Blogging, a steep learning curve; personally and publicly.

Its been a short while that I have been blogging compared to others, I did create a hobby blog at WordPress.com but sadly somehow I turned it from a hobby blog into a current affairs and politics page which comprised mainly of Zimbabwean politics and political opinion but in that time of it becoming what it did I was becoming a version of me that I and others close to me did not like, I was becoming highly self-opinionated and critical and it was MY opinion that mattered, it was MY opinion that was the only one that was right (when it came to Zimbabwean politics) and what it was that actually made me aware of this was the first vlog I had ever made (not counting the few live Facebook videos I have made since, if those count??), it portrayed somewhat of an ugly version, it reared an ugly head that needed to be put down. It was actually my sister that pointed it out to me. I had made the video public and posted it to my YouTube channel. After my sister pointed this out I watched it over and over and over again until finally I saw this version. The next morning when I woke up with the few hours I had managed to sleep I checked my YouTube and noted that the video had eighteen views already and so I deleted it, I also blogged about this realisation and the fact that I would no longer be carrying on along the political route due to what it was doing to me and what it was making me feel like inside, I had even decided I was going to be shutting the blog down but the request that I keep the blog going was resounding and so that I did, I just diverted from my political course and blogged about other things and ideas that were coming to me; stuff that I was far more comfortable writing about. Then one day a friend of mine who was helping me with doing some graphic design work on another project I had been working on mentioned that he really liked my style of writing and thought that I should consider doing a self-hosted blog and make something of it. Not really knowing anything about self-hosted blogging I thought about it and thought about it some more; then one morning I decided I’d give it a try and made some inquiries on domains and ended up registering a domain with GoDaddy for £1.10, then a further £4.10 for site privacy.

Since then I have managed to keep away from political opinion and have not been tempted once to even address something and whilst we all know that controversy sells I am not comfortable with putting myself in that seat again, although my traffic was a lot higher with those posts than I am getting now I feel a lot better within myself.

Traffic I got from my one political post in a matter of the last few hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two days my traffic shot up amazingly high in just two days.

Although this shows the content that people are after I think it needs to be balanced between the bloggers comforts and what their followers want, what people want and politics and political opinion sadly is one those topics.

But since I have started a self-hosted blog it is now a different story, traffic means everything to the survival of a blog and that is determined by writing about what people want – other than politics I now have to figure out what it is that are wanted topics. The other day I wrote a post about my writing plans which did well and so is one of the topics that people want, its entertainment and about the future of British entertainment and the future of the British film industry – a sector that many, many people wish to see flourish once again.

The more a blogger posts the more hits they get on Google, the more traffic increases, the better a blog does; a blogs survival is based on the traffic it receives and not only sharing content but continuously writing and adding fresh content. A friend of mine, an internet entrepreneur who is doing very well for himself, through e-products and blogging nailed it best the other day…“consistency” – the best word to use for this; just to be consistent and carry on, not just pop up as and when we please, although that can be pretty hard. When do we find stuff to continuously write about – really, are we going to start writing about our morning ablutions or sex lives that may or may not exist? So again, adding a little bit of persistence to that. There have been times when I have looked at how well a piece has not done and thought about throwing it all in, but then again I have never been a quitter in my later adult years, especially since I have lived in the UK, I am very persistent and do not give up easily, if I want something I go for it and I will fight for it and I guess this is a lesson to take into blogging, especially when you are new and want your site to do well. Fight for it to get there and not to give up after a post or two not having done as well as you would have hoped. It all falls into making something work.

Blog Monetisation:

Traffic will also affect your site if you have monetised it through ads via Google AdSense. Before you can start making any money you have to have the traffic on your blog and you have to keep adding to that blog for ads to be displayed or then the Google AdSense bots do not know what to send your blog which in the end would lead to you making no money and in the long run Google AdSense closing your account because you are inactive and therefore bringing no money in. Remember that you are a partner with AdSense, and by making money for yourself you are making money for them and visa-versa and so once you are not pulling weight why would they keep you on, why would anyone keep a business partner on who is not bringing in money? And so in that light you, and I need to keep adding as much fresh content as much as we can in order to keep the wheels turning. I recently found a very helpful article for those struggling to understand why their application to Google AdSense was continuously being rejected, How to  Get Approved by Google AdSense – I highly recommend this article, for either if you are just about to apply or are struggling to understand why you aren’t being accepted.

