29 July 2018

Follow The Tour... With A Pirate Or Two For Company



My non-fiction pirate book Pirates: Truth and Tales is out in paperback in the UK (and in the US soon - available to pre-order.) To mark the occasion I Voyaged Round the Blogs on an on-line book tour 'Dropping Anchor' at a wonderful variety of welcoming Ports Of Call to talk about everything piratical. Thank you to all of you who sailed along with me - it has been great fun, and I hope you discovered a few things about pirates that you didn't know before! (And there's LOTS more to discover in the book itself!)


Missed the Boat? Never fear! All my articles should remain anchored at the various harbours I visited, so why not hop aboard a passing Tall Ship and enjoy an interesting Voyage with a pirate or two...




buy or pre-order from Amazon HERE 

24 July 2018

Discovering about Diamonds Long ago and Far Away


Tuesday Talk with  J.G. Harlond


 Once upon a time I had gap year job in a jewellery and antique shop. I was taken to their workshop to see how jewels were cut and set, and gradually learned what sort of antiques sold to what sort of customer. It was a pleasant job, but not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Looking back, however, much of what I learned then has come in very handy for my historical fiction.

Budding authors are advised to write what they know: my first novel, The Magpie, subsequently re-written as The Empress Emerald, is about Leo Kazan, a young man in colonial Bombay who has a fascination for all things shiny. I had a basic knowledge of the gems, and what I knew about India during the Raj came from tales of a great uncle who loved his time in India. In writing this novel – and without giving it any thought – I was combining the far away and long ago with personal experience. A technique I extended for The Chosen Man trilogy, drawing on my time living in Italy, the Netherlands and Spain with events that happened centuries ago.

While preparing for my new release, A Turning Wind, (book 2 in The Chosen Man trilogy), I came across the writing of the French merchant-explorer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689). In a spell-binding account of how diamonds were mined in the Golconda region of India he quotes an account supposedly written by Marco Polo of how diamonds were found and traded in the area centuries before. It was too good not to use so I wove it into the opening scene of A Turning Wind, it also sets the scene for what is to come later perfectly.

Reviewed by
Discovering Diamonds
Goa, India, September 1639

It was a ramshackle affair for such valuable goods. A makeshift marketplace created out of crimson and brightly striped awnings. Lengths of scarlet, orange, turquoise, purple and blue formed curtains between trees; sheltering the splendid commodities from the late summer sun. Vendors were still laying out their wares when Ludo arrived: gems and trinkets in copper and gold, ivory combs and bangles, shimmering sari silk and embroidered fringed shawls, all transported from one coast of India to the other on heads and shoulders. The costly cargo had passed through the famous alluvial diamond valleys of Golconda, the human caravan collecting ever more precious gems along the way – a cargo now watched over by guards with arm muscles that rippled ‘beware’ and vicious knives tucked in wide belts.

Curious, colourful, magnificent . . . everything Ludo had hoped for. He was delighted. Yet, wandering among the displays, he began to wonder why he had come – what, apart from uncut diamonds, he was actually seeking.

As he finished his first circuit, a white bullock ambled in pulling a cart laden with clay flagons. Happily over-paying an urchin for a drink of water then returning the cup, Ludo strolled back among the folding tables, trestles and floor mats, this time stopping to examine a miniature chest of drawers decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl for women’s trinkets. It was pretty, but no, not special enough to add to his ship’s cargo. Moving on, he encountered an awkward Englishman dabbing at his forehead with a sodden handkerchief. The pink-faced sahib was struggling to keep up with an Indian agent’s heavily accented sales patter without losing his cherished dignity.

“Let me tell you how they are found,” the Goan agent was saying as he ran a hand seductively through a wide lacquered bowl of uncut diamonds. “When it rains, water rushes down the mountains, taking these precious stones with it and leaving them trapped at the bottom of gorges and in caverns. When the dry season comes and there is not one drop of water to be had, when the heat is enough to kill an Englishman as he walks from his door, brave men risk their lives to collect the stones. But they must go where wild serpents thrive. Venomous serpents and vast – serpents that crush and swallow men whole . . .”

