October 8, 2009

Invasion: Julian Stockwin's New Kydd Novel Focuses on Robert Fulton and the Invention of the Submarine

The tenth Kydd Sea Adventure has just hit the bookstores and online shops. Author Julian Stockwin has pulled out all the stops as he explores the links between real life American inventor Robert Fulton (he of the steamship) and Napoleonic France, as well as Great Britain. Seems Fulton has invented a couple of newfangled naval weapons which he calls the "submarine" and the "torpedo." Trouble is, he can't get anyone to believe in them--or in him. Eventually Kydd is called upon by the Navy to assist the inventor. Skeptical of the inventions, Kydd must face a whole new type of warfare.

Purchase Invasion, by Julian Stockwin, from McBooks Press.

September 30, 2009

HMS Victory's Future is Secure

Author Julian Stockwin reports in his e-zine BOSUN'S CHRONICLE that the Victory (Horatio Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar) will not be sold but instead will be included as part of the new Museum of the Royal Navy. To celebrate, Victory launched an impressive rolling broadside. Here's Julian's report:

Victory herself launched this new initiative with an impressive firing of 64 cannon on September 18. The rolling broadside was launched by the ship's commanding officer and consisted of 50 random gunshots running from forward to aft. After a short delay this was followed by a further 14 shots using each of these guns in an impressive finale. Amazingly, given the spectacular nature of this event, the amount of gunpowder used was less than the gunner onboard at Trafalgar would have used for a single shot.

By the way, an estimated 6,000 trees were used to build Victory, 90 per cent of them oaks.

September 22, 2009

Author Douglas Jacobson talks about historical research

Douglas Jacobson, author of Night of Flames, posted a guest article for "As the Pages Turn" book blog. In it he discusses what it takes to write good historical fiction, and describes his own research into WWII.

Getting it Right . . . Doing Research for Historical Novels

As the old saying goes, “The devil is in the detail.” One of the reasons I have always loved historical fiction is that it is a truly marvelous way to learn a bit of history. Some authors of non-fiction (Stephen Ambrose comes to mind) have a flair and style of writing that make their work enjoyable and easy to read. But, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing quite like curling up with Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance or Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth for the ultimate reading experience . . . and, a great way to learn history.

And that brings us to the issue at hand. Writing good historical fiction places a special burden on the author, the burden of getting it right. (Read more at "As the Pages Turn.")

August 11, 2009

Julian Stockwin offers book giveaway

Win a Set of All Nine Kydd Sea Adventures! Plus the New Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany!

Julian Stockwin, author of the Kydd Sea Adventures is offering visitors to his website the chance to win his books--and a handy jute Union Jack tote to put them in.

Check out his website for more information!


June 12, 2009

George Kimball Profiled In Kansas Alumni Magazine

McBooks Press author George Kimball was recently profiled in the Kansas Alumni Magazine. The article, by Tom King (a freelance writer from Lawrence), covers over 25 years of Kimball's colorful career as a sportswriter and his process of writing Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing. Kimball, class of 67, spoke about the Four Kings, especially Roberto Duran, at Kansas University's Hispanic Heritage Month clebration. "George Kimball has penned a knockout," writes King.

June 3, 2009

Quarterdeck Historical Fiction Newsletter

The May/June 2009 issue of Quarterdeck, our bimonthly newsletter of the world of historical fiction written by George D. Jepson is available for download at McBooks.com.

This issue features interviews with: English marine artist Geoff Hunt, who chats about his career and new book,
The Frigate Surprise; and British naval historians and archaeologists Roy and Lesley Adkins, who describe their approach to researching and writing about the Age of Fighting Sail.

Please notice that if any of the interviews, articles, or reviews in
Quarterdeck tempt you to purchase some the the relevant books, there are book cover links in the PDF file that take you to the appropriate pages at the McBooks Press website.

May 13, 2009

FREE 2009 Historical Fiction Catalog PDF

McBooks Press Historical Fiction & Nonfiction Catalog

Our 2009 PDF Catalog is ready for you to download! It contains the best historical fiction books — nautical and military — that we sell to individuals. These include all McBooks Press publications in these categories, as well as hard-to-find and imported books from other publishers. Browse through expanded choices including exciting westerns, spine-tingling 20th-century spy novels, historical mysteries, and riveting naval nonfiction. To give you faster shipping and less chance of back-orders, McBooks has developed a new shipping procedure employing four satellite warehouses. More frequently, your order may arrive at your home in two or more boxes, but it will often arrive quicker—and with the same low shipping charges as always. Right now the dollar is stronger against the British pound, that means we’re cutting our prices on many books from our extensive collection of U.K. imports and passing the savings on to you!

