Saturday, 23 July 2011

Make it happen - and win The Doomsday Testament

How would you like to win a free copy of The Doomsday Testament? My publishers are giving away five copies to celebrate the publication of the debut thriller by James Douglas. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is use Facebook and Twitter to tell your friends and encourage them to tell their friends. If you haven't signed up already you can follow me on Twitter @Dougwriter and on Facebook at Doug Jackson, author.

Over the next three weeks I'll be putting out enigmatic, intriguing hints about the book and in the week before The Doomsday Testament is published I'll distribute links which will allow you to read the first two chapters for free. I need everybody who follows me or is my friend on the internet to share or retweet the posts and ask their friends to do the same. Before publication day on 18 August we'll randomly select five names from the people who've reposted the links and the winners will receive advance copies of the book.

So what is The Doomsday Testament?

The Doomsday Testament is a desperate race against time to find the deadliest lost secret of the Second World War. Art recovery expert Jamie Saintclair didn't know his grandfather was a war hero until he discovered his medals after he died. Alongside the decorations is a journal detailing the old man's war years - and his last, most dangerous mission. The problem is that the final twenty pages are missing and the only way Jamie will find out how Operation Doomsday ended is by unravelling the clues in the journal and the significance of the strange symbol his grandfather has kept hidden for sixty years. The hunt takes him to Germany where memories of the war won't go away and where he must stay one step ahead of the men who would kill to discover the journal's contents.

I think it's a great book, full of drama, conspiracy and cliffhanger action, but I need your help to make it the success it deserves to be. So get the ball rolling by sharing and retweeting this blog to your friends and your friends friends and help make The Doomsday Testament the next big thing.

The Doomsday Testament 'Imagine The Odessa File meets The Da Vinci Code and you won't be far away'  Douglas Jackson, author of Caligula, Claudius, Hero of Rome and Defender of Rome (well he would say that wouldn't he)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A little piece of history

Think of yourself on the film set of an updated version of Time Bandits. Roman legionaries march by led by a centurion and eagle bearer; knights in full armour launch their horses at each other in the lists; the English Civil war rages on one side, while in a nearby field a group of riflemen gets ready to take on Napoleon. Desert Rats, the Forgotten Army, the Red Berets, Nazi Stormtroopers, Yank GIs with jeeps and half tracks and the Red Army, all living cheek by jowl. Throw in twenty thousand spectators and mix for a kind of T in the Park for people who like armour, guns and swords and you have the Festival of History at Kelmarsh.
Re-enactors of every kind were living the dream

Oh, and then there was the Historical Writers' Association. Thirty two of Britain's best writers of historical fiction and non-fiction holding forth in twelve events over two days, magnificently organised by chair Manda Scott and her merry band of helpers, and every event attended by two hundred people or more. It was fantastic to be there and even better to be part of it. It also proved once again that, as a breed, writers are nice people who'll generally do anything for anybody. I hope it's the start of something big that will get even bigger.

A Spitfire and Messerschmitt duel 
Apart from being on stage with my brilliant panel of Harry Sidebottom (Warrior of Rome), Ruth Downie (the Ruso series) and John Stack (Masters of the Seas), my favourite memory is of smooth Simon Scarrow and the rather more rustic approach of Robert Low as they battled it out verbally to decide who would have won between the Romans and the Vikings. While they debated what an annoying bed-farting, bottom-scratching partner would have been called before the Vikings came up with the word husband it sounded as if World War Three had broken out a hundred yards away and they didn't turn a hair.

Bob Low signs one of many books

I met dozens of people who are fascinated by historical fiction, including two (Jim and Kate) who've become friends through the internet. It was wonderful to see you all. By some miracle Bantam Press had managed to get copies of Defender of Rome to Kelmarsh, even though the ink was barely dry. And I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when out of the blue a Spitfire and Messerschmitt staged a mock dogfight overhead.

