Super Sleuth Solution: Catching BTK

kidnapped-1420979-639x852Welcome Back Super Sleuths! For those of you following this week’s cold case of BTK that was solved many years later, let’s check out your answers.

Let’s Recap:

The location is Wichita, Kansas. The timeline is 1974-1991. A killer was on the loose that killed more than 10 victims during this 18 year span.  Fifteen years had come and gone since his first murder. The BTK killer was no technological slouch.

The public was in a panic. The case had grown cold, but with the same anguish the ruthless deaths weighed on the conscious  Then something unexpected happened in 2006 that gave the police the break they had been looking for.

What break in the case allowed the Police to catch the culprit?

The correct answer is:

D. They traced evidence of his location from a floppy disc and verified his identity from comparing a group of handwritten letters to his handwriting.

If you’d like to read more about how they nabbed this killer, you can find more details here. 

Thanks for joining in our super sleuth challenge! Next week stop back for another chance to check your super sleuthing talents.

What is the craziest mystery case you’ve read about?

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Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge: Catching BTK

crime-scene-1452689-640x480Welcome back Super Sleuths! Today you have the opportunity to try your crime solving skills to determine what method of detection was used to nab the villain in the following case.

The location is Wichita, Kansas. The timeline is 1974-1991. A killer was on the loose that killed more than 10 victims during this 18 year span.  Fifteen years had come and gone since his first murder. The BTK killer was no technological slouch.

The public was in a panic. The case had grown cold, but with the same anguish the ruthless deaths weighed on the conscious  Then something unexpected happened in 2006 that gave the police the break they had been looking for.

What break in the case allowed the Police to catch the culprit?

A. DNA evidence left at the crime scene on a cigarette butt was now able to be processed and the killer was caught.

B. Another body was discovered that appeared to be the first BTK’s victim. The killer was more reckless with his first kill and they found evidence linked to him.

C. A new way to process DNA on the victims’ clothing lead to the BTK’s arrest and conviction.

D. They traced evidence of his location from a floppy disc and verified his identity from comparing a group of handwritten letters to his handwriting.

What method do you think the Police used to catch BTK?

 

Steps To A Successful New Writing Year

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freeimage.com, photo by Eran Becker

Every year it seems the best of intentions can turn into guilt and regret all over what we didn’t accomplish the year before. Even so, on New Years Day we roll out a whole new list of goals designed to get us motivated to achieve new heights.Stop the run away train!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting new goals for the year, but consider a different process of arriving at your destination. In the writer’s life there are plenty of times when we deal with rejection and defeat. New Year’s doesn’t need to be one of them. Instead try the steps below.

Steps to a Successful New Writing Year:

*Celebrate the successes of last year. Take a moment and make a list of the things you accomplished last year. Celebrate those with a favorite activity, treat, or small token.

writing-1560276-640x480*Reflect on the process. Journal your thoughts of what made the successes possible. Notice the motivational pieces that helped you reach your goals.

For example, if entering a contest helped you to work on editing your novel, enter another contest this year.

Also, identify the things that stood in the way of success. Be completely honest with yourself. It is only helpful to set goals if you can be honest with yourself about your own shortcomings, or calendar difficulties.

*Recognize your most successful seasons.  Some may write better in the summer when the weather is warm. Others may have more success when their kids are in school. raindrops-1594135_1920Identify when you are most successful and determine to capitalize on these times.

*Set seasonal goals reflective of your potential. This year don’t write goals for the whole year. It is easy to get lost in goals that are so long term. It is alright to have these goals, but setting seasonal goals can be more successful because the time line is in small chunks.

Divide the calendar into the seasons that follow your rhythms and assign the goals to each segment. Keep in mind your personal strengths and weaknesses. Goals are meant to be attainable with some effort, not impossible. Be realistic.

Allow yourself to have a less productive season when you typically struggle. Make this time about refueling your muse and doing smaller amounts of writing. This will help you to feel recharged and ready to go in your best seasons.

*Check in with your Goal Journal. At the beginning and end of each writing season writingyou’ve identified, check in with your journal. Write notes about what worked and what didn’t. Celebrate your successes for the season you were in. Check that the next season’s goals are reasonable and map out how you plan to get there.

What works for you in setting goals?

 

Contest Entry Checklist For Writers

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Illustration by Fanginhoon

Writing contests are part of every writer’s journey. Contests can be nerve wracking as you launch your baby out there in the world for everyone to judge. Yet, there is much to be said for outside feedback.

Naturally when entering a writing contest you want to put your best foot forward. Your voice must come through and grab the judges to final or win.

First and foremost, recognize that you enter a contest for the feedback, not just the win. Focusing all of the energy toward winning can lead to discouragement, especially early in your journey.

Make a list of all of the reasons you are entering before submitting to keep expectations realistic and to avoid discouragement. Once you’ve done this, then you are ready for a Contest Entry Checklist For Writers to brush up your manuscript.

I’ve added links to blog posts that show you how to do the required step. This will help if you need extra help.

Contest Entry Checklist For Writers:

*Point of View. Entries should maintain one Point of View per scene. Check to make sure there are no point of view slips, like a character describing how they look from an outsiders point of view.

*Compelling hook for each scene. Does the first sentence and paragraph of each scene grab the reader’s attention and pull them in? Check that it starts right in the middle of the action and not with too much lead.

*Character Like-abilityCheck that characters are like-able. Either we can relate to them in some way, or we are concerned for them. Show them doing something admirable, or having a problem we relate to.

*Eliminate -ly words. Usually -ly words tell instead of show what is happening. Eliminate them and challenge yourself to show the actions or emotions of the scene.

