Mystillery Newsletter #6 - February 2021

From the Mystillery

Activity: We have one month of challenges in the books! Participation in Medical Examiner is WAY UP over last year, and Six Shooter is down a bit. Beachcomber and Century Club are quiet, they do not get a lot of updates. Right now your host is able to keep up with submissions.

Search updated: The search engine had its monthly update this morning (Feb. 1), so your January submissions can now be found by it. This is only available from the Medical Examiner challenge page. See "Who else dissected my book?" at the top of the table. Part of the fun of the Medical Examiner/Six Shooter/Century Club challenges is that you get to see what the other challengers are reading, and read their reviews (assuming they wrote them) about your current books. (If you prefer to keep your reading preferences to yourself, perhaps the Beachcomber is a better fit - book titles are not shown).

Snow is coming! We have a big snow forecast here for tomorrow (Feb. 2), so your host is preparing by getting my favorite snowstorm read off the shelf: Deep Lay the Dead by Frederick C. Davis (1942). This is my traditional snowstorm read as the entire story takes place during a big snowstorm, so I will pause my current book and settle in with it. According to gadetection: Frederick Clyde Davis (1902-1977) was an American pulp writer. He was educated at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and became a professional writer at the age of 22. Davis wrote several novels featuring his series detective, Professor Cy Hatch. He also wrote as Murdo Coombs, Stephen Ransome and Curtis Steele.

Link delays: Sometimes I get behind on posting links to author bio's and reviews, especially when a lot of submissions come in all at once. I try to get your submissions posted as soon as possible (my target is within 24 hours), and sometimes linking those things up has to slide a bit. If you provide a link to a review YOU have written, that gets linked up right away. But the generic ones I have to search for may take a bit longer to appear.

Blog labels: I have finallly figured out "labels" on Blogger! All my posts on The Mystillery Blog are now neatly labelled for your ease in finding reviews to disagree with. The labels get listed alphabetically by first name which takes getting used to. Do I make it easy for you or what? I do synopsize and review every book I read, I hope you will visit and follow my blog. I also have two other blogs for individual authors, Reading S. S. Van Dine and Reading Kathleen Moore Knight; as well as one for the 1930's series Reading the Mystery League!

The creepy Mystillery is the home page of the challenges. That is the easiest place to check on the archives of the various challenges.

Get refreshed!

The challenge pages are updated frequently and your web browser may not realize it. There is a lengthy technical explanation but I will spare you. If you do not see your latest submission, click the REFRESH button on your web browser. I have been getting a few duplicate submissions lately, I suspect you may not be seeing the current page.

How to message other challengers

Have you ever wanted to contact another challenger? Email addresses are not shown on the challenge pages, as the pages are public and we don't want you gettng spammed. However, you can message most of our challengers directly if you are both members of Goodreads, using Goodreads' built-in messaging system.

  1. Find the challenger's name on any challenge page. Click on their Goodreads icon, which appears in the right-most column if they have supplied it (or if our spies have located it).

  2. This takes you to their Goodreads profile page. Click the "MORE" button, and a drop-down will show a "MESSAGE" choice.

  3. Click on "MESSAGE" to bring up the message form.

That's all there is to it!

Form tips

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without forms. - Genesis 1:1

The submission forms provided by Google do not have the traditional "CLEAR FORM" button that erases the form in case you mess it up. In the event you wish to start over, just click the REFRESH button on your web browser. You may get a popup asking if you want to leave the page as you have unsaved changes - of course you do. That will load a fresh empty form for you. This is a particular issue on the Medical Examiner's Death Certificate form where you have to click the number of deaths per cause. Once you click a number, you can't get back to zero, so I had to add the "NONE" column as an escape mechanism to all you to cancel an incorrect number. The form reports zero by default, so if you have no deaths per line, you don't need to click the NONE choice unless you are trying to cancel an incorrect selection.

On the Death Certificate form, you get to select up to seven deaths per cause. Sometimes you need a higher number. If so, just note it in the COMMENTS box. A real human (me) will read it and adjust your count.

If you find you need to make corrections to a form already submitted, just fill it out again. If I see a second form come in for the same book, I assume it is a correction to the previous one.

Medical Examiner news

The Medical Examiner has become the flagship Mystillery challenge (much to my surprise). I have received a lot of questions this month. If the question is of general interest I also add it to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. The page was getting a bit random so it has been cleaned up and organized. If you haven't looked at it lately, please check the FAQ page for some new situations that have cropped up.

This challenge is coded so that clipboards all open in a separate window or tab. This allows you to separate your two windows (Challenge and Clipboards), and as you click clipboard icons on the challenge page, the Clipboard page will advance to the selected clipboard. The idea is that you can quickly click through all the clipboards to spy on the other challengers, without having a multitude of windows cluttering up your screen.

On Cause of Death buttons, the form reports zero by default, so you don't need to click NONE - The NONE button is only provided to allow you to cancel out a button clicked by mistake. (I do wish Google Forms provided the traditional CLEAR FORM button, but they don't!)

In Comments, it is not necessary to itemize your causes of death - just clicking the buttons provided is all that is required to submit your data for the challenge.

To conserve space, only active examiners are now shown on the challenge page. If you are no longer shown, just submit a book to the challenge to become actived.

Six Shooter news

I admit this prospect had not occurred to me until now. Since unfinished targets roll over to the current year, this leads to an interesting quirk. You can re-read a title if it is in a different year! This leads to some new possibilities. Suppose your target author only wrote five titles. You can read the five, then when they roll over to the next year, re-read one of the five to get your six! This also works for other combinations, too. - RM

To conserve space, only active gunslingers are now shown on the challenge page. If you are no longer shown, just submit a book to the challenge to become actived.

Beachcomber news

You may recall last month I was whining about the Crime Scene item "airplane or airport", and changing it since it was a lame crime scene, and no one ever writes about airplanes. Trains and ships abound, but airplanes are just not what we need for a relaxing escape. Well, the next book I picked up, Port of Seven Strangers by Kathleen Moore Knight, has a man get stabbed in the airport rest room in the first couple of pages! Also Fanda from the Six Shooter challenge contributed Agatha Christie's Death in the Clouds (Fanda's review), also published as Death in the Air, (My review), in which the victim gets it on an airplane.

While we are on the subject, I will take this opportunity to further plug Kathleen Moore Knight (1890-1984), a little known Crime Club mystery author, who writes about either fictional Penberthy Island, off Cape Cod, Massachusetts; or else exotic Mexican/Latin American locales. There is little about her online - this page on gadetection is about it. Her style of combining mystery, romance, and exotic settings reminds me a lot of Mignon Eberhart. I have most of her books, and have a separate blog, Reading Kathleen Moore Knight, about her writing. I had long searched for a photo of her - they do not appear on the dust jackets. I just discovered an online newspaper interview which tells her story and has a photo. I have reproduced it here on my blog.

Century Club news

What makes the Century Club challenge different from every other reading challenge out there? Not only does it never expire (if you keep at it), but prior reading counts on this challenge, no matter when it occurred. Check your bookshelf and get credit for those dusty oldies!

Looking for that hard-to-find 1920's century? A bunch of 1920's mysteries from the Collier Front Page Mystery series have just been added to the Prize List.

Applications will be highlighted in red after five months of non-activity, as a 30 day warning of deletion.

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