Crime Cymraeg: A Tour of Welsh Crime Fiction

Forget Nordic and Tartan Noir. From drug dealers in Cardiff to PIs in Aberystwyth, Crime Cymraeg is a broad church with something for everyone. Wales is curious mix of busy port cities, kooky university towns, coastal tourist traps and rural isolation. It has a thriving capital city next to some of the most deprived areas in the UK, the post-mining legacy of the Valleys. It has a glorious national park, with mountains and lakes, award-winning beaches, and a heavy reliance on state jobs, manual labour and hill farming. It has a rich cultural history, from bardic poetry to male voice choirs to the Welsh language revival during the latter half of the twentieth century. It is the birthplace of Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and the peerless Aneurin Bevan, founder of the National Health Service. No wonder this varied nation has produced such a diverse range of crime fiction. I've been reading a lot of Welsh crime fiction while researching The Amy Lane...
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CrimeFest 2014: Must-Have Books

CrimeFest 2014 rocked Bristol last weekend and I had a great time meeting crime writers, readers, reviewers, agents and publishing folk! In the first of my CrimeFest posts, I share the books that tempted me into buying at CrimeFest and why they are crime must-haves. The Axeman's Jazz - Ray Celestin New Orleans, 1919. The birth of jazz, the advent of prohibition, Mafia, racial tension and a man putting axes in people's heads. Based on a TRUE STORY. The Beauty of Murder - AK Benedict Time-travelling serial killer in Cambridge - who could resist? The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde I'm late to this party, but as a Thursday Next fan, I had to try this out. First in the Nursery Crimes series, this book asks the question: did Humpty Dumpty fall or was he pushed? Desecration - J.F. Penn From bestselling indie author, this London-based mystery delves into the supernatural, pairing a police detective with a clairvoyant. Joanna Penn also writes excellent books for authors on self-publishing...
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Freudian Script: Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia: a mental health problem that everyone's heard of and yet receives little attention in media or movies. In this week's Freudian Script, we will explore the definition of agoraphobia, its connection to panic attacks and other mental health problems, notable examples and writing tips on how to portray agoraphobia sensitively and accurately. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. What is agoraphobia? From the Greek "fear of the market/gathering place", agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by fear, anxiety and panic in public places, mostly open or crowded spaces, resulting in avoidance. The phobia part is similar to any other phobia - spiders, heights, small spaces - because a phobia is an exaggerated anxiety response leading to avoidance. I'm emphasising avoidance here because it's a really key part of agoraphobia. The definition hinges on the anxious person's splitting of the world...
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The Writing Blog Tour

Writing is not a mystical process involving tea leaves and libraries of how-to books. At least, not in my (somewhat limited) experience. However, the choices individual writers make about what they write and how they write it can often seem inscrutable. I've always been interested in how other writers go about their business, mostly in the hope that their words of wisdom will somehow improve my own attempts. So, thank you, Mysterious Person Who Began "The Blog Tour". You are the reason why I am writing this post today. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I agreed to be tagged by Phill Barron, screenwriter extraordinary, and become part of The Blog Tour before passing the dubious honour of baring their writing souls to two more unfortunates - I mean highly-privileged writers. But first, let's talk about Phill. Phillip Barron is a UK scriptwriter who's had nine feature films produced. In addition to movies he's written for BBC3's BAFTA and Rose d'Or nominated sketch show,...
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Rejection is Encouragement: Agent Hunting Improved My Writing

Rejection letters piling up? Sick of putting yourself out there only to get knocked back? THERE IS HOPE! Listen up, querying writers: rejection during your quest for representation and publication is not the end of the world - in fact, it can be good for you and your writing! My own hunt for an agent ended without success. BUT my writing improved! To illustrate this, I contacted various literary agents who rejected my book and asked to share their comments with you. In April 2013, I participated in #carinapitch and ultimately landed myself a book deal with Carina Press. While I was waiting to hear back, I decided that I was in need of an agent. I had a newly-polished manuscript in hand and I was determined! I eagerly collated a list of agents and sent my partial out into the world. To say my first query letters were a disaster is an understatement. They were dire. I'm not even going to go there. Suffice...
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INTERVIEW: Lucy V Hay on The Decision: Lizzie’s Story

Lucy V Hay talks teen pregnancy, stigma and transmedia Lucy V Hay (aka the infamous script guru Bang2write) took time out of her busy schedule to share some insight into writing her new book THE DECISION: LIZZIE'S STORY, the story of a pregnant teen's many possible futures. What inspired you to write THE DECISION: LIZZIE'S STORY? Personal experience and frustration. I always wanted to write something about being a teen Mum, because I would look around and see no one like me on television, or movies. It's one area of characterisation where there is very little variety beyond two dimensional stereotypes. Always, teen Mums are depicted as mouthy, ill-educated, scroungers - getting pregnant for benefits, or because they're too "stupid" to use contraception. If we're clever, we're usually trying to trap a (usually much older) man, who can't resist the little Lolita. I made many attempts to write something different before THE DECISION: LIZZIE'S STORY - it was my agent, Julian Friedmann who...
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