Hello 2016

Hello 2016

Happy 2016! It's that time of year again. The one in which I tell you about the exciting things that are happening in my writing life right now, and we can anticipate them with glee together. New Amy Lane novels The wait is almost over! Captcha Thief, book three in The Amy Lane Mysteries, will land on 4th February. And that's not all! The fourth book in the series Terror 404 is due for publication in August. As these will be out in paperback (paperback!), keep your eyes peeled for bookplates and swag and giveaways as the due date nears - the newsletter and Facebook Page are always the first to know. If you can't wait that long, check out the Amy Lane short story Car Hacker. CrimeFest 2016 After the success of last year's CrimeFest, I will be returning to Bristol this May to do more panels and sign aforementioned books. I'm really excited to part of this festival again and meet so many enthusiastic...
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Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

When writing about mental health problems, I often emphasise accurate and sensitive portrayals of mental illness. But how important is accuracy in writing? Should the story come first? Last week, controversy surrounded the season finale of BBC One's drama The Syndicate. Amy, a character with Type 1 Diabetes, complained of having low blood sugar and was later administered insulin. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) criticised the episode, as giving insulin to a person with low blood sugar is dangerous. Karen Addington, Chief Executive in the UK of JDRF, said: "Television writers and producers have a responsibility to portray life with a condition such as type 1 diabetes accurately." However, Kay Mellor, writer of The Syndicate hit back. In her statement she made a number of points in her own defence. I would like to examine some of those points. Not A Medical Drama? "The Syndicate is in no way a medical drama or a serious documentary about how to treat diabetes." While I may have watched...
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Questions From My Editor

Questions From My Editor

I've been fortunate to work with my excellent editor Deb Nemeth on three Amy Lane novels now. In the course of editing my work, she asks me a lot of questions. Some are to expand her knowledge of my characters' world and some are to challenge me to grow as a writer. I'm going to share a few (spoiler-free!) questions that Deb has asked me during different stages of editing for Binary Witness, Code Runner and Captcha Thief. Welsh life I use a number of Welsh names in my novels, but Jason's sister probably possesses one of the more challenging ones. Cerys is pronounced "keh-ris", not anything like "cerise". Additionally, Owain is less like Owen and more "owe-ein". Sticking with names, abbreviations aren't always universally understood. As Peggy is to Margaret and Betty is to Elizabeth, so Dai is to David in Wales. Slang is obviously also highly-localised. "Butt" is a piece of South Walean slang, most often found around Cardiff and Newport, and it's...
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The Art of Waiting

I am currently in the strange position of waiting on all on my projects. A couple of things are waiting on feedback and decisions, and a novel and a screenplay are in the brewing stage, where I've deliberately left them alone to gain some much-needed perspective. So, what is a writer to do? Here are five dos and don'ts of waiting gracefully. DON'T refresh your email all day and night With most of us having our email literally at our fingertips, it's very tempting to stay glued to your inbox. The very instant that success, rejection or those vital notes arrive, you will know it! I have a weird habit of avoiding my most-wanted email - I will check Gmail's Social and Promotions tags and empty Spam before reading The One. It's either avoidance or saving the best 'til last... DO take a break from devices This is an important point at all writing stages, but it's particularly relevant here. Getting out and experiencing life gives...
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Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Every year, I write a post about my writing and personal progress over the past twelve months and look forward to next year's goals and challenges. For this New Year's Day, I'm going to look at some awesome things that happened in 2014 and pair them up with where I'm taking them in 2015. In 2014, I became a published author I can't shout about this enough, because it fills me with a giddy joy that I've longed for since I was a child. It's been a very steep learning curve, but the process of taking a raw manuscript and making it into a novel with the help of my fantastic editor Deb Nemeth and the rest of the Carina Press team has had such a profound influence on my writing. And then seeing my books out in the world, receiving praise and reviews - even the gut-wrenching negative ones - has been amazing. People have read my words! They paid money to...
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NaNoWriMo and Beyond

