Reflection of What Goes on in My Life

When I blog every day, as I have for the past 1000 days, it’s hard to come up with blog topics, so if I think of something I might want to write about, I jot it down. One such topic on my very short list is “metaverse.” Apparently, the metaverse is like a three-dimensional internet experience where you can go into the virtual world and do things you do in the real world, like go to school or work, browse store shelves and shop, play games as if you were really there, and all sorts of other real life and virtual life experiences. There’s no such thing as a metaverse yet — so far, it only exists in science fiction movies — but all the big internet and computer and game moguls are working on it. (Which is why Facebook changed its name to Meta — it wanted a head start on the whole metaverse thing.)

I’m not really interested in such a concept. I have a hard enough time with the physical universe (to the extent that it’s physical, that is), and my internet usage is basic — blogging, researching, ordering things I need — so I doubt I’d ever be interested, especially if Facebook/Meta is involved. There are still blocking my blog, so I have to reblog it onto another blog and then post that link, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be doing that. Although I have a lot of friends on Facebook, I really do not like that FB is trying to control the narrative of our lives and our world and now, apparently, the universe.

Another item on my blog topic list was a quote from Thomas Browne: Life is a pure flame and we live by an invisible sun within us. I like the quote but never quite figured out how to use it as a blog topic.

The last item was something I just added recently “Reflection of what goes on in my life.” Huh? What the heck was I referring to? I doubt it was the tarot because it certainly doesn’t reflect what goes on in my life. The refection of what goes on in my life doesn’t refer to the books I’m reading, filled as they are with violence, murder, mysterious happenings, weird phenomenon, and sometimes a bit of romance. Considering that my yard, lawn, and garden are what I am currently focusing on, I suppose I could have meant those, especially my lawn, but I have no idea why I thought any of those things reflected my life. If I remember what I meant, I’ll be sure to mention it, but since there’s nothing else on my blog topic list, I’m tossing out the list, so chances are I won’t even remember that I wanted to write about something that’s a reflection of what goes on in my life.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Facebook Troubles

I don’t believe in ill-wishing anyone or anything, but if I were that sort of person, FB is the one entity I would ill-wish for all the trouble they’ve caused me. Luckily, if the rumor is true, they are doing it to themselves without any help from me. (What I heard is that they are having financial troubles.) I don’t care enough to check on the rumor to see if it’s true, but it makes sense. They have a terrible business sense, embracing those who do harm and all but destroying some who are totally innocuous. Like me.

First they banned my blog. They have labeled it spam, which is totally unfounded as well as totally nuts, and there is absolutely no recourse. Next, they banned any URL stemming from my blog. For a while, I let it go, just stayed away from FB altogether, but several friends I’m connected to only on FB told me how much they miss seeing my blog in their feed. And besides, my absence from FB killed all book sales. (That was the only platform that worked for me to sell books.) So I got around their stupid block by reblogging my blog onto another blog, and then posting that link. It wasn’t a total workaround, because very few people saw it, and of those who saw it, very few people bothered to click on both links (the link to the reblog and then to the original blog). Some people did comment on the photo, so at least that was good.

I have the reblog blog set to post automatically to FB, but now, FB won’t accept the automatic post. I have to reblog, then manually cut and paste the reblog intro onto FB (can’t post the whole thing because of the aforementioned URL is included) along with the reblog URL. Then I have to change profiles from my author page profile to my personal profile so I can share the blank space with the URL to an URL.

If you’re confused by now, I don’t blame you. I know what I’m doing, and it confuses the heck out of me! And that wasn’t the end of it.

The photo that from the original blog post stopped showing up on FB because of that devilish URL of mine. I’d post the photo separately for a while, and so did a friend, but that got to be a pain. So now what shows up on FB is a post with a big blank space where the photo should be.

To add insult to their injury, FB keeps sending me notifications of what other authors are doing on their FB pages, and asking why aren’t I? Sheesh.