Its all about finding what works for you and your blog, I am still learning but as with everything in life it is all a learning curve – a climb, its just the gradient that matters in your ascent and that you get to the top.

Script-to-Screen

When I first started this blog I didn’t really think about my writing in the full scheme of things, I thought about blogging which is just a small part of it all, for years since my teens I have dabbled in my writing and have a few drafts saved in my cloud storage, all works of fiction, one even going back to when I was seventeen years old that starts during the Belgian-Congo uprising in the early 1960’s; I got as far as losing the manuscript but years later I remembered how I began the story and I had matured a lot and so I embellished on the opening scenes way better than I could in my teens, however for some reason one day I just didn’t touch it again. Its sitting in my cloud storage facility and if it were possible it would be gathering dust – lets just say it is, “cyber-dust”.

Within the last decade or so I have fancied doing a screenwriting course and writing a screenplay and so I have invested in two courses, the Complete Screenwriting Course by Charles Harris and another I am waiting for delivery on, Screenwriters Bible, 6th Edition by David Trottier. Both seem pretty formidable in the particular field from the reviews and should help me get to where I want to in the field of screenwriting, although I would like to tackle the other books I have started writing, all of which are titled but none of which are actually complete. One starts in the Belgian-Congo in the early 1960’s (which I might shelve), the other is set in the US in Montana (present day) of which I feel I am at the point where I can only do so much research online and one is a fiction take of what could happen in Zimbabwe where the ruling party have declared all out war on the populace and murdered all political leaders of the opposition parties and several foreign governments have evacuated their nationals and there is an international military/humanitarian response with the inclusion of several other African states – I then have another story I want to work on…

Genre: Western.

Type: Screenplay.

I haven’t even written anything down for this, I’ve done research on weapons they’d have used within the period which begins on October 5th, 1877 at the Battle of Bearpaw Mountain between Chief Joseph of the Nez Perc and the US 7th Cavalry – this is the only factual part of the story. The research has gone from researching Native American tribes locale to the area (s) (surrounding Montana, Utah and Wyoming right down to New Mexico during the time that the story is set which ranges from 1877 to 1887) to cowboy slang, weapons, dress, geography, meteorology and the US cavalry. But sadly I haven’t taken myself further than that. This year I however intend on taking my writing a lot more seriously.

Course vs Project: –                                                                                                                                                  

So in light of all the other projects I have in the pipeline I have a screenplay that I have had in mind for a couple of years that would be ideal as a project whilst I do the course that in the past have only gone as far as thinking about but no more than I am now. It is set during World War Two and a joint operation between the then British Special Forces and the Armia Krajowa (Polish Free Army (Polish Resistance, basically)) I have already made moves to do some research through the Imperial War Museum in London. My idea behind this specifically is I believe that the British film industry should make a come back and I know for a fact that I am not the only prospective writer/screenwriter that feels like this. If are we to look at films such as Battle of Britain, Bridge Over the River Kwai (though co-produced by British and American companies), The Dam Busters, Guns of Navarone (British and American co-produced), Where Eagles Dare; but to name a few and not to mention some other genres which made the British film industry great and I think its time that the industry made a steadfast comeback.  Yes, sure, we do have some later, more modern great British flicks, there is no doubt about that but I think its time we made a good comeback and I believe it is up to us writers to help with that; whatever the genre, be it war, science fiction, romance, romantic-comedies, comedies, horrors (though I am not one for horrors), thrillers. We need to start pumping out pieces of work (I needed to elaborate on the pumping out because of several friends of mine who would add a connotation to that) and this is the reason I am pushing myself for this project I have in mind because I believe that the industry can make a great comeback, even if we went back to co-producing with some American film companies. Even if we started producing films with European film companies such as Nordisk Film that made Krigen (A War), or Easy Company in France that co-directed with several other production companies to make the outstanding modern French war film Forces Spéciales. I do believe its a comeback that is possible and with legendary British directors/producers/screenwriters such as Paul Greengrass that IS possible – thats assuming he’s washed his hands of any further Bourne movies. So yeah, this is where I am at, I need to grasp this momentum and fly with it because it is only us who can make our dreams come true, through shear hard work and determination.