Ludo shuddered along with the Englishman: snakes were another of the reasons he had made no attempt to travel inland during his stay in Goa.

“. . . but these diamonds are precious not only for the means by which they are obtained, not only for their special rarity, but for their quality. Look, sahib, see how fine they are, how they bring light into our lives. Each one is perfect, flawless . . .”

The Englishman put a forefinger in the bowl and peered at a stone the size of a sparrow’s egg, then at another the shape and form of a woman’s fingernail. The Goan agent took his hand and placed an uncut stone in the sweating palm then exchanged it for a cushion-cut diamond ring magicked from among his robes saying quietly, “This is not for everyone to know, sahib, but I should tell you, there may not be many more of these diamonds. Each year there are fewer. It is said the serpents now eat them to preserve their heritage.”

Ludo swallowed a grin and gestured with a hand to attract the agent’s attention. Half-convinced, half-enthralled, and knowingly walking into an enticement worthy of his own invention, Ludo stepped forward and cocked his head to one side enquiringly. The agent retrieved the ring from the Englishman and put it in Ludo’s open palm then whisked a heart-shaped ruby from thin air and put it next to the ring.

Ludo’s hand was broad but there was barely room for the two wonderful gemstones. The agent picked the ring from Ludo’s hand, leaving only the ruby to burn through his palm in the warm light of the coloured awnings.
“A gem worthy of a queen, sahib,” the agent murmured.
“Worthy of a queen . . . it is indeed,” Ludo murmured. This was what he wanted: this ruby. “But it is too much for a humble merchant such as me.”
“No, sahib, this ruby is for you. This is what you seek.”
Ludo shot him a surprised glance. The agent’s expression was open, generous, but two black-bead eyes under a startlingly white turban bore into him, hypnotising him, holding his gaze.
“You must know, sahib, a ruby of this quality has such virtues from the Sun that a man living in ignorance or consumed by sin, or pursued by mortal enemies, is saved by its wearing. When stones such as this are found they are named: this is Rani Saahasi’. There is no perfect translation that I know in Portuguese: in English you could call it ‘Queen of Courage’.

Ludo forced himself to look away, shook his head to clear his vision and pulled himself back to the multi-coloured market place. But his fingers clenched the ruby of their own accord: the stone, as red as pomegranate seeds, as cool as the waters of Kashmir, sang in his palm. He had to have it.

“No,” he said. “No, I cannot risk my small income on a bauble such as this.”
The Englishman’s jaw dropped. Ludo willed him to move away, not wanting to risk haggling against the flushed-faced mister as well. The Englishman stayed exactly where he was.
Reluctantly, Ludo held out the ruby saying, “I seek smaller, uncut gems . . .” As he spoke a set of long-nailed, hairy fingers plucked the stone from his palm and the thief escaped round the trunk of the nearest tree.

A troop of other practised thieves appeared above, peering with the faces of buffoons between the different coloured awnings then scrambling helter-skelter from branches or shimmying like circus performers down supporting wooden props. The Goan agent screeched not unlike the unwanted visitors and grabbed the corners of his open cloth on the low table behind him, hugging the rapid sack to his bony chest so no more of his valuable goods could be taken. Suddenly there was a commotion around the bullock cart carrying water; a thief had upturned the clay cups and made off with a jug, carrying it awkwardly on three legs for she had a baby on her back. Her sister, meanwhile, discovered a display of brass incense holders and bells. Seizing as many as she could, she began to juggle; the bells ringing into the air then clanging to the soft mud beneath her feet. Then up went a candlestick, and then another and another, caught by one cousin and tossed to an uncle who, brandishing it as trophy, bared his teeth at the buyers and headed for home. 

But as he went, more of his clan arrived, targeting push-carts, floor mats and head-rolls; some stealing arm bangles and pushing them up their thin, hairy arms before running back up the tree trunks into the branches and awnings, or jumping on tables, scattering wares that had crossed perilous oceans and scorching plains to be brought undamaged, intact across mountains and marshes down to Goa.