So, views to my blog are down, limited now to those who go to my blog directly. And book sales never picked up again, and in fact are non-existent.

So, do I care that FB is having problems? A resounding NO!

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What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Facebook’s Vendetta

Facebook is continuing its vendetta against me. It still has my blog URL banned, still say my blog is a spam site, and there is no recourse since they don’t answer emails, snail mails, or online help messages. For a while, I just let it go, figuring if they didn’t want me, I didn’t want them, but a few people mentioned how much they missed seeing my blog on their feed, so I got in the habit of reblogging this blog onto another blog — Dragon My Feet — and then posting that URL to FB.

That worked for several months, but suddenly, all photos that had been part of that reblog — the photos I use to illustrate my posts — disappeared from Facebook going back to when I first started reblogging. I experimented with uploading the photo directly to Facebook, and also uploading a new photo to the reblog, and those photos are still on F. So now I know — they have extended their ban of my URL to any reblogged photo that originated here.

I thought of continuing to upload a duplicate of the photo from this blog to the reblog, but then I rethought that idea. It’s only a matter of time before their bots notice that my so-called spam URL is posted on the reblog, and then they will ban that blog, too. For now, I will continue posting the reblog URL on FB, but for those FB friends and acquaintances who want to read my blog, now would be a good time to sign up to get notifications directly to your email address. (Scroll down to the bottom of the left-hand column and click on “follow.”) As with FB, you can simply “like” a post if you want me to know you were here and don’t want to leave a comment, but of course, I am always appreciative of any comment.

If it weren’t for those friends and a group or two that I keep up with, I’d be done with FB. One of the groups I keep up with is my own Suspense/Thriller Writer’s Group, though I am considering disbanding it or at least denying members the ability to post. It used to be a fun group, but less and less as time goes on because of all the changes FB makes. In fact, FB has been messing with the groups again, so I had to change the group from “public” to “private” because if a group is public, now anyone can join without being okayed, and most of the people who want to join are spammers. Real spammers, not people like me who got caught in the FB fly trap. The problem with disbanding is that first I have to remove all 3,500 members one at a time. I did that for another group I had and it’s no fun.

It’s getting to the point where this blog is my only interaction online. Twitter is absurd, LinkedIn is worthless for my needs, and if there was ever any possibility of signing up with Instagram, it ended when FB bought site. I also lost interest in Goodreads when Amazon bought it.

I suppose I should go through and delete some of those old accounts (Google just emailed me and told me I had too many weak and duplicate passwords, and most of those are for accounts I haven’t visited in years.) Though chances are, I will do the same thing with those accounts that I do with FB — just keep on doing what I am doing . . . or not doing.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Gathering of Gatherers

Once upon an e-time, long ago and far away, there was a social networking site for writers, photographers, and artists of all kinds called Gather. I haven’t thought about this site much lately because, well, because it’s no longer there. The owners sold it, and the buyers only wanted the health site part of the owners’ holdings, and so Gather was deleted. All our photos, articles, discussions . . . gone. Though some people were perspicacious enough to copy and save those discussions, I was not one of them. Luckily, I was able to recreate some of the photo essays I posted on the site, those I was most proud of, such as Echoes, Deep Thought. Or Not, and Short and Witty Photographic Ditty.

Today, when I was talking with my sister about my upcoming trip, she mentioned how wonderful it was that I actually turned online friends into offline friends, and so I told her about two of the women I will be visiting on my way to Seattle. Then it dawned on me — I’d met both of those women on Gather. Not only that, it was my sister who had introduced me to Gather. She’d found a contest on the site that she talked me into entering. And that contest led the way to many new friendships.

It’s interesting to think how one small thing can reverberate through the years. I don’t know if my sister actually changed my life by her urging me to enter the contest, but she sure had an effect, and my life is richer for it.

Gather might have been the beginning, but I have since met others online through my blog or Facebook. Generally these folks started out as fans or fellow grievers and became friends. People often caution me about visiting people I only met online, but I have never had a problem. (Apparently, they haven’t had a problem with me, either, because almost all of them have remained friends.) Over the years, reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, seeing the photos of their families and vacations, participating in various discussions, you do get to know people. (It’s the same as offline, actually.)

