Mystillery Newsletter #8 - April 2021

From The Mystillery

Blog update: I used to have separate blogs for some authors - Kathleen Moore Knight, Leslie Charteris, and S. S. Van Dine. I have since combined all those posts into The Mystillery Blog. You will see authors all indexed along the right side of the page. Easy!

New on The Mystillery: Links to web resources that allow you to look up mystery authors, series lists, and bibliographies. See the section "Mystillery Reading Resources". Thanks for Bev Hankins for her help on this.

Free quick reads: Take a look at 4340+ Short Mystery Stories to read, submitted by writers on Reedsy Prompts to their weekly writing contest. No need to go out hunting for clues - you've solved the puzzle of where to find the newest mystery short stories just by landing on this page.

Creative pricing: Way back when my wife and I were dating (this would be 1980), she took me to a used bookstore in her home town. It was a fun place, piles of books, various cats, all run by one little old lady. After looking around a bit, I realized none of the books had prices in them, and there was no sign anywhere listing prices. So I inquired. "Don't worry about the prices," she said "You can afford it." This was puzzling, but I went back to shelves and eventually came up with a handful of books to buy. I brought them to the counter, she looked them over, and the total was $10. Not bad. Later we were visiting with one of my wife's friends and I mentioned how the books had no prices. She told us the secret: "Oh, that's because she is on Social Security and is only allowed to make a certain amount of money on the side. So no matter how many books you buy, the price will be $10. Buy one book and it is $10. Buy 10 books and they are $1 each.

Search updated: The search engine had its monthly update this morning (April 1), so your submissions through March 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.

In the Mystillery Lab

Light a candle, come down the basement stairs, and open the heavy steel door with the well-oiled hinges. You're in the Mystillery Lab!

You can easily copy your Medical Examiner clipboard to a spreadsheet of your own, which you can then sort any way you like for a reading log.

  1. Open your Medical Examiner clipboard.
  2. Click the left-most cell of the top entry - this will be an author name.
  3. Hold the SHIFT key and click the right-most cell of the bottom line - the Toe Tag count. This should select the entire table.
  4. COPY the table to your computer's clipboard.
  5. Open your own spreadsheet, either your own file or a Google sheet works.
  6. Click the upper left cell.
  7. PASTE. This should paste the entire contents into individual cells.
  8. If the PASTE operation just squished everything into that one cell, use the alternate method below.
Alternate method
  1. Open your Medical Examiner clipboard.
  2. Count the rows/columns of data in the Medical Examiner clipboard.
  3. Click the left-most cell of the top entry - this will be an author name.
  4. Hold the SHIFT key and click the right-most cell of the bottom line - the Toe Tag count. This should select the entire table.
  5. COPY the table to your computer's clipboard.
  6. Open your own spreadsheet, either your own file or a Google sheet works.
  7. Click the upper left cell.
  8. Hold the SHIFT key and click the bottom right cell of the identical range, using your row/column count. This should select the entire empty range.
  9. PASTE. This should paste the entire contents into individual cells.

Medical Examiner news

Goodreads reviewers: You may start getting email notices from Goodreads that I "like" your review. This will serve as an indication that not only do I really like it, but that your latest submission has been posted on the challenge page. After I post a submission, I check the links, and one of them is to your review if you wrote one. If it is on Goodreads, there is a LIKE button right there which I can click. Very convenient.

Past deaths may count! If your story contains references to deaths which occurred in the past, they may count using the usual criteria: if the victim is named and a cause of death is cited, you can count it! If a character says: "Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford's Theatre." it does not count (no cause cited), but if he says "Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre." that can count!

Starting off with a bang! I recently opened "Off Season", a Martha's Vineyard mystery by Philip R. Craig. Here's the first sentence: "The evening that Mimi Bettencourt shot Ignacio Cortez started out as just another chilly but peaceful fall day on Martha's Vineyard." Didn't need to read any further - already got the victim's name and cause of death, plus the shooter to boot!

Six Shooter news

Perhaps you would like to meet the Mystillery Statistician who keeps busy calculating the crazy statistics on the challenges. This is Greyson. He takes his job very seriously. He is also very good at income tax, resulting in our getting a nice refund of $1,244,388.16.

Beachcomber news

IMPORTANT CHANGE: The goal of the Beachcomber challenge is to fill the set of four beach bags, which comprises 4 bags * 25 items = 100 items total. We have had some confusion about different scoring criteria when continuing the challenge after all four beach bags are filled. which has led to some inconsistencies. To resolve this, and get back to the original intent, once a challenger has submitted all four beach bags, their challenge will be considered complete. Submissions beyond the four will no longer be tracked on the challenge page. If you have "gone beyond", many thanks, and I hope this will not be a disappointment. Just relax in having completed a job well done! This is the first year of the Beachcomber challenge and it has undergone a number of refinements since its original inception as the Murder Mystery Bingo challenge. Thank you for your patience. I hope all the bugs will be out by 2022!

Coming for 2022? The problem with the scavenger hunt format has been selecting items which are achievable yet not too common, and avoiding the bias of loading up the cards with Golden Age or Cozy items that are hard to find in other eras. This was addressed on the Detectives and Victims cards by just replacing the scavenger hunt items with letters of the alphabet. This has been very successful, and the other cards (Weapons and Crime Scenes) still languish behind for many. So the idea for 2022 will be to have all four cards use the letter of the alphabet system. For example, on the Weapons card, if your weapon is a KNIFE, you can use that for K, N, I, F, or E. Likewise, on Crime Scenes, a YACHT will get you Y, A, C, H, or T. This should get you more flexibility, too: instead of "gun" you can use other words the author uses to describe it, such as handgun, shotgun, rifle, pistol, bullet, automatic, revolver (that hard-to-find-V!). This also allows us to add a grid format sheet for tracking, rather than individual cards.

Century Club news

As this is an ongoing challenge, it requires some housekeeping to keep it from becoming a cluttered mess. Therefore:

Abra Cadavers news

The Abra Cadavers Baseball Game (not really a challenge) is now open! Reading since January 1 all qualifies! Listen for the National Anthem and swing for the fences!

Back issues

"These mysteries make me so sleepy".

(Oakdale Cemetery, Sanford ME)

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