Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Exclusive Q&A with Sandy Appleyard

I'm delighted to share an exclusive interview this week with author, Sandy Appleyard. Sandy is an ambassador for 'up and coming' writers, helping authors via the Internet and social media - and she was kind enough to review my first book. I was also intrigued to discover she lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. What a location!

About the Author

You’ll usually find me holed up in my living room with my laptop open or with a book in hand.  If not, I’m doing yoga, petting the cat or braiding one of my kid’s hair.  When I write I do it without reservation and with no particular purpose in mind other than to enthral, inspire and express myself in such a way that I can touch at least a few readers.  I’m a born and raised Canadian, proudly married for ten years to a man who gives me the space I need to do what I love; to write.

Here's the Story:

A serial killer, a stock broker, and a police chief’s daughter clash in this mysterious tale of greed and love. Michael is forced to choose between his most precious asset and the love of his life, when a serial killer tries to take what matters most to him. Police chief Mark Tame and his team hunt for clues with Michael’s help, when they realize that the killer is linked to Michael. Jessica has the love and protection of both men, but will that be enough to keep her safe?

Now over to Sandy:

1.         Who is your favourite character in Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl  and why?

Michael - one of the main characters - is my favourite.  He’s the man every woman wants; he’s not afraid of commitment and is hard-working, handsome, and desperately in love with his girl.  Plus he plants a great surprise for Jessica - his girl - at the end of the book (that all female readers would love), which ties the whole story together.

2.         How did you settle on the title for your chosen book?

It was originally titled ‘The Night He Gave Up Saigon’ because the story encompasses the stock market, in particular a stock called ‘Saigon’, and the contention between Michael and Jessica surrounding it. 

But I decided that title was too exotic so I changed it to ‘Don’t Mess With Daddy’s Girl’ since I think that has more punch and heart and draws more attention to the fact that the main story is about a battle between two men who bring Jessica to safety and the resolve that Mark (her father) arrives at when she’s finally safe. 

3.         What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?

The nicest thing was from someone kind enough to review it.  I’ll quote it the review, “Sandy Appleyard is a masterful storyteller able to balance romance, action, suspense, mystery and wonderfully deep and emotional characters. She writes incredibly well, with attention to every detail of her plot and subplots, leaving no loose ends or annoying cliffhangers.”  Now if that isn’t a compliment I don’t know what is J (sorry to toot my own horn, but that review certainly made my day).

4.       What are you working on now?

I'm getting ready to release the third novel in my romantic suspense series called 'The Wheels of Change' - coming out in March 2015.  It's about a rich and young, womanizing man named Simon, who has an affair with a married woman and suddenly finds himself behind the wheel of a car without brakes.  There are several twists in the story, and Simon learns through his experiences in a wheelchair just how jaded his view of the world has been.

5.         What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I love how the stories I write come to life and despite the notes I write for plans for the next chapter, the story takes on a whole different perspective.  It’s also great when a new story idea comes to mind, and best of all, I love typing in those proverbial long-awaited words ‘The End’.

6.         Which novel do you wish you’d written?

Without a doubt, Sandra Brown’s ‘Best Kept Secrets’.  That was the first of Brown’s books that I read and the first chapter was so well written I was completely hooked on her.  I’ve read so many of her works now I lost count.

7.         Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?

I read ‘Best Kept Secrets’ at the beginning of the year, so that counts ;), but I also loved David Baldacci’s ‘The Sixth Man’, and definitely my all-time favourite was Sandra Brown’s ‘Rainwater’, that was probably one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.

8.         In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?

One reviewer said “This book has all the makings of a made-for-tv crime drama.” And that shocked me because that is exactly the mood I was looking for.  I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and Murdoch Mysteries and therefore much of the inspiration from that book comes from those shows.

9.         Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?

Nicholas Sparks - because the man has been through so much in his life (death of both his parents and his sister) and has found so much inspiration to write because of all the heartache he’s encountered, yet his work is so touching and thoughtful you’d swear he’s lived a charmed life. 

Of course, Sandra Brown; not only because she’s one of my favourite authors, but also because she started writing after leaving a desk job; similar to me, and I’d love to pick her brain about how she felt leaving the corporate world to pursue a writing career.

E. L. James - because…..well…..you can probably guess, but I’d like to know what her inspiration was when she wrote the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy.

