November 24, 2011 is Thanksgiving in the USA and there is a lot to be thankful for. It seems fitting that today of all days, my blog “Defrosting Cold Cases” is two years old.
A lot has changed since the beginning. The publishing of posts has slowed down considerably because I have become more selective. When DCC was brand new I tried to catch every cold case I could that appeared in the news. I jumped on every tip, link and idea. It resulted in an enormous amount of posts. But after the first year, things changed or better said: I changed. My enthusiasm is still there, the dedication never wavered but I learned that I cannot keep up this tempo. I decided that in the future I would post links from newspapers in a “Sum it Up!” post. It became an instant hit with DCC readers and I will continue this series.
In the second year, I designed a logo for DCC as you can see in this post below. I use it as an avatar and it will be used as the cover for e-Books with of course, adjusted titles. The reactions to my creation are very positive and I am glad of all the comments I have received about it on Twitter.
The three most popular pages aside from the home page were: “I killed the Vidster,” Vidocq presents Dominic d’Souza!” and Tiah’s guest post in the Laura Henderson-Ibach case: “the time line does not work and police do not care.” The most popular cases were the posts concerning the Hina family, the Crewes, and of course, William Thomas Zeigler.
As “Vidster” I will probably release more e-Books about cold cases in the future. The first one “Zeigler, Through Vidster’s Eyes” is out via Pubit on Nook by Barnes & Noble. It has already received 2 reviews and 5 stars! Of course, my motivation to bring out an eBook about the Zeigler case was fuelled by the December 1 hearing in which the defense will ask for more DNA testing. A DNA expert had been previously appointed to study the case and to give his opinion. Make sure you read the entire post if you want a free copy of this eBook!
Trying to reach as many people as possible to inform them about the Zeigler case is not easy. Of course, I tweet about every post on DCC and people link to my blog. However, there are so many people out there who do not read blogs (yet) and/or who do not tweet (yet). So, how do I reach those people? That’s why I decided to jump into the fastest growing community: eReaders!
This jump was combined with seeking far more interaction on Twitter with authors than I had before. I actively started to follow authors in hopes that they would read my bio, check my blog, and find the cold cases. So far, I have had terrific reactions from authors who now have DCC bookmarked for inspiration! They can use the cases, the characters or, a specific forensic angles in their own stories. Whilst doing that, they increase the attention for the original case and that will help the police and the victims of unsolved murders.
At the same time that I started to follow more authors on Twitter, I also took a good look at my follower stream. I did not like what I saw. Thanks to some very handy Twitter applications, I found a lot of inactive accounts, (ro)bots, spam, people who never interact with others and most importantly, people who only use Twitter to promote themselves. I started a massive unfollow action that landed me in Twitter jail three times on one day. Recidivism, yes! And I did it again in the following days. It is not that I demand that you follow me back since Twitter is not based on that premise. However, the kind of accounts that I highlighted above cluttered up the stream and made it difficult for me to read the tweets that do interest me.
My interactions with authors and bloggers on Twitter have led to new collaborations. In DCC’s second year, interesting people guest blogged on DCC such as David Russell, Darren Bruce, Christa Miller, and of course the Writing PIs returned for a 2 part session. I already have some great guest bloggers lined up for 2012!
I did not just start to follow more authors on Twitter; I also looked at their books. The results are posted as book reviews on DCC and more will follow.
Through other authors, I learned about “Blog Tour de Troops” and I gladly agreed to join when I was asked. I reviewed “Murder at the Rocks” from author Jill Paterson and “ETA” from author Delphine Pontvieux. Both authors referred to my posts on their blogs and I thank them for that.
This initiative #Blog Tour de Troops” gave free books to our troops and veterans. It is a simple concept in which the authors get book reviews and link to the blogger’s posts. They also commit to send free e-Books to blog commenters and our Troops. The bloggers get the book, the links and traffic. It was a win-win situation for all!
With all these changes, cclivechat is changing as well. We started out as a weekly Friday chat but over the past few months it became clear that it was a tempo nobody could keep up. After the last summer break, it was clear that the format needed to change. On the homepage you can find the schedule for the themed chats. The chats are still on a Friday, still from noon-1pm EST but during most of these chats I will have a guest and we discuss a specific topic. All recaps will still be posted on DCC as usual so you can read up if you miss one.
By changing from casual get-together-chats to less frequent but more focused chats, I hope to make the best of everyone’s time and to use the chats more efficiently. The other advantage of a themed chat is of course the chance to explore a topic in-depth. There will still be some casual chats but not anymore on a weekly basis.
I think that in year three you will see DCC change even further. My goal is to build an interdisciplinary community with people all somehow connected to cold cases: experts featuring in guest posts and in themed cclivechats, authors who use the cold cases for inspiration for their books or book characters. Of course, law enforcement officers who want more media attention for some of their coldest cases and journalists updating us on breaking news in unsolved homicides. Let’s not forget lawyers who comment on trials and give insight into the legal proceedings and hurdles we may face to get a cold case back on track. And private investigators who can help us brainstorm about a certain case. Of course, what ties all these people together will be the expanded readership that slowly raises even greater awareness for these cases.
None of this would ever have been possible without the steadfast support of Jacques Soudan, my webmaster. I cannot thank everyone enough for hanging in there with me! A big THANK YOU to those who return to DCC every day: my readers. Without you, DCC would not be where it is today. I thank you for reading, for your support, and for your loyalty.
Last but not least, a word of thanks to all the family members and their friends who have contacted me about unsolved cases involving a loved one. I cannot thank you enough for your trust and confidence. I am humbled by every email and promise that I will keep up the quality that you have come to expect from DCC’s case analyses. Your patience and your understanding are greatly appreciated. We should never forget the missing, the unidentified or, the victims of unsolved homicides. And, if I can help, I will.
If you have any suggestions about how DCC can be improved or, what direction you think I should take, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate your input. Everyone who comments below this post will receive my eBook “Zeigler, through Vidster’s eyes” via email as a pfd file after the Thanksgiving Weekend.
Cheers to year three! Vidster