A Writer’s Resource: Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community

A Writer’s Resource: Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community talks about this forum, how it is primarily aimed at wanna-be detectives, and why you, if you write crime fiction, might want to belong to it, too.

I’m always on the lookout for resources for writers, particularly writers of crime and ghost stories, two of my interests and topics that I’m including in the plot of my novel.

I think I may have stumbled on an amazing resource for crime writers. Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community is a forum primarily aimed at wanna-be detectives, but a great many writers also belong to this forum.

This community consists of 236,987 threads, 11,494,742 posts, and 89,542 members. First time visitors are advised to read the FAQs and may have to register on the forum before posting.

The forum is then broken down as follows:
 
Forum Information
This includes the rules of the forum, a list of verified professionals and insider members of the forum, details of registration, membership and forum features, and notes about the technical aspects of the forum.

Spotlight Forum
This includes news about the websleuths documentary series, their Facebook page postings, public polls, calls to action and the True Crime radio show.

Current Events
This includes several non-crime focused topics including off-beat news and news to make you smile which is a welcome distraction after reading some of the other serious ongoing discussions on the site.

Missing
Discussions in this sub forum include resources and support to help locate missing persons, details of missing persons and located persons who haven’t been identified, cold cases and new cases.

Crimes
Crimes in the news, crimes against children, cold cases, bullys and stalkers, serial killers and mass killings and terrorist crimes are discussed here.

Trials
Trials, past, present and future (awaiting trial) and sentencing news is discussed here.

Specific Case Forums
Cases where someone hasn’t been found guilty such as in the murders of Caylee Anthony and JonBenet Ramsey, and other cases that are ongoing or hold fascination with the public are discussed in this sub forum.

Resource Center
International crimes discussed in the forum are listed by country a link to national and international databases and resources linking to missing and unidentified persons.

How Writers Can Use This Resource

The big question is, of course, how can writers take advantage of this forum?

  1. Familiarize yourself with crime solving techniques used in the various crimes discussed in the forum.
  2. Take note of any forensic procedures mentioned.
  3. Pay attention to court proceedings that may be documented in this forum and the links accessible from it.
  4. Use the opportunity to potentially network with other members of this community. Connect with criminologists, search and rescue professionals, health care workers, lawyers, doctors, psychologists and journalists.
  5. Get involved and help solve a real crime. How great would that be to be able to promote your next crime novel by saying that you helped identify Jack the Ripper!

Do remember, however, that this forum is about real crimes affecting real people. Be respectful of that.

So what do you think? Does Websleuths sound like something you’re interested in and will it help you write your novel?

Photo credit: Pixabay

The Writer’s Knowledge Base: A Free and Valuable Resource for Writers

The Writer’s Knowledge Base: A Free and Valuable Resource for Writers discusses an amazing free resource for writers created by Elizabeth S. Craig and Mike Fleming.

Today I thought I’d share a great resource for writers. It’s called the Writer’s Knowledge Base and it’s been put together by author Elizabeth S. Craig and Mike Fleming, creator of Hiveword, a web-based novel organizer.

Elizabeth had the idea for a knowledge base based on tweets and discussed this in a blog post in 2010Writing Links Archive—an Experiment. Mike had an idea for a collecting links to great articles mentioned in tweets and between them they came up with the Writer’s Knowledge Base: The Search Engine for Writers was born.

Elizabeth collects the links from the hundreds of writing-related websites she monitors and tweets them out. Mike does the behind the scenes technical stuff to make the knowledge base site accessible to everyone online. And, we all benefit from this collaboration!

So What Can We Find in the Knowledge Base?

Lots of good stuff!

How about 3189 articles on author platform? Or, how about 5825 links to articles on point of view, 571 links for ghosts, or 187 articles on forensics for crime writers?

This is just a sample of what’s available through the database and remember, it is continually growing.

Writer’s Knowledge Base Links

Here are all the links you need to follow Elizabeth and Mike:
Twitter:
@ElizabethSCraig
@Hiveword

Facebook:
Writer’s Knowledge Base page

Blogs:
Elizabeth: Mystery Writing is Murder
Mike: Hiveword Blog

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Photo: Pixabay

5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant

5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant shares some information about working with virtual assistants.