Ludo started to laugh at the shock and surprise of the invasion, then stopped as if the scene were frozen in time when the ruby he so coveted dropped to his feet from above. 
“Choke on it, choke on it!” the monkey cursed, for it was inedible and he did not want it.
Slowly, slowly, hardly believing his luck, Ludo bent to pick up the gem. His right hand closed over it and it was his.
But it was not.

He started to walk out of the covered square, but his legs would not move. The ruby held him to the spot, telling him perhaps that a man living in ignorance or consumed by sin, or worse – pursued by a mortal enemy – is saved by its wearing. Ludo did not believe he was consumed by sin or that he lived in a state of ignorance, but he was pursued by enemies, one, possibly two, or even three if you counted the ridiculous Count Hawk – but he was no thief. No common thief, anyway.

***

‘Write about what you know’ and what you pick up along the way . . .  My research has taken me down all manner of exotic rabbit holes, and (reported) truth can be much stranger than fiction. Quoting Marco Polo again, Tavernier explains how diamond gatherers supposedly avoided serpents to harvest precious stones:
“Now it is so happens that these mountains are inhabited by a great many white eagles, which prey on the serpents. When these eagles spy the flesh (raw meat men have flung into the valley) lying at the bottom of the valley, down they swoop and seize the lumps and carry them off. The men observe attentively where the eagles go, and as soon as they see that a bird has alighted and has swallowed the flesh, they rush to the spot as fast as they can. (…) When eagles eat the flesh, they also eat − that is, they swallow − the diamonds. Then at night, when the eagle comes back, it deposits the diamonds it has swallowed with its droppings. So men come and collect these droppings, and there they find diamonds in plenty.”
‘Diamonds in plenty’ – at seventeen I couldn’t see a future in them; now I cannot imagine how at least two of my novels could have been written without them.

© J.G. Harlond
Author of :
The Empress Emerald - featured in Diamond Tales on Discovering Diamonds



 The Chosen Man trilogy




Local Resistance

About J.G. Harlond

Originally from the south west of England, J.G Harlond (Jane) studied and worked in various different countries before finally settling down with her husband, a retired Spanish naval captain, in rural Andalucía, Spain. Despite being ‘rubbish’ at history at school because she wanted to turn everything into a story, she survived the History element of her B.A. and went on to get an M.A. in Social and Political Thought. Her historical fiction, set in the 17th century and the first half of the 20th century, features many of the places Jane has visited – along with flawed rogues, wicked crimes, and the more serious issues of being an outsider. Apart from fiction, Jane also writes school text books under her married name. Her favourite reading is along the Dorothy Dunnett lines: well-researched stories with compelling plots and complex characters. Jane is currently writing about the theft and fate of the Crown Jewels during the English Civil War for the third in her Ludo da Portovenere trilogy.

Find Jane on

Blog http://wp-harlond.jgharlond.com
Amazon USA.          Amazon.co.uk  


Twitter: @JaneGHarlond

17 July 2018

An Article about Writing Articles - Tuesday Talk with Helen Hollick

I think it is official. I'm nuts. 

My non-fiction pirate book Pirates: Truth and Tales is out in paperback  - I think this week in the UK and in the US soon... definitely available to pre-order though. And to mark the occasion I have organised an on-line book tour round a wonderful variety of blogs.



Here's the advance notice of where and when I'll be a guest:

These links will take you to the Home Page of each blog host –  thank you to everyone for your interest and enthusiasm! The exact URL links to each article as they are posted will be on my website:  www.helenhollick.net  which will be updated every day of the tour, and on Facebook, Twitter etc.

