Thursday, February 2, 2017

Free Samples End, with Long True Story and New TOS

Once again, Gentle Readers, you've failed to fund this site.

This link is not showing any contributions from appreciative readers today:

This link is showing good reviews, but no new requests:

Thanks to the grocery bargains I found on Monday, I have frugal food for a few more days at home, but I do not have the price of a cup of coffee. I'm infesting the cafe anyway--today.

This web site's readership has been growing steadily. The computer has gone from logging page views by dozens, through hundreds, into thousands. However, most of you are not posting comments, so I have no idea who you are.

So far as I know, three or four faithful readers are Google employees checking for contract violations. Another dozen or so are Nephews. Another dozen or so are writers who seem to imagine that, because you've written about not being rich either, you're excused from supporting this web site.

Some others, I don't know how many exactly, are political enemies who just love to read that this web site isn't making any money, because they have their left-wing and/or corporate godfathers keeping them fat and loaded with the latest electronic gadgets to make sure I can't even read their sites if I were to want to. They think that that means they are ahead. I'm not sure. Money is certainly an advantage, but I believe there has to be some reason why humans are hard-wired to believe that somehow, even if we fall back on all kinds of weird imaginings to explain just how, moral virtue outweighs even money in the end.

(Fifteen years ago some of the political and philosophical enemies of this web site were trying to claim that the existence of a "spirituality center" of synapses in the brain proved that Powerful Goodness does not exist outside the brain. Hoot! That's like saying that the existence of a "visual center" of synapses in the brain proves that light does not exist outside the brain...)

However, I'm not sure that feeding those people the sadistic pleasure of watching this growing web site, and its writer, starve to death is serving the cause of Powerful Goodness. I don't know that they need to be able to read my blog, until the rest of you readers realize that our enemies really need to be reading how, thanks to your support, this web site has expanded into the Bookstore, Internet Portal, Animal Sanctuary, Folk Music Conservatory, and Suburban Mission it was meant to be, plus a printed magazine and publishing house, and is raking in profits and submarining those who want to crush writers and other small independent entrepreneurs.

Other readers appear to be the kind of middle-class women of whom Deborah Tannen's observations were accurate. Neither really happy nor really unhappy with their own lives, they vent their dissatisfactions by talking to friends at length about things they don't particularly like but aren't willing to do anything to change. When men (or rich women) express dissatisfaction, they hear that as demanding change, resent it, and try to avoid doing more about it than they think the current level of satisfaction-with-their-lives demands. When children (or poor women) express dissatisfaction, they hear that as indicating distress, reach out to pat them and make "poor little thing" noises, and try to avoid doing more about it than they think the current level of satisfaction-with-their-lives requires. When women they perceive as their peers express dissatisfaction, they hear that as the same kind of purposeless whining through which they bond with their personal friends. The bottom line is that these "Contented Cow" types live by the Law of Inertia.

People do tend, understandably, to want to punch these "cows"...although in this case, what I mean by punching them is informing them that, no, being penniless is not something I'm actually enjoying and trying to prevent any change to, the way having to get up to tend to babies is for you. Change has to be made...and obviously a radical change needs to be made at this web site.

As I pondered possible changes last night, what came to mind was a Washington legend that I happened to have the opportunity to know was at least based on a true story.

Once upon a time, there was a Bright Young Thing who didn't have a lot of dates.

In high school, she had had a Boy Friend. It had been a wholesome, age-appropriate, parent-approved relationship, with no suggestion of a commitment, when they went away to college. At her school, and in her few years of grown-up life, she had not met anyone she liked as much as the Boy Friend. Meanwhile, he had not done so well at his school, and had become a Missing Person.

There was still a lot of prejudice against homosexuals and fear that anyone who wasn't dating might be one, so the Bright Young Thing's housemates used to want her to have dates.

Every few weeks, a copy of the Washingtonian or of the Washington City Paper would be left on the breakfast table, with personal advertisements from "Men Seeking Women" circled, words underlined, and "For the Bright Young Thing?" in the margins.

And if she didn't write to any of these young men in care of these fine periodicals, the housemates would write to them on her behalf, or would arrange dates for her.

Accordingly, every few weeks, the Bright Young Thing would go to a nice local restaurant, sip an overpriced cup of coffee, and go through some ghastly imitation of a conversation with a different man who didn't interest her. Some of these men grilled her with questions, and some of them sat there looking unhappily out the window. (A lot of them weren't even young.)

