1966 Missouri Death Certificates Available Online

Received an e-mail from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office indicating the 1966 Missouri Death Certificates are now live. They are free to view and download from http://s1.sos.mo.gov/Records/Archives/ArchivesMvc. If you have a family member who died in 1966 in the state of Missouri (and as early as 1910 with a small number of pre-1910 death certificates also available in a different section of the website), you can find their death certificate on the site. Please note each death certificate was transcribed by two different people to reduce the odds of transcription errors. They can still happen as can typos on the death certificates, wrong information, etc. It’s a good start for where a person is buried, but the death certificate tends to have a high rate of wrong cemetery listings or only listing the town’s name which isn’t necessarily the cemetery even if there is a cemetery with the town’s name.  So if using a death certificate (or obit for that matter), double check with the cemetery before adding them to Find-A-Grave or another graving site. Haven’t done a detailed analysis, but around 25 – 50% of death certificates and obits report the wrong cemetery. In some cases, it is a different name of the cemetery, and in other cases, it’s the wrong town and/or county.

Addit: in addition, death certificates and obits don’t track when a person is moved to a different cemetery at a later date which is another reason to verify with the cemetery.

Addit #2: Some years allow searching by next of kin, but most years don’t. Volunteers are slowly adding earlier years for relatives. Spouse, Mother, and Father are only searchable for 1961 – 1966 at this time.

Posted in Find A Grave, Genealogy, Missouri, Obit | Leave a comment

Nat Geo Geno 2.0 $119.95 Through May 8th

Received an e-mail from National Geographic showing a sale price of $119 (regularly $199.95 with occasional sales as low as $149.95). The sale ends May 8th and doesn’t appear on Nat Geo’s regular Geno 2.0 Next order page or the order page for Helix Geno 2.0 Next order page. The sale price on both sites is still $149.95, a good deal, but not the Mother’s Day deal listed in the e-mail – Geno 2.0 Mother’s Day $119.95 Sale Link. The sale ends May 8th according to the link. Geno 2.0 Next generally isn’t good for genealogical purposes in terms of matching since it only tests less than 200,000 SNPs, but does offer a deep Y-DNA (males only) and somewhat deep mtDNA test (results vary depending on your mtDNA haplogroup – for example, mine matched exactly my full mtDNA results from FTDNA).



Posted in Geno 2.0 Next, Helix, mtDNA, Y-DNA | Leave a comment

BillionGraves Million More In May Contest

In its sixth annual Million Contest, BillionGraves has some awesome prizes. Worth noting the tiers do not stack so if you achieve Tier 3 in one category and Tier 2 in the other, you only get the Tier 3 prize. You won’t get the Tier 2 prize for the other category and you won’t get the Tier 1 and 2 prizes for the category you reached Tier 3. If you want the DNA prize, then you need stop before uploading 50,000 images or 30,000 transcriptions.

More information can be found at http://blog.billiongraves.com/2017/04/million-more-in-may-starts-now. Brief explanation below as well.

Tier 1: 2,500 Photos Uploaded or 500 Transcriptions

Six (6) months free BillionGraves Plus access. Normally, if you meet this goal, you only get one free month of BillionGraves although you would get two months if you achieved both goals during a given month.

Tier 2: 12,500 Photos Uploaded or 7,500 Transcriptions

Earn a RAVPower 16W Solar Panel Charger.

Tier 3: 25,000 Photos Uploaded or 15,000 Transcriptions

Earn a free DNA test from one of the below companies:

MyHeritage DNA 

23andMe DNA-Ancestry

GPS Origins Test and Report 

FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder


One of the best prizes out there if you can’t afford a DNA test and always wanted to test with one of these companies.

Grand Prize: 50,000 Photos Uploaded or 30,000 Transcriptions

Choose between a brand new Apple Watch, Series 2 or a Samsung Gear S3!

Contest ends at midnight GMT which is 6 PM U. S. Mountain Time (7 P.M. U. S. Central Time).