30th July: Cryssa Bazos  https://cryssabazos.com/ Dropping Anchor to Talk About Pirates
31st July: Anna Belfrage  https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/ Ships That Pass…
1st August: Carolyn Hughes https://carolynhughesauthor.com/blog/ Pirates of the Middle Ages
2nd August: Alison Morton   https://alison-morton.com/blog/ From Pirate to Emperor
3rd August: Annie Whitehead https://rwranniewhitehead.blogspot.com/ The Vikings: Raiders or Pirates?
4th August: Tony Riches http://tonyriches.blogspot.co.uk/ An Interview With Helen Hollick (and maybe a couple of pirates thrown in for good measure?)
5th August: Lucienne Boyce http://francesca-scriblerus.blogspot.com/ Anne and Mary. Pirates.
6th August: Laura Pilli http://fieldofbookishdreams.blogspot.co.uk/ Why Pirates?
7th August: Mary Tod https://awriterofhistory.com/ That Essential Element… For A Pirate.
8th August: Pauline Barclay http://paulinembarclay.blogspot.com/ Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be?   
9th August: Nicola Smith http://shortbookandscribes.uk/ Pirates: The Tales Mixed With The Truth
10th August: Christoph Fischer https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/ In The Shadow Of The Gallows
11th August: Debdatta http://www.ddsreviews.in/ What Is It About Pirates?
12th August: Discovering Diamonds https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.co.uk/ It’s Been An Interesting Voyage…
13th August: Sarah Greenwood https://www.amberley-books.com/blog Pirates: The Truth and the Tales

14th August: Antoine Vanner https://dawlishchronicles.com/dawlish-blog/ The Man Who Knew About Pirates

while you are (eagerly) awaiting my tour, do drop in on the above blogs, they are all cram-full with interesting articles!



However, organising the tour itself was hard work, even harder was the realisation that I had to write sixteen different articles on the general theme of pirates. This was not going to be a simple 'cut and paste' information dump from the book itself but would involve ... work!

And actually, I thoroughly enjoyed it!



Alison Morton, for instance, asked for something about Roman pirates to fit her blog, while Annie Whitehead wanted Vikings. Antoine writes 1800s nautical adventures, Carolyn has a Medieval setting, Lucienne's main passion (and high decree of knowledge!) is Women's Sufferage, while Mary Tod's theme this year is ‘transporting readers in time and place’ . Most of the rest were happy with 'anything' (Phew!) 

Initially I thought all this would be a little daunting (momentary panic) 'What the heck am I going to write?' was closely followed by 'Why on earth did I dream up this silly idea?'  

However, once I took a deep breath and actually started, the panic gave way to enthusiastic enjoyment.  I knew nothing about Roman Pirates outside of the 'invasion' of Britannia by the Anglo-Saxons but I found a chap from the third century who turned out to be highly interesting. Apparently he was responsible for the entire British Fleet - but decided even that was not enough.  Then the Vikings - were they outright pirates or opportunist raiders?  For Anna Belfrage I remembered a short story that we had written together, and Cryssa Bazos - well I know she's loves anything piratical.

So from the Roman era via the Vikings to the Golden Age of Piracy I managed to write a wide variety of articles ... and all I have to do now is hoist the flag to announce 'about to sail'  and hope that you will all enjoy reading my articles each day as they 'go live' as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Mark 30th July in your diaries and join in with my tour! 


pre-order or order from Amazon HERE 

10 July 2018

The Role of Black Sailors in the Napoleonic Royal Navy by Philip K. Allen

My Tuesday Talk Guest
Philip K. Allan
In the heart of London is Trafalgar Square, where the figure of Nelson stands on top of his column and gazes out over the city’s traffic with his single good eye. The base of the column is decorated by four bronze reliefs which commemorate some of his victories. The one for the Battle of Trafalgar shows the admiral being carried from the quarterdeck of the Victory, moments after being shot by a French marksman. The scene has several people in it, including Nelson, one of whom is clearly a black sailor. He has been given a prominent role, standing with a musket held across his chest as he looks towards where the shot has come from, as if about to revenge the dying hero. 

