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?

 

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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?

 

Spring Break – Writing Deadline

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Photo by H Dominique Abed

Around this time of year life takes off at marathon pace and drags me along with it. It’s baseball season for two of my boys, not to mention all of the concerts and recitals. In the mix somewhere is finding time to write.

This year I’ve decided to take a Spring Break on my blog. We are not really off taking a break, but rather working on writing deadlines.

Pat has several deadlines in her writing and others in our blog family have had to step away to pour more time into their writing as well. Although we will miss them, it is understandable that writing must consume more of their time as they push for new heights in their writing career.

As for me, I have a self-imposed deadline of finishing my next book and submitting it by the end of April. After submission, our blog will be back to share the writing journey with you. You can look forward to a few new faces and more posts from our blog family when we return.

See You Again on May 15th! 

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming

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Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Group work in the writing community can be wonderful, or frustrating. It becomes frustrating when individuals aren’t on point when you brainstorm your story, or you end up following story threads that eventually won’t work in your story. But the rewards of a group brainstorming session can be substantial.

So, how do you get brainstorming sessions to be effective ways to expand your story options? Gather your courage to share your story with others and ask for their help.

Brainstorming with other writers.can bring new life to an author’s stories. The challenge is often in finding the right group to brainstorm with and keeping the brainstorming session focused enough to be helpful.

Over the past few years I’ve watched some brainstorming groups succeed and some fail. Each group that failed got bogged down in one of three areas. Here are 3 tips to successful group brainstorming from my observations.

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming:

  1. Select group members carefully. Keep the group small- 6 or less to allow everyone time to bounce ideas. Find group members who use similar methods to write, providing a commonality of terms and knowledge.
  2. Identify the focus of the session. A complete book is too broad of a topic to brainstorm successfully in one session. Instead, focus on one thread of the story. This allows everyone in the group to focus on the area of greatest need. If the whole story idea is the focus, recognize that it may take a few brainstorming sessions to complete it.
  3. Record ideas and follow-up. During the brainstorming session, record ideas without passing judgement on them. Occasionally, redirect the conversation back to the thread you want to explore. Have a follow-up brainstorming session to further develop the ideas from the first session. This follow-up will deepen your story.

What works for you in group brainstorming?

Can You Solve it?

junior sleuthIt’s February already! Can you believe it? The days are getting longer (Yippee!), and here in North Mississippi, we’ve had a wonderfully warm winter after a couple of days in the teens. But, hey! Any day in January that doesn’t have ice and snow is a good day.

So here’s the Mystery Question this week:

A woman living in New Jersey vanished in 1991 and was reported missing after she did not report to work for several days. So what happened to the woman?

  1. She was eventually found living in California. When asked why she didn’t contact her family, she reported they had a falling out and she didn’t want them to know where she was.
  2. Bikers kidnapped her and kept her prisoner for five years before she escaped. After she escaped she didn’t contact her family for fear her brother, who was a member of the motorcycle gang, would tell the bikers where she was.
  3. A maintenance man at her complex broke into her apartment and smothered her with a pillow then dumped her remains in a remote area in New Jersey.
  4. She witnessed a murder and after telling the police all she knew they put her in the WITSEC Program ((The Witness Security Program) under the jurisdiction of the U. S. Marshalls. After the murderer died, she was able to resurface.

So what happened to the woman? Leave a comment and if we get five comments, I’ll give away a copy of JUSTICE DELAYED which releases TODAY!! (print if the winner has a USA address; digital for all others.)

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It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincade of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

How To Create A Great Romantic Gesture

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Photo by Katy Wolfer

Valentines Day is just around the corner and I am beginning to think about romance. Sweet moments from my past. Creating new romantic memories.

The movies have the most amazing romance moments, but it so hard to duplicate in real life. Maybe we can get a few tips from them to learn how to create a great romantic gesture of our own.

If you are looking for a way to make a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day romantic gesture, here are a few tips to creating that perfect moment.

How To Create A Great Romantic Gesture with Tips from the Movies:

From 10 Things I Hate About You:

  1. Be Vulnerable or Take a Risk – The character sings in front of a whole stadium of people. There is a great risk of rejection.
  2. Go Big, Or Go Home- It doesn’t have to be expensive to be big, but must show significant effort to be big.

From Love Actually:

  1. Prepare For Flaws – If you are not great with words, plan for your own flaw by being creative. Mark in this clip says the most important part of the message with signs.
  2. Create Smiles – Humor can be a great element to the romantic moment if it is a special part of your relationship and what draws you together. Notice the two humorous moments on the signs.

From While You Were Sleeping:

  1. Element of Surprise- An unexpected moment of romance brings a sudden rush of joy. The contrast of the unexpected romance with the mundane makes it that much more special.
  2. Create the Perfect Setting- For Annie, she is completely without family. She doesn’t want to be alone. Jack bringing his family with to the proposal is actually very special to her because she is gaining a whole family. He listened to her heartache and gave her something she had always dreamed of.

From The Titanic:

  1. Sacrifice Something- Whether it is something you love or even in this case, your life, sacrifice is a huge gesture of love.

What is your favorite romantic gesture from a book or movie?

 

Music Monday: Gabriel’s Message

by Jill Kemerer

Today is my final day as a contributor to Thoughts on Plot. I’ve been so blessed by all of the talented authors here as well as you, our dear readers. I recently signed a 4-book contract with Love Inspired which will keep me busy the next eighteen months. But even before the contract, my schedule had been bulging, and I was finding it increasingly difficult to meet my obligations.

I’m honored to have spent the past two years with you. I pray you had a happy and joyous Christmas, and blessings to you in 2017!

Before I say farewell, though, I’m sharing a beautiful and haunting version of Gabriel’s Message, by Sting. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Thank you again, and have a happy New Year!!

Jill Kemerer