Site Update 4/10/22
Greetings fellow Writers,
A few quick updates for you this afternoon. We apologize for the extended delay in addressing some bugs and feedback pointed out to us. But at long last, we've finally surfaced to address some nasty little splinters.
- Challenge entries in challenges that are part of a portal will now be displayed in the proper portal. This has been fixed retroactively as well - any such posts are now displayed in the appropriate portal.
- There was a bug that prevented tagged users in comments from being notified if they were tagged alongside a non-existent user (for instance if a username was misspelled). Valid users will now receive comment tag notifications regardless of who they are tagged alongside.
- Profile pictures and profile banners can now be properly updated. YIKES.
- Issues with our newsletter email system have been resolved. As such, regularly scheduled Challenges of the Week and Challenges of the Month will resume.
We apologize once again for the delay in addressing some of these issues and are eternally grateful for your patience and your words.
If there are any features, bugs, or suggestions you have, please let us know in the comments below!
My mom says I'm not allowed to carve pumpkins,
apparently our family is cursed.
My older brother doesn't like to listen,
or maybe his hearings the worst.
Because I saw him that night out in the barn,
sacrificing the pumpkin for fun.
He had carved out a Jack O' Lantern,
put it on, then pulled out a gun.
I know he didn't see me,
he probably thought I was in bed.
Then he headed to the house
with that scary Jack O' Lantern head.
I heard two shots and was to scared to move,
I silently cried as the cool air blew.
And after a few moments of eerie silence
One more shot rang true.
So I'm sorry,
but I can't carve a pumpkin with you.
My families cursed you see
and the curse will take what's due.
To fall asleep
A positive mindstate
To replace hate
In favor of joy
I was spiraling
Did I hit the bottom?
Am I ready now
To rise back to the top?
Or am I
Can be nice
You hit bottom
With your face
They toy beneath the peach trees, without meaning a word in this language of sweet nothings. The scent of promise hangs like mist. Cheek to cheek, arm in arm, their half-a-brain-cell forming one. They toy so long, the silly fools, that summer comes and goes. And now they stop to look around and find the peaches are spoilt, the grass needs cutting and life has begun again, this time a golden, honest hue.
One of them sets sail upon the world, in a bid to find the moon. The other goes home, and from the heights of a bedroom window, builds up a life worth living. They bear, onwards and forever, the fruits of that thoughtless, endless summer.
How to Propagate a Rose
It was the outfit put the bounce in Lou’s step, begun with a dress marked, cut, and sewn by her mother. A simple sundress, still she felt pretty. The hat was store bought, a birthday present that was more than her father could afford, but Daddy spoiled her when he could. The hat was wide-brimmed, straw, with a lacey-white hatband that tied a “bunch” of white plastic roses and baby’s breath to the side of it’s crown. From the moment she opened the box Lou thought the hat inside was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. White roses instantly became her favorite flower. The sandals she had bought herself just ten minutes ago, with money carefully hoarded. She hadn’t even known why she was saving the money until she was given the dress, and the hat. Then when she happened upon the shoes she knew she had to have them. The flowers on the sandal’s straps were carnations, but the carnations seemed to fit with the roses, and with the summery feel of the outfit. With that all said, the Main Street sidewalk never felt smaller to her, and she never bigger walking down it.
The car that fell in behind her was also big; big, black and sleek. Like a lost puppy it trotted up beside her, matching her pace, it’s driver showing no concern for the traffic piling up behind him. He was considerably older than Lou’s seventeen years, but nice looking, with greased black hair, and black sunglasses. His smile was as greasy as his hair; toothy and clean, like the boys from the University who invaded town on the weekends with their smiles somehow naughty and sweet at the same time. He drove without speaking, his elbow crooked over the driver’s side door. She could not help her own smile when he nearly hit the light pole at the Second Avenue intersection. He gathered the big car up however, and was still creeping alongside her when she angled into her driveway. Behind her the car’s tires crunched over gravel as it, too, pulled in. She heard the shuffle of the shifter, and the dying engine. The car door opened before quick steps hurried up behind her. Her pulse chilled to a stop when a hand touched the bare skin on the back of her shoulder. She was not experienced with boys. Tall and slender, Lou intimidated the boys her age. They avoided her, leading her to believe she wasn’t pretty at all, so she was surprised by this older one’s interest, even with her new dress.