I have also taken the liberty of posting both trailers for Forces Spéciales and Krigen. Forces Spéciales is default French with English subtitles. Krigen is the same, Dutch with English subtitles. Both are really good films and Krigen shows the bitter truth of what European troops are up against for doing their jobs in Afghanistan. I recommend both and worthwhile investments as war films go.

 

 

 

Harpur’s of Melbourne – Second Time Around

So, this being my second time around at Harpur’s of Melbourne but to check out their breakfast menu. My first review, Harpur’s of Melbourne, was my first time eating here as a friend of mine had come over from Birmingham and so this was the first restaurant I tried and since then have decided a big part of the reviews will be reviewing Melbourne pubs and restaurants/eateries, while I’m here.

So the plan was to have the harpur’s full which consists of pork & leek sausage, bacon, black pudding, baked beans, grilled plum tomato, flatcap mushroom, free range eggs, wholemeal or white toast being at £8.95 a meal, not bad going – however, as I am not overly fond of baked beans or mushrooms I opted not to have either, which I hope won’t impede a successful review; I have no doubt for those that do like either, or they will be perfect.

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As I opted not to have the mushroom or baked beans I chose to have an extra rasher of bacon, I should have had an extra egg as it already came with two rashers but the breakfast itself, as the lunch a few weeks ago was done to perfection.

A slightly amusing instance was the reaction when I mentioned my previous review to the barmaid and asked if it had been sent on to them by head office, she then asked if I blogged to which I said yes it was why I was here, to do my second review, she then sounded nervous of which I assured she had nothing to be nervous about as everything was fine to which she replied they weren’t even prepared; as I said to her, its like a mystery shopper, its not designed to make anyone prepared, its there to surprise them, to catch them off guard.

I then tended to my blog with a lovely glass of fresh orange juice.
I then tended to my blog with a lovely glass of fresh orange juice.

But the breakfast was delicious, the service was good, the bar area was spotless and there are no complaints from me in general. I have found both Kate and Hayley’s service second to none.

I do look forward to reviewing the hotel and further reviews in the future. I will be reviewing other Melbourne eateries in the future to mix it up a bit, so if you’re in Melbourne and see this review, see you around – look forward to seeing what you have to offer in cuisine and service.

Harpur’s of Melbourne.

Harpur's of Melbourne

As I have recently moved to Melbourne as I stated in my previous blog, My First Impressions of Melbourne, Derbyshire today I had the opportunity of testing the local hospitality as a very dear friend from Guildford who recently relocated to Birmingham decided to pay me a visit, and so we went to lunch at Harpur’s of Melbourne but originally had no idea where to go, as I have not been here long it was difficult to know and so after a short while of walking around we decided to pop in to have a look at the menu. After a while we decided we were eating there, but I also think it was encouraged by the fact that today was bitterly cold. After looking at the menu we ordered drinks (both non-alcoholic as one was driving, the other (moi)…was simply not drinking…boring? Maybe), I made the mistake of ordering a filter coffee but forgot to order hot milk (I really do think its time pubs/restaurants started asking if you want hot or cold milk on principle) and my friend ordered a bottle of mineral water both of which were served relatively quickly and served with a smile by the manageress (I presume); prompt, smiley and efficient is always the way to make people want to come back and even spread the word.

After a while of catching up and looking at the menu it was time to order lunch, the barman came around to take our order and both ordered the Harpur’s Fish & Chips (beer battered haddock, tartare sauce, chunky chips, mushy peas). It didn’t take long before our order arrived and so we tended to our meal. It was absolutely delicious and very well cooked, it was great. The chips were done to perfection, fresh and chunky and the fish and mushy peas were delicious.

All-in-all it is a great little restaurant, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, you feel comfortable as soon as you walk in. Service was professional, efficient and with a smile. I can certainly say that I will be going there again and I will be recommending it, not only to friends and family but to anyone else who decides to pass through Melbourne. I have provided a hyper-link, so take a look, they even have an online menu to look at to wet your appetite. It is also a bar and a hotel, have not tried the hotel yet, I’ve had no reason to but maybe in the future but as I have somewhere to live nearby that is not necessary.

