Monday, March 20, 2017

March Into March With a Cowboy Party

An English proverb states: “March winds and April showers bring forth May’s flowers.” Well, March weather is definitely looking to be eventful! One of the best ways to get out of the wind is to invite friends over for a Mystery Game Night!
For the month of March, “Cattle Skull Crossing” and “The Silver Slipper” are $10 off the regular price for downloadable or print  games (prices reflected in cart).  Click on the box to go to buy the game. 
Silver Slipper Whodunnit Cowboy themed murder mystery dinner game

But you and I know, that buying the game is only half the battle.  There are still invitations, food, and decorations to coordinate!

Lucky for you, this isn't our first time in the saddle.  We've thrown a mystery party or two in our day.  

During the month of March, we will be offering up ideas on how to throw a truly memorable mystery game party, that will have people raving about you for weeks to come!

First off, it's important to remember that it doesn't have to cost a bunch of money to throw a western themed party.  In fact, it's one of the easier theme games to decorate for, because country-themed items are so easy to find. It's easy to find something rustic, shabby chic, or even a little bit weathered.  Grab a bandanna, a pair of jeans (the grubbier the better - more authentic), a t-shirt, or a button up shirt,  and viola! A costume.  Before you know it, you have yourself a party!

 $10 off Cattleskull Mystery Game for the month of March!If you're looking for a few more ideas on how to throw your party, we've assembled some Pinterest Boards filled with ideas (costumes, invitations, food, decorations, etc) to get your creative juices rolling.  

Please note: We do not receive any form of monetary reimbursement for any of the links provided on these boards. They are just ideas.  Have fun!

Whodunnit Mysteries

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Adding Content To The Website

If you've been to Whodunnit Mysteries anytime in the past 10 years, you've noticed that the site hasn't changed much over the years.  Not that we haven't tried, mind you.  In fact, we've re-vamped our website on six different occasions.

 Web AnimatorFor some crazy reason, our visitors never seemed to like the new website. Sales would invariably halt in their tracks as soon as the new site was rolled out.   So we've gone back to the old one and started again. (sigh)

It's been several months and we have yet ANOTHER website just about ready to roll out.  We're crossing our fingers, knocking on wood, wishing on stars, and saying prayers to the powers that be that this new website will be a winner!

All we have missing is the slider!

I've purchased several different slider programs in hopes of finding something that would work, but to no avail.  So when I was offered a free trial of  WebAnimator Plus, I snatched it up.  This had all the elements of the PERFECT little program for idiots like me who don't have the ability and/or inclination to learn Javascript.  This program has the functionality of being able to make full-on animation, even small videos, sliders, slide shows, presentations, and everything in between.

Because I'm not quite as tech-savvy as I used to be, I wasn't able to create my slider on the fly. It took watching their first (they have several) video tutorial to nudge me in the right direction.  But once I had the basics down, it was all a matter of a little trial and error.  By the time I was done, I had a slider with eight of my mystery games, pics, and short descriptions ready to go.

The tutorials show you how to make animations, how to rotate 2 dimensional objects and all sorts of things I never imagined I'd be able to do.

By the time I was done making my first slider, I had 5 other uses for this program already planned out.  However, this is where things went downhill and the finished product looked pretty darned amazing, if I do say so myself.

HOWEVER...that's when things began to fall apart.  The whole simplicity of this program was the ability to be able to cut and past a little code into your website and onto your server and viola! Instant animation. I followed the instructions, downloaded the files and crossed my fingers.  Nothing.

I repeated the process again, thinking maybe I'd missed a comment or a bracket, or mis-labelled a file. Still a no-go.  I went onto Web Animator's help desk and found 3 boards in 3 different languages.  Pretty cool.  Except the English language board had lots of questions posted, but no answers.  Plus, there had been no activity by ANYONE in more than a month.  So I e-mailed my contact (I was, after all testing a product in exchange for a review, right?) and told them of my problem then asked for help.  No response.  I waited a week, e-mailed again, and no response.


