Top 10 Posts of 2018


Last year I wrote one of these “Top 10” lists discussing my year of blogging. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d do it again.

Let’s start with the stats. Because stats are awesome. Trust me.

I had a couple of goals for my blogging in 2018. I wanted to post more regularly and have more engagement (likes and comments) as I felt like there were periods in previous years when I’d not post for weeks at a time, and views weren’t translating to people liking and commenting. Wow, the last part of that sentence makes me sound needy… Anyway, I managed to write ~46,000 words in 135 posts, easily better than previous years, and reviewed 75 books. The consistent posting seemed to keep the month-to-month views more consistent than other years, with ~22k visitors and ~27k views (down a bit on last year). Likes and comments were the highest ever and more consistent per post with +600 likes and +250 comments.

Thank you to everyone for reading, following*, liking, and commenting this year. As I continue my writing efforts the views and interactions here keep me motivated.

1) The Actual 10 Most Deadly Animals In Australia

Once again reigning supreme. Originally written for one of those comedy list sites, I’m glad so many have enjoyed this post.

2) Do People In Australia Ride Kangaroos?

Second year in second place. One of my trademark snarky Quora answers. Its popularity both last year and this year shows that I need to write more articles about Australian animals.

3) Book vs Movie: The Bourne Identity – What’s the Difference?

This post was shared on a movie site and had a spike in views. I especially appreciated the belligerent commenters** who came to lecture me on all the points I could have included in a 10,000-word essay on the topic in my 400-word post.

4) Shark Attack

This is one of my older posts discussing the overblown coverage of shark attacks. I actually prefer the post I wrote a few years after this one, but probably need to revisit this topic with more recent stats. Which people can ignore in favour of the older post that pops up first in their search…

5) Fast and Furious Series

After watching Vin Diesel leap a souped-up V8 over a decidedly murky shark-filled estuary, I felt the need to write this post. I wrote another more recently summarising the series thus far. This will probably become a regular series given they have sequels, spinoffs, and a massive audience for years to come.

6) 20 Proven Benefits of Being An Avid Reader

Two places higher than last year, this article was a repost of a listicle, but unlike the original list, I’ve actually included links to references. Not that you’d know it since they have deleted the original.

7) Book vs Movie: Silence of the Lambs – What’s the Difference?

A post from last year that only seemed to find an audience this year. I’m not joking, literally 97% of the post’s views came this year. Another in my long-running series utilising the videos from CineFix.

8) 7 Types of Narrative Conflict by Mark Nichol

An older reblogged post that I added a few points to. I would actually like to write my own version of this to compile a number of posts I’ve made on this, such as 6 Story Arcs.

9) Cool Book Art

One of my art share posts. I do like sharing cool book-related pictures, cartoons, or comics. Hopefully, it gets more people to buy their stuff – hence the links I add to those sorts of posts.

10) Mythtaken: Shark Attack Deaths

Two shark posts in one list. It seems people are looking for shark attack statistics. Almost as if more people are going into shark territory and are surprised to discover sharks there. This post is 4 years old and some of the stats are 6 years old, so I should probably revisit this topic. Does anyone else hear an echo in this list?

Next year I’d like to see something from 2019 make the Top 10 for views. Two posts came close this year, but the perennial favourites keep attracting attention.

See you in 2019!

*I haven’t been keeping track of my follower numbers but know they have been steadily increasing in the last 2 years. I do appreciate the follows and everyone who ends up reading the posts on email instead of showing up in the site statistics.

**My commenting editorial policy precludes people thinking they can behave like they are on Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, so you don’t have to see those posts.


Writing program scams


On the internet there is a scam born every minute. Whilst I love to receive email from Nigerian royalty, ads for another penis enlargement (the first one was enough, thanks), and fat loss supplements that promise not to kill me, there is a line I have to draw in the sand: scamming writers.

Most writers are hobbyists, writing because they love it. The handful that do get paid enough to be full-time writers are few and far between. So targeting writers with scams means that somewhere a monkey at a keyboard is not being fed today.

Yesterday in a writers discussion group a question was raised about whether a New, Amazing, Adjective, program that promises to give you the tools to write a 400 word article in 7 minutes.