Then a big, hairy, audacious change came along. The Cold War ended. The Bright Young Thing, who was a secretary in a defense contracting firm, was notified that the main project on which she had been working was no longer necessary, and she was therefore fired, albeit with glowing references. It was time for her to be seen out on another date, and she didn't even want to waste the money for another cup of overpriced coffee until she found another job.

Before going home, she went to the office of the Washington City Paper to place an ad under "Positions Wanted."

While she was filling out the form to describe her qualifications as a secretary, she overheard some other Bright Young Things who were there to place their own advertisements. She realized that these were some of the women who advertised their services as "beautiful, upscale, sophisticated social escorts."

Though reasonably good-looking girls, they were hardly world-class beauties. If they looked especially upscale or sophisticated on dates, it didn't show at the newspaper office. Our Bright Young Thing suspected that what these women meant by "upscale social escorts" was, basically, that they were not (or not yet) old burnt-out prostitutes.

However, in some cities there is indeed a market for "social escorts" as completely distinct from prostitutes. There will always be more people who would like to get paid for leading tourists from airplanes to taxicabs, for taking road trips with old people or seeing the sights with teenagers, for applauding at concerts and asking good questions at book parties, even for hanging out with people who are afraid of muggers and kidnappers, than there are people who actually get paid for doing those things; but Bright Young Things do earn money in each of those ways. Some people want to be escorted by a big strong man, and some by a nice friendly-looking woman.

Our Bright Young Thing got into an actual conversation with one of the others, who told her that the wages for being an independent social escort would not pay anybody's college tuition (even back then), but they did pay for treats for her children. For additional income, this social escort was depending on regular payments from a man who was a husband, not hers, and a father, not any of her children's. She had also heard of women who made a good living by going out on dates with single male clients, not as prostitutes, but just "more than 'nice girls' are supposed to do on dates."

Our Bright Young Thing was most definitely a "nice girl," and had not encountered any temptation to change that.

She had also seen Bette Davis in Gypsy--presumably as a rerun on television--and she immediately thought, "This is my Gimmick. If Gypsy Rose Lee could distinguish herself from other strippers by being 'The Lady,' I can distinguish myself from other social escorts by being 'The Virgin'. If I have to have dates until I reach retirement age, and they're never going to be a source of pleasure, at least they can be a source of profit."

So she placed an advertisement for that very thing, along with the one for her services as a secretary. She also invested in a voice mail service (not a cell phone), and a name that didn't sound like the name her housemates knew her by.

That was how the Virgin Courtesan of Arlington was "born."

Within a few weeks she had another day job as a secretary, and as an escort her main client was a disabled woman, but meanwhile she had dates, scheduled weeks in advance.

Before, on dates, she always thought, "I am not in love with this man. Why are we wasting our time?"

Now she felt no need to be in love with any of these men, so she thought, "This one is so different from me, my friends and relatives, or the others. This is my opportunity to find out what it's like to be...a foreign tourist, a retired business executive, a closet homosexual, a ministerial student, a mental patient..." She was actually interested in whatever her male clients had to say.

The result was that the ones who were still actively heterosexual, and single, fell in love with her and competed to offer the most interesting entertainment on real dates--strictly social dates. Instead of thinking "I ought to be able to find someone more impressive than this to date," they seemed to think "I might actually get a chance to go to a concert with the Virgin Courtesan of Arlington--just for the price of tickets and dinner!"

She was seen everywhere, it seemed, and with everybody.

She looked like just another office worker--more simply-and-sensibly dressed than most, if anything. She wore sensible shoes, and long hair pulled straight back in a ponytail. She wore a trench coat everywhere while a lot of people were still draping themselves in bits of dead minks.

I knew her, in real life; she was very much the quiet, understated type, not at all "outgoing." She was interested in people--of both sexes, all ages, and all types--and admitted working on a novel, but she waited for people to come to her.

Nobody ever claimed any basis for doubting that she had been, and remained, a virgin.

She was madly popular, not miserly but frugal, and at (I have no reason to doubt) the age of twenty-six she retired and left Washington. Some said the Boy Friend had turned up, alive, and she went back home and married him.

Washington is full of Bright Young Things; it attracts the brightest and cutest from around the world. What on earth did this ordinary cute chick have that a few thousand other young women didn't have? What she herself said, that I've sometimes ignored but never forgotten, was this: "The key was to put a price tag on the time."

I could see how that applied to social-escorting--the difference between an escort who breaks the rules and falls in love with a client, and a prostitute, being that the escort is not collecting extra money for her or his affections and may even stop charging a fee for the time. I've not read that anyone else has written about applying it to blogging, but it does make good economic sense, generally, and it doesn't seem to be hurting some of the book writers whose blogs I'm following...

