Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Case of the Purloined Pyramid is out now!

Today Kindle Press released my neo-pulp detective novel The Case of the Purloined Pyramid in ebook format. The print edition will come out later this month. This is the first in the Masked Man of Cairo series and I'm hard at work on the second. You can get the first book here. A blurb is below.

An ancient mystery. A modern murder.

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

My Travel Year: A Look Back and a Look Forward


This past year has been pretty good for travel with me. I went to Egypt twice, spending a total of six weeks there to start my Masked Man of Cairo neo-pulp detective series. I made some great friends, explored Cairo more thoroughly than I did when I was first there way back in 1991, and got to see the pyramids again. Always a plus! I also had an all-too-brief trip to Tangier. I've been to that city a dozen times now and it still relaxes me. It's a quick and cheap getaway from Madrid, being only an hour's flight away, and I always seem to get a lot of writing done. You see, I hardly ever go on a real vacation. All my trips are work trips but enjoyable anyway. As usual, my family and I spent Easter and the summer in Oxford as we do every year. I get lots of research done at the university library.


So what's in store for 2018? More Egypt, certainly, and perhaps a trip to Fez, a fascinating Moroccan city I still haven't explored. For Egypt I intend to go to the western oases, which I have never seen, and perhaps up the river again to revisit the sites around Luxor and Aswan. There will be the usual trips to England and around Spain, and perhaps a few other short trips. One trip I and my family would like to do is a visit to Paris. A good friend lives there and my son is taking French in school, so he can be our translator. And who knows what else 2018 will throw at me? We shall see.

Monday, 1 January 2018

My Writing in 2017 and Looking Forward to 2018


Happy New Year! Well, at least if you use the Gregorian calendar like I do. It's been a busy year and I'm looking forward to an even busier one in 2018.
At the beginning of the year I set myself the challenge of writing a million words a year. I counted words the same way I did in 2016: fiction, nonfiction, and blogging all count. I also included editing at a ratio of 10:1, so editing 10,000 words counts as writing 1,000. I rounded down to the nearest 250 words.
So how did I do? I got to 927,000 words, up from 900,750 in 2016. So I missed my goal, but still had my best writing year to date. I'll be trying for the million mark again this year. We'll see how that goes.
Despite it being my best year, I was not entirely happy with my output. Much of it was ghostwriting, and while that certainly helped my bank account, it meant that no new titles came out under my name in 2017, a first in more than a decade. I also ended up in a higher income bracket and the taxman really nailed me.
I did have some successes. My neo-pulp mystery novel, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, won the Kindle Scout program and got a contract with Kindle Press. The ebook edition comes out January 9 and the print edition later this month. I also got more than a third of the way through the next in the series, The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus.
This year I'm making a concerted effort to work on more of my fiction. This will mean saying no to some ghostwriting offers, but I think it's best for my long-term career. Sales of my own books fell off sharply in 2017 because I wasn't bringing out more stuff, and that needs to change. In this new publishing world, visibility is the key. So, besides a million words for this year, here are some more resolutions I'll try to stick to:
Writing 1,000 words a day of my own fiction.
Writing a short story every month (more on that later).
Pitching a nonfiction article every month.
Getting more of my back list out in print, and sprucing up things like metatags and blurbs.
It's going to be a busy year!
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!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Case of the Purloined Pyramid available for preorder!



My neo-pulp detective novel The Case of the Purloined Pyramid is now available for preorder. This recently won the Kindle Scout program and is being published by Kindle Press. Thanks to all of you who voted for it and you should have already received an email from Amazon on how to download your free copy. I'm in Cairo now working on the second in the Masked Man of Cairo series, The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus. You can get the first book here. A blurb is below.

An ancient mystery. A modern murder.

Sir Augustus Wall, a horribly mutilated veteran of the Great War, has left Europe behind to open an antiquities shop in Cairo. But Europe’s troubles follow him as a priceless inscription is stolen and those who know its secrets start turning up dead. Teaming up with Egyptology expert Moustafa Ghani, and Faisal, an irritating street urchin he just can't shake, Sir Wall must unravel an ancient secret and face his own dark past.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Off to Egypt!

Two of the five Abusir pyramids

Today I'm off to Egypt for another three-week writing retreat. During the last one I worked on The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, the first in a series of neo-pulp detective novels in the Masked Man of Cairo series. This time around I'm going to continue the adventures of Augustus, Moustafa, and Faisal in The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus.

I'll be visiting friends and old haunts in and around Cairo, and seeing some new sites as well. The main one will be Abusir, a V Dynasty pyramid field that was built by the pharaohs after the Giza plateau filled up in the IV Dynasty.

I probably won't be blogging much, but I will be posting regular pictures and updates on my Facebook author page and my Instagram account.

Stela from the tomb of Ptahshepses (vizier under the pharoah Nyuserre)

Images courtesy Wikimedia Commons. My own pics coming soon!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Military History Photo Friday: The Volkshandgranate 45, A Grenade Made Out Of Concrete:


I've been reading Antony Beevor's excellent history book Berlin: The Downfall 1945 as part of my research for my Volkssturm novel. The Volkssturm were a German civilian militia formed in October 1944 in a last desperate bid to stop the Allied advance. The Volkssturm called up all able-bodied men aged 16 to 60 who weren’t already in uniform. It also called up some women.

A passing mention in Beevor's book told me of a weapon I didn't know about--the Volkshandgranate 45, or the "people's hand grenade 1945". This crude grenade was developed in the last months of the war and was the product of a chronic shortage of raw material. By this time most of the Third Reich's industrial base had been taken by the Russians, and the Germans resorted to making hand grenades out of concrete. These would be filled with bits of scrap metal, gravel, and nuggets of cement. The whole thing was fitted with a fuse and some explosive. Beevor says the Volkshandgranate 45 was more dangerous to the user than the target, and yet hundreds of thousands of them were produced in the last months of the war and distributed to the Volkssturm, Wehrmacht, and even some elite SS units.

It just goes to show how desperate the Third Reich had become in the last months of its existence. As the Nobel Prize winning author Heinrich Böll, who was drafted in to the army during the war, put it, the men were fighting not for their country, but for survival, and their only hope was that they would somehow survive after they were defeated.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Case of the Purloined Pyramid Has Been Selected For Publication!

My detective novel The Case of the Purloined Pyramid 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 couple of months. When I have an exact publication date I'll post it here.

Thanks a million!

I'm off to Cairo in December to write the next book. More on that later. . .
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.