10.       Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?

It would be a very loaded question: “What was the turning point in your career, and how did you get there?”  Because so many authors wish they hit a turning point (myself included) and would probably sacrifice just about anything to know how some of the greats arrived where they did.

I would probably ask E.L. James if she feels that writing such a bombshell trilogy and striking gold on her first try made the experience any less climactic; most writers have to work very hard writing countless novels to make it to the top, and likely when they get there, it’s magical.  I always wondered, since reading E.L. James’s books, if she ever felt less motivation to write now since she’ll likely never be able to top the success of ‘Fifty Shades’.

Sandy's website is: http://www.sandyappleyard.com/

Many thanks to Sandy for joining us!
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Exclusive Interview with Rebecca Bradley

I’m delighted to present an exclusive interview this week with  author, Rebecca Bradley, whose debut novel, Shallow Waters, was published yesterday!

About the Author
 
Rebecca Bradley lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her one-year-old Cockerpoo Alfie, who keeps her company while she writes. She needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing, of course.

Once a month Rebecca hosts a crime book club on Google+ hangouts where you can live chat about a crime book everyone has read and has members in the UK, the US, France and Australia.

She blogs regularly at rebeccabradleycrime.com

DI Hannah Robbins will return in 2015.

Here's the Story:

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn't stop there. When catching a killer isn't enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?


Over to you, Rebecca:

1. Who is your favourite character in Shallow Waters and why?

A difficult question as I have a few. I'm going with DS Aaron Stone. He's blunt, won't answer questions the way you want them answering and yet he's methodical and steady. This made him great to write and I think he's charming. You can't help but like him.

2. How did you settle on the title for Shallow Waters?

Now this is difficult for a different reason. I hated titling this novel. Truly. Hated it. How people have tons of idea's for titles I'll never know. In the end it just kind of came to me for no apparent reason. I wasn't trying to think of one at the time. The book was already written and had a perfectly awful title sat with it, why did I need another? But this came out the blue and I loved it. Funny how that happens I suppose.

3. What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?

I was just told by a reader that a part of it made her emotional and she had never been affected that way before. She then told me which part of the book she was talking about. To know that your words have had that affect, well, it's something else.

4. What alternative title did you consider?

Really? Do I have disclose this? It's really bad.

5. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

The ideas! The writing is hard work!

6. Which novel do you wish you’d written?


In terms of crime fiction, Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. What a great concept for a novel, and a great read.

7. Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?


Only 3! Wow, you're tough. I've read 83 books so far. Ok, lets try;

Cry Baby by David Jackson, Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

8. In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?

That people are enjoying it. Doesn't that surprise every début novelist?

9. Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?

Stephen Fry because he's funny and genuine and real and also Matt Haig for the same reasons. I know, neither of them are crime writers.

10. Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?

Do you want to swap bank accounts?
 
A big thanks to Rebecca for sharing her thoughts with us! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->

Monday, 15 December 2014

Five Random Delights at Christmas!

I’m madly revising a new novel before Christmas and haven’t been able to research for a ‘proper’ blog post this week. I’ve also been washed out with a throat infection, which left me without a voice (not bad news for everyone!). It made me realise how lucky I am that it’s my fingers that do the talking. And this led me to ponder on the wealth of other things I feel grateful for. As ‘problem-solving’ beings, we tend to focus on the stuff that isn’t going well and needs sorting out, rather than on the aspects that are ticking along nicely.

So to celebrate, here are Five Random Delights in my life, right now:

1. Jacob’s Cheeselets. These are yummy and only seem to be around at Christmas. Just as well. They have magical qualities – one minute they’re in the dish – the next, they’re gone…How did that happen??

2. To-be-read list: Every writer needs one of these - here is my first batch for over Christmas and the new year. I adore having books lined up, ready to open. It’s like being in Doctor Who; I get to open the door of my Tardis and step into a new world.

3. ‘Family and Friends’ is an obvious choice, but when family are also friends – it’s even more special. My sister and brother-in-law have been brilliant this year, especially in sorting out ‘just about everything’ in connection with my father’s death. They really are amazing! A MASSIVE thank you to them...


4. Having a cello again after ten years of not playing is my next gratitude. The fact that I’m reunited with the same beautiful instrument I had 30 years ago is even more special and a bit surreal. My heartfelt thanks to Shirley who passed away in September and bequeathed it to me and to my father for this lovely pastel picture of me playing, from 1986.