I've been posting good content on this web site, free of charge, and all but begging people to read it. That is changing. People who use Patreon successfully are making most of their content visible only to e-patrons.

I've been "friending" and "following" just about anyone who's "friended" or "followed" me, although that's far more people than I could possibly read every day, and many of those people are not even reading my content. That is changing. People who use Patreon successfully are following people on social media only when those people are e-patrons.

I've been linking, promoting, and signal-boosting every piece of content that seemed worth boosting, and although that's been fun for me and may have been helpful to my e-friends, all those signal boosts seem to be getting lost in the clamor of an Internet that's jamming with people who are all screaming, all the time, "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE READ MY STUFF INSTEAD OF SOMEONE ELSE'S!"

Maybe some people do need to do that. Some people, even people I follow, have worthwhile things to say but they're still very new to blogging and/or writing and/or the English language. Posting for free and socializing may still be good ways to build your skills; I wouldn't know.

Some people don't really have anything to say, and only want to blog because they think it will help market their product...I feel for these people. Nature did not intend for all of us to be writers. Possibly the brainquirk that made these people non-writers is the same one that's made them good painters or storekeepers or appliance repairers. Whether a "real" blog "that sounds like me" is what their web sites need, or a "professional" blog with guest posts by real writers is more useful, may vary from site to site.

Me? I'm not exactly a world-class writer. I'm competent at writing well organized and researched nonfiction, or at writing hasty blog posts off the top of my head, or at writing well organized and grammatical guest posts about other people's products from their notes and/or from corporate product review sites. That has been abundantly documented, over these years of blogging.

I hang out at online writing job sites, and requests come in, "Send a link to a sample of a research document, a product review, a travel post, a food post..." and by now I have a sample of each of those things somewhere in the archives of this blog. Can those samples be improved? Absolutely yes. For free? Not... so... fast! Improvements can be negotiated...not for free.

I don't plan to stop blogging unless and until I stop eating, but I am changing the way I do it.

As of today, blog posts will appear on Live Journal first.

They will be "friends-locked." Only designated e-friends will see them.

A couple of active Live Journalists will see them, as will I, on my "recent entries" and "archives" pages with little padlock pictures beside the titles. The Nephews, who are not active Live Journalists, will also be able to see them if and when they like. Otherwise...I'm moving this to Live Journal because I've not been very active there and have very few active "friends" using that site.

Other e-friends will need to become LJ friends in order to see posts. There are two ways to do that, both of which involve money.

One way is for you to have your own Live Journal account (it's free to set one up, but you have to pay LJ to subscribe to additional services if you want your "journal" page to be more than plain typing with an occasional small blurry photo). If you have a Live Journal account, it's up to you whether I can see all, some, or none of any blog posts you put there. (If you're going with the free, minimalist version of LJ, you can link it to your Twitter account, so all your Tweets automatically show up on LJ and count as LJ posts that keep your free LJ account active.) As a paid-up subscriber with a Live Journal account, you will be able to see the hidden LJ posts on your LJ friends page.

Another way is for you to become an e-patron outside Live Journal. You can do this privately, online, on Patreon or (if you're an old trusted e-friend) directly through Paypal, if e-payments are the way you choose to handle all monthly payments. You can also pay for blog posts, on this site or another site, through Fiverr; this option allows you to specify the length and type of post, topic, number of links, etc., for maximum support for your product and/or web site. You can also send money (preferably via U.S. postal money orders) to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. What these three options have in common is that the contents of the hidden LJ posts will be mailed or e-mailed to you, at the address you provide, rather than automatically popping up on that LJ page you choose not to have. (I'm not sure yet how, or whether, blog posts will work on Patreon.)

For each day that a Link Log, Book Review, or most other types of posts, appears online, a list of the keywords will appear here (and on Google +), as will Amazon text those who are not paid-up subscribers will know what they're missing.

I am putting a price tag on my time. If I starve, I starve, but I won't be investing any more money in self-sabotaging by putting my (hastiest, not necessarily best) work out there, constantly, among all the Total Amateurs screaming "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE READ MY STUFF FOR FREE!"

Let's just say...I'm as much better than that, as a writer, as the Virgin Courtesan of Arlington was than other Bright Young Things, as a date.

Writers whose work I enjoy may still be linked--but, in order to find out, they'll need either to pay for the posts in which the links appear, or to wait until someone else pays.

Readers will henceforward get what they pay for. Here are the current Terms of Service; if they change, the changes will show up here:

Free, Courtesy of Google
$0 gets you full access to this web site's well indexed archive, and to the lists of keywords for current posts.

