If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Fun of Google Alerts


Someone I know described another person as listening to “all the news that fits his views.” Most of us filter our news so that we tend to hear things that fit our beliefs. The content providers out there try mightily with their targeted ads to figure out our preferences. Based on my searches, they have decided I am more likely to respond to an ad for Obama than one for Romney and when I search on an issue, the more liberal slant seems to come up more often near the top of the list of choices I’m presented with.

Google Alerts provides an opportunity to defeat one-sided analysis. If you are not familiar with Google Alerts it works like this: tell them a phrase you are interested in and they will search news, blogs, videos, discussions and books and send you the information in an email. You can choose a daily digest (my general choice) or “as it happens” or a weekly summary. You can also let them choose only the “best results” or everything. Since often my purpose is to get a wider view of things, I always make the inclusive “everything” choice.

Let’s say you are interested in anything having to do with one of my fellow bloggers, Warren Bull. Naturally you would want to bookmark his website, but for a true fan that would not be enough. You want to know about every mention of him. If you do a Google Alert on Warren Bull, you will get anything that includes the words Warren and Bull, whether or not they are capitalized. So if someone thinks the selection of the current winner of the Warren Spahn Award for baseball’s best left-handed pitcher is bullroar, that rant will show up. To eliminate that problem you put the name in quotes: “Warren Bull,” which requires Warren and Bull to be consecutive words. Still, things like an article entitled “Rodeo: Bothwell wins at Crazy Horse” will pop up because of a reference to Warren’s bull.

Sometimes those articles are very interesting and you would have never seen them without your Google Alert terms. However, if “Warren Bull” still gets you too many wrong people, you might limit Google Alert’s search by including the word author (so your search terms are [“Warren Bull” author]. Initially I chose more limiting Alert rules, but I’ve learned I often miss things I wish I’d seen—and the opportunity for serendipity has been lost.

You may wonder what terms I currently have Google Alerts set for. I’m egotistical enough to want to know if someone says something about me, but there are too many Jim Jacksons for that to do any good, so I use “James Montgomery Jackson.” I do have an alert for [“Jim Jackson” author], which occasionally relates to me but mostly allows me to see what the other authorial Jim Jacksons are doing. I also have one with my name and residence [“Jim Jackson” Amasa] that mostly comes back with bridge tournament results.

I also have a number of Alerts with the title of my books, including my published, One Trick at a Time, my novel Bad Policy that has been accepted for publication, and my work-in-progress Cabin Fever. I also have Google Alerts on my major protagonists. I get a few extraneous hits on “One Trick at a Time” that provide fodder for future stories. “Bad Policy” gets a lot of Republicans grousing about Obamacare and lots of Democrats complaining about state-level Republican efforts. Occasionally something new will cross my radar. Recently I became aware of US House Bill 1505 that would allow the Customs and Border Patrol the ability to build any kind of infrastructure they want anywhere within 100 miles of an international border (other than ocean), and would abrogate any and all environmental, wilderness, national park, etc. laws to accomplish something the Border Patrol says is not needed. That prompted me to write my senators and representative to express my concerns.

“Cabin Fever” garners the most eclectic results ranging from vacation hotspots to comments on the 2002 movie by that name, to a new album bythat name by Corb Lund, an Alberta country singer I had never heard of, but whose album sounds like a lot of fun, to vacation hotspots.

Occasionally some topic of interest will get my attention and I’ll add it to my Alerts to see what everyone is saying. Last year I was interested in “redistricting” so I could follow the political battles in the states as they Gerrymandered new voting districts.

Currently, my catch-all Alert is “financial crime.” My mystery/suspense series involves financial crimes and, while I have a great imagination, the stuff people are pulling off—well, there ought to be a book!

Google Alerts are easy to set up and easy to remove. You can get started at http://www.google.com/alerts . If you use Google Alerts, what do you use it for? If not, what tempts you?

~ Jim

8 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

I put a google alert on my writing name, E. B. Davis. So far, I've found that there is a professional basketball player of the same name, and that a lot of E. (Elaine, Evelyn, etc.) Davis's have died recently. So, google alerts haven't done me much good.

Gloria Alden said...

It sounds interesting, Jim, but I don't know how I could deal with one more time suck. I'm stretched to my limits now. Probably I'll sign up for it once I get a book out there. Right now I have enough trouble keeping up with what comes into my inbox as it is and still find time to write.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

It can be a time suck if you let it, and if you have a book out there or are writing short stories, not seeing your name pop up tells you something about your marketing efforts.

As with much I do, it's an experiment that I will modify as I gather more experience.

I did just get an alert that "One Trick at a Time" just showed up in a blog -- oh right, that was this one!

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, I've used Google Alerts for years--on my name, on the name of an organization I helped found and run until recently, the Latino Writers Collective,and on my various books as they've come out (I had two books of poetry and a cookbook published before I entered the mystery field).

I have found that, in the past year for some reason, they don't catch nearly as much as they used to. EVERY LAST SECRET has received over 20 reviews and one was picked up by AP by about 20 newspapers across the country, almost all with online versions. All these pop up instantly if I do a Google search, but very few have shown up in my Google Alerts. I have to say that I don't think it's the great tool it once was.

Warren Bull said...

Google alert is an app I have not tried. Maybe I can find out more about rodeos and cattle prices if I set one up.

Pauline Alldred said...

I'm writing a novel that has money laundering in it. I did a google alert on money laundering and information rolled in. Much of it doesn't interest me and I can't use it. I did learn London is dubbed the money laundering capital of the world. Fifty years too late for me. Maybe I should have stayed and held out for the opportunity.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Linda - It's an experiment for me, so I'll see how it goes. Sorry it seems to have lost its usefulness for you.

Warren - you never know when you might want to learn about your very own bull!

Pauline - You could have stayed and help Barclays lie about their Libor rates. Of course if financial chicanery is in your blood, you can find work in a shady US hedge fund -- hard to believe Peregrine will be the last to fold due to malfeasance.

~ Jim

Patg said...

Interesting, but I only use my Google alerts for myself and my book. Never for 'interests' because then it (IMHO) it becomes spam. It's the bad of a good thing.
Patg