The stop there is worth it and you will not be sorry.

My First Impressions of Melbourne, Derbyshire.

Melbourne Pond, taken on my iPhone and then enhanced it on Photoshop Express
Melbourne Pond, taken on my iPhone and then enhanced it in Photoshop Express.

A week ago this past Saturday I relocated from Guildford, Surrey of what had become my home in over the decade that I’ve lived in the UK, I culturalised and in that time I obviously swung into the Surrey/London way and pace of life, so having come from Zimbabwe and a farming background I would have settled into life in Melbourne quickly had I come here first, but, Surrey became my home and in over the ten years that I lived there I think it would only be natural. I grew accustomed to the way of life there and life’s faster paces than I am coming across here in the East Midlands of the UK.

I have already done my rounds of town and met some people and on Thursday last week I had to get a key cut and so I went to the local cobbler, a decent chap, probably standing at the same height as myself (5.5ft), a pretty broad accent and it turned out he originally hails from Sheffield but prefers the slower pace of life – like…here. I am sure we have all heard that phrase “talk for England”, well, he sure does that saying proud – as I am still pretty “Surreyfied” I do find it difficult to keep on chatting and if I feel like I’m in a hurry, I’m in a hurry, but also, I have become a bit of an introvert, but, I think that might just be circumstantial rather than who I have actually become, perhaps? Then I met the woman who cut my hair, again, could talk for England, well…she’s a hairdresser, what hairdressers can’t talk for England? (no offence hairdressers). Then I also met my hosts boss, again, a nice fellow. The folks that I have met are friendly enough. I even got lost yesterday on my way home (after a very annoying yet embarrassing occurance involving my iPhone screen – I cringe and to avoid embarrassment I shan’t be blogging about that) and had to ask directions to my street – how embarrassing is that? Its so small here I may have gotten away with “excuse me, do you know where I live?” and they’d probably know already. We’re in the back end of nowhere and so…we don’t need satnavs to find where we live, we just ask the towns folk.

And then On Monday I went for a slight wander to see some of my new surroundings. I went to Melbourne Pond and how beautiful can you get, absolutely gorgeous, very picturesque and falls onto a manor (above photo). It sure is a very beautiful area.

I have found the people of Melbourne friendly and welcoming. Due to the fact that Guildford, Surrey became my home in over the decade I’ve been in the UK it will take a while to fully adjust to the much slower pace of life and so today I am in Derby sat in Costa having an Americano and tending to my blog, but I am confident that I will get used to it and though London and my friends are all down south they are but a train or bus ride away. This however might be a prelude to a completely different life, who knows – time will tell.

So here I am, a new change and a new pace of life, who knows where this new path will lead…

Edit: Back to Surrey…

My Take of Apple over Microsoft

In my years of working with computers (since 1997) I have primarily worked on Windows, both professionally and for pleasure – I’ve worked on Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 2000, XP and then finally Windows 10, I have to say that for me I preferred XP and 10 the best and loathed Vista with a passion.

I am a relatively new Apple user with my first Apple device being my very first iPhone 5c which I purchased last year when I got enough of my Samsung S3mini giving me gip. Android was really annoying me and did not find it as stable a platform as everyone had been raving about – several friends of mine had been swearing by their iPhone’s and so I decided to give it a try. I took the plunge and bought my first iPhone, all I can say is it is the very first smart phone I have owned that I have not looked back on, in fact – there is no going back, I am stuck with iPhone.

Now, I am by no means an IT expert and I don’t claim to be, I never will claim to be what I’m not but what I am is an end-user, as are many of us. Recently a friend of mine sold me his MacBook Pro and though this is not the first time I have used OS X, having had my first introduction to using an iMac of one of my best mates in 2007 and then I used this same model  MacBook Pro in 2014. I instantly fell in love with Apple, both with my mates iMac and the other one. But, one thing I could not do is afford one.