Summary: Web Animator is a pretty stinking cool program.  I was able to create my animation quickly and easily.  I have no doubt that I am probably missing one small step that keeps me from downloading my program onto the website.  However, it could be the coolest animation in the world, promising to make me billions of dollars and still be absolutely worthless if I cannot get the public to see the finished product.  I cannot endorse a product that I don't honestly believe has any decent customer service in place.

If you feel you are computer savvy and don't need help from the manufacturer, then by all means go for it! But if you're a normal consumer who occasionally needs tech support, then buyer beware.

For this reason, my overall grade of this product is a C-

*Please note:  I received a 14-day sample of this product in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of this product, with the promise of the complete version should I complete my blog in a timely manner.  However, because I was out of town, I did NOT complete my review in a timely manner and I will NOT get a full product download.  Regardless, I stand by my review.  This is a product I'll be using whether I get it for free or have to pay full price for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Full Speed Training Series

As a writer of mystery games, I am expected to hone my writing skills on a consistent basis.  Otherwise, the games we offer will be dry, predictable, and uninteresting.

One of those ways I work on my writing skills is writing actual books.  I am on my third of a 7 book series, but have not even attempted to publish any of them yet.  I have young children, and do not feel that now is the time for me to be on the road promoting my manuscript.  So, right now, I am in the learning and writing stage.

I write every chance I get, as evidenced by my oodles of blogs.  Whodunnit Mysteries is only one of  eight blogs I participate in , 6 of which I am the sole contributor to.

As I plan to finish my third book this summer and my fourth by the end of the year, I have finally given myself a deadline to do all the steps necessary to prepare for publishing.

When I was given a chance to try out a video training series called Full Speed Ahead, I was excited - giddy actually.  This series was exactly what I was looking for and I wanted to be able to tell my fellow writer-friends about it.

The first of three videos opened with a lady giving an introductory speech about what to expect in the video series.  The problem was that her mouth never synched up with the voice over the speaker.  I shrugged it off, thinking it might be my internet connection and my computer didn't buffer correctly. Her accent was so strong, that I couldn't understand what she was saying and often had to refer to any writing on the screen, if available, to understand. Regardless, I pushed forward with the program.  The further I got in to the video, the more upset I became.  The pictures were fuzzy, even though I didn't have the video in full-screen mode, and the instructions were generalized.  For instance, we were told that in children's story books, you want to write a story that is a child's age level.  Yes, that is good information.  However, It would have been nice to give a specific example of what is appropriate and what is not by giving one page of appropriate text and one page of inappropriate text. This issue was recourrant throughout the video, and I was often being told things I already knew, or would be considered common sense.

I muscled through the first video, determined to give this program an honest effort.  The second video didn't have the lady.  Instead, the speaker was computer generated.  In theory, this might be a nice alternative.  However, it appears the creator didn't take the time to listen to the finished product because I ultimately had to shut off the second video after five minutes because the computer-generated voice was untilligible. The voice would try to read domain names instead of spell them out, or there would be glitches were coherent sentences weren't formed.

The third video had the same problem with the computer-generated voice, many of the same fuzzy, pictures, and even gave marketing SEO advice that would be detrimental to a website or marketer if they opted to use the suggested marketing advice.

After reviewing this product, I contacted the company telling them of the problems I had.  But I never received a response back.

The problem with giving reviews, is that I must eventually meet a deadline.  So here I am, on the absolute last possible day until I'm penalized for not giving a review for a product I received for free, and forced to give a crummy review to a product because I was never able to get through to the company.

To sum it up, I would grade this product as a D-

There were a few small redeeming qualities, but they were so small, few, and far between, that it wasn't worth wading through the rest of the junk to get to the tidbits of insight.

I was unable to talk to someone from the company who made this product, which means that anyone else who tried to contact them would probably get the same response.

This is the worst review I've ever given a company.  And it pains me to give it, because I know what it takes to put a video program together ( I used to do instructional videos in my prior 'life').

I would never suggest this product to another writer or friend.  And for that reason, I am not even going to give you a link to their company site.  I hope you understand.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Terminal Justice - a Book Review

Part of writing a good mystery, is being an avid reader.  And reading mystery & suspense novels are an absolute MUST for us.  How are we supposed to get our creative juices flowing if we have nothing to glean from? 