Just $1/Month, Payable in Advance 
$1 gets you access to the hidden posts on Patreon and LJ. If you pay via Patreon, they'll manage your subscription (and also take a bite out of it) so that you'll see hidden posts there for one full month, then receive reminders to pay for the next month. If you pay via postal money order, you can send a money order for "six months' subscription" or "twelve months' subscription" or whatever.

Just $1/Post 
For those who really want to keep it real, $1 also, alternatively, gets you access to a printout of any post of your choice. This feature has been on this site from the beginning and won't change.

$3/Month, Payable in Advance 
$3 ensures that I'll follow your blog, web site, Twitter, and/or Grassfire feed...specifically. (Most Real Twits out there are aware, if they've taken time to think about it, that I notice their Tweets only when their Tweets happen to show up in the two-or-three-minute cross-section of the Twitter stream that opens when I happen to look a Twitter.) For $3, I'll open your Twitter stream and read your Tweets. Or your blog or web site, if they're reader-friendly.

$5 gets the book, topic, product, etc., of your choice, into a publicly visible post at this web site or a web site of your choice. You even get to see a draft and suggest changes before others see it. This is basically what Fiverr and Patreon are offering; you do not have to use Fiverr or Patreon to claim the same reward. The assumption is that if you're not an old established e-friend you trust Fiverr or Patreon more than a writer you don't know...but if you send money to P.O. Box 322 I actually receive the whole $5.

Regular readers already know that $10 is the price this web site normally charges for a secondhand book in order to make shipping, and Fair Trade Books royalty payments, profitable. (Did you know that you're not limited to books I've already reviewed? Well, you're not. You've been free to suggest books all along.) If you make it a monthly subscription, via Patreon or directly through Paypal or real mail, you can make it a membership in a Book-of-the-Month Club. New or rare books won't be available this way but you can choose almost any ordinary secondhand book Amazon offers...and you can pre-select books.

Patreon recommends $20 for an advertorial post that will be publicly visible...monthly if you choose.

Go there, do that, get the T-shirt: Zazzle doesn't like the kind of photos my cell phone snaps but, if you send $25, you can get a unique Zazzle T-shirt. I'll design a Hanes Beefy-T (good quality fabric, durable shirt, wide selection of colors) with a small discreet logo for this site on the front and a big splashy stock photo, as favored by Zazzle, Bubblews, and Niume, on the back. Since the big splashy photos are stock, they can be used this way only once as part of a completely unique printed shirt.

How unfeeling of Patreon to suggest reviving the Frugal Gracious Living Challenge that you failed to support last year. Sniffle. But we can do that, if you're willing to chip in enough money to make it a happy story. People do want, and need, to read things like "I walked past the bus stop to save bus fare"; they do not want or need to read things like "I've not eaten for three days" or "I'm heartlessly ignoring a friend, to whom I owe money, as she loses her home."

(Additionally, there's more than one way to design a book...I have some other book projects in mind, on which I work when able to enjoy a meal at home. One would be a Christian devotional book, and one (or more) would be a long novel or series of short novels. I've not actually made the time to do more with the zombie book project since no e-friends seemed to like it, but if somebody out there wants to fund zombies, I'll revive my zombies. I've not published a commercial book, as "Priscilla King" or anything else; I have, under my real name, written books and book sections that were privately printed for members of organizations, and worked with authors on books that were commercially successful. A nonfiction book that went into reprints, and has my legal name buried somewhere in the long credits section, is linked below. So if you don't want to read a book about what I've been blogging about, but do want to work with me on some other type of book, a monthly subscription of $100 will get that going.)

$250/Visual Blog 
I've been wanting to do this for a long time, too. Just one $250 monthly subscription, and I'll get that GoPro camera and start posting big splashy photos...of my own, not stock...and have a visual blog on a site like Niume.

$500/Online Devotional Book 
Just one $500 monthly subscription would get the devotionals available online.

Whenever subscriptions add up to $1,000 a month, I'll open the store and start sharing that lovely inspirational story.

Those links again...I'm trying to keep all the rewards equal across sites, although each site has a different way of processing...

Patreon will manage your monthly subscription as an "arts patron":

Fiverr will manage your one-time purchase of a blog post or guest post:

Live Journal is where the hidden posts will be...I don't have current information about how well LJ works as an international alternative to sending money via U.S.-based sites or U.S. postal money orders.

And the safest way for you, and most profitable way for me, to receive your subscription payments is via U.S. postal money order:
Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia 24251-0322

It's an old book by now...I helped produce it and maintain a web site to keep it on the cutting edge, for years.