As a writer I already knew that Macs were the way to go due to their functionality, their preinstalled publishing software, as well as the software that you can get for writers on Mac that you cannot with Windows, I for years desperately wanted a Mac but I feasibly could not afford one and so I stuck to Windows. Last year I purchased an Asus running Windows 10 of which I had to replace three times until it worked properly, it was brand new that I bought from PC World in the Easter Mega-Deal Sales. At that point I desperately wanted to get back into my writing and so had already started saving for a MacBook Air but then the sales came along and my patience wained and so went to PC World to buy a Windows laptop – if anything it has taught me to be patient.

Towards the end of last year a very close friend dropped me a message to say that he was selling both his iMac and his MacBook Pro and that he’d sell the Pro to me for £200, well – I jumped at the chance. We worked out a payment plan and I knew my friend who I was living with at the time was interested in a laptop, so I offered my laptop to him and due to the favours he’d done me told him to name his price. Expecting it to be quite a low price he offered me a very generous price and so we arranged on when we’d do the transfer. And as such am now a proud MacBook Pro 15″ early 2011 model. All I can say is I love it.

Here I will give my own experience of OS X vs Microsoft Windows (aka-Win-blows). As a first time, long-term end-user of MacBook and OS X I will touch on both the hardware and software benefits for me.

MacBook Pro and OS X Sierra:

  • Its interface is entirely user friendly, the machine itself is designed with the end user in mind and the end user being the artistic types; the writers/authors, musicians, painters.
  • OS X Sierra works perfectly for me, it is easy to find your way around, again, entirely user friendly and not at all complicated. The applications available are great, something that completely outdoes Microsoft Windows.

Here I am ranting about Apple and while I know that there are users out there that absolutely hate Apple products – its understandable that we all have preferences. For me I do not ever see myself going back from iPhone or from Mac, OS X is good for me, it works better for my needs than Microsoft ever did.

I’m a writer, I have plans to further my writing and have an idea for a project that I want to start working on, by way of a screen writing course and whilst I am doing that a project that I want to focus on at the same time. And as many of my fellow writers also use Apple because it works better for us than Windows ever did. It is also easier to crunch away on the keys of a Mac than it ever was on a normal laptop.

So for me, bring it on. There is no going back.

Going the Distance – New Website

When I was given the encouragement to create my own webpage and take it from wordpress.com to my own domain by the guy who is now hosting my page I thought about it but again today I have learnt yet another lesson within my journey. When I came up with gtaylorblogging.com I didn’t think about the full distance, I didn’t really think about the goal, I didn’t think about my full potential as a writer, I thought about just a very small part of it, blogging. I didn’t think about the long term, I thought about the interim. I went as far as thinking about implementing vlogging into the future of my journey, that’s as far as I went…

The problem is, so I have noticed within the last two days is I have not applied myself into thinking about the future, into “GOING THE DISTANCE” and that distance is as I have said above, my full potential as a writer. And what started this was a website I found entitled Helping Writers Become Authors which naturally made me think of the draft stories I have in place, not the biographical drafts I have started on but the novels. And on going through this website yesterday I noted each and every little detail of the creation of the website, the site owners/authors words and pieces, as well as blog updates.

My problem here is I created gtaylorblogging, the problem with this is it doesn’t encompass much at all on the writing circuit, but…as it says, blogging, so it is a blog and so I have decided that in September 2017 I will be closing this page down and will be moving it to a whole new website which will be embodied in writing, generally. I need a website which will be focused on writing which focuses on the whole thing, blogging, as well as writing in general. So, the creation of a new website is in motion.

This is just like everything else in life, its a continuous lesson. This is the price of not thinking of the end goal and have only lost out on £4.00, the bigger picture. Not thinking about what it could become, only thinking about a very small part of the goal. About Going The Distance…

Edit, 21 June, 2017:

I have thought about this and through the advice of an entrepreneurial friend of mine who has seen my potential as a writer I will be keeping this website going, as is but will be creating a whole new niche website.

Magnificent Seven (2016)

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With this being my second film review and the fact that I actually had to wrack my brains to try and remember if I had seen the first one with Yul Brynner and I must say I was sceptical and I still don’t really know. But as I have now seen this one I’ll give it my review.

