds of novels to look for the secrets to their long-term productivity. I hope it helps some writers out there. It's certainly helped me! You can get it on Amazon, and Smashwords, and soon all other ebook outlets, as well as in print. The blurb is below.

What does it take to write 100 books? What about 500? Or 1,000?
That may sound like an impossibly high number, but it isn’t. Some of the world’s most successful authors wrote hundreds of books over the course of highly lucrative careers. Isaac Asimov wrote more than 300 books. Enid Blyton wrote more than 800. Legendary Western writer Lauren Bosworth Paine wrote close to 1,000.
Some wrote even more.
This book examines the techniques and daily habits of more than a dozen of these remarkable writers to show how anyone with the right mindset can massively increase their word count without sacrificing quality. Learn the secrets of working on several projects simultaneously, of reducing the time needed for each book, and how to build the work ethic you need to become more prolific than you ever thought possible.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Travel Tuesday: A Medieval Synagogue in Córdoba, Spain

The entrance to the synagogue. The gallery above the entrance was reserved for women, who were kept out of sight of the men praying downstairs.

I just got back from Córdoba, a fascinating medieval town in southern Spain that was the capital of Islamic Spain for many years and remained important in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A hallmark of the city during its Islamic rule was the large Jewish community, which got kicked out in 1492 when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled all the Jews and Muslims after completing the Reconquista.

Luckily a synagogue built in 1315, at the high point of Andalusian Jewish culture, has been remarkably preserved. Its decoration was common for Spanish synagogues of the time, incorporating complex plaster work in the Islamic style. After 1492, the building was used as a hospital and later a shoemaker's guild. At some point the plaster work was covered over, hiding it but also preserving it. In 1884, as the building fell into decay, some of this later mortar work fell away and the earlier decoration revealed. The synagogue was declared a national monument a year later.

The decoration is similar to a synagogue in Tangier I visited a couple of years ago. Click the link for more about that.

A closeup of the arch. Note the cross that was added later.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

The End of World War One

A hundred years ago today at 11:11 am, one of the most destructive wars in the history of the world finally ended. World War One led to the fall of several governments, destroyed large swathes of Europe, and killed millions of people. Not just confined to Europe, battles were fought in the Middle East, the Far East, and Africa.

The signing of the Armistice led to wild celebrations in the victorious countries, and a huge sigh of relief in the defeated ones. German civilians were close to starvation thanks to the Allied blockade, and had long since become sick of the war. Little did they know that less than 30 years later they would be in for worse.

This photo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, shows The Black Watch celebrating in their camp. As you can see, they are mired in mud, and the photo itself is battered and faded. I think it makes a fitting image for this post.

As regular readers of my blog know, I've been writing a series of action novels set in the Great War called Trench Raiders. I'll be coming out with book four, Under the Front, in the coming year. It will deal with the tunnelers' war, those brave men on both sides who endured unthinkable conditions to tunnel underneath enemy lines. The heroes of Company E are sent in to help, and poor Crawford, the bravest of the brave, discovers a phobia he didn't know he had.

So take a moment today to think about what our forefathers had to endure in those tough times.

May they never come again.
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.