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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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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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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When Sidekicks Take Centre Stage

In any fictional universe, the world revolves around the protagonist. Any "extras", sidekicks or love interests are very much subservient to the hero - though, if they are well-realised, they all think they're looking out for their own interests. It's only the writer who is leading them on to serve the hero and the narrative. Over at the Crime Readers' Association website, I wrote about Supporting Cast: Breathing Life into Secondary Characters. I even made reference to my favourite Hark, a vagrant webcomic. I mentioned Cerys Carr, who started life as nothing more than a gobby teenage sister to one of my protagonists and ended up playing a major part in Code Runner. She's also prominent in Book #3, and shows no sign of fading away. The beauty of a well-developed supporting cast of "sidekicks" to your hero is that they can leap to the fore at any moment. In television, this may even progress to them gaining their own show - for...
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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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Code Runner launch

Code Runner, Book 2 of The Amy Lane Mysteries, launches today! You can purchase a copy of your very own by visiting any reputable ebook retailer, like the following: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo Not heard of Code Runner? Let me fill you in: Book two of The Amy Lane Mysteries Ex-con Jason Carr has faced down the toughest thugs in Cardiff, but being assistant to a brilliant, eccentric hacker who hasn’t been outdoors in ten years has its own challenges. Still, he and Amy Lane can solve cases even the cops can’t crack. And when a corpse washes up on a beach, Jason can’t resist chasing the clues—or defying Amy by infiltrating the very gangs he once escaped. Amy is distraught when Jason’s pursuit gets him framed for murder. He’s thrown back in prison where he’s vulnerable to people who want him dead. He needs Amy to prove his innocence. Fast. But Amy...
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Amy Lane’s Guide to Password Security

With ONE WEEK to go until the Code Runner launch, my agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane lays down the law on password security. Ignore her at your peril! If you're looking for my advice, I'm assuming we've filtered out the first layer of morons. I'm talking about the kind of people who think "password" is a great password or use one of the most common and worst passwords of the year. Or that swapping out letters for numbers in the name of their favourite band is the height of security. (Yes, Jason, I'm looking at you.) I also assume you have something worth guarding. Facebook is a leaking sieve for privacy - your best password is wasted on it. Of course, the best hackers will always bypass your defences, but you don't have to make it easy for them. Memorable data Unless you have a good head for random letter-number strings, you will likely base your password on words in common usage. This improves the...
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Freudian Script: Gangs and Drugs

Freudian Script: Gangs and Drugs

Gangs and drugs - in the eyes of the public, inextricably intertwined. But what is the impact of gang lifestyle on mental health? And how do alcohol and drugs fit the picture? What is a gang? My protagonist Jason often protests that he wasn't in a gang. He ran with a group of lads who liked petty theft and doing drugs on the weekend. So, what exactly is a gang? In its 2009 report "Dying to Belong", The Centre for Social Justice identified that part of the problem of researching and tackling the negative effects of gang culture is the lack of universal definition. Therefore, they proposed a definition, which we will use for the purpose of this post: "A relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of young people who (1) see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group (2) engage in a range of criminal activity and violence (3) identify with or lay claim over territory (4) have some form of identifying structural feature (5)...
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Jason Carr’s Guide to Surviving On The Run

Bad day at work? Rent due and short of cash? Framed for murder? My streetwise ex-con Jason Carr, half of the crime-solving team in The Amy Lane Mysteries, shares his practical tips for successfully surviving on the run... I've known my fair share of trouble. More than my share, being honest, but that's my own fault. I mucked about in the past, got nicked by the cops - and rightly so, let's admit it - before being sent down. But this time, it weren't my fault. I got framed for a crime I didn't commit and, despite my boss' best efforts and with some bad guys trying to finish me off, I ended up running from my problems. I don't really recommend it, but if you find yourself in this kind of jam, here are my tips for staying alive and keeping a low profile. Mobile phones are not your friend You know those smartphones we carry about everywhere? My boss is a tech...
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