As I said I was sceptical, but I was also looking forward to it; as I have just written my review for Forsaken I was expecting a difference and one of the things that I thought would be a let down was I assumed it was going to be packed with special effects but I was pleasantly surprised when I noted that there were not as many as I had thought. First, it opens as a classic western (a plus for me being a western lover) would start with the intro and the beginning scene was of the townsfolk of Rose Creek holding a meeting in the town church discussing how to get rid of the evil industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue, played by Peter Sarsgaard who has set upon their town during the gold rush, what ensues triggers the story which led to the town hiring bounty hunter Sam Chisolm to rid them of Bogue and his extremely ruthless “army”, what makes this story exciting is it emerges that there is history between Chisolm and Bogue.

Once hired Chisolm goes about hiring his band of six men, starting with Chris Pratt whose character I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the film, not only is he a talented gunfighter (Hollywood style) his character is fairly amusing, a cocky character but not at all a character to dislike, the second best character for me was a tossup between Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) or Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) who plays a Comanche, so keeping in line with his Native American roots.

The cast is a diverse one and does make the film, including Ethan Hawke, who plays a civil war veteran suffering from the after-effects of the war and really brings his diversity to the screen in this role – I cannot say he was amongst my favourite characters but he does play a good part, along with his sidekick, South Korean actor and martial artist Byung-hun Lee (Billy Rocks), but I promise their are no high-kicking antics from this Taekwondo expert, that would have been a put off and even though I enjoy martial arts I do think it would have prompted my rating to be even lower.

I have decided that this needs a second watch and so there might be an edited version of this review but it was enjoyable enough. Denzel Washington is his usual talented self but I will say he seems to have unlimited ammunition and his sixshooter seems to have an unlimited capacity cylinder which was a minor setback for me which is why I have given it the rating I have, it is however Hollywood and so to be expected.

So, when you take off to see this film, enjoy it for I unfortunately do not see this a genre making a comeback to screen. Unless I decide to settle down and do my screenwriting course. It would be great to have some more original stories come back to screen rather than remakes.

Enjoy the film, feel free to write comments up on how you found it.

Forsaken (2016)

forsaken    hero_forsaken-2016

A western which I like to describe as the western of heart I have been waiting for. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Demi Moore, Brian Cox and Michael Wincott.

John Henry Clayton (Kiefer Sutherland) returns home after many years away after first going to the civil war and then having become a gunslinger. He returns to his estranged father Reverend Clayton (Donald Sutherland) to find his mother having passed away. Their community has come under threat from a ruthless businessman (Brian Cox) clearing the way for the railroad with a band of ruthless outlaws who has also hired a gunslinger and gentleman, Dave Turner (Michael Wincott).

As westerns have become a dying genre I feel that this film has not been given the credit that it deserves. Filmed in Alberta, Canada this film offers spectacular scenery and the movie itself is heartfelt. My feeling is that many reviewers and critics have become corrupted by the later westerns which offer special effects and stunts that would have been unusual back in the day and not expected of a cowboy back then, whereas Forsaken is filmed in a classic style western and offers much more reality than most modern westerns. Of course everyone enjoys the modern films with explosions and gunfights which in all reality would not be possible and in real life would get the “gunslinger” killed, we all need an escape from reality at times but Forsaken keeps it real, there are no special effects to speak of and the scenes that take place are from a scenario which could happen.

Demi Moore, being the most beautiful woman to come out of Hollywood, to date plays her part very well, as usual and Michael Wincott is probably the best character in this film, a gentleman who has been hired to do a job and is not your typical bad guy. Donald Sutherland is as usual very good as is Cox. Who’s character you will come to dislike intensely, but as we all know, Cox plays a bad guy very well.

What else makes this for me is the father-son cast between Donald and Kiefer.

If you are anything like me who loves a good western you will feel like you know the characters. I love how this movie was written and enjoy the pace of the film and the story. It keeps it real.

What I also find helps me with a film is watching the extras before I watch the feature film (once I purchase it on DVD/Blu-Ray) to see what the cast and crew went through to make the story a possibility to best fit their audience. In the making of the film there is an amusing part with Michael Wincott who’s words are “seconded” by the whinnying of one of the on-set horses.

My review is entirely of my own opinion, we all have our preferences. You should watch this film and judge for yourself, but if you like a western this is a must watch. All the roles are played well.

Take a watch, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.