“What do you want?” She asked without turning.
“You’d be surprised, but I‘ll start with going inside and asking your daddy for your hand.”
“Well, that’s just stupid.” She turned around to see from up close what kind of man this was. “Do you think I would just run off with any crazy fool?”
But her insult fell flat. He didn’t really look crazy, nor foolish. He looked fit. His finely tailored suit hung nicely on his frame, and his shoes held a military shine. She noticed the gold watch on his wrist, and the diamond stick-pin sparkling on his tie. He looked sharp, and not at all uncomfortable being dressed up, like the boys at church did. Along with the suit he wore those cool, dark glasses that all the guys who smoked and cussed wore. The glasses hid his eyes, but those eyes were not laughing at her.
“I’m not asking you to run off. We’ll stay right here in town. You can see your Momma whenever you want to.” Her heartbeat resumed, and quickened. No one had ever looked at her the way he was looking, nor spoken to her like he was speaking, especially not a grown man like this one. She was afraid to answer either way, so she stood silent a good while before replying. “Why are you picking on me?”
“Because you are the prettiest thing I ever saw, and I aim to have you for my own.”
She started inside, hoping beyond hope that he would go, but the crunch of his footsteps followed through the gravel, and up the concrete steps. Up on the porch, his one hand reached around her to pull open the screen door. When it did his other hand fell naturally onto the small of her back, leading her inside, as if she didn’t know the way into her own home. Once inside, for the very last time her child-like shout echoed clearly throughout the house, “Momma! Daddy! You’d better come quick!”
They sat in the front room, her father’s face as red as the “Leon” stitched in cursive on the breast of his grimy work shirt. The contrast between her father and her “visitor” was startling. The younger man’s hands were soft, and white, his teeth unstained by tobacco, his uncovered eyes business-like. His proposition to her parents even had the tone of a business dealing. Lou quickly grew bored listening, and began to dream about riding beside him in his fine, big car, so that when her father asked her a question she was forced to ask him to repeat it.
“Pay attention Lou. This is important. I asked when the two of you met?”
“Oh... sorry, Daddy! We just met. Just now, in the driveway... and it’s Louise, Daddy.” That last part was whispered. Her face flushed as she said it.
“Louise, is it?” His chin lifted knowingly. “You met him just now? This is most unusual.” Her father gave the man whose name she did not even know a hard look. Lou was surprised that her father was humoring him at all, and hadn’t gotten the shotgun, but instead was directing his questioning back to her visitor, but she also had a guess as to why. Her father was not used to confronting a man like this one any more than she was. “This makes no sense. How would you support her? Where would y’all live?”
Louise’s ear cocked at that. The visitor smiled that same greasy-looking smile she had seen him use earlier from his car, a “cat that swallowed the mouse” smile. “I am Hastings Sinclair, sir. I own the Merchant’s Bank downtown.”
Her father’s face changed at that bit of information, softening in it’s anger, while her mother inched forward on her wing-backed chair. “And the Merchant’s Banks in Gulfport,” Hastings Sinclair continued, “... Meridian, and we’ll soon be opening a branch in Jackson as well.”
Her father fell silent while her mother gave her a look that had suddenly turned hopeful. “Lou... Louise, I mean.” Do you want to marry this man?”
Louise didn’t know how to answer. If she had some gum, she would smack it now. He was a nice looking man, a real grown-up man with a job and everything who seemed to like her... and he held a golden lottery ticket. She was amazed that her parents were actually taking this whole crazy thing seriously.
He was a perfect stranger! Not knowing how to answer Lou sat silently, staring at the suddenly gaudy-looking white carnations that decorated her otherwise bare feet. While she did so, Hastings Sinclair, an astute man, seized the opportunity to make his pitch. He pulled a checkbook and a silver pen from his suit coat pocket. Let’s have the ceremony two Sundays from now. It is short notice, so I would like to help with the expense. He wrote out a check, and handed it over to her father. With that, in the same amount of time it normally took him to write up a mortgage, or to open a mutual fund, Hastings Sinclair bought himself a bride.
They honeymooned in Quebec City. Louise had never been on an airplane. They were doted on in their First Class seats, and she was doted on by her new husband. Their hotel had five stars. Being newlyweds much of their five days were spent inside it, and the rest walking the cobblestoned streets by the shore, hand-in-hand. If their age difference was noticed, it wasn’t commented upon. He bought her clothes. He bought her jewelry. He wined and dined her until at the end of those five days she was doing some doting of her own upon this new husband who only seemed more enamored of her with every passing moment, and why shouldn’t she dote? With him she was “somebody.” She never knew she could be so happy.
Their new home was already under construction when they returned from the honeymoon. It would sit atop Avery’s Hill overlooking the town, big enough and high enough that anyone driving north on Main Street could not help but see it. The house’s den alone would be bigger than her parent’s home. There were also twelve other rooms, including three bathrooms, and an attached garage, but the crowning glory would be the garden. He would have one hundred white rose bushes planted, Hastings bragged to her, “to remind me of the day we met.”
And so he did. Hastings enjoyed reminding her that he had built the house just for her, and that he expected to come home and find her in it. In the beginning the jealousy was cute. It made her feel loved, but the feeling of being loved turned with time to something different. He began coming home at different, unexpected times, as if to catch her doing wrong. He would call several times per day, some days over a dozen times. If she missed one of those calls she would be grilled when he came home. “Where was she, and who was she with,” the questioning more virulent with every whiskey he poured.
The beautiful rose garden he promised became her lovely prison, where she spent her days so as not to miss his numerous calls. Even so, rather than dwindling with time as she hoped they would, Hastings’ insecurities grew worse, more intense. He arrived home from work already angry, wanting to know what she had done all day, and not believing her when she told him. While no answer she gave ever sufficed, it was still easier to sit in the garden answering his calls than to join the girls from the country club for bridge, or tennis, only to face his wrath afterwards. After a while she even quit visiting her mother, the agony he put her through for doing so being greater than the reward.
Louise read for the lack of anything else to do. She tried writing some poetry of her own as an outlet for her pent up emotions. She cried a lot.
Hastings hired a maid, “to clean for her.” He said. “My wife shouldn’t lift a finger!” He said. She was a young maid, younger than Louise even, and pretty. Louise noticed their glances sometimes, or heard them giggling from another room, and shushing one another. Even with this new distraction, however, his jealousy for Louise did not let up, but actually increased, as though he assumed she must be as unfaithful as he was.
Things were becoming desperate for her when Hastings hired the gardener. The gardener showed up just as the end of Louise’s rope was drawing taut. Ivan was Cuban. He spoke good, if broken English. Louise was tall, but not so tall as Ivan was, even though a leg crippled from fighting in some war or another had left him a bit tilted. Unlike the maid, Ivan went about his work quietly, sometimes whistling, but otherwise silently, almost invisibly. Unknown to Louise, spying was also part of Ivan’s position. It was his job to report her actions (as well as those of the maid) back to Hastings Sinclair, but there was really no need to include this in his job description. Ivan would have watched Louise for free, and he saw nothing at all to report. Being wise in the world’s ways though, Ivan quickly surmised the situation for what it was.