I must admit, having people to meet along the way makes any trip a wonderland of possibilities — not just because of meeting the people themselves, but because of all the things they love in their area they want to share, things I would never have found on my own.

People who are fed up with the politics and policies on Facebook and who are looking for another place to hang out would be gravitating to Gather if it still existed. For a while, Facebook was an adequate substitute for Gather, but it is becoming increasingly unfun. (Which is one of the reasons I keep blogging — it makes me feel as if I am in control of at least a part of my online destiny.)

I can’t go back, but I can go forward, and forward means I will soon be meeting friends from Gather and elsewhere. I can hardly wait!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A New Crop of Writers

I’ve been helping a new crop of writers get a toehold in the social networking world, and many are already discouraged because they are not getting immediate results. Social networking is not like advertising. It’s like . . . hmmm, let me think . . . It’s like going to a movie theater and trying to sell your books to the people around you when all they want to do is watch the movie. Even worse, there are other writers in the theater trying to do the same thing you are, so the viewers are not just focused on the movie, they are purposely shutting out everything else. The challenge is to get their attention and make them more interested in you and your book than in the movie.

That’s what I never figured out — how to grab people’s attention online long enough for them to buy a book. Some people have bought my books, of course, and many of these people have become good friends, which has its own rewards. In fact, a couple of years ago when I realized that the vast majority of my almost 5000 Facebook connections had zero interest in me and only wanted to peddle their own books, I culled my list to a more manageable number. I still don’t know most of the people I’m “friends” with, but there is a growing number of people I do know, which makes Facebook seem so much friendlier. But my books are still slowly fading into obscurity.

The problem with using social media for book marketing is that the majority of the people I’m connected to are other authors. Authors do buy books, but mostly, they are trying to sell their own books. Readers buy books, of course, but generally they read the same authors they have always read (don’t get me started on James Patterson!) with a couple of new authors thrown in to season the pot.

Whenever a book goes major big time like 50 Shades of Gray, it goes big because non-readers buy it. Which means we can’t promote to other authors and we can’t promote readers, so we need to promote to non-readers, who, of course, will not pay attention because . . . they don’t read unless a book goes big.

That is the conundrum I have struggled with for seven years. The best thing, of course, would be if I were the first (or even second) to try something new. The first guy who promoted his books on FB sold a lot of books, but he made his fortune with his subsequent book on how to make a fortune selling books via Facebook.

It’s hard to explain all this to newly published authors. And I don’t really want to, anyway. One of the new crop might be able to figure out a fabulous new idea for promoting that I can steal!

Meantime, I’m doing interviews with these authors on my Pat Bertram Introduces . . . blog. Feel free to join the fun!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Catfishing

Today I got a friend request from someone I knew online. I thought I’d friended her on Facebook years ago, but I couldn’t remember. I don’t see everyone I’m friends with since Facebook chooses what shows up in my newsfeed, and besides, I’d received a couple of other requests from people I was friends with, but who were separating out their personal connections from their author connections, so it seemed normal to me.

I accepted the friend request, and almost immediately got a message from her. “Hello.” Nothing else just the one word.

I responded, “Hi. I didn’t know you weren’t on facebook. Welcome!”

She: am sorry for me resending you a friend request it is just that i got a trojan virus on my old profile so this is my new account now

I got the gist at one glance — resending me a friend request, trojan virus — and didn’t pay particular attention to the construction of the message other than to wonder if she were using her phone to respond and didn’t bother to be grammatical. So I wrote back, “No problem – about sending me a request that is. A virus and having to start over are big problems. I’m sorry. How are you doing? No new physical ailments I hope.

I unfriended the original her since Facebook has a cap on the number of friends you can have, and there is no point in padding one’s friend numbers with defunct accounts. Then I got this message from the new account:

She: Am good and very much happy now. Do you know Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan?

