Large Print, Free Books, Translations

I have several news items to pass on.

Damn Close-Run Thing (large print)

A Damn Close-Run Thing is now available in large print. This is something of an experiment – if sales figures suggest that large print is in demand, then I’ll look at making other books available in that format. If you would like to see one of my other books available in large print, email me and let me know.

This We'll Defend cover

This We’ll Defend is now available for free from most vendors (and direct from this website).

FIB-PT Acero Rojo

A Fleet in Being is now available in Portuguese, and will be available in German soon. Red Steel is now available in Spanish. I’ve set up a new mailing list for announcements of translations. If you are interested in translations, you can sign up at

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AFV Alphabet: A is for Antonov A-40

Inspired by Tim Gow’s A to Z of Wargaming series of posts, I’ve decided to do an A to Z series of blog posts around the theme of AFVs (Armoured Fighting Vehicles). Hopefully I’ll be able to find some interesting subjects.


I think it’s fair to say that the Antonov A-40 flying tank qualifies as interesting. Airborne troops can be vulnerable, because they can’t use heavy support weapons or vehicles. The A-40 was an attempt to address this problem, and provide them with some armoured support. The Soviet Union had previously experimented with dropping vehicles by parachute, but was not satisfied with this method, since the crews had to be dropped separately, and may land some distance from their vehicle.

The A-40 was a T-60 light tank with the addition of glider wings, fuselage and tail. Only one flight was attempted, in September 1942, during which the towing aircraft had to release the glider early, due to excessive drag. The glider was flown down to the ground without any problems, and after removing the glider attachments, the tank was driven back to base. Although the tank did fly and land safely, the idea was dropped. Eventually, the Soviet Union managed to perfect dropping BMDs by parachute with their crews inside.

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Save Up To 40% With These Bundles

Wargame Vault bundle
My publishing company, Shilka Publishing, has set up two bundles on Wargame Vault (they aren’t available anywhere else). The bundles represent savings of 33-40%, compared to buying the individual items.

The bundles are:

Wargaming the Cold War (£3.00, usual price £4.51). Includes:

  • Red Steel: Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of the Cold War
  • The Bear Marches West: 12 Scenarios for 1980s NATO vs Warsaw Pact Wargames

WWI Wargaming (£3.96, usual price £6.71). Includes:

  • The SOTCW World War I Compendium
  • Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War
  • A Fleet in Being: Austro-Hungarian Warships of WWI

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Lights Out

The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
The above words were spoken by Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, as World War I began, 100 years ago.

The Royal British Legion is asking everyone in the UK to turn off their lights between 10pm and 11pm tonight, leaving a single light or candle lit, as a mark of remembrance.

The hope is to light one million candles. That’s one for every serviceman and woman who gave their life in the Great War.

My wife and I will be extinguishing our lights tonight and lighting a candle. Please join us.

For more information, see the Royal British Legion page.

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Getting The Words Down – The Writing Path Blog Tour

Andrew Knighton invited me to take part in IC Publishing‘s writing path blog tour. I try not to post too much about writing, since that isn’t really the focus of this blog, but I thought it might make an entertaining diversion. Here goes…

How do you start your writing projects?

Since I write non-fiction, I write about subjects that I’m interested in. The difficult part is choosing the next subject, since I have a lot of topics that I want to write about.

I normally write out the chapter headers first, and they serve as an outline. Normally I have a good knowledge of the subject to start with, but more research is always necessary. This can involve requests under the Freedom of Information Act, visits to the National Archives, or searching archival websites such as the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Wherever possible I store the research in digital form, because I find it easier to organise digital files, and I can make sure I have good backups.

Citation Needed

By (CC-BY)

I’ve tried various tools for doing the writing. Many people rave about Scrivener, but I didn’t get on with it, possibly because I use Linux, and the Linux version is still in beta. I’ve tried writing in a text editor, using HTML or Markdown. Currently I’m writing in LibreOffice, which seems to be the best fit for me. I’ve also tried various ways of organising my research. I used Zotero for a while, but at the moment I’m using Referencer.

How do you continue your writing projects?

If I’m honest, with difficulty. I find it much easier if I can keep up momentum, so try to find time to write frequently and often. Other commitments make that difficult sometimes, but I generally manage at least one evening a week. If I have a break, I have to really force myself to sit down and write. Once I’ve done that, though, I find it easier to get back into the routine of writing (until the next break).

Sometimes I find that starting a second book helps. It gives me a break from the first book, but it keeps me writing.

How do you finish your project?

When I start the project, I have a good idea in my head of what I want to cover, so it’s easy to know when it’s complete. Then, of course, it needs to be edited. I’m gradually building up a list of regular expressions that I can use to find errors that I tend to fall for (missing Oxford commas, for instance). Once it’s as good as I can make it, I send it to my editor, Alexis at Word Vagabond. Meanwhile, I contact Kit Foster to get a cover, and try to write a description, before contacting The Blurb Doctor for help.

Give one tip that our collective communities could benefit from.

When you’ve finished editing and proof-reading, use text-to-speech software to listen to your book. The computer will read exactly what is written, which will help find some errors and typos that your eyes skip over. I often use the text-to-speech function on my Kindle, but there is software available for phones and PCs, too.

Passing the BuckPen

Next week, Larry Jeram-Croft is going to continue the tour. Larry is a retired Royal Navy pilot and aircraft engineer. After thirty years service and another seven years in industry, he turned to writing. Following the principle of “writing about what you know”, he has created a series of adventure stories about the modern navy as well as two about sailing, another of his lifelong hobbies.

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