Serial Overview: The Block

Whenever I complete a fiction serial, I always look back on the process, and how it was received. This interests me, and some readers like to read about it.
But if you don’t care about that, you can skip this post, with my blessing.

I had an idea about an ending, the ending that appeared in Part Twenty-Five. It was potentially shocking, and also had the benefit of leaving the story open-ended for a sequel. Or better still, readers could choose their own version of what happened, and therefore decide their own conclusion to the serial.

Once that ending was down in my notes, I had to ‘work back’, and decide how to start off a serial that would arrive at its predestined conclusion.

This story had an intentional ‘London’ feel, and characters based on people similar to (or exactly like) some people I had met during the sixty years I lived in that city. Although many regular readers embraced it happily, it did not get the same level of readership as the last three serials, and some violence in graphic detail in later episodes did disturb some readers too.

Despite that, readership actually increased as the serial went on, and the last episode had the biggest number of views. As of today, total views of the twenty-five parts stand at just over 1900. Comments were fairly high this time, with individual characters attracting many remarks, along with the change of pace toward the end which caught some readers off guard.

I really enjoyed writing it. When I write something set in London, heavily based on personal experience, it does give me an interest above my more regular fiction. If I did something like this again, I would consider adding a content warning for the scenes that some people found hard to read. If you are considering writing something with murders described in some detail, then you might want to think about that too.

There was some research involved, but nothing at the level required with historical fiction. I looked up some Law questions, and some of the history of Rampton Hospital, the maximum security psychiatric hospital involved in the story. The rest was all based on my experiences as an EMT, and from working for the Police in London for twelve years after that.

The serial will be available as a complete story in one long post, later this week.

Thanks as always to everyone who read, liked, commented, and shared on social media.

A Very Popular Post

In 2016, I published a post containing photos of a nearby abandoned farm.
https://beetleypete.com/2016/08/17/the-abandoned-farm/

Since then, it has continued to be popular with readers, and it gets regular views every week, sometimes every day. For the benefit of the many new followers, I reblogged the post earlier this year, and it was well-received once again.

But rarely has it been so popular is it has today.

Noticing a spike in my stats, I looked to see what had caused an unusual afternoon increase in blog views. I was surprised to discover that the 2016 post has received no less than 120 views, since I logged on this morning.

Being realistic, I suspect this has been caused by one of the notorious ‘Spam Bots’ malfunctioning, and becoming stuck on that same post 130 times.

But wouldn’t it just be lovely, if one reader liked it so much that they had looked at it 130 times?

Blogging Memories

Starting out on a blog is a bit like putting a message in a bottle, casting it out into the ocean, and hoping someone finds it, then replies.

In fact, given the untold millions of blogs on the Internet, you may well have more chance with that bottle.

So I didn’t expect much from my first tentative blog post, in the summer of 2012. I told my friends and family about it of course. I even sent some of them links by text message. But seriously, who was going to read my nervous waffling? I wouldn’t have blamed anyone if they had never bothered.

The first ‘likes’ and comments were from those same friends and family. They used an email address, or set up a WP account just to encourage me, but they did that willingly. I still remember the first time I got 10 views in one day. I was ecstatic. It all seemed worthwhile. When I hit 30 views, I was sure that blogging was going to be ‘my thing’.

Then I got a comment and a follow from someone I didn’t actually know. That was worth its weight in gold, and encouraged me to expand my content, and try new categories. I started to write about my time as an EMT in London, tried my hand at film reviews, and published some very long posts about my childhood memories as a boy in London.

Then one day, I could hardly believe my eyes when I logged on. I had 30 followers, and had hit the magic number of 100 views. Even now, I can remember how good that felt.

As the saying goes, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

I discovered how to add photos, video clips, and images, all to make some posts more relevant, and interesting. I tried my hand at writing fiction too. Short stories at first, then multi-part serials later. I continued to feature my dog Ollie, and stuck to a formula that seemed to be popular with the community of followers and readers that was steadily growing.

As of today, I have a listed 5,470 followers on WordPress. Add to that 41 who follow by email, and 336 followers on social media sites like Twitter, and that totals 5,847. On a good day, I get around 600 views of the site, and think I must be doing something wrong when it drops below 300 on any given day.

But I never forget that 18 of those original 30 followers are still following this blog. And they still comment too.

Sometimes, 2012 doesn’t seem that long ago after all.

My Top Ten Posts

For the last few years, there has been little change in the most-read posts on this blog.

No matter how much fiction I write, or how much I love to post about films and cinema, none of that gets close.

As Julie is watching ‘Dancing On Ice’, and I would sooner sit out in the rain than watch that, I just checked my stats again.

Here are those top posts, with number ten first.

10) My Blog: Privacy And Cookies Notice. It has had 677 views.
This was published on the 31st of May, 2018.
It was a very short post, complaining about issues with WordPress, and the notice in question.