I wear a lot of hats in life as do many of you and one of mine is being a virtual assistant. So, if I’m at my desk and I’m not blogging or writing, I’m usually working for my clients.

I’ve been a virtual assistant now for about eight years and I thought I’d share some information about working with virtual assistants that you might find helpful.

Five Things about Virtual Assistants

  1. Find a virtual assistant that you feel comfortable with. I recommend this to people all the time. In the absence of face-to-face communication, it’s important that you have a good feeling about the person you work with. Referrals from someone you trust definitely help. Interview your virtual assistant on the phone or on Skype to get a sense of who they are. Most virtual assistants are happy to discuss your needs with you initially without charge.
  2. You will need to give your virtual assistant your passwords for sites you need help creating or maintaining. Before you send this information to your virtual assistant, make sure that it works. If you can log into your accounts successfully with the login information, she should be able to as well. (There can be exceptions to this if the site logs IP address as part of their security measures.) Sending the wrong login info causes confusion and wastes time that you have to pay for.
     
    If you are uncomfortable sending the information through email there are a few ways to do this that minimize the likelihood of it being intercepted.

    • Print the document, scan it and send the image file with your password as an email attachment.
    • Tell your virtual assistant that you are sending the password over several emails without noting what the password is for. For example if you’ve told her you’re sending her your password for your blog, you could send it with the subject line of Email #1 and the body of the email could show the first three characters of the password, say “ABC”, then subject line “Email #2” with the body showing the next three characters, and so on. The information would appear as random characters and it is unlikely that anyone other than you and your virtual assistant would know what the password was for if it was intercepted.
    • You could verbally give your password and login information to your virtual assistant over the phone or on Skype but if it’s a particularly complicated password with a lot of special characters, this may be difficult.
  3. Different virtual assistants have different skills and experience. Some virtual assistants help writers maintain their blogs or market their books and are experts on using social media or building websites, some virtual assistants work with lawyers, some work with real estate agents, etc.
     
    And, even though a virtual assistant might be an expert on using social media, it doesn’t mean that she’s completely up to speed on every single social media platform and utility that works with that social media platform. She might be, don’t get me wrong, but things change quickly on the internet. New sites crop up overnight.

    It’s also been my experience that as much as I might like to learn something new, it isn’t always possible because there are only so many hours in a day.

  4. Just because a virtual assistant works from home doesn’t mean she’s available for business 24 x 7. We all have personal lives, too, and as we’re all learning more and more, it’s important and healthy to switch off and disconnect from the internet sometimes.
     
    The borderless nature of the internet means that we often work in different time zones than our clients. Some of us choose to work on off hours that better suit our family lives, but some of us work 9 to 5 hours, or something close to that. Know what time zone your virtual assistant is in so that you don’t call her too early in the morning or too late at night. And, realize that if you email on a weekend, you might not get an answer until Monday.

    If you have questions or concerns about this, ask your virtual assistant what she sees as being reasonable work hours when you can contact her.

  5. Being a virtual assistant is great! I like my job. I like to help my clients and working from home works for me and my family.

Is there anything you’d like to know about virtual assistants? Ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Photo credit: 30.365 via photopin (license)

A Quick and Dirty Resource for Writers

A Quick and Dirty Resource for Writers explores how writers may be able to utilize quickanddirtytips.com for their writing projects and author platforms.

I thought I’d share an interesting site I’ve found and tell you how as writers you may be able to make use of it.

The site is Quick and Dirty Tips and it’s hosted by individuals deemed to be experts in their fields. The topics they cover include:

Productivity

  • Email
  • Learning
  • Meetings
  • Organization
  • Project Management
  • Time Management

Relationships

  • Etiquette & Manners
  • Dining & Travel
  • Professional
  • Friendships
  • Romance
  • Social Media
  • Pets
    • Cats
    • Dogs
    • Dog Training
    • Dog Behavior
    • Dog Care
    • Puppies

    Tech

    • Web
    • Tech News
    • Software & Apps
    • Mobile
    • Home Theater
    • Gadgets
    • Computers

    Health & Fitness

    • Exercise
    • Healthy Eating
    • Medical Conditions
    • Mental Health
    • Men’s Health
    • Women’s Health
    • Prevention
    • Trends & Fads
    • Weight Loss