5. Amaretto – a new discovery for Hubbie and I. Our Christmas dessert is going to be homemade vanilla ice-cream 'with a choice' of (aka both) hot chocolate sauce and poured-over Amaretto. Bliss…


Image: www.sweetlyscrapped.com
On that note, I wish you very good wishes for the Festive Season and have a lovely time over the holiday period! Back in the New Year! More novels on the way...
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Power-packed Psychological Thrillers - 3 Latest Reviews

It's that time of year when we're all getting cosy for Christmas and looking for some cracking books to snuggle up with by the fire.... Here are some reviews of recent novels:

Precious Thing - Colette McBeth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good? Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever. 

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara's life is spiralling further out of control.

Then Clara vanishes. 

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you've shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

'A searing portrayal of a vivid bond of love - and hate - between friends.' Some lovely imagery, intensity and depth in the writing here about a friendship between two women that goes off the rails. One of them goes missing and the truth about their past and present lives starts to unravel with devastating effects. This is not a book that relies on shocks and big-bangs! Beautiful writing - some wonderful 'moments' that the author manages to capture in words. A book to savour - highly deserving of 5 stars. I'm really looking forward to her next one!

The Beauty of Murder - A.K. Benedict
My rating: 3 of 5

Stephen Killigan has been cold since the day he came to Cambridge as a junior lecturer. Something about the seven hundred years of history staining the stones of the university has given him a chill he can't shake. When he stumbles across the body of a missing beauty queen, he thinks he's found the reason. But when the police go to retrieve the body and find no trace, Killigan has found a problem - and a killer - that is the very opposite of reason.

Killigan's unwitting entry into Jackamore Grass's sinister world will lead him on a trail of tattooists, philosophers, cadavers and scholars of a deadly beauty. As Killigan traces a path between our age and seventeenth century Cambridge, he must work out how a corpse can be found before someone goes missing, and whether he's at the edge of madness or an astonishing discovery.

This novel is certainly 'different'. I loved the quality of the writing (set in Cambridge) - it had a gothic, dark, magical feel to it, with unusual, surreal images, original detail ('crinkle-cut corduroy trousers') humour and quirkiness. Such as : 'There is something familiar about him. But then there is about all clergy: they all have that way of looking through you as if your sins were fluttering on a washing line with the labels showing.'

I didn't know when I started it that it had a 'time-travel' element, which wouldn't usually pique my interest, but it fitted well here, although I confess I did get a bit 'lost' in the storytelling at times. Perhaps, I wasn't paying enough attention – but there are a lot of elements to it – murder, maths, magic, time-travel, science-fiction, philosophy. The lead characters all had compelling and unusual traits and even if, like me, you weren't on secure footing with the tale itself (and it does feel like a 'tale') - it's definitely worth a read for the writing style and atmosphere.

The Sleeper - Emily Barr
My rating: 4 of 5

Lara Finch is living a lie.

Everyone thinks she has a happy life in Cornwall, married to the devoted Sam, but in fact she is desperately bored. When she is offered a new job that involves commuting to London by sleeper train, she meets Guy and starts an illicit affair. But then Lara vanishes from the night train without a trace. Only her friend Iris disbelieves the official version of events, and sets out to find her. For Iris, it is the start of a voyage that will take her further than she's ever travelled and on to a trail of old crimes and dark secrets. For Lara, it is the end of a journey that started a long time ago. A journey she must finish, before it destroys her...


This is a great suspense read - and verging on 5 stars. The 'hook' is powerful - a woman vanishes from a train - and I love mysteries involving trains (I've written one myself!). The first part of the novel written from Lara's point of view was done brilliantly. This is where she starts living a double life with the 'safe and tedious' husband at home (who adores her) and the whirlwind romance with the exciting new man on the train. I thought this section made great use of the dissonance between who Lara becomes with each man and the lies and deception she starts to build. When Lara goes missing, I found a slump in energy and suddenly we're seeing the situation through the eyes of Iris, a not-very-close friend. Then we're no longer in Falmouth or London and eventually the pace picks up again, but it becomes rather a different story from the one at the start. It is for me almost two stories in one and the first part is by far the most compelling. Having said that, the writing is excellent, it's engaging and solid good quality. I'll be reading more from this writer.
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->
Or go to AJ Waines' Blog to sign up and see more posts.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Novel in Progress - Getting the right word-count

My Psychological Thrillers tend to run to around 92,000 words. This creates a book with around 380-450 pages in a paperback format, depending on the type face. It's the sort of length I've been advised to aim for by agents and publishers. But how do you know when you start, that the story you have in mind is going to run for that number of words? How do you know that the storyline isn’t going to be all over and done with by 50,000 words?