Photos need to meet some basic guidelines so you may want toplan on taking some extras on the off-chance some don’t meet the guidelines.

More details can be found on the Facebook page for BillionGraves.

Posted in 23andMe, AncestryDNA, BG, BillionGraves, FamilyTree DNA, FTDNA, GPS Origins, MyHeritage DNA | Leave a comment

How to Write Good Book and Product Reviews

I no longer read book reviews, or reviews of other products, for one simple reason. Most aren’t honest or even good reviews. When you say a book or product is only worth 1 – 3 stars, but rate it as 4 or 5 stars, you aren’t being honest. Either you weren’t honest on your 1 – 3 star comment or you weren’t honest on the 4 or 5 star rating. Why should I take anything you said in your review seriously if you weren’t honest.  However, if you are being honest, you need to give a book or product the rating you believe it deserves. If you are not being honest, don’t bother leaving a review as you are misleading potential buyers. For me to classify a review good, it’s not about how many stars the reviewer gave it, but how they reached their conclusions and does the rating match the review. I won’t call a review good if it says the product is only worth 1 star, but they gave it 3+ stars in their rating. If you are giving a scathing review of a product, but then rate it way above what the words in your review indicate it should get, then it’s a bad review.

Also, the review needs to be realistic. If you are reading a book about vampires, don’t ding the writer for using vampires in the book. This is true especially if the writer is using a variation of vampires that aren’t the traditional European vampire. I don’t believe in vampires, but from myths the stories of vampires vary widely around the world. I have also seen a reviewer ding a writer because they weren’t writing about a dystopian world. If your book’s genre is alternate history in a non-dystopian world, then giving a negative review of the book because it’s not dystopian is a huge disservice to the writer. However, if it’s supposed to be a dystopian setting and the writer is ignorant of, or willing ignores, what should be key elements of the genre, that’s fair game. If I am writing alternate ancient history and throw in nuclear power plants that don’t fit, I should get dinged for it. On the other hand, if my setting was an ancient civilization that had nuclear power plants and they are plausible or at least believable, then don’t ding me for it. If you are reviewing unicorn meat (and yes, there is a product on Amazon

I belong to several Facebook writing groups and one theme on book reviews tends to be why so many won’t give honest reviews. They rarely coach it in such terms, but when a writer says they won’t give less than 3 (or 4 or 5) stars, no matter what, then I don’t bother reading their reviews because they aren’t being honest. In some cases, the writers are concerned a negative review will lead to the other writer or their followers leaving bad payback reviews. If anything, reviews on Amazon have become a joke with only a small percentage of people taking them seriously.

Likewise, I don’t read professional reviews of books or movies. After reading a review by a local movie critic on Dr. Doolittle 2 minutes before walking into the theater, it was almost as if I watched a different movie because the things he hyped weren’t there and the things he mentioned as being better from the first movie weren’t better.

Game reviews are often tainted by the fact that many gaming magazines aren’t willing to give a bad review for whatever reason. If a gaming magazine sells ads to company X, then they should have to disclose exactly how much money they get from company X when reviewing one of it’s products. When I review a product, movie, game, book, etc., I am not motivated by money for several reasons. First and foremost, I am putting my name on the line when I give a review. While you may not agree with my review, it shouldn’t be based on the fact that my review was potentially tainted by a free product. If  my blog reaches a large enough audience to lead to companies offering me free products to review, I am not going to let that influence my opinion of the product. In most cases, I will offer what I like about a product, what I dislike, and who, if anybody, I think the product is a good fit.




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The Six Month Novel Writing Plan eBook Temporarily Free

The Six Month Novel Writing Plan ebook is temporarily available for free download at https://www.authorspublish.com/six-month-novel-plan. You will need to provide a valid e-mail address and you want to click the Download now link and not the buy it on Amazon for $3.99 option.

After I read it, I will provide a review of the ebook and what I liked and didn’t like about it. For starters, it makes the assumption that people can write without editing. Some writers can’t and you won’t be able to get them to do it no matter how strong a case you make for doing a rough draft. Others need to edit as they go along to avoid them not editing later for whatever reason. As with any self-help book, you should read it, take to heart what you are willing to change and consider the parts you aren’t willing to change to determine if you should change them or not.