Dear Fellow Article Writer (TA: read as mark or sucker),

Did you watch the video above? It’s hard to believe so many people would send me such raving, unsolicited testimonials about my product, “How to Write an Article in 7 Minutes or Less“. (TA: Testimonials!? Wow! I’m sold!)

If you did watch the video, you saw with your own eyes how I was able to take people who spent more than an hour writing an article down to as fast as 5 minutes per article! (TA: 5 minutes? I thought you said 7 minutes. Does this mean I get a 2 minute abs program as a bonus?)

….. (TA: edited out promotional garbage about money back guarantees and how only the scammer found the secret or developed it or whatever)

Here’s how it works.

  1. Open my 3 special research sites. (TA: Wikipedia?)
  2. Use my “skim and grab” research technique to find your
    3 main points (Takes about a minute).  (TA: Yes, because reading comprehension is for suckers.)
  3. Outline each main point with two “sub points.” (another minute here). (TA: What if there is only one point?)
  4. Use the “opening paragraph” template to quickly create the first paragraph (About 30 seconds). (TA: Insert generic filler paragraph, got it.)
  5. Use the “main point” template to write paragraphs for each of your three main points. (2-4 minutes total time) (TA: So, standard writing….)
  6. Use the “conclusion paragraph” template to quickly create the conclusion. (another 30 seconds). (TA: Insert generic filler paragraph at the end.)
  7. Proof read your article, and then submit it to the appropriate directory. (1-2 minutes) (TA: Click spellcheck and hope it doesn’t miss anything.)

The cool thing about using these templates is you never have to pause to think…but… you also enough leeway so each article remains 100% unique, and of the highest quality. (TA: Yes, why would you want to actually put any thought into your writing. Highly overrated for quality content.)

Don’t worry: My method has nothing to do with plagiarism! (TA: Of course not, copy and pasting clearly takes too long.)

Anyway, you can learn all about my 7 minute article technique by reading my special report, “How to Write an Article In 7 Minutes”, and by watching the videos I made showing step by step how I do it.

But that’s not all… (TA: Steak knives?)

My first thought upon seeing the claim that you could learn to write an article in 7 minutes was that it was bullshit. The fact that people would question if it would be possible left me a little stunned, a little thirsty and thinking about having a nap. Clearly some people are going to be taken in by these kinds of scams. So I want to just illustrate my critical thinking process and how I avoided being scammed for $37 (I know, huge amounts of money).

Drawing from personal experience, I know that I’d spend more than 7 minutes just copying in the links to the research I’d be citing, let alone reading those articles. So the first check is to understand just how long certain tasks actually take you. This scam works on the idea that you don’t really measure the time it takes for common activities. You may know how long you spend on a full article or day’s writing, but not on the little parts, like one paragraph or one sentence. So when someone presents you with some figures, you are bound to think, “Well, I do spend a lot of time staring at the screen and checking my Twitter feed.” Suddenly you are partly receptive to the con.

Let’s have a look how long writing actually takes the average person. Being a science nerd, I like to have a few figures around on writing, reading, average number of Facebook posts per hour; you know, important stats. The average person has a typing speed of 60-100 words per minute, which gives you 400-700 words written in 7 minutes. The page claims a 400 word article with 5 minutes actual writing time, which is 300-500 words written. So unless you are setting world speed records, then you won’t have time to do anything other than write.

What about editing? Nothing is perfect on a first draft, nothing! So even if this is a 400 word article written in 5 minutes, you still need to edit. Reading speed is not the same as proofreading speed, with average speeds of 180-200 words per minute. That’s another 2-3 minutes.

This program is essentially promising that you will achieve touch-typing dexterity and speed that will allow you to write fast. It is also promising that you’ll have fantastic reading comprehension skills at skim reading speeds. And yet you will also somehow acquire a time machine to allow you to also plan, research and create a concise article at the same time. The fact that the scam makes no mention of boosting your reading and writing speed and giving you keys to the Deloren, shows that someone is wanting your money and your credules.

In the meantime, send me $40 and I’ll send you some templates that I guarantee will add inches to your penis and bust size, whilst making you an awesome writer and friends with Nigerian royalty. Trust me, no-one lies on the internet.

Reasons why writing is better than a real job

At the end of a day of writing you don’t feel like stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil.