    Education

    • Math
    • Science
    • Writing
    • Grammar

    Business & Career

    • Careers
    • Legal
    • Communication
    • Networking
    • Public Speaking
    • Small Business

    Money & Finance

    • Taxes
    • Investing
    • Insurance
    • Credit
    • Loans
    • Real Estate
    • Saving & Spending
    • Retirement

    House & Home

    • Budgeting
    • DIY
    • Entertaining
    • Food
    • Organization
    • Interior Design
    • Housekeeping
    • Holidays

    Parenting

    • Back to School
    • Pregnancy
    • Babies & Infants
    • Toddlers
    • School Age
    • Tweens & Teens
    • Family Time
    • Behavior

    If you have a question, you can contact the appropriate host for the topic through their host page on the Quick and Dirty Tips site. Archived tips also appear on the topic pages.

    This site is potentially valuable for anyone, not just writers, but writers often deal productivity issues, and have grammar and writing questions for starters. And, if you’re writing fiction, many of the tips found here may be helpful as you research and develop your characters and storyline.

    So, take a look and let me know what you think. Will QuickandDirtyTips.com be helpful to you?

    Photo credit: Mop via photopin (license)

  • alphaDictionary: A Great Resource for Writers

    alphaDictionary: A Great Resource for Writers reviews a website which offers an extensive dictionaries and other interesting and unique resources for writers.

    I like to share resources that are not only interesting, but that are helpful to writers and I think I’ve found a pretty amazing site to tell you about!

    alphaDictionary.com is sponsored by the Lexiteria Corporation which specializes in translations, custom-created dictionaries and word frequency lists of languages.

    The site offers:

    • Language dictionaries for 315 languages including Ojibwe, Sherpa and Swahili
    • Specialty dictionaries for 142 wide-ranging topics including architecture, anthropology, robotics and witchcraft
    • Various “‘nyms” dictionaries (antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, etc.)
    • The Alpha Agora bulletin board where 7320 language-related topics are being discussed
    • A Fun & Games section that includes paraprosdokians, useless Latin phrases, tongue twisters in various languages, and more!

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Got a foreign character in your story? Find a word or two in the language dictionaries to make him or her appear authentic if it fits in your story. Describing a house and want to use some architectural lingo, check out the specialty dictionary for that. Need to know how to spell aluminum? (Okay, I just told you!) Check out the various English dictionaries. Or, how about the the Historical Slang dictionary?

    You can also subscribe to receive the Good Word of the Day in your mailbox. Never hurts to improve that vocabulary!

    So check it out! I’m sure you’ll find something useful and unique on this site! Just click on this link: AlphaDictionary.com and have fun!

    Photo credit: Pixabay

    Mysteries of the English Language: Idioms

    Mysteries of the English Language: Idioms explains the origins of a couple of common phrases and suggests where more information on the subject can be found.

    I started out today thinking I’d blog about the history of the expression “blow your own horn” because it’s something that we, as writers, need to do to promote our blogs and books.

    I think we all know what is implied by the phrase. When I dug into the origin of the phrase, however, I was surprised to learn that in Middle Ages (500 – 1500 AD) you could employ heralds who would blow their trumpets and with great fanfare announce your lineage and deeds to the crowds at tournaments. If you didn’t have a herald, or you didn’t wait for the herald to make this announcement for you, then you would be publicly announcing yourself, and thereby “blowing your own horn.”

    Here’s the origin of another phrase that you might find interesting. We always used to say to our kids when we tucked them in at night, “Nighty, night. Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Now, thanks to a resurgence of the little pesky things, we all understand what bedbugs are since they’ve made headlines in recent years, but do you know what “sleep tight” means?

    Before box springs, bed frames used to have a mesh of ropes beneath the mattresses to support them. If the ropes were taunt, in other words “tight,” the mattress was more comfortable and you were likely to sleep better.

    For More Information

    There are many, many phrases like this in the English language that we use without thought of where, why or when they originated. If you’d like to learn more, check out these sites:

    Photo credit: Pixabay

    Victorian Architecture: Online Searches for Books and Images

    Victorian Architecture: Online Searches for Books and Images suggests online sources of books and images on Victorian architecture and provides some examples.