One of the books we have recently read was Terminal Justice by Lyle Howard.  

 Terminal Justice Book

This book is about terminally ill individuals who use their last few days or months to inflict vigilante justice to the criminals who "got away" in exchange for giving their surviving families financial stability.

It's a character-driven story that is filled with several twists and turns.  Though slow in a few parts, it has a fairly consistent flow throughout, and a pretty unexpected ending.

I particularly like how the story line is relatively unique, and clean - all things considered.  It's not too graphic (though there are a few parts that get iffy - this is after all a story geared around murder).

Overall, I'd give this book 4 stars.  The story and writing were good enough that I would certainly buy a book from Lyle Howard again.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jacob meets Ema the Elephant

My son has had an elephant obsession for months now.  At Christmas, we bought him a Dumbo stuffed elephant.  He spent months watching some obscure elephant movie on Netflix, and he knows the sounds and sign language for elephant (he has Down syndrome and is non-verbal).  When I had the opportunity, to get a free Ema the Elephant Plus Toy from Baby First, I jumped. 

Worst case scenario, it'd end up in a pile with the rest of the stuffed animals he and his big sister don't play with. But I was shocked when they actually started fighting over the toy.  

I had expected a 5 or 6 inch stuffed animal, but this one was closer to a foot in size, with a cute, round stomach and soft, snugly stuffing.  Jake grabbed the toy, hugged it and wouldn't let go of it for hours.  When he did get distracted and left it on the carpet, his big sister grabbed the toy and began playing with it.  It finally got to the point where I had to dig up the old Dumbo doll so that each child would have an elephant of their own, though Ema the Elephant was the proffered toy.

I saw nothing wrong with the toy elephant, in fact, I thought he was well stitched together, and it helped that I'd heard Baby First TV, so it was a brand I trusted.  

Needless to say, Ema the Elephant was a good choice for Jacob.   There will be no hiding him away any time soon!

Preparing for Another Mystery Game Party

We are due to test another mystery game party here soon. We've had several people express interest, and others who have participated in our mystery parties who have asked to play again.

That means we must prepare a place to hold a party: our home.

My husband, the sweet man that he is, decided to surprise me with a dishwasher and new counters over Memorial Day weekend.  Of course, it rained the entire weekend.  Of course.

When all was said and done, my carpets were completely trashed.  Luckily, I'd ordered some new carpet stain remover (Greenwald carpet and stain remover) which is a necessity with cream carpets and four kids.  It came in the mail over the weekend and I got to work on my carpets couple of days ago.  All I can say was WOW.  I've  done nearly everything to keep my carpets clean.

Professional cleaner: back to dingy within a couple of weeks.

Iron & Amonia: How I didn't die I'll never know.

Purchased a Steam Cleaner:  Meh.

And several other types of cleaners: scrub, scrub, scrub, scrub, SCRUB. Result: iffy.

Greenwald's was pretty stinking awesome.  I was taking out strawberry stains that my 4 year-old had smashed into the carpet, the mud and dirt on the stairs from working over the weekend, and even a stain from a chocolate protein shake the very same 4-year-old dumped in the middle of the living room when I wasn't looking.

The only thing I had issue with was the spray bottle, which the sprayer kept coming off the bottle mid-spray.  But that's a 1.00 fix at the local dollar store.  You're paying for the cleaner and that stuff was top notch. Even my husband commented on how well it worked.

So tomorrow, I've got a date with my stairs to finish what I started.  Who knew I'd be so excited to be on my hands and knees scrubbing!

It is, after all, time to have another party!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Find Whodunnit on Facebook

Yep! We're at it again.  Whodunnit Mysteries has decided to join the modern ages and join Facebook. 
See No Evil disability awareness mystery game

If you want to hear about any new releases, requests for party testers, or just learn tips and ideas on how to throw the best mystery party EVER, like our page and we'll keep you updated! 

Like us on Facebook at: