Book Review: The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

A must read for those who are into Book Reviews

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

Editor’s Note:

This is certainly not a new book; however, this is both an example of writing a book review (for those new writers that would like an example to follow) and also my attempt to share a great book that I have on my shelf. I hope you enjoy this review, and that you’ll read the book. 

3prbrbduAlain de Botton

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton is not what readers might think when scanning its title. It’s not a book of travel advice, but yet, it is a book of advice that also talks about travel. It’s a book of short philosophical vignettes that also tells short stories of the author’s travel to various places. For the reader, it is a book that will hook you with clever, humorous, and eloquent expressiveness. It’s filled with witty aphorisms. For the writer, this book is a masterful example of…

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Making Fiction Come Alive! Using the Senses for Maximum Impact

Using senses for great writing impact!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Five Senses

Image by Rob Nunn/Flickr CC

Today’s post once again is by my Writer-in-Residence Alex Limberg. After 10 posts, I’m slowly running out of witty introductions for him. But hey, if you haven’t checked out his free ebook yet, definitely go ahead and do it now. It will equip you with ‘44 test questions’ to examine your story and make it all-around tight and intriguing. This time, Alex shows us how to describe senses, so your reader feels like he is in the middle of your story. Go, Alex!


Do you know 5D-cinemas?

I mean these movie theatres that make your chair bump harshly, whip your ankles, and when somebody on the screen sneezes, it sprinkles your face… Yeah, they are basically legal torture chambers people pay entry for.

Why are they such a fun experience for many?

It’s because these theatres feel more real than your ordinary cinema. And…

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Personal relationships, Uncategorized

Being approving / disapproving

We all do it, disapprove of each other that is. My husband is convinced that I disapprove of him. He is right. I do wish that he wouldn’t sit up late watching The West Wing and emailing his colleague in London. I do wish that he wouldn’t drink wine every night. I do wish […]

via On feeling disapproved of — HelenHayward

Online Media

Are Online Pay sites part of a secret Cartel?

As per Merriam-Webster Online, A cartel is defined as :

: a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices

This is a common phenomenon, where a group of companies or Enterprises “fix” certain aspects like Areas of operations, market areas, prices, discounts and even behavior towards a perceived or actual common rival.

Often, such cartels are present, about whom, public and Governments are aware about. However, there could be cases where such cartels could operate in a way that is hidden from common knowledge and one needs to analyze a lot deeper to figure out the truth and the extent to which such a cartel operates.

I am going to explore one such case of a probable cartel that none talks about, but some of us might be able to sense them.

The Origin of Online Paying sites

The first site that I joined and which paid Online for discussions and answers was Mylot.com in the year 2007. Then, I joined Clixsense.com- a paid to click site.
However, sites that paid for writing content, and other things were in existence before that. I once read a comment by a user of a site that one of the sites existed even before 2003!

How these sites came into existence, and for what purpose?
I have not gone into depths on this topic, and this topic is a bit obscure one since such sites are not as Hot and famous like say Google, Twitter, Facebook etc.
Yet what I have made out is that since yearly 2000 s, Internet users’ numbers started to rise exponentially due to rise in broadband connections, Wireless connections and Media blitz.
They first expanded in the Western World, and then in countries like those in Middle East, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil and many more.

Some Entrepreneurs calculated that if people used a site a lot, then they are likely in between to see and/or click advertisements displayed on the web pages of that site. Such clicks could lead to direct purchases, or at least bring certain brands to customers'(in this case the web site users) mind that they could eventually purchase something of that brand either Online or Offline.
To keep and retain such customers on the website, they came up with a plan to pay the users for the things they did on the website(applicable except for direct pay to click-ads sites).
Initially, sites like Mylot.com paid users a certain undeclared amount based on how much they interacted on that site- how much they responded and discussed.

Expansion of Online sites- Year 2009 onwards

Initially, the sites such as Mylot, and some sites in the arena of pay to write paid a very miniscule amount to the users- a fraction of their Ad revenue. So making 10 US Dollars on an average took 3 to 4 months(1/2 months for exceptional users).
The writing sites which paid were more for professional kind of bloggers and it was not easy for a casual blogger, or writer there. Even Helium.com had stringent norms and reaching 25 USD took quite a lot of time.

So, why such sites started expanding- sites like Mypage5.com, which was a combination of Pay for writing blog and Mylot like discussions and commenting, Bubblews, Wikinut, and later Tsu, Mykites and Blogjob emerged?
The answer could be this:

There were some enterprising guys who laid out grand plans of capturing Millions of users on their sites aka Facebook or Twitter, and promised a larger slice of Ad revenues, or even Media events.
They laid these plans before Venture Capitalists or Angel Investors. Such VCs or Angel Investors like well thought out plans and they have in the past supported seemingly risky or not so promising ventures like Skype- which did well eventually.
So they hooked on and gave Millions or even Billions of Dollars of funding to such proposers of Online work payment sites, and they expanded.

What went great and what caused the downfall of many

As described in the previous section, sites armed with tons of Venture Funding money attracted users with higher payout rates- a classic example was Bubblews and to some extent Mypage5, but there are other sites too. Some like Wikinut went on more steady and conservative path and hence survived on this pay to work online path a bit longer.
Users flocked to such sites like the Gold Rush of the earlier centuries.
The advertisers too came a lot to these sites. Cash and Revenues were flowing freely initially.

Yet many do rise, but not all manage to stay afloat. The advertisers in many cases did not get Return on Investments (ROI) as expected, or perhaps they got other better avenues to explore.
Due to lower Advertisement support, these sites losses begin to mount. Venture funding too lowered as the time when VCs or Angel Investors start expecting returns on investment and fresh funding might have been curtailed.
All this put the sites in quandary. Some began to pack. Some like Bubblews initially lowered pay rates a lot, and eventually packed up, with announcements that seemed like very honest admissions, but done in a not too transparent manner and one which disappointed users, many of whom had devoted a lot more time on these than one can expect.

Is a Cartel in place among Online sites

Year 2013 starting: Mypage5.com goes almost dead- no fresh payouts, no announcements from the Admin, and Bubblews which was gaining users before sees a sudden spurt in the userbase and hype.

Late 2014- Bubblews goes on a downswing and new players like Tsu, Persona Paper and a few more start getting hype and user base.

Mid to late 2015- Bubblews goes down and sites like Blogjob, Mykites etc gain audience. Wikinut stops being a paying site, though I think it always operated with a steady approach, so we can leave this site.

May 2016- Blogjob temporarily suspends its rewards program, and last reported sites like Persona Paper were either down or not in good times.
Now, I have heard that some new site is emerging.

While to some such a pattern might seem to be of little interest, but is there any smoke without fire?

Somehow, I can see that if someone goes down, some other comes up.
I have an explanation, which I cannot prove, yet it just might be right.

When a site like Arvind Dixit’s Bubblews is going downhill, such site owners or Admins try to “sell” their idea, or site rights and make a decent exit. Now, many of such guys to whom things are sold are also based in and around the Silicon Valley of California, US, and many have a number of connections. So, some connection buys another one’s site or idea, lays out new plans and gets some venture funding. Early on, the sites make some good money to show off, and vast userbase.
However, when downswing happens, the userbase sentiments’ and aspirations go for a toss and they are in for disappointing times.
Some of these are even such people who do not work Offline, and rely heavily for their daily needs on Online sites.
They are the worst hit, along with some of the retrenched staff of such Online sites.
Yet these owners operate in a way that things do not become apparent and go away without any liabilities.

To sum it all up, trends and patterns indicate that the way things operate in case of Online Pay for work sites, there is something more than what meets the eyes. Now, whether this is being done in legal but not so moral ways, or there is something even legally not strong? Well, the secret is not yet out in the open!

Source referred:

Definition of Cartel at Merriam-Webster Online


Memoir: Scared of the Truth While Actively Seeking It

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.”  ― Judith Lewis HermanTrauma and Recovery

I write quite a bit about memoir and recovery because I believe that when we write about our past lives, we give ourselves an opportunity to live a better tomorrow. I know you probably think that’s pretty cliché. I realize it does sound like I should have a dreamlike image and caption it with this as a meme.

Hear me out.

When people have grown up in traumatic situations, including molestation, incest, divorce, foster families, and addiction, there’s a lot of emotional baggage that is brought into their adult lives. Even if there were no traumas and a…

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What if You Don’t Read This? OMG, What If You Do?

Wonderful thoughts on how to choose what we write and handling various thoughts during the process.

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“People are afraid to write books because they fear people will read them and find them worthless. Write as if nobody is going to read it and throw your work into the public dustbin. Somebody may find it and consider it a treasure.” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

OMG what if you do

Why In The World Does Any Writer Take The Risks?

Writing is such a revealing profession. Our thoughts, feelings, and opinions are out there for public scrutiny. We bare our souls, flaws, and present our newly created piece to our readers. We’ve labored over the topic, titles, and typos. We’ve revised, rewritten, and taken the reader into account. We hope it’s entertaining, educating or enchanting; however, before we torment ourselves with the whole, many of us agonize over each word during the creation of the piece.

  1. Is it the right word?
  2. Have I conveyed my…

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Miscellani blabber

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we have stories about Facebook’s trending news bias, sexual abuse in some of the country’s most prestigious schools,…

via Real-Life ‘Americans,’ Spotlight Returns, and the Airless Ocean: Today’s Recommended Reading — Flavorwire


Miscellani blabber

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we have stories about Facebook’s trending news bias, sexual abuse in some of the country’s most prestigious schools,…

via Real-Life ‘Americans,’ Spotlight Returns, and the Airless Ocean: Today’s Recommended Reading — Flavorwire