Friday, 10 June 2016

Friday again, and time for another blog post.

I've been wondering what to write about this week. Not because I have no ideas, but rather because I'm a bit overwhelmed. I've been posting book reviews a bit lately and I do have a book to review – the definitely superior quality historical romance, The Masters Wife by Jane Jackson. That said, I been reviewing quite a few other authors’ works lately and I don't really want this to turn into a book blog, so I'm afraid Jane will have to wait for another week.

Then there was the idea of writing about the places that feature in Back Home. I have photographs of many locations as they are today and I had intended to write about them here. I got as far as writing the first one (The Crown ) but then I got distracted. (I'm easily distracted.)

A couple of days ago, I read an article explaining that you should take blogging seriously as a way to sell your books. Perhaps, I thought, I could write about why I write this blog, what I'm trying to do, and how nice it would be if you wrote back to me in the 'Comments' at the bottom of the page (please do). Then, yesterday, I saw a publisher promoting books for Fathers Day and it occurred to me that rather than write about how you can use a blog to sell books, I could try actually using my blog to sell books.

I've written three books are now about the Napoleonic spy, James Burke. James Burke really existed and the first of his adventures, Burke in the Land of Silver, is quite closely based on real life. James Burke, when not romantically involved with queens, princesses, or dangerous ladies, was a very successful agent for the British. It was probably due to his intelligence that the British army was able to seize Buenos Aires, although political incompetence meant they were unable to hold the city for long. Burke in the Land of Silver is a tale of derring-do with the action moving between Europe and the Americas as Burke plots both with and against the Spanish to serve the political interests of his country. There's more than a touch of James Bond to James Burke, but his adventures are firmly rooted in historical fact. There are battles and secret messages and beautiful women and daring escapes. There may even be a touch of the supernatural – or is there? All in all, it's a rollicking good read and history has never been so painless.

The second book about James Burke, Burke and the Bedouin, is set in 1798. Napoleon has taken the British by surprise and invaded Egypt. It's part of the Napoleonic wars that people nowadays tend to have forgotten, though the Battle of the Pyramids and Nelson's great victory at the Battle of the Nile were the sort of stuff that, once upon a time, every schoolboy was supposed to know. I say "boy" advisedly, because I suspect that this style of teaching left many schoolgirls cold. Moving away from that approach is hardly the end of ‘proper history teaching’, but it has deprived us of some good stories. Burke and the Bedouin is an old-fashioned adventure yarn. There is an evil villain, a beautiful damsel in distress, midnight rides across the desert, and desperate fights with kidnappers and assorted evil-doers. And while Burke is doing all this, there's the little matter of trying to stop Napoleon from leading an army across the desert to India. If you give this one to your dad, he'll enjoy the story and possibly not even notice that he knows a lot more about Napoleon's early campaigns when he finishes than he did when he started.

From the beginning of Napoleon's rise to domination over Europe to the end: Burke at Waterloo starts with Napoleon exiled in Elba and ends with his defeat at the eponymous battle. Burke's adventures start in Paris, foiling a plot to assassinate Wellington. (The plot really existed.) He pursues one of Napoleon's agents to Brussels with the chase coming to a deadly climax on the field of Waterloo itself.

So there you are: three books that make ideal Father's Day gifts. Each one, obviously, is a stand-alone story, though all three together will take you on a thrilling ride through the history of the wars with France. A quarter of a million words, eight countries, one of Britain’s greatest sea victories and the Battle of Waterloo seen up close and personal, all for less than £8 on Kindle. (Burke and the Bedouin and Burke at Waterloo are also both available in paperback at £9.99.) Fathers Day sorted and I’ve paid attention to the idea that I should try to sell my books on my blog.

Have a good week.


  1. Great post, Tom - hope you are successful in making some sales.

  2. Thanks. I hope you get some sales from the post I wrote last week. Judging from the Comments on it, you may well. :)

  3. I only wish my father were still with us, your work would be something he would very much enjoy. But you have an excellent idea there! I will mention it to others who may be looking for a good read for their dads.