09) Beetley Village. It has had 840 views.
It was published on the 16th of August, 2012.
This is a detailed post about what you might expect to see if you ever visit Beetley.

08) Birds Don’t Like Cornflakes. It has had 857 views.
This was published on the 31st of August, 2013.
It was about feeding birds in the garden, and how they had refused to eat the cornflakes I had scattered on the lawn.

07) Ollie: A dog’s like and dislikes. It has had 864 views.
This was published on the 12th of September, 2016.
It was about things that my dog likes, and other things he doesn’t.
It is the only post featuring Ollie in this top ten.

06) Beachlands: Pevensey Bay. It has had 924 views.
This was published on the 24th of March, 2016.
It is a photo post, featuring photos of Modernist and Art Deco bungalows on a 1930s housing estate in Sussex.

05) The driest county in England. It has had 1,623 views.
This was published on the 29th of August, 2012.
It is about how I was told that Norfolk was the driest county in this country, and it hadn’t stopped raining since I moved here.

04) Dereham: A Norfolk Town. It has had 1,820 views.
This was published on the 17th of April, 2014.
It is about the nearest town to Beetley, the market town of Dereham.

03) Whatever happened to? : Jimmy Somerville. It has had 2,071 views.
This was published on the 10th of August, 2016.
It is about the singer and front man of Bronski Beat, and The Communards.
It features pop video clips, and asks why we never hear of him now.

02) About. It has had 2,925 views.
This was published in 2012, and is regularly updated.
It is about me and my life, and features a photo of me with Ollie.
The popularity of this post shows the importance of having a good ‘About’ page.

The number one post will come as no surprise to regular followers.
It has been at number one since shortly after publication, and is read at least once every day.

……Drum Roll……

01) Whatever Happened to?: Jamiroquai. It has had 4,298 views.
This was published on the 4th of September, 2016.
Since then, it has been the subject of many more posts remarking on its popularity.
It is about the British Acid-Jazz band of that name, and asks why they had disappeared.
It features pop video clips, and discusses why they dropped out of the music scene.
After I published this, they released a new album in 2017. It wasn’t very good.

So, there you have it. Do you know what your own top posts are? If you fancy it, why not do do something similar?
Then link it to this post, and we can all find out what are readers out there are enjoying the most.

I just noticed this

I haven’t been looking at my stats that much this week, but as I published today’s short story, I did notice this on my admin page.

3,035 Posts

I have tipped over the 3,000 posts mark, and only just noticed.

That is a lot of posts. No wonder I have trouble remembering some of them.

So, thanks to everyone who has read them.

Issues and Views

Yesterday, I had some frustrating issues with WordPress over logins, comments, and verification codes.

That generated five posts on this blog, as I expressed my frustrations, warned other bloggers, and finally told everyone it was resolved.

Late last night as I logged off my PC, I checked the stats on my blog for that day. Despite not having posted the episode of my fiction serial, and only posting about my blogging woes, I was amazed to see that it was my biggest day EVER for views on this blog, after more than seven years.

Well over 600 views in twelve hours, beating the previous busiest day by almost seventy views.

I cannot help but conclude that if you want to really boost your readership, then have a good moan about WordPress!

Fiction Serial Overview: The River

I have just published my most recent serial in one complete story. As usual, I am looking at how it was received, and explaining something about the process for those of you who may be interested.

This was my first attempt at writing something from an American perspective. Using my experience of watching many American films over almost sixty years, as well as my memories of books like ‘The Catcher In The Rye’, I tried to capture the feel of life in small town America over a period from the early 1970s to the turn of the century.

Looking back, I was only partially successful. I notice that I varied spelling between the English and American versions, failing to be consistent in either. I received encouragement from many American readers who assured me that I was getting most of it right, as well as valuable help from David Miller, who kindly pointed out differences such as ‘Filling out’ a form, rather than the English ‘Filling in’ a form. Although I looked up the policing structure in most American states, I made an error with ‘County Police’, but decided to leave that in the story to add to the fictional element.

I tried for shorter episodes this time too, as some of my previous serial parts ran close to 2,000 words. In terms of readers, each episode exceeded 80 views, with a total of more than 1800 views for the whole serial, and more still coming in. Comments were up on some other serials too, so that was very rewarding for me.

As I normally do, I thought of the ending, and worked back. I had to use notes to remember the various characters, and I did some research into two genuine American locations too. For the names of the characters, I looked up some common American surnames, many derived from the European original names of course, and tried to place the first names in some historical context of when such names would have been popular.

My thanks to everyone who stuck with every episode of the serial, and to those of you who reblogged any part, or shared on social media.

I hope you will enjoy the next one, when it arrives in my head!

Best wishes, Pete. 🙂