Desk - with timelines, character profiles and inspiring books!
My immediate answer is I have no idea. I think it’s about reading a lot of books in the same genre, getting a feel for themes and their duration, finding several threads that will run the course of the book and ultimately making some kind of judgement when I write the initial plan and synopsis that there’s enough material to flesh the whole thing out without drying up too soon. I've been lucky so far - my story ideas have gone the distance...

I’m on the final run with my latest one, having reached 83,000 words yesterday. I tend to write fairly quickly in the first draft  (30,000 words in the last three weeks). All the remaining scenes are sketched and now my concern is: Will I fit it all in?! But it’s a good feeling, because I usually spend most of the novel from around 40,000 words onwards fretting that I will not have sufficient storyline to fill out the rest of the novel.
I usually think of a book in three acts, with high points towards the end of each act.  At 60,000 words, where the third act is kicking off, I start to hold my breath. Has the storyline got enough depth? Enough body? Is the dramatic twist and/or powerful denouement going to wing it? Have I undercooked the last section?

The Finishing Line
I’m now at the stage where I can allow myself to get really excited. The end is in sight and up to this point, it’s been touch and go. It usually is – because it’s a creative entity in process and has so many directions it could go in, even though I've sketched a comprehensive outline. Books still have a life of their own, they can drag you and swivel you all over the place. That’s why they feel so dynamic and the writing of it feels so alive. Now I can breathe again and enjoy it, knowing that it’s going to go the course and ‘fit’. Whether it ‘works’ or not is another matter!
Once it's finished...
After the first draft, where my focus is to 'get the story down' (thank you, Stephen King), I will leave it in a drawer for a week or so and shift to other projects. I have no ideas yet for the ‘next one’, so I’ll give some thought to that. I also have a completed book that’s just gone through the structural edits, so I will be liaising with my Agent re publishing on that one. Then I’ll return to the novel and go through it several times, looking first at the structure and plot: Do the threads follow through? Do they all get tied up? I’ll check for continuity - sometimes characters shift from blonde to brunette through the course of a story! 'Living rooms' become 'sitting rooms', or entrances develop front steps...

The nitty-gritty of first revisions
I usually ask myself at the end of each scene – what is the role of this scene, what has it told us? And at the end of each chapter: what does the reader know now and what do they want to know? I’ll check the characters – are they rounded enough and believable? Are they striking and compelling? I’ll also look at setting (is there enough atmosphere?), and openings of chapters (are they grabby?) and do the cliff-hangers at the end of chapters make the reader want to turn the page? Finally, I’ll look at language and style, these are the easiest to play around with, in my view.

Recruiting fresh eyes
After that, I’ll send it to my lovely beta-readers. I now have four with sparkling credentials, who will hopefully give me honest and specific feedback on all aspects of the book. Then I’ll revise again responding to the comments. I’m not precious, if I can see a criticism has some validity, I’ll  make changes. Then it will go to my Agent. She will read it and possibly send it on to one of her trusted readers for another round of feedback. Then more revisions and edits – and back it goes until we get to the point where it feels ‘ready’ to go out into the world.

How do other authors judge the length of their books? How do you get to the finishing line? I’d be interested to hear from you.
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Guest Author - Kathryn Croft

Time for another Guest Post and a very warm welcome to Kathryn Croft, who has given me this exclusive interview about her new psychological thriller, The Stranger Within...

About the Author

Kathryn is always seeking new challenges and has had a wide and varied career before writing her first novel. After gaining a BA Honours Degree in Media Arts with English Literature, she worked in human resources and management training. But it wasn’t long before her passion for literature led her to train as a teacher and study for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. She then spent six years teaching secondary school English; a job she believes was invaluable to her writing career. In December 2013, her debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, was published and reached number one in the Amazon psychological thrillers chart. Kathryn now devotes all her time to writing and is currently working on her fourth novel.

Here's the Story:
 
Be careful what you wish for.

On the surface, Callie Harwell has it all. Newly married to James, she finally gets the family she has longed for and becomes a mother to his two sons.

So why is she arrested for murder?

Things are not as Callie hoped they would be and she struggles to be accepted as part of James’ family, and to keep hidden the secrets that could destroy her future.

As her life spirals out of control, setting in motion a chain of events with devastating consequences, Callie is forced to question how well we ever really know ourselves.


Now over to Kathryn:

Who is your favourite character in The Stranger Within and why?

This is a difficult question! I really enjoyed writing from Callie’s perspective and seeing
how she deals with all the issues she’s facing.

How did you settle on the title for The Stranger Within?

Initially I had written a completely different version of the book, which was told from the
alternating perspectives of Callie and James. But once I’d finished it, it occurred to me
that I could create even more intrigue and suspense if I only told the story from Callie’s
point of view. So I set about doing this and it meant the plot had to change significantly. It was quite daunting rewriting the whole thing as it meant a huge delay in publication, but I trusted my instinct and I’m pleased with the new version! Anyway, the old version was called A Stranger Beside Me, so I just adapted it slightly to fit the new story.

What's the nicest thing anyone has said about the book?

It’s still early days but it was great to hear from a reviewer that they finished the book in
two sittings!

What alternative title did you consider?

I was lucky that this title actually came to me quite easily. However, this hasn’t been the
case with my third book, and even though it’s with my agent now, I’m still trying to think
of a darker title for it!

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

I’m a planner, so I don’t start writing until I’ve planned each chapter, but it’s really exciting when the characters or plot do something unexpected, enhancing
the story. In fact, it’s not often that my novels turn out exactly as I have planned them!
I also love being able to create different worlds, situations and lives, and hopefully
entertain people in the process.

Which novel do you wish you’d written?

What a great question! I would have to say The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It’s
so hard to pick an all-time favourite book because there are so many amazing novels and authors out there, but if I had to pick one this would be it.

Can you list 3 of your favourite reads, this year?

I have read so many fantastic thrillers this year but three that stick in my mind are The Lie of You by Jane Lythell, The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah and The Book of You by Claire Kendal. I love the atmosphere and style of these well-written books.

In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most?

For this book it’s hard to say yet as it’s only just been published, but one thing that sticks in my mind from my first book, Behind Closed Doors, is an email I had from a reader. She explained how the book really touched and affected her and she could relate strongly to Olivia. It surprised me that this reader had taken the time out to write such a personal email and it meant a lot to me.

Which authors would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?

Another superb question! I would definitely invite Stephen King, Paulo Coelho, Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling and hope that some of their greatness would rub off on me!

Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?

I would ask them the question I’m waiting to ask myself: when did you get to the stage where you truly felt that you were a ‘real’ author?!

A big thanks to Kathryn for sharing her thoughts with us!
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Liquid Feared by Criminals

Crime writers are always on the look out for tools they can include in their books - new poisons that are untraceable, new forensic advances that the police have introduced. For procedural crime novels this kind of research is essential - no point in writing a story that is full of holes, because the forensic techniques are completely out of date!

I don't tend to write police procedurals - partly because I don't know enough about police methods and also because I'm more interested in the kind of suspense stories where the 'detective' could be you or I, an ordinary person caught up in a mystery that compels him or her to find out the truth.

But - I have come across this - which may be of interest to crime writers (and home owners!) It's a security marker pen, but as well as marking the item to be protected in the home - it also 'leaves its mark' on the burglar. Nifty...

It's called 'SmartWater' and is a colourless, odourless liquid that has the ability to security mark valuable items of property with a unique DNA style chemical formula.

If the tiniest spot is transferred to clothes during a robbery, it will show up in ultraviolet light and ensnare the culprit. It can be used for all valuables such as computers, Wiis, playstations, electrical equipment, cameras, DVD players etc. It can also be used on furniture and jewellery. Once applied, it is virtually impossible to remove and can only be seen under UV light. If a burglar gets SmartWater on them, it immediately shows up if that person is examined with ultra violet light in a custody suite.