Ivan was so much in the garden that he became a part of it, unnoticed unless one sought him out, the same as pachysandra might go unnoticed in a garden until gainfully searched for. He watered through the mornings, weeded in the afternoons, trimmed and dusted at dusk, circulating through the garden like a honey bee. He went unnoticed, that was, until the day Louise found a folded up paper secretly placed inside the cover of the poetry collection she had left under the pergola. A flowing script inside the folded page introduced her to “Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca,” by Jose’ Marti’, or “I Grow a White Rose”:
I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly
And for the cruel person who tears
out the heart with which I live
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose
Tears stained Louise’ cheeks as she read, and re-reread. It’s words seemed to be written just for her. The poem spoke to her, calling her into the garden, luring her to him, and when she found him it was her time to spy. Through the ligustrum she watched him as he worked, shirtless in the hot sun. She noticed his scars, but whether from bullet or knife she could not know. She admired his shirtless skin as it glistened bronze in the noon light, and she wondered at how it would contrast with the creamy paleness of her own should they be placed side by side, could they be placed side by side. Despite the crippled leg Ivan pushed his heavy barrow effortlessly, or carved his shovel into the hard clay with practiced ease. The muscles of his back and arms rippled with power as he moved rock and soil to the correct spots required of his delicate charges. The gentle strength in his movements offered a beauty of their own, the results of his labors styling a different sort of poetry. Ivan belonged with the white roses, she thought. Fed by his gentle handling their blooms flourished as never before; earlier, lovelier, longer. She began to ease away, but before she could, he turned. Their eyes met without shame; his flashing desire, hers desperation.
Hastings Sinclair was angered to find her gone, but not terribly surprised. The surprise was that all three were gone; wife, maid, gardener. And he looked for them! Oh, how he looked! But the search that went on for months on end turned up not a trace. It was when the search finally ended that he noticed it, a new flower patch in the back of the garden, one that had not been there before. Six feet long the patch was, and three wide. The roses growing there were the richest of them all, blooming beautiful, snowy white buds well into winter, and one bush of red planted like a heart at it’s innocent core.
All of that was long ago, now. Hastings Sinclair is grown old now. The mansion he built her is falling to neglect, the roses he planted for her grow wild about him. Regardless of the season he sits beneath the pergola in the garden, a tumbler of whiskey close to hand; sometimes Hastings grows warm sitting there, sometimes cool, but always lonelier as he sits on her stool. He sees what she saw, and smells the same perfumes. He flips through the poetry book she left there, or through the unbound poems lying loose between the book’s pages, dozens of them, some in Spanish, some in English. It is the one about the white rose that ever pricks at Hastings’ heart, fueling his anger. That is the poem that leaves him wrecked and wondering; the poem that is her essence.
At times Hastings reads, seeing her in the poetic words. At times he recalls, seeing her in the virgin roses. At times he glances up at that newest patch in the garden, and at the shovel leaning against the trellis behind it. At times it crosses his mind to take up that shovel. At times he longs to find out forever which it was that the gardener took with him when he left, Hastings’ wife, or his lover?
Then at other times, during more sober moments, the answer is obvious. But either way his rose is gone, and the knowing does nothing to ease his anger, nor to relieve the poisoned prick of yesterday’s thorn.
Inspired by Waylon’s, “Rose in Paradise.” Miss you, Waylon.
Beta Update 9/15/21
Greetings fellow Prosers,
A long awaited update on the beta site has finally arrived. It'll look familiar to those of you who've tried out the beta, but with a few highly-requested features.
We added the search function to the beta. You can find it at the bottom-left side of the navigation sidebar.
You can now edit and re-arrange chapters of your books. When editing a book, select "Chapters." Then you can click and drag to re-order them, or use the "Add Existing Post" or "Write a new Chapter" buttons to add other posts to your books.
Login with Twitter is now functioning properly on the beta.
Email notifications were disabled, then enabled, then disabled. They should be in working-order on the beta. We had to do a lot of work to prepare for our new newsletter system. The newsletters will resume regularly upon the full release of the beta.
Under the Hood
We completed the final slew of updates and changes needed in order to update the site, and... eventually... the app. These changes may result in some pages not being laid out correctly. We've done our best to manually test everything but if you encounter a bug, please don't hesitate to email us!
The update will be coming very soon to a Prose near you. We have no immediate plans to retire the old site, which will remain accessible at https://old.theprose.com. If there's anything else you'd like to see in the update, or any old functions that aren't supported or aren't working properly on the new site, please let us know. We want the update to be strictly an upgrade - i.e. there's nothing on the old site that can't be achieved or is in any way degraded on the new site.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the beta, please do so! You'll find the future at https://beta.theprose.com. Comment on this post or email us with any feedback, concerns, or suggestions.