It also covers a bit on how to make a pitch for an agent.  I wouldn’t waste time on pitching for either an agent or a traditional publisher as your odds of success are so low as to be a huge waste of time. If your book is good enough, it will sell itself and you won’t be having to give up a large chunk of your money to one or both groups. An agent is going to want a fair amount of what little income you will get from a traditional publisher where they may see more profit from your book than you do after they get their cut.

I am a strong proponent of the self-published model after seeing how little money a writer gets from a traditional publisher and how much control they have to give up. Sadly, many feel only a traditional publisher is the only way to go. Also, unless you strike it big, traditional publishers expect you to handle a very large share of the marketing of your book(s). Potentially that includes some hefty costs for advertising unless you are savvy enough to utilize social media effectively.

Addit: While self-publishing gets a bad rep (deservedly in too many cases), traditional publishing for best sellers deserves an equally bad rep for the amount of typos and grammar errors traditional publishers allow to slip through. After reading a well-respected alternate history writer, I was appalled at how many typos, grammar errors, etc., his traditional publisher didn’t catch. You would think this was a self-published book based on how many mistakes slipped through. I give self-published writers a bit of a break because they can’t afford professional editors most of the time. Traditional publishers appear to go with the philosophy that a well-known writer doesn’t need editing because his or her readers will buy their next book regardless of editing.


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23andMe Mother’s Day Sale

I saw an ad on Facebook for 23andMe’s Mother’s Day Sale. It ends May 14th, is $20 off the regular price, and is good for up to two (2) kits. https://www.23andme.com/ so either $79 (genealogy only) or $179 (genealogy + health). It’s available directly on 23andMe’s main page and mentions gift wrapping included. Technically, it’s not a DNA Day sale, but the sale is running during DNA Day so I will add it to the DNA Day sale blog post.

It’s good to see 23andMe join the sale even if it’s geared towards Mother’s Day. It has the second largest genealogical DNA database with over 2,000,000 testers. Definitely worth checking out regardless of if you go with genealogy only or genealogy + health. You can always upgrade to health down the road for $125 (which is $25 more than if you add it when you initially order).

Posted in 23andMe, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AncestryDNA Hits 4 Million Tested

Ancestry tweeted yesterday they hit four (4) million DNA kits tested. It took them eleven (11) months to reach their second million; another seven (7) months to reach their third million; and only three (3) months to reach their fourth million. No telling how fast Ancestry will cross the five (5) million mark at its current pace. They could easily hit six (6) million by year’s end if the present pace continues.

This was on top of news that 23andMe recently hit their two (2) millionth kit earlier this month.

If Ancestry and FTDNA were more savvy, they would do what MyHeritage, WeGene, and DNA.land are doing and accept free DNA transfers from other companies. I expect MyHeritage may reach its first million DNA tests/transfers in record, or near record, time. While Ancestry has over four (4) million in its database, there are probably another million who have tested with other companies that haven’t tested with Ancestry. FTDNA offers a free transfer, but it’s limited in several ways and you would have to pay $19 to upgrade for full benefits of the transfer.

National Geographic has over 834,000 people in 140 countries who have tested DNA and could hit one (1) million later this year. Their test is on sale for $149.95 (regularly $199.95) https://shop.nationalgeographic.com/product/genographic-2.0-kits/geno-2.0-next-generation-genographic-helix-dna-ancestry-kit–u.s.-delivery?gsk&code=MR21432 . I am hoping one day National Geographic will increase the autosomal component from its current 200,000 markers to 500,000+ markers so it can be used for genealogy purposes. For U.S. tests, Geno 2.0 Next is processed with a spit kit from Helix. For non-U.S. kits,  they were still using cheek swabs from FTDNA.

Posted in 23andMe, AncestryDNA, DNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage DNA, WeGene | Leave a comment