I’ve been working on edits on one of my manuscripts and needed to do some fact-checking around DNA testing and result times. I found some interesting stuff!
Rapid DNA testing
Rapid DNA testing is most commonly used to determine the relationship between donors, and is also used to determine if a suspect has been involved in another crime in a timely manner. A swab is taken—it only works on body fluid swabs, usually from the mouth—and the results used to search current databases. The test takes about 2 hours to complete. The test doesn’t need a lab as it uses a portable machine.
Standard DNA testing
This can be done on any sample. The test itself takes 24 to 72 hours, but actual processing times depend on the workload of the lab doing the testing – anywhere from a week or two to several months.
What can it prove?
DNA testing is only 100% certain when it comes to excluding people. It can prove someone wasn’t at a crime scene better than it can prove they were. DNA can degenerate, making accurate results difficult to produce.
Imagine your DNA being found at a crime scene when you’ve never been there, or know the people involved? Scientists are still learning about the transfer of DNA and we shed cells wherever we go. Nor does DNA have a time stamp. A person who was at the crime scene 2 weeks before the crime was committed may find their DNA caught up in the case.
And to finish, some interesting facts about DNA
Plant DNA can be used to solve criminal cases
Every human’s DNA is 99% the same
Humans and cabbages share 40-50% of their DNA (Source)
For 2018 I’m setting myself something other than the number of books I want to read—I’m adding conditions (so to speak) to encourage me to pick up books I might not otherwise choose. I’ve come up with a list of 30 variants and my goal is to tick off at least 20 of them.
Here’s my challenge:
Do you want to join me?
The list has been drawn up in such a way that you can stick to your preferred genres, or branch out into something new. There is a PDF of the list you can print here.
I’ll be updating my progress monthly here on the blog and on Facebook, so feel free to share you own progress, and/or pass on any recommendations.
I look forward to hearing about your reading choices for 2018!
As is customary at this time of year, I’ve spent some hours over the past week thinking back over the year that’s almost finished.
And it’s been quite a year.
The highlight was, of course, the dream trip to the USA to visit the settings for my books. It’s been two months since I returned and I still think about it every day. And yes, I want to go back.
I’ve published another two books, Secrets Within and Bombshell, written three books, several short stories, over 60 blog posts, plus other bits of writing (my recent ‘random writing’ equalled one third of a novel). Not a bad effort.
Then there’s the thirty-seven books I’ve read—there’s been one more added to the list since my blog post last week. I also taught myself how to use InDesign (to a degree) and learned more special effects on Photoshop (which included a bit of frustration and the occasional swear word).
I learned how to deal with my personal physical limitations when it comes to actual writing, aka not pushing the dodgy hand so far that it spasms and hurts.
And I’ve had several more story ideas. Still no writer’s block!
What’s on the cards for 2018?
I will publish at least one book, hopefully two. One of the books is the third and final book for the New London books, and I’ll be celebrating that milestone with a launch party/celebration with family and friends. I hope you’ll think about coming along, but more about that later in the year!
My newsletter – Writing Roundup. The first edition of Writing Roundup is currently in the final stages of preparation for launch on this coming Sunday. I’ll be focusing a fair amount of effort on it each month as it will be my main way of giving back to my supporters.
I will write at least two new books. Depends on the hand.
I also want to do some professional development, particularly relating to book cover design. I have a course in mind and it should be fun to play around with techniques and ideas.
I think that’s enough goals to start with. No doubt the year ahead will throw up its own challenges and I’ll deal with those as they arise.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and 2018 is kind to you!
For 2017 I set myself a goal of reading 35 books, and by that I mean 35 books cover to cover. To date I have read 36 with a couple waiting for the week after Christmas. Goal met!
I dip a lot. What I mean by that is I read every day, but often that translates to picking up a book I've read before, opening it at a random page, and reading.
So here's the 36 books for this year:
My favourite book this year?
The Martian (no, I haven't seen the movie). A brilliant story that I read in one day. If you haven't read it yet and you enjoy a good adventure story, grab yourself a copy!
The two thriller series I found/was recommended: The Orphan X books (15 & 16) and the Victor the Assassin books (34-36). Both series are addictive and the books are hard to put down. Evan (Orphan X) is one of the best characters I've ever come across. I highly, highly recommend both these series, though they are not for the weak of stomach (i.e. there's a lot of violence).
Onto next year. I'm taking recommendations, so feel free to let me know your favourites.
Have you ever heard of body farms?
A body farm is a place where students and scientists can study the decomposition rate of bodies, both pig and human, in various locations and conditions. Research is done on various aspects of decomposition, including the effect of bugs, different soils, plants, and more. Most body farms are in the USA, but last year one opened in NSW as much of the US data isn’t relevant to Australia’s climate and conditions. And would you believe it, they were overwhelmed with the number of people wanting to donate their bodies – over 500!
I read early this week that a university in Michigan is opening a new body farm to expand the research to cold weather climates. The FROST program, as it’s known, is currently preparing the plot by researching the insect life in the ground using the bodies of pigs. Human bodies will be introduced during spring (northern hemisphere). The human remains will be covered to prevent most large scavenger animals from destroying the body too quickly, and once the body has decomposed, the bones are then used for further research before becoming part of a permanent collection.
A bit gruesome—perhaps—but fascinating!
If you want to read more (no graphic images in these):
NSW body farm donations
60 Minutes article and video on NSW body farm
The day has finally come and Bombshell is now available!
Join Warren and Beth in another exciting story!
While Beth relishes her career as a forensic botanist with the FBI, Warren is fed up with the endless round of meetings his management role requires. He wants to be hands-on with investigations, but that’s not something an executive assistant director with the FBI does.
Warren is tempted by a job offer from his best friend, but must reconsider when Beth is given a life-changing diagnosis which will impact their future.
A bank robbery gone wrong leaves an innocent man dead, sparking an FBI investigation. The thieves believe they are safe from discovery, but a crucial piece of evidence is left behind. Beth uses the evidence to narrow the search, leading to an arrest.
The robbery investigation takes a turn when the man they have in custody dies while awaiting trial.
Then a suspect in the case is killed by a bomb.
And then another.
Is a vigilante killer on the loose, or is a grieving family member seeking revenge?
And who is next on the list?
A special thank you goes to: my first editors/beta readers, SS and MM; my professional editor Sally Odgers; my amazing writing buddy, Jen Redmile; and my wonderful, supportive family.
I couldn't do what I do without you!
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