MashUp: Fanfiction style!

Editing got to me this week, and I was making great progress – or so I thought! I was drowning in the ‘this sucks!’ zone and couldn’t see a way out. So, to free my mind I decided to create a mashup story using the submissions of fellow writers in my writing group. Don’t ask me what made me think this – I have no idea – some type of subconscious comparisons of others’ writings with my own. But, hey – who cares? The point is, it was fun!

No need for character creation, naming ormashupcloud development, the settings were already there – I just had to find a plot to unite them. That was the crazy bit!

As we are all somehow linked by the six degrees of separation theory, then there had to be a common thread for six stories.  And, you know what? It didn’t take much thinking about. In no time at all the story was written – it kinda wrote itself – and the time came to present it to the group. Would they be offended? Had I defiled their beloved characters? (WE all know how attached we writers become to our protagonists – and so defensive about their foibles and personality disorders) Would this result in me being ‘evicted’ from the group? Was it worth the risk?

Hell, yeah!

They loved it! Hurrah – and now I’ve found a new release mechanism. They just need to write faster cos I need some new stories to include in my  next ‘fan fiction’ tale.



Another MOOC for me!

Last week I started the most fantastic MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called ‘Identifying the Dead.’

After colouring in a human skeleton (I can see how this has become a new trend for adults – colouring in, I mean!) and then checking out the in-depth detailing of an Interpol Identity form, I can truly say I am hooked and can’t wait for week two to start.

However, I’ve been bitten by the MOOC bug and saw that another forensic-based course was due to start on Sept 14th – so, I just had to sign up for that one too.

These things could become addictive!

This time it’s all about forensic psychology and eyewitness testimony.

police_line-up_silhouetteHere’s the spiel that drew me in:

Explore how your own mind works, and discover how the limitations of the human brain can lead to major miscarriages of justice.

Despite advances in forensic science, eyewitness testimony remains a critical component of criminal investigations. Psychological research has revealed the dangers of relying on evidence gained from an eyewitness and also how careful the police need to be when questioning witnesses.

Using videos of real witnesses and from cameras that go behind the scenes of a police investigation, this course explores the psychology of eyewitness testimony. You will get the chance to test your own cognitive skills and to see whether your powers of investigation are as good as a crack squad of police officers, as you try to solve a crime using nothing but evidence from eyewitnesses.

Compelling stuff, or what? Can you walk away from this? 

So, if you need to beat those Monday blues, try a MOOC – it’s the best way to start the week, feed your mind and meet loads of others with similar interests. There is a course for everyone. I dare you not to find something thst interests you here: FutureLearn

Identifying the Dead – a research project

The key to any great story is in the detail, isn’t it? If the facts are questionable – and worse still, wrong – then the whole story is tainted.
No-one wants to read a mystery story and find the plot to be a complete joke because the author hasn’t bothered to find out how certain procedures work and has just glossed over the facts to reach an unconvincing – and laughable – conclusion.
As an avid reader, when this happens to me I am not only disappointed with the outcome, but I feel cheated. The story that was promised to me in the blurb description was all hype just to get my attention. And I hate it when that happens.
Does the phrase ‘it does what it says on the tin’ not apply to books too? Well, it should!
So, to make sure I don’t commit the same heinous crime of fiction myself, I have enrolled on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) entitled ‘Identifying the dead’ offered by the University of Dundee. Here, the whole forensics procedure is explained in an entertaining way – almost like watching your favourite TV show and seeing what the experts see as they build the clues to solve the murder.


Here’s what’s involved:

The first step in any investigation involving a death is to determine the identity of the deceased. This free online course will take you on a journey through the world of forensic anthropology, unveiling the tools that will allow you to reveal that identity.

Join forensic experts to identify the dead

In the shadow of Dundee’s Law Hill, a grim discovery demands the attention of forensic experts. Unidentified human remains have been found and the police need to identify the victim to move forward with their investigation.

After a meticulous recovery of the remains, it will be your job to:

  • document and attempt to explain any evidence of trauma;
  • identify the victim through biological profiling;
  • and undertake a facial reconstruction.

Experts from the University of Dundee’s award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHId) will guide you through the process of human identification.

They will introduce you to the fields of human identification; forensic anthropology and archaeology; craniofacial identification; and the study of the human body.

Evaluate evidence as the case unfolds

Week-by-week, the case will unfold, providing you with more information about the victim. You will be presented with theoretical material and hands-on learning opportunities, to evaluate the case information and use what you have learned, to piece together clues to the victim’s identity.

You will be able to discuss, with educators and others learners, your thoughts on the identity of the deceased, based on your evaluation of the evidence.

Get your own copy of the murder mystery

After you submit your evaluation of the victim’s identity, all will be revealed at the end of the final week. You can continue your journey into the life and death of our victim in your very own ebook copy of a specially-written murder mystery by international best-selling crime novelist Val McDermid.

Can you use the skills that you will learn on this course to identify the dead?

Sound’s cool, doesn’t it? I cannot wait to get started 🙂 

If you’re interested, check out Future Learn Courses, there’s bound to be something that interests you too.