Essex police are apparently routinely screening every suspected crook arrested at Basildon Police Station for this invisible crime-cracking liquid, which could link them to offences. A mark the size of a pinhead is enough for that person to be linked to a crime scene.

74% of burglars (not sure how this information was obtained!) said they would not break into a property with a sign indicating that belongings were marked with the substance.

So there you go - this marker pen might be the key factor in your next novel that foils the culprit!

By the way - not to be confused with the 'other' SmartWater - advertised here by Jennifer Aniston! An unfortunate advertising clash...

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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Much needed TLC for Authors!

Authors spend a great deal of time alone and most of that time is spent sitting at a desk. I've discovered to my cost that a bad back is often the end result, but I've come across a much needed piece of equipment that makes sitting at a desk just that little bit nicer. And - if you've got a bad back like mine - it's a real soothing treat.

CL Taylor (author of the excellent thriller, The Accident) posted about it on Twitter. Having met Cally and judged that she's a trustworthy kind of gal, I decided to look into it and found mine on Amazon:


 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Homedics-Shiatsu-Cushion-Remote-Control/dp/B008CZ55MI

Sometimes Amazon are brilliant. I know they are allegedly ethically unsound re tax etc, but you look for what you want, find out from reviews what a whole pile of folk think about it and then buy with one click. Mine arrived the next day.

It's a slightly 'dangerous' bit of kit in one way - you are supposed to only use it for 15 minutes at a time, but it allows you to switch it back on again once it cuts out... I don't know if with continued successive use the engine eventually burns out (I've been very good so far - and not succumbed to chain-sessions), but it's tempting... Moreover, the 15 minutes goes past SO quickly, but it is pure heaven as the hot 'thumbs' roll around my shoulders, lower or middle back. I've tried it on my neck too, lying on the floor and that's great - only not much writing gets done in that position.

The other thing I need to remember (and perhaps you do too), is to still take stand-up breaks away from the chair every 30 minutes. Sitting feels comfy, but it's a killer for the back - just ask every GP, physiotherapist or acupuncturist. Spines are meant to be mobile and as long as I keep moving with stretches and Pilates every half an hour, I reckon I'm allowed my electronic masseur!

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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Intriguing Story from Holloway Prison

As a Crime Fiction writer, I'm drawn to TV programmes about prisons, always on the look out for information that is not normally revealed to the public and bizarre stories. Well - I certainly found one!

Channel 5: Inside Holloway
The current series on Channel 5 - Inside Holloway  whetted my appetite with a curious incident during World War II, when conditions in the jail were decidedly impoverished. Several former inmates of Holloway prison are household names - Ruth Ellis, Myra Hindley and Maxine Carr, for example - but this most intriguing story surrounds a woman called Helen Duncan (1897-1956).
Helen Duncan

Duncan, who had demonstrated psychic ability throughout her life, claimed to produce Spirits from what she called 'ectoplasm' that emerged from her mouth under trance. This was a stringy white substance that was supposed to give form to Spirits and allow them to communicate. Duncan made a living by conducting impressive séances throughout Britain, during which the spirits of the dead were alleged to have appeared, talking to and even touching their relatives. In fact the 'ectoplasm' was a mix of saliva, egg-white, cloth and faces cut out of magazines - essentially Duncan was an expert regurgitator! Her act was alleged to be merely a stage show...

Duncan became unstuck when she performed a séance in Portsmouth in November 1941 and accurately revealed (through the spirit of a sailor) that a battleship, the HMS Barham, had been sunk with 859 lives lost. HMS Barham was not officially declared lost until several months later; its sinking having been kept secret to mislead the enemy and protect morale. Duncan was arrested, but instead of being charged the usual petty fine for vagrancy - she was charged under the 1735 Witchcraft Act, which stated it was an offence to falsely conjure spirits.

Duncan was given a prison sentence of nine months in Holloway in January 1944 - many believed the extreme penalty was imposed for fear that she would reveal other damaging military secrets regarding the war effort. In her cell, she was given soiled underclothes to wear, little hot water and no toilet paper (it was common practice at the time to tear pages from the Bibles that were given to prisoners). Still - she didn't appear to be put off by her ordeal and after her release in September 1944, she went on to conduct further seances, although no further charges were brought against her.

Stories like this just send shivers up my spine!
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

To get regular posts SIGN UP in the side bar --->