I started to feel a bit uneasy. This friend would never have said she was happy now. Not that I ever knew her to be either happy or unhappy, but she would simply not have used the word in such a way. She would have offered me a bit of wisdom, would have made a philosophical remark, would have mentioned specifically how she was doing, or would have asked about how I was doing after the death of my father. A bit hesitantly, I typed, “No don’t know that person. I’m so glad you’re happy.

She: Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan? Who work for fedgov to help and support the young and old retired people, in the community department of compensation they are really helping do you got yours from him?

Now I knew something was wrong. This friend is an educated, literate woman, who writes spectacular historical novels, and she would never be so slipshod. Besides, the construction sounded similar to the spam messages I get on my blog as if the translation program the person used was faulty. So I wrote, “Email me, okay?” And then I googled Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan, found out the scoop, emailed my friend and told her what was going on. But she already knew.

I got one final fake message: “Really but i did tallk to him, because when the ups man came to deliver mine for me i did saw your name on the list of those that are going to get it too thats why am telling you if you have got yours from them?”

Apparently, this Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan or whoever is using that name, uses photos from someone’s profile (I thought he/she/it was cloning the account, but apparently it’s simpler than than that), sends friend requests to that person’s friends to try to scam money out of them. This person is offering $150,000 if you make a tax payment of $1000, and is targeting older people both online via Facebook and even by phone. So, beware of Agentofficer Adeniyi morgan or anyone offering you such an improbable deal.

This sort of scam my friend and I got caught up in is called catfishing after the 2010 documentary Catfish about an online romance that turned out to be something other than it was purported to be. Predators use catfishing as a way to trick the unsuspecting into romantic relationships, and as you can see, scammers use it as a means of trying to get money.

Actually, only the name catfish is new, the schemes and scams are old.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I Am Darkness!

A friend did one of those ubiquitous quizzes that show up on Facebook on an almost daily basis, and not having anything better to do (except find a topic for today’s blog post since I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about my possible epic walk), I did the quiz to find out what element I am. Most of the questions had no meaning for me, so I did the best I could. For example, one question was about colors that speak to me, and I don’t have any favorite color — what fascinate me are the way colors complement and contrast with one another. And even if I did have a tendency toward a particular color right now, such as purple, it wasn’t listed. So I just went with the best answer for the moment. And of course, none of the deadly sins pertain, while all of the virtues do. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.)

So what is my element? Darkness! I wasn’t aware that darkness was an element, but what do I know. According to the quiz maker, I’m not reflective enough. (I guess that makes sense in a “pun” sort of way since black absorbs everything and reflects nothing, though I thought I had a tendency to think too much.) They said:

Your element is DARKNESS. You are often misunderstood and judged quickly. Yet if people only took just a bit of extra kind effort to you they would see something wonderful. Mysterious yet much more simple then others misperceive. You get many things that just don’t click for others. You see the truth for what it is and you embrace it while others sugar coat it. You have low tolerance for ignorance, though you may come off a bit arrogant yourself. You could stand to reflect a bit more and you will find a lot of your isolation issues are due to self-sabotage. Though you may enjoy your alone time, no one truly enjoys being alone. Don’t fool yourself. That aside you are a rare beautiful truth in this world of fake.

I’m making fun of the quiz and of myself for taking it, but there is much truth in their analysis. Or at least I hope there is. I like the idea of being mysterious. And I like the idea of being a truth. I guess that’s my arrogance coming out.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Just When You Thought Facebook Couldn’t Get Any Weirder

Facebook is so massive, it’s like a whole internet unto itself, with games, photos, chats, groups, and a ridiculous amount of promotion. Because of all that constant activity, it’s not surprising that shady folks have managed to find ways of scamming members of the site.

I have never liked liking things on Facebook except occasional posts from people I know. I especially don’t like liking candythings and sharing things if they are sentimental and sugary sweet. Such posts seem manipulative, as if I am being forced to have an opinion about something I have no opinion about. There are plenty of awww-some moments in real life — I don’t have to go looking for the awww factor on FB.