*Deepen Sensory ElementsInclude each of the senses in the scene to create a deeper experience for your reader.

*Eliminate Repetitive Words. Look for word favorites that you use too frequently. If you can’t see them, often someone else can. We all have favorite words we overuse.

*Strengthen Verb Choices. Read through and eliminate weak verb choices like passive verbs or helping verbs.

*Clear Character Goals / Obstacles / Stakes. Make sure that your point of view character has clear goals, obstacles and stakes for each scene. The absence of these results in no conflict or tension in the scene.

*Emotion is shown not told. Your entry should show the character’s emotion with the actions and thoughts they have, not through telling the reader how they feel. Dig deep to illustrate it with physical action.

*Cliffhanger or Suspense At the End of Each Scene. Keep the reader wanting more at the end of each scene by adding a cliffhanger or suspenseful moment.

Have you entered a writing contest? What do you find helps in preparing?

 

 

 

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid

note-book-1492516-640x480Complex plots draw a reader into the story, craving that moment of awareness when all is unveiled at the end. The main plot alone can have many layers. These layers create depth in the story.

There is one particular kind of layer called a subplot that takes you on a journey through the eyes of another point of view character. Not all stories require a subplot, but it can add another dimension to your novel.

What is Subplot?

subplot is a secondary plot, or a strand of the main plot that runs parallel to it and supports it. … Not only does it show various aspects of the characters, connecting the readers with them, but also it is a story within a story – a sort of a subplot. (literary devices.net) ”

What is the Subplot’s Role?

It’s first and most important role is to support the plot. It may offer underlying threads to the spiritual thread of the book, but it must bring something to the overall plot that enriches it and completes it. It adds a multi-layered effect that intrigues readers and keeps them coming back for more.

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid:

  1. Parallel Plots- This occurs when the plot and subplot merely share characters and a point in time. The subplot could stand alone and offers very little to the plot itself.
  2. Dangling Plot Thread– This occurs when a subplot does not feed back into the main plot at the end of the novel, supporting it’s conclusion. If it doesn’t impact the end of the novel in some way, it is left dangling with little purpose. It also happens when the subplot is incomplete and left without resolution.
  3. Competing Subplot- The subplot is supposed to strengthen the main plot, but when it competes with the main plot it creates the opposite effect. A subplot that overtakes the main plot in word count or interest level weakens it.

What do you think is the most complicated part of creating a subplot?

3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains

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Photo by Olly Bennett

One of my very favorite parts of a book are its villains. They create the drive to will a hero/heroine to survive the worst the villain and life can throw at them. Their journey to survive and overcome are inspiring.

When it comes to inspiring the reader with a hero/heroine’s survival, the villain is key. Not just any villain will do, but the worst possible foe, with great skills in bringing about their evil schemes.

Some of the best ever villains have similar qualities exhibited in stories. Susan May Warren teaches the importance of showing an almost insurmountable ability to do evil, when pitting him against the hero/heroine. This is of huge import when trying to make a believable villain.

There are other important elements to a villain as well.

As you brainstorm villains for your stories a few tips will help you to create a villain that draws the reader to keep turning pages.

3 Tips To Brainstorming Villains:

  1. Brainstorm A Lair. A villain needs a place for his evil to have a home world. Writing mentor Rachel Hauck shared this insight with me. If there is a villain point of view, this might be a place where s/he reflects on their crimes, or looks at mementos. If not, it can be a place that others discover to uncover the plots or evil intentions of the villain.
  2. Brainstorm Incidents That Place The Villain Next To The Hero/Heroine. Placing the villain next to the hero/heroine without them being aware of the evil that is so close creates tension and a feeling of danger.
  3. Brainstorm a tell or unique behavior for your villain. This can be as simple as a smell, or sound that brings a sense of foreboding in the hero or heroine, even when they don’t know what caused it. This tell can be used at different times to create an emotion.

Who is your favorite villain of all time? Why?

10 Reasons To Keep Believing In Spite Of Mistakes – NFL Bloopers And Writing Gaffs

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Photo by j m Griffin

Have you made some mistakes that you are afraid you can’t recover from in your writing career?

When it comes to success, sometimes we can be our own  nemesis. We make mistakes, forget pitches, stick our feet in our mouths, you name it, it’s probably been done.

No matter what, Believe.

Here are some NFL bloopers that I’m sure the players thought they might not recover from, but they lived to play another day.

10 Reasons to Keep Believing in Spite of Mistakes:

  1. You Love To Write- At the end of the day, your voice won’t stay silent. You must write just as much as you must breathe.
  2. Editors Are Human – They have seen almost any mistake you have made before.
  3. Agents Are Human Too – They have heard almost every mistake in the book.
  4. Mentors Create A Lifeline – There are mentors in the writing community that will come along side you and give you get-back-on-track advice.
  5. You’re A Life-Long Learner – Writers are constantly learning new things about the trade. You never arrive. Just keep learning and be teachable.
  6. Someday You’ll Look Back And Laugh- Hold on to this thought. There will come a day when you see the humor in these moments.
  7. Everything Is Possible – Our Heavenly Father has promised that “All things are possible to those who love God.” (Phil. 4:13)
  8. You Are Not Alone – There are many on this writing journey with you. Find a local writing group or share with friends, but don’t go it alone.
  9. A Career Is Not Defined In One Day – Aren’t we all grateful for this?  One day will not make or break your career. Be patient with yourself.
  10. The Patriots Won The Superbowl – In an unprecedented comeback, never before seen in history, the Patriots won the Superbowl. If they can do it, against all odds and Superbowl past stats, so can you!

Who else has come back from sure defeat in their past, or can you think of someone in history that has made a huge comeback?