Friday, 21 July 2017

Military History Photo Friday: The Screw Picket, A Simple Yet Brilliant Invention of World War One

In war, sometimes it's the little details that make the difference between life and death. In the early part of the war, when both sides started sneaking into No Man's Land at night to string barbed wire to protect their trenches, the Allies couldn't figure out how the Germans were doing it so quietly. The British and French wiring parties would often attract unwanted attention while hammering in the pickets to hold the barbed wire. Although they used padded mallets and put more padding on the tops of the pickets, they couldn't help but make some noise, and the alert Germans would hear it, send up a flare, and spot them. You can imagine what happened next.

Then, on 15 August 1915, the Indian Corps discovered the secret. The Germans used a different type of picket to suspend barbed wire. Called a "screw picket", it had a corkscrew on the bottom and an eye at the top through which to stick a bayonet or entrenching tool. Then all the soldier had to do was twist and screw the picket into the soil. This was much quieter than hammering, and once the Allies learned the trick they saved many lives.

The above photo, courtesy Wikimedia Commons, shows a British wiring party moving forward. Since it's daytime, this is either staged or in a rear area. You can clearly see the corkscrew on the bottom and the eye on the top.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Leaving for Oxford

It's time for our biannual research trip to Oxford! We're there every Easter and summer. As usual I'll be researching in the Bodleian Library, one of the greatest libraries in the world, and doing a variety of freelance projects as well as my own stuff. I'm planning a few trips to London and the countryside, so there should be some nice pics coming up here and on my Instagram account.

And just a reminder, my post-apocalyptic novel Radio Hope is still just 99 cents through July 19 on all the Amazons!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Get Radio Hope for only 99 cents!

For the next week, through July 19, my post-apocalyptic science fiction novel Radio Hope is only 99 cents on Amazon. This is the first of the Toxic World series, which has three books and a spin-off novella. Book Four is coming out in the autumn. Radio Hope, however, can also be read as a standalone novel. I'm not pulling you into some sort of crack dealer arrangement. :-) A blurb is below.

In a world shattered by war, pollution and disease. . .
A gunslinging mother longs to find a safe refuge for her son.
A frustrated revolutionary delivers water to villagers living on a toxic waste dump.
The assistant mayor of humanity's last city hopes he will never have to take command.
One thing gives them the promise of a better future--Radio Hope, a mysterious station that broadcasts vital information about surviving in a blighted world. But when a mad prophet and his army of fanatics march out of the wildlands on a crusade to purify the land with blood and fire, all three will find their lives intertwining, and changing forever.

Radio Hope is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and all the other Amazons. Enjoy and please spread the word!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Military History Photo Friday: El Castillo de San José in Lanzarote, Canary Islands

As I mentioned on Monday, I was on vacation in Lanzarote all last week. Even though I wasn't writing, I was keeping my eye out for interesting blog post material. This week on Black Gate I blogged about the island's Piracy Museum, and next week will see another Lanzarote post as well.

And here's something for this blog, a fort called El Castillo de San José, which guarded the approach to the port of Arrecife. It was built between 1776 and 1779. The whole island is dotted with forts to protect the various harbors from pirates and rival powers such as the British.

A combination double-header outhouse and gun turret. The soldiers were apparently not shy, or just lonely.

This particular fort was actually built in a time of relative peace as a make-work project for the islanders, who were going through tough economic times thanks to a drought and a volcanic eruption that ruined the crops. Thus it earned the name Fortaleza del Hambre (Hunger Fortress).

It now houses a contemporary art museum and a cool restaurant/bar that retains its 1970s decor.

The restaurant gives a fine view of the fishing port.
The original Seventies interior is intact.
Even the stairs to the bathroom are groovy!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Last Hotel Room is on sale for 99 cents

Kindle Press is promoting the electronic edition of my novel, The Last Hotel Room, for 99 cents from July 5-11 in the Amazon US store only.

It deals with the Syrian refugee crisis and an American who breaks out of his self-pity and apathy to try and help. I wrote it to be timely and political, and never thought it would get as timely and political as this! Please share. A portion of my royalties goes to Syrian refugees.

Check out the Kindle page and you'll see that several Kindle Press reader favorites are on sale during this period, so look through them and gather up some great reading!

And a big thank you to all who voted for it during the Kindle Scout competition. You rock!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Back From Vacation and Back To Work

For the last eight days I've been doing something rare for me--nothing! I went on a vacation to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to see some of my in-laws and the World's Coolest Nephew. This wasn't one of my usual research/writing trips, but an actual vacation where I didn't write for a full eight days, the longest I've gone without writing in I don't know how long. The last time I took an actual vacation was five years ago when I spent a long weekend in Wales.

It was refreshing, and now I'm back in Spain and back to work. Lots more ghostwriting, plus working on the fourth Toxic World post-apocalyptic novel, and another project I'll talk about in a later post. Lanzarote was tons of fun, but it's good to be back!

What have you been up to so far this summer?

Friday, 2 June 2017

Military History Photo Friday: Sixteenth Century Ivory Powder Horns

Sometimes even the most common objects can be turned into works of art. Here are some powder horns from the sixteenth century, intricately carved in ivory. This was the age of wheellock firearms, and these powder horns, used to hold gunpowder, would have been carried by the nobility on hunting expeditions. Common soldiers had to settle for more basic models.

I discovered these beauties at the Museo Lazaro Galdiano here in Madrid, the same place I saw that amazing roll top desk from my last post. They have a large collection of art, arms and armor, sculpture, even retro toys!

To see more of the museum's collection, check out my post on the Black Gate blog on the Museo Lazaro Galdiano.

This one seems to have been carved out of an animal leg bone. Nothing went to waste in those days!

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.