May 4, 2009

Julian Stockwin discovers painting of real Thomas Kydd

Recently Julian Stockwin, author of the Kydd Sea Adventures, was sent this image by a fan of his Kydd novels. Apparently this is the real Thomas Kydd, and Julian never even knew he existed!

Julian was gobsmacked when he received this photo from Shipmate Sim Comfort! Browsing among the items in an art auction recently Sim had come across a portrait of one Thomas Kydd, master’s mate of His Britannic Majesty’s Royal Navy. The painting dates from about 1800.

Visit Julian Stockwin's website to learn more interesting information about Thomas Kydd and the Age of Sail .

April 22, 2009

Museum of Human Beings helps "fill in the gaps" in what we know about history

Michelle Dover, book reviewer for The Steamboat Local (Steamboat Springs, CO), recently focused on some historical novels--including Museum of Human Beings by Colin Sargent--which she says help minorities and women find their place in history
"thus reclaiming a past that isn’t readily available in the history books." Here's her take on these fascinating novels.

Get Lit

by Michelle Dover

The Amazing Adventures of Human Beings

Yes, yes, we all love the founding fathers of the United States of America. Their biographies always have a hold list at the library when they arrive from the publishers. Authors do a brilliant job of recreating these men’s lives through the plethora of documents left behind.

Ask yourself: Was my great, great, great grandma perched on the end of her rocking chair worshipping the founding fathers? Was that same grandma working her knitting needles impatiently waiting for news about their latest speech? Remember that great grandma couldn’t even vote, maybe grandma couldn’t even read, maybe grandma didn’t have access to news and information. Maybe grandma was doing the laundry on a rock in the river.

In the last decade more and more readers have turned to historical fiction to fill in the gaps left in history. (Read the full article.)

Purchase Museum of Human Beings, by Colin Sargent at McBooks.com

April 9, 2009

Flashman Papers by George MacDonald Fraser

George MacDonald Fraser's series Flashman Papers is once again available at McBooks!

Book 1: Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

The first installment of the Flashman Papers sees the rotter from Tom Brown's Schooldays commence his military career as a reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan. Expelled from Rugby for drunkenness, and none too welcome at home after seducing his father's mistress, the young Flashman embarks on a military career with Lord Cardigan's Hussars. En route to Afghanistan, our hero hones his skills as a soldier, duelist, imposter, coward and amorist (mastering all 97 ways of Hindu love-making during a brief sojourn in Calcutta), before being pressed into reluctant service as a secret agent. His Afghan adventures culminate in a starring role in that great historic disaster, the Retreat from Kabul.

Purchase Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser at McBooks.com

April 6, 2009

John Robinson at Portland Library

Brown Bag Lecture
with John B. Robinson
author of A Fistful of Diamonds
Portland Public Library, Portland Maine.
Wed., April 8, 2009 (12pm-1pm)
207-871-1700 ext. 758

"The Brown Bag Lecture Series features best-selling authors from Maine and New England as well as from across the nation and world. Bring your lunch and enjoy...Coffee, tea, and light refreshments will be provided. (During the renovation of the Main Library, Brown Bag Lectures will be held at Community Television Network, just a few blocks from the Main Library)"

John B. Robinson graduated from Harvard and headed straight to Africa to pursue writing. Along the way he worked as a guide on Mount Kilimanjaro; bought, sold and traded rare gems; and taught English in out-of-the-way places. He currently lives in Portland, Maine.

A Fistful of Diamonds - Book 2 of the Gemstone Thrillers: A suite of priceless diamonds surfaces in Central Africa. Fast-talking gem expert Lonny Cushman wants them. As cover, he chaperones a young seminarian to Rwanda in search of her missing father. Once there, Lonny chases the diamonds through the killing fields of the Congo. Survival depends on negotiating the bloody machinery that benefits from the conflict diamond trade--Islamic jihadis, corrupt army officers, Israeli diamantaires, and Ukrainian arms dealers. Can he save himself, the diamonds, and the seminarian from a terrible end?

Purchase the Gemstone Thrillers, by John B. Robinson, at McBooks.com

March 20, 2009

Author James L. Nelson discusses George Washington’s secret navy

Author James L. Nelson has written a wide range of historical fiction and nonfiction-- from The Only Life that Mattered (a novel based on the true story of two female pirates) to Benedict Arnold’s Navy (a nonfiction exploration of the little-known fleet of American ships cobbled together by Benedict Arnold to fight the British). His recent book George Washington’s Secret Navy takes a look at how the esteemed general took it upon himself to create a secret navy of merchant ships sent out to harass the British. Recently Nelson gave a talk at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. There he gave intriguing background and context for Washington’s decision to establish his ragtag Colonial Navy behind the Continental Congress’s back.