The Death of Nelson at Trafalgar
the relief on the south face of the plinth
The relief was produced by the Irish artist John Edward Carew. In an era before notions of political correctness or ethnic balance could have influenced him, he chose to include a black sailor in his scene. A study of the work gives us some clues to Carew’s motivation. The relief shows a desire on his part to achieve a good level of historical accuracy. In which case, it may indicate that black sailors were a sufficiently common sight on board Royal Navy ships at Trafalgar to make the unknown sailor’s inclusion unremarkable.

Researching the prevalence of black sailors in the 18th century navy is problematic. The principle source of data on crews comes from ships’ muster books, many of which still survive. But black sailors almost always appear under their western ‘slave’ names, rather than their African ones. How are we to know which, if any, of three sailors called John Smith was black? But there is other evidence for their presence. For example, we have a letter that Captain Martin of the Implacable wrote to his brother in 1808 in which he listed the origins of his crew. From this letter it is clear that at least eleven of the hands were black, and possibly several more. This compares with twenty-five shown as Welsh.

Billy Waters 1820
Some black sailors are known to us because they became more visible after they left the service. Billy Waters was born in America during the War of Independence. He served in the Royal Navy for many years until an unfortunate accident while he was serving aboard the Ganymed. He was badly injured when he fell from the topsail yard and had to have his left leg amputated. After he was discharged he had a second career as a street entertainer in London, and was a sufficiently well know figure to have been featured in contemporary illustrations. Black sailors also appear in other contemporary cartoons and painting, as well as being mentioned in diaries and other correspondence.

Greenwich Pensioners 1854
Other black sailors lived long enough to appear in early photographs. Some veteran sailors who had particularly illustrious careers became Greenwich Pensioners and where housed in Wren’s fabulous Royal Navy hospital by the river Thames. Old sailors, often amputees, with their 18th century style frock coats and cocked hats, were a familiar site in the area. The picture above was taken in 1854, and shows some survivors of Trafalgar seated outside the hospital. The pensioner third from the left has been identified as Richard Baker, a black sailor born in Baltimore in 1770. He entered the Hospital in 1839, having served aboard HMS Leviathan during the battle. He is also thought to have started life as a slave.

Richard Baker’s case was almost certainly not unique. It is possible that the majority of black sailors in the navy were run slaves. In 1772 a landmark ruling in the case of Somerset vs Stuart, stated that slavery did not exist in English Common Law. This effectively meant that if a slave could escape from their plantation and find his or her way to a place where such law held sway, they would become free. For slaves on the sugar islands of the Caribbean, this meant the deck of a Royal Navy or British ship. In an era when manning for the navy was a problem, captains would not need much temptation to turn a blind eye to a useful looking recruit’s origins.

This was also an era where slavery was coming to an end, at least in the British Empire. The slave trade was banned in acts passed in 1807 and 1811, and progressively stronger measures were put in place until 1833, when slavery itself was finally abolished. When I was taught about the abolition of slavery at school, it was William Wilberforce and his fellow Evangelical Christians that were said to have been responsible. Later in life, I began to question the simplicity of this view. What role was played in all of this by the slaves? Did they do anything to liberate themselves, or did they wait patiently in the cane fields of Barbados for the machinations of the British Parliament to run their course? The drivers of abolition are complex, but what is beyond doubt is that many slaves did seek to liberate themselves. For some this took the form of organised slave revolts, as took place unsuccessfully in several of the British sugar islands; and happened successfully in French run Saint Dominique, later Haiti. But for most, resistance would have come in the form of an individual throwing off his chains and escaping. And to escape completely from an island, requires a ship.

It is interesting to speculate what effect all of these black sailors in the Royal Navy had on the abolitionist cause. Many naval officers, like the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Barham, were prominent opponents of the slave trade. Long established practices often founder when they come to seem hopelessly anachronistic in an ever-changing world. The knowledge that large numbers of former slaves were bravely fighting in the armed services of the nation responsible for their enslavement must, at the very least, have given supporters of slavery pause for thought. No case would have made this clearer than the remarkable career of John Perkins, know by the nickname Jack Punch in the service.  