As it turns out, my instincts were correct. Although many such posts are real, others are scams. For example, I remember once seeing a photo of a young girl with a bald head, wearing a cheerleading uniform. The tagline on the photo said that the girl had chemo, and asked people to like or share to show her she was still beautiful.

The trouble is, that was a scam. The photo was real — the girl’s mother had posted it on Photobucket years before, and she had no idea that the photo was being used by scammers — but it was used simply to gain likes and shares. (This is called “like farming”.) Since Facebook’s algorithms are set to promote the most popular posts, likes and shares on such posts can increase exponentially. Sometimes, once the scammers have built up a page with likes, they switch content and promote a product. Or they sell page on the black market. Or they use it for phishing expeditions or even to spread malware. (Just liking a page can’t spread malware to your computer, but clicking links on the page could.)

Is this a good time to ask you to like my FB page? Probably not. And anyway, I don’t post much of anything except links to this blog, and you’re already here, so you don’t need to see the link there. But, if you insist, you can find my page at https://www.facebook.com/PatBertramAuthor. I promise I won’t scam you.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Being Nice

For many years, I was subject to depression and debilitating allergies that so enervated me, getting out of bed in the morning was about all I could handle. Then there were the years my life mate/soul mate was dying, where I hunkered down in my emotional foxhole, trying to protect myself from the pain with which life was bombarding us. During these times, whenever I’d go out among people, all I ever seemed to see were happy, healthy, and energetic folks, which made me feel as if I were alone in my misery.

It wasn’t until I signed up for Facebook and started making contact with all sorts of people that I discovered the truth rainbowin their status updates. Everyone is struggling with something — illness, disability, debility, depression, grief. Even if people aren’t struggling with such a difficulty themselves, they are taking care of someone with a problem. The strong, healthy people I saw were probably normally traumatized people on their good days.

I’m learning to be nice to everyone, even people with a bad attitude. Anger, rudeness, pettiness, are all signs of unhappiness and discontent, and chances are, the misery stems from actual problems, not just a desire to be mean. In a strange sort of way, how people treat me is not my problem. Their inconsideration is a reflection of them, not me. My only responsibility is in my own reaction, and — in an ideal world — I would always choose to be nice. Life of course, is not always ideal, and I sometimes I let my own problems dictate my behavior, especially when those problems entail a lack of sleep, such as the episodes with my afflicted brother.

One of my favorite scenes in a film is in the 1989 movie Roadhouse where Patrick Swayze is discussing his policy with the bouncers. “Be nice,” he says. He goes on to tell them that no matter what anyone does, be nice. And he ends, “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.” It’s a good policy for anyone, being nice.

Sure, we have problems, but everyone else does too. So let’s pretend this is an ideal world, and let us all be nice.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Today I Will Be . . .

I’ve gotten in the habit of posting a daily resolution on Facebook, which has been a good discipline for me. I spend a minute or so thinking about what challenges I will be facing that day, and then I post the appropriate resolution. For example, today I will need to have more generosity of spirit to get through a trying situation, so the resolution I just posted says: Today I will be . . . munificent. Yesterday I had to write a chapter for Rubicon Ranch, the online collaborative serial I’m writing with other Second Wind authors, so I posted the resolution: Today I will be . . . creative. Other days I have resolved to be bold or diligent or grateful or (just for fun) enigmatic.

In fact, I even use an all-purpose resolution, a bit of word art I created, for my Facebook profile:

Today I will be . . .

I don’t know if these public daily resolutions make a difference because obviously I don’t know what my day would have been like without them, but I like posting the resolutions. It makes me appreciative of the day despite any challenges or hardships that I am facing, Makes it seem as if with a bit of a boost, I can surmount all problems or at least accept them. So although I already posted a resolution for today on Facebook, I am posting a special one here:

Today I will be . . . appreciative.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.