The Red Army
Defender of Rome makes it to the shelves
Everybody joined in
Yanks with their tanks
It was a fantastic event for any history lover and if you ever get the chance to go, you really should!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Doomsday is coming

It's just over a month until the launch of The Doomsday Testament, the debut thriller by my alter ego and international man of mystery James Douglas. I’m really proud of it and I hope you’ll love it too, but now I'm stuck with the debut novelist's Catch-22: How do I get people to read my brilliant new book if nobody knows about it? 

My publisher will be pushing it, trying to get it into the supermarkets and WH Smith (which is more difficult than you might think) and it's 50 per cent off at Amazon, but people can only buy The Doomsday Testament if they have heard about it. And it is here that I’d like to ask for your help.

Can we use the exponential power of the internet to make sure that even if they don't read The Doomsday Testament, at least they'll have heard about it?

Over the next month I'll be putting out intriguing teasers about The Doomsday Testament and all I ask is that wherever possible you retweet or share them, and ask all your friends to do the same. I have about 500 friends on my Facebook pages and 300 on Twitter, so even if half of them retweet and half of their friends retweet, etc. etc. You do the maths, but by my calculation everybody on the planet who owns a computer will know about The Doomsday Testament by a week on Wednesday.

So there you are, not only do you get the chance to help a struggling debut author become the next big thing, but you'll have the privilege of taking part in a unique social experiment (well it's unique to me).

Thanks to everyone who's already into the spirit of things by sharing my blatant plugs, and thanks in advance to everyone who takes part.

Your first job is to share this or retweet it to as many people as you can bully, bribe, cajole and anything else of a non-violent nature.

To infinity and beyond ...

The Doomsday Testament: 'Imagine The Odessa File meets the Da Vinci Code and you won't be far away' - Douglas Jackson (OK, he has a certain investment in the project, but he's one of only three people who’ve read it, if you count my editor and agent,and anyway it's true)

Monday, 4 July 2011

When the price is too high

Just heard the depressing news of another British soldier killed in Afghanistan. I watched a programme on BBC i-player a couple of nights ago about the Battle for Helmand, and it was a fascinating portrait of men at war. The professionalism, courage and dedication of the young British men fighting and dying there is astonishing and their devotion to their comrades profoundly moving.

I only have one question. Why do we keep sending our young men to be killed in an essentially pointless war they cannot possibly win?

History tells us that Afghanistan is one of the most intractable places on the planet. Alexander the Great struggled to subdue it. A highly organised, but poorly led British army underestimated the tribesfolk in 1842 and paid a terrible price. It was the Soviet equivalent of Vietnam.

So what has changed? The programme painted a picture of soldiers sent out to man remote outposts in the middle of enemy territory as part of what amounted to little more than a political PR campaign. The reasons for their deployment were hazy. Nobody talks about defeating the Taleban any more. Every day they patrolled streets and roads laced with mines by resourceful, ruthless opponents who knew exactly where they must pass. They endured and suffered in awful conditions and the nearest they came to fun was in an occasional liberating firefight with men who were farmers by day and warriors by night. Their skills counted for nothing; no amount of training can save you if a roadside bomb explodes next to you. Their fortresses were islands in a hostile sea. They depended on the charity of the Americans to evacuate their casualties and that charity was sometimes not available, with fatal consequences.

Even heavily armed and with air cover, they couldn't venture much more than half a mile beyond their own perimeters and, when they withdrew, the ground that they had held reverted to the Taleban within minutes. Their officers despaired of the lack of equipment and support. The cooperation they received from the poorly trained and badly led Afghan army was negligible. Yet the morale of the men who spoke to the cameras  remained high, their pride was clear and their resolve self-evident

The men of the British Army are prepared to stay in Afghanistan and pay the price as long as their government asks them too. Yet I have never heard a coherent argument from a general or a politician which justifies or even properly explains what our final objective in Afghanistan is. The latest pronouncement from the government is that the last soldier will leave in 2015 when responsibility for security has been handed over to the Afghans. Four more years, for what? An article a few days ago by a former British ambassador revealed how he had asked an Afghan minister how long his army would hold Kabul when the Allies left. The answer was 24 hours.

The message that came across in the programme was that the war in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility and not worth the life of another British soldier. Unfortunately, that British soldier died today. Isn't it time to stand up and say bring them home now?