Prose Beta Update 3/25/21
Another midnight beta update for you all. It's probably a mistake releasing code this fresh off the press, but we love you so we'll do it anyway.
Bug Fix: Email Notifications
Email notifications weren't working properly. You should now be receiving emails in response to comments, likes, messages, etc, as well as new sign up and password reset emails.
Bug Fix: Instant Notifications
There was a bug with Prose's instant functionality. You should have been receiving alerts in response to comments, likes, messages, and direct messages without having to refresh the page. But you weren't; because it was fucked. You should now receive instant alerts as intended.
Bug Fix: Spell Check
Apparently spell check wasn't working on the post editor. Yikes. Now it is; but if you're using Safari you may have to contend with the dreaded autocorrect. Godspeed.
New Feature: Comment Replies
Lengthy comment threads are difficult to keep track of, especially when there are multiple conversations happening in the same thread all at once. We added comment replies to remedy that issue. You can use the little reply icon next to the comment time indicator to reply to a comment. As a bonus, we also added insant commenting. There should be no need to refresh the page to see new incoming comments on a post that you're currently viewing.
Next up, we'll be addressing issues with Books. In particular, adding/editing chapters, which is not in a pretty place on the beta. It'll get a lot better soon.
Let us know what you think of these updates by commenting on this post or emailing us at email@example.com. We hope you like 'em. If you haven't had a chance to try the beta and you're wondering what all the fuss is about, join us at beta.theprose.com.
Prose Beta Update 3/23/21
A quick midnight update has just landed! Here are the highlights.
Bug Fix: Messages
The messages page was showing some deleted/undeleted conversations, which was throwing things out of whack. This should now be fixed.
You should now be able to delete conversations on the messages page by hovering over the conversation you want to delete in your inbox.
Bug Fix: Challenge Submissions
The bug preventing new challenge submissions from being made has been fixed. Additionally, you should see proper error messages when trying to publish new posts.
A few other bugs were squashed as well, though they were more rare. Next up we'll be looking at book editing and adding/removing/reordering chapters of books.
If there's something you'd like to see on the beta site, be sure to let us know. And if you haven't had a chance to check it out, you'll find it at beta.theprose.com.
Prose Beta Update 3/22/21
Good afternoon Prosers,
Thank you all so much for helping us test out the new Prose Beta! If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you’ll find it at beta.theprose.com.
Here are some updates we’ve made, based on your feedback.
Bug Fix: Blocked Users
Some folks noticed content appearing from users they had blocked/had blocked them. There was indeed a bug that has since been reconciled. You should no longer see any messages, notifications, or anything else from users you’ve blocked.
Navigation: Writing Desk
We received a number of questions about how to find your list of posts/challenges/books, including unpublished posts and books. The writing desk is still available on the new site, but it’s been condensed to a single page. That page is now accessible from the primary sidebar nav. We’re still iterating on the design of the writing desk, which is intended to be a one-stop-shop for editing and managing all the content you’ve created.
Design: Challenge Prompts
You can now hover over the challenge icon on a post to see the prompt.
We’ve received feedback that the new navigation sidebar is too bold/distracting. We agree! We’re still iterating on the navigation design. One of our objectives with the redesign is to provide consistency of navigation across the site. The idea of the new sidebar navigation is to surface all the commonly explored areas of Prose in one place, which is only one or two clicks away, and have sorting take place in another. Currently, that means navigation on the left, sorting on the top. The current (old) site uses a topbar nav, which drastically limits the number of navigation items it can easily surface. For a site like Prose, which allows you to explore posts, challenges, books, portals, and authors, this is a tough constraint. If we were to return to a topbar nav, we’d either have to place all the commonly visited surfaces of Prose inside of a “hamburger” menu, or we’d have to surface all those areas via a single “Explore” page. For the time being, we’ve reduced the font size slightly and reduced its overall width.
Bug Fix: iPhone Zoom
iPhones were zooming inputs (like comment fields) when those inputs were in focus. This zoom caused other UI elements of the site to be zoomed as well. We’ve bumped up the default font size by 1px to avoid this zoom.
