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A Time for Crime

When people are entering into the spirit of Christmas, and being a tad kinder to each other than the usual sad norm, a strange thought flits around my mind -

I've never set a crime story at Christmas time.

Now why should that be, I wonder?

I suspect the answer is as I began this blog. Despite my hardened and cynical hack's exterior, and the mass murdering nature of the occasional book I might write, I'm a romantic at heart, however I try to hide it.

You might even say, as the song goes; "I believe in Father Xmas..." (metaphorically, anyway.)

Which means to set a horrible crime amidst the human warmth of Xmas time feels like heresy! Particularly when the season is presenting itself in a way like this...

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A Trip Around the Block

It's one of the most common questions I get asked, it's been posed again - and it's proving very timely, given my experiences of late - so I thought I'd answer it.

(Or try to - with my own solution, anyway.)

It's our familiar foe, writer's block.

Of all the emails I receive, the issue of the dreaded block comes up time and again. And I've been suffering it myself of late.

I'm thinking about branching out from crime, into writing for young adults, so I've been toying with some ideas. I think I've got a basic decent premise for a story, but the ending has been eluding me for days, and it's getting frustrating.

What's most annoying is that I know there's an answer - it just won't come to me. It's as though it's skipping around the fringes of my mind, always just out of reach, continually sticking out its tongue and mocking me.

Know that feeling? Be it with writing, something from work, or a personal issue? I suspect we all do, it's a part of the curious job of being a human.

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Unexpected Delights

When I started writing, I did it as a challenge to myself - to see if I could actually put together a passable 100,000 words novel.

But what's been one of the most wonderful - and unexpected - parts of the writing journey is the spin offs from getting published.

I've been fortunate enough to travel to many countries to around to talk about my books. But the greatest of the joys has been the teaching work.

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This was an event a few days ago at Park School, Barnstaple, in north Devon. The idea of Inspire to Aspire is to make  youngsters think outside of the box about careers they might consider - to perhaps get a sense of ways of life they'd never previously imagined.

It was a wonderful evening, which I hugely enjoyed. And most gratifying of all was the number of students who said they'd never thought about becoming a journalist or writer, but now had been inspired to do so.

That's the point of this blog. Just being a writer is a dream job - letting your imagination run loose and then setting it all down for others to share. Nobody told me about careers like that when I was at school!

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Gratitude and thanks

Amidst these cold and grey days of the English winter, I'm pausing for a warming tipple of gratitude.

Firstly, for those who've suffered me in so many ways this year. The friends and family, the readers of my novels and those very brave ones who've subjected themselves to me in person, at teaching or book talk events.

Here are some of the most recent - youngsters and parents from Park School in north Devon, where last week I had the wonderful experience of presenting an Inspire to Aspire talk; to offer a few ideas about decent careers they might like to consider.

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I very much enjoyed the night, hope I managed to pass on a few tips about how to land yourself a reasonably passable life, and thanks to all for playing along with my daft games.

And this is me with some of the students from the night.

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A Favourite Saying

I have a little pet saying, which I sometimes have to remind myself of -

It's better to be in demand than not.

I did some reminding myself of it at the weekend, when I looked ahead to the coming few days and thought - in a word - eek!

It's quite a week. Tomorrow night (Wednesday), I've been invited to a wonderful event at Park School in Barnstaple - Inspire to Aspire - which means talking to the youngsters about good careers and how to get them.

(Yes, I know being a hack and writer are hardly the most socially eminent and valuable of jobs, but I shall do my best to persuade the audience that they're not so bad.)

Then, on Friday, I'm at the excellent Exeter College, teaching novel writing.

I did think twice about taking both events on, as there's lots of prep work required. But it all came down to this...

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