Nelson was introduced at the Pritzker Library on March 14, 2009 thus:

Tricky situation here. It's 1775, and you need to prepare for battle against the world's most powerful fighting force. You know quite a bit about combat on land, but you have no naval experience whatsoever – and no navy, either - which is a problem, because your enemy is sitting pretty in Boston Harbor, supplied by merchant ships that you'll need to stop. And whatever you do, Congress can't know about it, because they're not even ready to call this a revolution yet.

What's your move, General Washington? (Hear the rest of the intro and listen to James L. Nelson’s fascinating talk.)

Purchase books by James L. Nelson at McBooks.com

February 19, 2009

McBooks Expands Historical Fiction Bookstore

Review of the McBooks "Customer Choice Trial"
—We are expanding to serve you better. . .

A Message from Alex Skutt, McBooks Press, Inc., Publisher

McBooks Press is a book publisher plus a catalog and Internet retailer of historical fiction books. We are always exploring new avenues of book retailing and ways to improve customer service. To help us optimize your future book-buying experiences, we recently ran a two-week "Customer Choice Trial." During the trial, we offered our website visitors the option of purchasing from Amazon.com or from our own online bookstore at McBooks.com.

As an additional aspect of the trial, we also invited our Quarterdeck newsletter readers to email comments and suggestions to us.

What Did We Learn?

Although we know that some readers prefer to shop at Amazon.com, we were pleased with the number of customers who voiced a strong preference by asking us to continue providing our unique bookstore services. Here is one comment that says it all: "I love the fact that I don't have to sift through Amazon.com for my relatively narrow band of interest. Please don't change your wonderful web service. . ." —E.M.

To remain a competitive bookstore choice for you, we are now increasing our book selections (U.S. and U.K.) and expanding our valuable services to help readers navigate the array of books published in the Historical Fiction genre. Our 2009 catalog will be the biggest ever, featuring fiction from more historical time periods and sub genres. From 12th-century wise women investigating mysterious deaths, to 19th-century mountainmen fighting for survival and WWII detectives sniffing out espionage, you'll find new stories to peak your interest and keep you reading!

What customers like about McBooks

• Special set prices for Historical Fiction series
• Free shipping for orders over $85.00
Discount bargain books at low prices
• Free Quarterdeck newsletter
• Free Book with an order of $100 or more
• Knowledgeable and friendly book advice by phone
• U.K. books kept in stock and ready to ship

Comments about Quarterdeck email newsletter, edited by George D. Jepson

"The gift of your time and effort is greatly appreciated by we die-hard nautical fiction enthusiasts!" —D.K.
"Wonderful news. . . And having George's steady hand back on the tiller is a boon to us all." — B.H.
"I would have been willing to pay a subscription rate, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Thank you!" —D.H.

Subscribe Here

Our customers appreciate these multiple ways to order

• Purchasing online via our convenient and secure check out
• Calling Toll-Free: 1-888-266-5711
• Mailing a printed catalog order form
• Faxing a completed order form

Try our Custom Book Search

And remember, if you are searching for a title that is not on our website, call us! Toll-free: 1-888-266-5711. We will do our best to find the book you want and send you a price quote. This unique service is Free! "I often call. . . Always very knowledgeable. . . Great advice on future selections." —R.G.

We are grateful when you purchase your Historical Fiction books from us. Thank you for your support!

Warm regards,

Alex Skutt

February 1, 2009

Captain Frederick Marryat Books

Here's a recent question from a customer:

Hi, I've read a number of Captain Marryat's books, all published by your company, and I recall that you used to publish more of them then you do now. Am I correct? I'm after more, so if you are no longer publishing them is there another publisher you can refer me to? Thanks. A. H.

Dear Reader,

You are correct that McBooks Press is out-of-stock of several Marryat books that we formerly published, specifically:

Phantom Ship

The good news is that we can supply (shipped directly to you from our remote warehouse) virtually any book that Marryat wrote.

These books wouldn't be McBooks Press publications. The Capt. Marryat books are all in the public domain, so anyone can publish them. Several firms are now digitally printing Marryats in small quantities. Therefore, they may not be up to the McBooks Press high standards of pretty covers, strong bindings, and attractive typography.

I would be delighted to send you a PDF file with a list of Marryat's complete works. (The list shows the original publishers and formats--not the editions that are now available.)

If you want to review the list, I'd be happy to quote you prices and editions for any titles in which you are interested.

Please let us know if we can obtain more information for you.