Bug Fix: Collapsing Comment Tags
Comment tags weren’t being properly collapsed to read ”@Me @You and X others”.
That’s what we’ve done so far, with much more to come. We are actively listening to your feedback, and want to incorporate as much of it as possible. Please continue to comment and share your feedback here. Don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read all our emails, but we can’t guarantee reading each and every post/comment made here on Prose.
Here are some of the things you’ve asked for.
Currently, there’s no way to delete direct message conversations on the beta site. We know, it’ll be added soon.
Search is missing on the new beta! Fear not, it’s coming.
Challenges page is “unrelentingly white”. We agree, we’ll figure out how to add a splash of color.
Bug: Can’t Enter Challenges
We’ve heard challenges can’t be entered on the beta. We’ll investigate that ASAP.
Some folks want to be able to see themselves when browsing the popular authors page. We here you, we all have a bit of narcissist in us.
We LOVE dark mode. It’ll make its way to Prose, eventually.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t take any inspiration from Twitter, especially for the sidebar navigation. We’re constantly looking at other sites to see how they solve some of the same challenges we face. We definitely want Prose to retain its character and charm. As such, we’ll definitely be iterating on the design (especially the navigation) in the weeks to come. However, we believe the heart and soul of Prose is not its design, but rather, its authors. It’s all of you who breathe life onto our pages.
Timing and the Old Site
Just so we’re all on the same page, we’ll leave the new site in beta (accessible at its own url) for as long as it takes to iron out all the bugs and address your concerns/feedback. We estimate that’ll take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. After that, we’ll make the new site the default site. But the old site will remain accessible at old.theprose.com for the foreseeable future. We can’t remove the old site until we’ve updated the iOS app as well. Spoiler alert: a new iOS app is on the horizon, as is a native Android app - hoorah!
We hope this provides some transparency as to what we’re currently working on, and plan to be working on. Please keep the feedback coming!
Prose In Beta Testing
I realize a portion of you detest mass tagging, but this time around, I do so, because in a broad scope of things, we are all a part of Prose, hence, like a family. We may not see eye to eye on everything, and that’s fine. We aren’t supposed too. Debating is good. To agree to disagree is good as well.
I would venture to say by now most, if not all Proser’s received an email about the Beta version for a newer and fresher look to Prose. If you haven't seen it, then check your spam mail. The header is: The Prose: The Next Chapter ... or I can save you the hassle of looking and just go here (after you read all this).
I took the proverbial tour and for right now, I am not impressed. And I expressed my opinions to “A”, one of the amins here and want to share those same concerns with you.
And I will be curious to your thoughts on this potential change as well. As of now, I still consider “this Prose” to be our home. I have rode along in Prose just over five years and have seen several changes already, but this “Prose Beta Test” will be the biggest of all.
The following were concerns I addressed.
Okay, I took a ride in the Beta format and the setup reminds me too much of Twitter.
Plus, I went to private messages, none where I can see a way to delete and
everyone who is anyone is there from 2 and 3 years ago. This includes both people I have blocked and those who have blocked me, as well as some who aren’t even with Prose any longer.
I may be the only person to say this on Prose but I really dislike looking like another website. Twitter is Twitter. Facebook is Facebook. Instagram is Instagram. They, like thousands of other web sites and social media have their own unique style and look.
...and personally, I don’t want to have to “relearn” how to move around in the new Prose.
Hence, I am not a fan of the so-called new Prose.
Not only that, In the Beta Version, I cannot locate any of my books I’ve written here.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There are cracks here and there along the way but they can be corrected.
Like I said, I can’t find a place to get to my books I’ve created to add chapters, yet alone create new books.
... and that is pretty much how I feel/felt about the Beta version.
I close with this: It would have been nice if before they embarked on this change, if they had consulted with members of Prose to get their feedback first, and then go ahead with the Beta Test.
Right now, I feel like a fish out of water about this whole idea and quite frankly, if this does end up being the "New Prose" ... I may very well take my leave.