'Jack Punch'
His origins in Jamaica are obscure, but naval historian Nick Rodger believes that John Perkins was probably born as a slave. He joined the Royal Navy in 1775 as a local pilot, and his career progressed rapidly. His first command was the Punch, a schooner, and was a brilliant success. In 1782 he was commissioned as a lieutenant, and by 1800 he had risen to the position of post captain. He went on to command a number of ships, including the frigates Arab and Tartar, both of which had officers and crews who were predominately white. Over the whole of a glittering career, he is said to have captured over three hundred enemy ships, and died a very wealthy man in 1812.

© Philip K. Allan

About Philip 
Philip K Allan comes from Watford in the United Kingdom. He still lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and his two teenage daughters. He has spent most of his working life as a senior manager in the motor industry. It was only in the last few years that he has given that up to concentrate on his writing full time.
‘I well remember the evening around the dinner table when I first suggested that I should give up my job to try my hand as a novelist,’ says Philip.

Philip chose to set his first series of novels on board a Royal Navy frigate at the end of the 18th century. ‘It’s a period I know well,’ he says. ‘On the one hand you have the strange, claustrophobic setting of the ship and on the other the boundless freedom to move around the globe wherever the author chooses.’

 Philip has written his novels in spite of his dyslexia. ‘No one had heard of dyslexia when I was at school,’ he explains. ‘We were labelled as inattentive or lazy, and told that if only we made more effort we would surely get better. Well, I have read thousands of books and written millions of words, and guess what? I am still dyslexic!’

Book One
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com 
After a century of war, revolutions, and Imperial conquests, 1790s Europe is still embroiled in a battle for control of the sea and colonies. Tall ships navigate familiar and foreign waters, and ambitious young men without rank or status seek their futures in Naval commands. First Lieutenant Alexander Clay of HMS Agrius is self-made, clever, and ready for the new age. But the old world, dominated by patronage, retains a tight hold on advancement. Though Clay has proven himself many times over, Captain Percy Follett is determined to promote his own nephew.
Before Clay finds a way to receive due credit for his exploits, he’ll first need to survive them. Ill-conceived expeditions ashore, hunts for privateers in treacherous fog, and a desperate chase across the Atlantic are only some of the challenges he faces. He must endeavor to bring his ship and crew through a series of adventures stretching from the bleak coast of Flanders to the warm waters of the Caribbean. Only then might high society recognize his achievements—and allow him to ask for the hand of Lydia Browning, the woman who loves him regardless of his station.

"The author writes with admirable precision and fluency. His plot construction and narrative flow are tight and compelling, never losing momentum...Jeffrey K. Walker  Discovering Diamonds

Book Two
Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com 
Alexander Clay brings the battered Agrius together with her captured French prize into Barbados. He is rewarded with promotion to master and commander and his first independent command, the sloop of war HMS Rush. He is sent to blockade the French sugar island of St Lucia, and helps in its capture. But dangers surround the newly promoted Clay. When a run slave joins his crew he finds his ship divided over the growing conflict between Caribbean slave owners and the abolitionist movement. Lieutenant Windham is determined to find out the truth behind the convenient death of his uncle, the Agrius’s former captain, while blundering around the Caribbean is the rogue Spanish ship of the line , the San Felipe. 

links



3 July 2018

Commenting about Blog Comments and other such stuff. Tuesday Talk with Helen Hollick

Those of us who are authors, especially indie authors, spend as much of our time talking, Blogging Facebooking, Tweeting and OtherMediaSites-ing about our novels as we do in writing the things in the first place - actually, probably more time! But without the talking, blogging etc there would be very little marketing and marketing is essential because otherwise there would be no sales, which makes the writing a tad pointless doesn't it? I favour Blogger for most of the stuff I waffle on about. Wordpress is more adaptable, but I find it too technical to use, Blogger is simpler. Both have their good and bad points, both have their quirks and foibles. Sometimes, very annoying ones.