Incidentally, I believe that Marryat is a tremendously entertaining writer. I think of him as a cross between Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

Best regards,

Alex Skutt
McBooks Press, Inc.

January 23, 2009

Author Douglas Jacobson takes a look at WWII Belgian Resistance

Douglas Jacobson (second from left) and former members of the Comet Line.

Author Douglas W. Jacobson researched the history of the Comet Line—a WWII Belgian Resistance organization that rescued downed allied aviators—for his book Night of Flames. Now he shares what he learned with War Through the Generations, a blog devoted to war and its impact.

Uncommon Courage
Part 1 of 3

On a dark night during World War Two, American airman, George Watt, a gunner aboard a B-17, was on a mission from England to the Ruhr valley in Germany when his plane was shot down near the Belgian village of Zele. He parachuted to earth and landed in an open field, drawing the immediate attention of local Nazi authorities. Frightened and alone, Watt hid in a ditch while the local townspeople distracted the authorities by pointing off in the wrong direction. Before long, one of the locals approached him and led him to a rural homestead where he was given civilian clothing and warm food. A few days later Watt was taken to Brussels where he was interviewed to make certain he wasn’t a spy and was soon off to Paris and eventually to safety in Spain. Watt didn’t know it at the time but he had been aboard the “Comet Line”.

The Comet Line was Europe’s largest and most successful underground escape line during World War Two. Established in 1941 by a 24 year old Belgian woman, Andrée De Jongh (known to all as Dédée) and her schoolmaster father, the Comet Line transported more than eight hundred Allied aviators to safety during the course of Nazi occupation. Dédée escorted over one hundred of these young soldiers to safety herself . . . (Read the full WWII Belgian Resistance article.)

Purchase Night of Flames: A Novel of WWII, by Douglas W. Jacobson at mcbooks.com

January 13, 2009

A Fistful of Diamonds called a “many-faceted page turner”

On January 11, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram ran an in-depth review of A Fistful of Diamonds, by John B. Robinson. The novel takes up where the first book of the series, The Sapphire Sea, left off, only this time Gem Expert Lonny Cushman chases blood diamonds in Rwanda. Reviewer Nancy Grape found the new novel unforgettable.

Several years ago, Portland writer John B. Robinson, armed with a Harvard education, a taste of life as a struggling artist in Paris and a thirst for experience, won a writing fellowship that took him to the sapphire fields of northern Madagascar. There, in the danger and unpredictability of mining and trading gems, the first novel in his Gemstone Thriller series was born.

"The Sapphire Sea" was warmly welcomed. Now the second novel in the taut series has arrived. And "A Fistful of Diamonds" has been worth the wait.

The year is 2000. Robinson's hero, New York gem dealer Lonny Cushman, has moved on to a new mission in Rwanda, a country where death broods, visible and threatening, over a horrific history of genocide and violence. Tensions roil throughout Central Africa. Danger threatens. Violence beckons or repels. And so do the storied diamonds of the area. (Read the full review.)

Purchase the Gemstone Thrillers, by John B. Robinson, at McBooks.com

January 8, 2009

Boxing Author George Kimball talks to Gelf Magazine about the "Sweetest Science"

Max Lakin recently interviewed George Kimball for Gelf Magazine about Kimball's new book Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, and the Last Great Era of Boxing, and the state of boxing yesterday and today.

There is a kind of after-hours stigma attached to modern boxing. Far removed from Ali standing—black-and-white-poster-print—over Liston, fights now are usually a rock-em, sock-em Late Nite show piped out on deeply-buried cable stations, or a blue-moon main event accompanied by the letters PPV and sponsorships shinier than the shorts in the ring. Boxing's been given the inorganic HBO treatment—bastardized, some would say—by grotesque caricatures like Tyson and his impossibly-high-pitches theatrics.

Which is perhaps why boxing—the way it used to be—has been canonized, too, enjoying somewhat of a sentimental resurgence in the mainstream with movies like Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man, and Resurrecting the Champ portraying a pageant of grit and heart—of earnest men giving themselves to the ring and doing it for pride and class, not promotional contracts.

It is precisely this kind of boxing that veteran sportswriter George Kimball chronicles exhaustively in Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Durán and the Last Great Era of Boxing, an enthusiastic jaunt through the sport's brief return to artistry in the post-Ali era, painted by Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns, and Roberto Durán.

The book reads like a compendium of boxing manna in its own right, with recollections from fighters, promoters, and those for whom simply watching these fighters spar was as much a thrill as a gift. But more so, Four Kings is the product of Kimball's immediately apparent zeal for the processes of the sport. . . (Read Gelf's full interview with George Kimball.)

Purchase Four Kings, by George Kimball, at McBooks.com