Domestic disruption, and blog absences

For the next 7-8 days at least, I will not always be around on the blogs. We have a painter coming in to decorate some rooms, as well as new windows being fitted to the whole house.

Things will have to be moved around of course, and I will have to try to keep out of the way. I should get some chance to look at the blog in the evenings, and hopefully reply to comments sometimes, as well as reading your posts.

But I have to apologise in advance if I end up missing many of them completely, and if some comments you leave might appear to have been ignored.

I wanted to let you know, in case you wondered where I had gone, maybe even thought I might have finally dropped off Pete’s perch. πŸ™‚

Best wishes to all, Pete.

The Recent Serial: The Absence Of A Twist

As most of you know, my fifteen-part serial ‘A Natural Attraction’ has now concluded. I always like to reflect on such long works of fiction, in the hope that it might interest those of you who may be considering doing something similar.

This time, I chose a darker theme, with adult overtones. I attempted to look behind one of those closed doors we are never privy to, and in the process to consider one outcome of something we see widely reported in the media these days. It was not a comfortable subject to read, or for that matter to write. But I hope you will agree that stories like those need to be told. Not only to enhance awareness, but also in part to promote understanding of how and why some tragic events happen.

I also deliberately avoided the use of a ‘twist’ ending. I made that clear from the start, but I still apologise to the many of you who might have been hoping for one. That decision may well have cost me some drop in readership numbers, but I didn’t think a twist was appropriate for this subject.

It is a big ask to expect readers to stick with so many episodes, and so many words in each one. In this case, it still attracted around 70+ views a day, totalling just under 1200 views so far. Comments were fewer this time, which might have had something to do with the dark theme of the story.

But as usual, I would like to thank everyone who stuck with it until the end, and of course all of you who left comments, reblogged, and shared on Twitter.

For those of you who like to read the whole thing in one long story, that will be available by the end of this week.

Thanks again, and best wishes to you all. Pete.

America, I Thank You

Not for the first time, I have to send my thanks to my American followers and readers. Whenever I check the stats, views from America are always much higher than from anywhere else, even my home country of Britain. On most days, American readers exceed everyone else by at least 25%, sometimes more. Though the UK is always second, and Canada is often a close third. Sharing the same (almost) language helps, I know. But my appreciation is no less for that.

When it comes to comments, Britain still leads the figures, but only just. A very close second come the comments from all my American friends, followed by many from Asia, and the Indian sub-continent.

I have never been to America. I am old enough to have had some issues with US foreign policy over the years, which at one time actually stopped me ever intending to visit that country. I have protested against the Vietnam War in my teens, and raged against US interference in everywhere from Nicaragua to Grenada, Syria, and Iraq. But blogging has shown me just how diverse America is, and how so many Americans have embraced my blog posts; whether about my dog Ollie, film reviews, orΒ  photos of historical English locations.

The truth is plain to see. Without my American friends, (Cindy, Chuq, Kim, Elizabeth, Theo, Doug, John, David, Susanne, Frank, GP Cox, Lara, Jennie, Teagan, John Rieber, Rachel, and so many more) my blog would only be half of what it is today. Many of you have become very close friends, albeit online. We exchange emails, discuss personal matters away from the blog, and share thoughts and ideas that are surprisingly similar.

In old age, I have come to know Americans, in a way I never thought possible before. And through them, I have started to understand the huge size and diversity of that country. A country I will probably never visit now, for many reasons. From Old Dixie, to New England. Florida, the Pacific north-west, California, Nevada, and Arizona. There you are, my new friends.

It wouldn’t be the same without you.

Best wishes to everyone in those fifty states. May we always be friends.

4000 And Counting

When I logged on to WordPress this morning, I discovered that I now have 4004 followers. Tipping over the 4000 mark is something to be remarked upon. After all, it is not so long ago that having 100 followers seemed to be an exciting but unlikely possibility. I last posted something like this to celebrate 3000 followers, and it hasn’t taken that long for the extra 1000 to appear.

So, thank you. Thanks to all those who have followed from the start and are still here, and thanks to all of those that joined just this week too. I hope I can keep your attention for longer than a few weeks. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to follow, leave comments and likes, and to engage with the wider community of bloggers.

But. Yes, there’s a ‘BUT’.

I really don’t need any more ‘fake followers’, thanks all the same. Those real estate agents in America who can guarantee to get me a house at knock-down prices in Illinois, or Nebraska. You are wasting your time. I live in England, which you failed to notice, as you didn’t actually pay any attention to my blog. And that Australian car spares company. You keep trying, but the fact that you don’t know I don’t even live in Australia makes me really angry! Then there are all the young ladies, trying to sell make-up and fashion items through their ‘affiliation links’. I am a 66 year old man. I don’t wear make up, and I have never bought a mango-coloured mini-dress, even if it is the ‘colour of summer’. If you actually read anything on my blog, you would know that, and could spend your time more wisely.

Authors. I like to support bloggers who write books, as anyone here can tell you. But if you ‘follow’ my blog by just adding numerous links to your new book or books, you will end up being flagged as a spammer. Be warned. The list goes on, unfortunately. App Developers. Whether or not you follow my blog, I promise you one thing for sure. I will NEVER buy or download your fantastic new App. Even if I really wanted to, I wouldn’t do it, out of principle. And to all you very religious people, who seem to reside mostly in the more remote parts of America, or in Nigeria. I respect your right to believe, I really do. But if you follow my blog with one mention of doomsday, or how your god will change my life, I will just delete the notification email.