Yesterday, I woke up with 6,500 words left on my NaNoWriMo target. Somehow, I stumbled across the finish line, completing 50,000 words of my latest November novel. Congratulations to all my fellow wrimos and thank you to everyone who cheered me along the way. Suffice to say, I don't have a lot of energy left for updating my blog after running that marathon. Thankfully, I sorta planned ahead and wrote some other things that were kindly hosted and highlighted by my fellows in the writing community. Over at Bang2Write, I wrote about 5 Ways to Keep Writing After NaNoWriMo, because real authors don't get to retire in December. Writing is not always writing. Sometimes, writing is thinking about writing, preparing for writing, or deleting writing. Confused yet? Writing a novel is a process far beyond just putting words on a page. It is certainly more than typing each individual letter. Hopefully, before NaNoWriMo, you put together at least a rudimentary plot and some characters...
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Writers’ Tools: Scene-by-Scene

As NaNoWriMo drains words from me like a gigantic novel leech, I have to take that tried-and-tested piece of November advice and silence my inner editor. The emphasis of Nano has always been word count above all else, with the idea that we can fix all in the edit - in a similar way that film-makers "fix it in post". If you're an intricate plotter, you probably start any new project, novel or screenplay or other, with a thick wedge of notes and an exact play-by-play of how your finished project is going to look. If, however, you're like me, you probably start with broad brushstrokes and then fill in the finer details as you go on. You may have a beginning, a middle and an end but how exactly those are going to fit together may be a complete mystery. I hold an interesting position in that I am both a screenwriter and a novelist. Screenwriting tends to be much more heavy-handed...
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NaNoWriMo: A Survival Guide

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the supermarkets are full of pumpkins. It is almost that time of year again... For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is simple: write a 50,000-word novella in the 30 days of November. This year will be my fifth NaNoWriMo. I've participated in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013. 2011 and 2013 birthed my two published novels, Binary Witness and Code Runner. If you are thinking of taking the plunge and participating in your first NaNoWriMo, I have a few words of advice to help get you through... Plot as much or as little as you need You may heard the question "plotter or pantser?" addressed to authors. Basically, do you plot our everything that happens in your novel or do you just write whatever you feel like at the time? I'm somewhere in the middle. I need to know how the novel begins and ends...
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Writers’ Block: Keep The Car Running

Writers' Block: figment of an anxious writer's imagination or a terrifying urban legend that could swallow your writing career whole? So, if writers' block is real - and many writers swear that particular bogeyman is lurking in their closet - how do we identify the causes and manage them so that this ghost in the machine doesn't stall our writing engines? This post is brought to you by a very large to-write pile and an overextended car metaphor. You're welcome. Hunger strikes! Fuel your writing If the car has no fuel, it ain't going nowhere. This is my personal number one cause of writers' block. Are your basic human needs met? Are you well-rested, with a full stomach, quenched thirst and an empty bladder? I need a cup of tea by my elbow if I'm going to be writing, or strong, sugary coffee if my brain won't kick into gear. Learn your body's signs that you need to refuel. Life charges the battery Writers are solitary,...
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Writers’ Tools: Expert Opinions

Expert opinions are the gilding of the lily in writing fiction. They turn a piece of entertainment into an accurate piece of entertainment, less likely to make irate professionals scream at the TV and ruin the emotional death scene for everyone else in the living room. (Yes, I have done this. Many times. We don't watch hospital dramas in my house anymore.) While I hesitate to call experts "tools" - because I want them to still speak to me - they fit into this character because this knowledge is an optional extra that makes a writer's life easier - or turns it into a total bloody nightmare. What is an expert opinion? An expert opinion is research involving a living, breathing person, as opposed to a book, documentary, website, journal article, etc. That person may be a universally-recognised expert (e.g. an academic specialising in forensics) or may have gained knowledge through personal or professional experience (e.g. a police officer working a rural beat). Why use...
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