    I LOVE old Victorian houses and it’s always been a dream of mine to someday own one.

    There’s just something about the quality, the uniqueness, all the wood trim, the winding staircases, the fireplaces, and dusty attics filled with treasures of generations passed, with maybe a secret passage or ghost thrown in for good measure. When I visit museums housed in old houses like this, I just wish the walls could talk and spill their secrets of the joys and sorrows, daily routines and scandals, of their former occupants.

    Brantford has many amazing examples of Victorian architecture so, in theory, I wouldn’t have to move far to satisfy my dream, if only I could win a lottery, or finish my book and sell a few million copies?

    Check out these houses:

    If you’re interested in this sort of thing and/or researching details about old houses for a writing project, like I am, you can get some great information online from sites such as:

    And, don’t forget about Google Books and Google News.

    Do you have a favourite old house where you live? If so, tell me about it in the comments.

    Photo credit: Montgomery County Planning Commission on Flickr

    Writers Stack Exchange: A Great Resource for Writers, Editors, Reviewers and Publishers

    Writers Stack Exchange: A Great Resource for Writers, Editors, Reviewers and Publishers explains how Writers Stack Exchange works and why authors, editors, reviewers and publishers might want to use it.

    Stack Exchange started out as an online community for computer software developers, a place where they could ask questions and get answers to technical issues.

    It was a huge success, so they decided to try creating other communities on other topics and now there are in excess of 125 Stack Exchange sites covering specific topics in Business, Professional, Life/Arts, Science, Culture/Recreation, and Technology.

    New Stack Exchange sites must go through a number of steps. Area 51 is the staging area where new sites are proposed, discussed and, if there’s enough interest, go on to beta mode.

    Writers Stack Exchange

    Writers Stack Exchange is found in the Life/Arts category and is in beta phase. It’s a great resource designed to be used by authors, editors, reviewers, and writers – both professional and aspiring, and it’s a great way to get answers to your questions, share your expertise and gain a reputation as an expert in the industry.

    Here’s how it works

    • The site is moderated.
    • Sign up, log in and ask a question. Anybody can ask a question and you can add tags to your questions to make them easier for people to find. Users have profile pages.
    • Anybody can answer a question. There can be multiple answers to a question. You can also comment on your own question or answer to ask for more information, or edit a question or answer to correct mistakes.
    • People can vote for what they think are the best answers. The answers getting the most votes will rise to the top of the answers.
    • The person asking the question can mark the answer they like the most as accepted.

    Simple, right?

    Asking questions
    Questions should be about specific and actual problems pertaining to:

    • Nonfiction writing
    • Technical writing
    • General copywriting
    • Academic writing
    • Poetry
    • Song lyrics
    • Blogging
    • Editing
    • Publishing

    The site is not designed to request editing or proofreading services, feedback, or book reviews. The intent of Writers Stack Exchange is not to be a discussion forum but instead to be a place where questions are answered.

    You build your reputation with points and badges by participating and being voted for in Writers Stack Exchange. Your reputation signifies the level of trust that users in the community have in you. Question, answer, participation, moderation and tag badges are assigned to your profile page as you reach specific milestones. You can also lose points for having a question or answer voted down or posting SPAM. You can also earn privileges.

    For More Information

    Top questions about Writers Stack Exchange

    Starting your own Stack Exchange site

    Photo credit: Pixabay

    5 Sites for Crime Writers

    5 Sites for Crime Writers offers five websites containing links and resources for crime writers.

    Last week I wrote about how to find story ideas from real life incidents. Today I’d like to share some crime and law enforcement sites with you.

    If you’re writing a story that involves a crime, criminals and/or police procedure and you don’t have a reliable contact willing to answer your questions, and attention to details is something important to you (it should be), then the five sites below may be helpful to you:

    1. Law Enforcement Resources
    2. Officer.com
    3. Crime Spider
    4. National Archive for Criminal Justice Data
    5. The Writers’ Forensics Blog

    These sites offer a wide variety of resources including an Ask a Cop forum, unsolved crimes, how to get a job as a police officer and much much more. But I’ll warn you, there’s so many interesting links in these sites that you could spend a lot of time roaming around them and completely lose track of time.

    Photo credit: Serge Bertasius Photography | Free Digital Photos