Marketing for an author can be a double-edged sword, however. Get it right you get a good following of nice, friendly, enthusiastic readers. Get it wrong and you get... well, zilch or the nastier troll-type people. (See my previous post about spamming.)


GDPR has been another thorny issue. Yes the intention is for our Data Protection, so it is a good thing - but I was at screaming point with all the 'please re-subscribe to my newsletter' emails that flooded in.  I did my GDPR alert in a different and more convenient, less annoying, way: I mailed everyone on my Newsletter mailing list (heavy hint: subscribe by clicking here...)  informing  that I am well aware of GDPR regulations and that 'beyond email addresses for my own contact use, I do not collect, store or share any personal details' and that nothing had to be done  unless they wished to UNsubscribe. What took the biscuit, though, was the author who sent me three 'please re-subscribe' emails reminding me that 'you haven't re-subscribed - last chance to do so.'  Repeated pestering is called spamming mate!


I enjoy blogging, both writing my own articles and hosting guest posts by a variety of interesting people. Usually authors, yes, but not always articles on history or historical fiction / nautical adventure. The thing is, apart from glancing at the Stats (which I confess I'm not very good at interpreting) or keeping an eye on the Page View counter, I have no real way of knowing whether anyone else finds these articles interesting. Maybe my blog is a mirror of me at home, merrily chattering away unaware that no one else is listening...

So, I'm going to give a hefty nudge. Not just for this blog but for all blogs, for all your favourite authors and blogging friends. Do, please, when and where you can 

leave a...

... or at least tick the 'like' box if there is one!

It's a small thing, but it means a lot to have that interaction.

'Ah', I hear you say, 'I do try but Blogger/Wordpress won't post my comments, or the captcha validation thingy won't work,' (or a variety of other known-only-to-Blogger and Wordpress reasons.)

Hmm tricky one. I have found that people who do not use a Googlemail email address often have difficulty for Blogger. Very annoying, but I have this as my 'Please leave a comment' message:

Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear immediately, but Blogger sometimes chucks its teddies out of the cot and has a tantrum (especially if you are a Wordpress person.) If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post it for you. Sometimes a post will appear as 'anonymous' instead of your name or avatar - I draw attention to this being a Blogger Blooper and not of MY doing... However ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...

Spammers take note of that last bit.


And that's another puzzling Blogger thing: 'Anonymous'. Many bloggers do not allow unnamed posts because many of these are spammers - I do allow 'anonymous'  because I'm aware that some people wish to keep their identity private. But it is annoying for the person writing the comment when their name doesn't come up but is marked as 'Anonymous' instead. This, I must stress is not MY fault, it is a Blogger quirk not a Hollick quirk.

A way to get round this particular annoyance is whenever you wish to leave a comment ... add your name at the end of the text! Hey presto, Blogger's weird quirks neatly sidestepped.

I mention this issue for a reason. A persistent spammer recently emailed me to ask why I'd 'censored' his comments on a post on my blog. Leaving aside the fact that he was referring to a post dated 2017, I had no idea what he was on about. Upon investigation it turned out that his name wasn't there, but 'anonymous' was - and he was accusing me of deliberately doing the alteration and thereby censoring his comment.

 Eh? (I think the official term is #WTF?) 


I'm intrigued. I have no idea how to alter comments left on blogger. Can you alter submitted comments? Anyone know? If something is obviously spam I delete it. If something is rude or defamatory, or completely irrelevant, ditto, delete. But why on earth would I bother to delete a name from a comment posted well over a year ago and put 'anonymous' there instead?

Blimey, I wish I had enough spare time to even think about doing such trivial nit-picky waste-of-my-valuable-time things!

On the other hand... I was stuck for a theme for today's article, so something about 'please do consider leaving a comment on a blog article you've enjoyed' fitted the bill nicely, but  the quirks of Blogger (and WordPress) are baffling. Sending senseless emails which are nothing more than  bullying, even more so. 

If anyone wants to attempt to leave a comment below, please do so. 
With or without your name.



images via Pixabay