At least most of those promising to make me a millionaire in two weeks seem to have abandoned me.

On the plus side, some of the new followers are fantastic people. They read the posts, comment, engage, and seem to really get the idea what blogging is all about. I hope to see them around for many years to come, as they enrich the experience of blogging. If my remarks have upset any prospective followers, I am sorry about that. It is nice to have 4000 followers, but I would exchange that impressive number for just 100 ‘real’ ones, any day of the week.

And while I am on the subject, two reminders. If you do not link your site to your Gravatar, or if you have not posted anything that I can read and comment on, then I am unable to thank you for following. And as I already follow over 100 other blogs, I am currently unable to follow anyone back, just at the moment. So please don’t expect me to. Or ask me to.

Blogging is not Twitter, and it is certainly not Facebook.

**Update** The first four notifications of ‘likes’ I got on this post were all from companies, not bloggers. And some of them didn’t even appear on the post, for some reason. That proves my point quite nicely.

Thanks again, and as always, best wishes to you all.

Some Serial Conclusions

As I have just finished my recent serial ‘The Old Remington’, I thought I would reflect on it, as is my habit.

This was undoubtedly the most complex piece of fiction I have ever attempted to write. I had the idea of the ending, and worked the story back from those initial thoughts. Trying to keep the numerous episodes making sense whilst maintaining the constant time-line was challenging, to say the least. And having to make sure it really did make sense to the readers every day involved a lot of re-checking, once I was past episode four. I also changed my usual way of writing the serial this time. Instead of completing the next episode the day before publication, I waited until the following morning, writing each new part from scratch, in around an hour.

Many of you will know that I enjoy providing a classic ‘twist’ to the ending of most stories I publish here. I set myself the challenge of an almost daily twist with that latest serial, working hard not to disclose too many clues that might give away the final one. I was also hoping that the complexity of doing this would not detract from making each daily part easy to understand, and also stand alone, almost as a story in its own right.

Judging from the regular comments, and especially those following the final part, I seem to have managed to surprise everyone, which was my intention. I was also fortunate to see the story picked up by many new followers, and even reblogged on other sites. Daily views were very good too. Never less than 70 for each episode, sometimes as high as 90. I can estimate that it has been read by around 80 people each day, generating total views close to 1600 for the twenty parts. Even new followers left comments, which was great to see, and very encouraging.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who read it, and those who commented, and left ‘likes’. Extra thanks go out to those who retweeted the daily Twitter links, and particularly to the bloggers who reblogged the whole thing on their own sites. You are all much appreciated, and one of the reasons I continue to write.

Best wishes to everyone, Pete. πŸ™‚

A New Photography Blog

All of you photographers out there might like to check out my friend Antony’s latest blogging venture. He is an accomplished serious amateur, and uses Nikon and Olympus cameras. There is a great variety of subjects, and B&W as well as colour. Travel, portraits, nature, exotic lands, and street stuff too.

You don’t even have to leave a comment, as he has not bothered to include that feature. It’s a WP site, so easy to follow too.

See what you think about his work.

Do you use Google Plus?

I have had a Google+ account for a long time now, ever since I started blogging in fact. I use it to promote my blog posts to a different audience, and I also follow the Google+ accounts of some people who only use that platform. It has another very useful feature, as it allows me to ‘sign in’ and comment on other platforms, like ‘Blogger’. It can also be used on some commercial websites, saving me the chore of creating additional accounts, and new passwords. All in all, it is quite handy.

So naturally, Google is about to close it down.

They cite ‘lack of use’ as the reason for scrapping it, and we don’t get a say in that of course. As well as no longer being able to use the features it provides, it will also mean that every comment I have made using it will no longer exist, and any images I have added there will be deleted too, unless I trawl through and back them all up. When Google decides to ‘clean house’, it doesn’t mess about. So if you didn’t know about this imminent demise on the 2nd of April, here is the email confirmation I received this morning. Let’s hope that Gmail isn’t next for the chopping block.

You’ve received this email because you have a consumer (personal) Google+ account or you manage a Google+ page.

In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.

On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. You can download and save your content, just make sure to do so before April. Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted.

As early as February 4th, you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities or events.

See the full FAQ for more details and updates leading up to the shutdown.

If you’re a Google+ Community owner or moderator, you may download and save your data for your Google+ Community. Starting early March 2019, additional data will be available for download, including author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community. Learn more

If you sign in to sites and apps using the Google+ Sign-in button, these buttons will stop working in the coming weeks but in some cases may be replaced by a Google Sign-in button. You’ll still be able to sign in with your Google Account wherever you see Google Sign-in buttons. Learn more

If you’ve used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019. Learn more

If you’re a G Suite customer, Google+ for your G Suite account should remain active. Contact your G Suite administrator for more details. You can also expect a new look and new features soon. Learn more

If you’re a developer using Google+ APIs or Google+ Sign-in, click here to see how this will impact you.

From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place. We are grateful for the talented group of artists, community builders, and thought leaders who made Google+ their home. It would not have been the same without your passion and dedication.