Writing can be done at any time, rather than nine till five, which is much better suited to sleeping.

Dressing for work is optional. And I mean optional.

Work shoes don’t have to have a safety rating or glossy shine, they only have to be wool lined and comfy.

If you spend all of the money your boss gives you and fail to complete your job on time, nobody is really that surprised.

All of that wasted time on the internet is “research”.

Drinking on the job is mandatory rather than discouraged.

Emailing, Facebooking, tweeting and blogging are important networking, not procrastination.

Shaving is no longer a daily chore, it is a sign you are going out in public for a change.

Work colleagues are people you only see at festivals, or chat to on Facebook when you can’t be bothered working.

Paperwork? What paperwork?

The arrival of the mail is a daily highlight, rather than something you check for as you arrive home.

Random comments

I appreciate all of my friends/readers here, especially those who take the time to comment. My site statistics tell me that I average roughly 2 comments per post, which is a 4% conversation rate. My own posting on other’s blogs wouldn’t be that high, so I’m fine with that figure, I’m just happy people enjoy my posts.

The point of this post is to highlight my own experiences with some of the more interesting comments this blog receives. The site statistics tell me that I average roughly 640 spam comments per month. PER MONTH! Obviously some of those spam comments may be legitimate comments, if you have fallen prey of my spam filter please email me, but most are rubbish promoting some shoe-viagra-porn-dating-retail site or other. The ones that quote Bible and Quran verses are interesting, but this recent response to my review of Lee Child’s latest novel blew me away.

Lee Child
Dear Sir,
I just finished reading your latest novel, A Wanted Man. Congratulations. Yet another excellent work.
I thought you might find it interesting regarding why I like your stories. These are the reasons:
• I never find a word I do not know the meaning of, and is not part of ordinary speech.
• The story takes place in normal time sequence. No flashbacks.
• A single central character carries the action from the first to the last page.
• I find not one sentence, which is not designed to help tell the story. You never stray.
• I find no forced metaphors that I have to puzzle over to discover their meaning.
• I find no literary actions-verbs that may sound pretty or poetic but make no literal sense.
• None of the characters are wooden.
• All your stories are unique.
• I find no explicit sex included because you can’t think of what should happen next.
• The number of characters is limited.
Keep up the good work.
Jim Cunnungham

Now I am very much a fan of Lee Child’s writing, I have most of his novels on my shelves. I am also working on becoming a published author of crime thrillers, but I don’t think I could be mistaken with Lee Child. For one, I’m not as tall as Lee, he is quite a bit older and he’s English. So addressing this comment to Lee on my blog seems rather random.

After congratulating not-me on a great novel, Jim proceeds to list the things he likes about not-me’s writing. Jim likes not having to use a dictionary, or reading internet addresses or review author names. Jim also doesn’t like flashbacks and appreciates having a single character to follow, clearly much less complicated than having to think whilst reading. I agree with Jim that Lee doesn’t delve into the literary realms with his prose, keeping the story and writing tight. It makes for a much more interesting read; there is nothing worse than wasting your valuable reading time with random stuff that has nothing to do with what you actually want to read. Jim also appreciates the building materials used in creating characters, something I don’t normally consider, but I do like to read things that are unique and stand out. However, I wonder what Jim has against sex scenes, maybe he has been scarred by Fifty Shades of Hype and is just thankful that Reacher doesn’t whip out the ball gag and leather chaps. I’m also guessing that Jim is not a fan of the epic fantasy novels, what with their ensemble of characters, sweeping dynasties of timelines, and elegant prose to describe the entire new world the story takes place in.

All in all, I can’t figure out why this post was flagged as spam.

Don’t check my browser history

I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you haven’t cleared your browser history in a while, and then perform a Google or (insert your favourite search engine here) search, that a number of links are highlighted as pages you have been to before. This is just a friendly little reminder that you’ve asked the same, or a similar, question just recently and that, maybe, it is time for a screening for Alzheimer’s. But have you had a look through your browser history, or, more to the point, would you prefer no-one ever saw your browser history?

For the average person, I’m sure they don’t mind having eBay, Amazon and Rotten Tomatoes in your browser history is not a big deal. For the average crime or thriller author, the internet browser history would provide an interesting insight into the key plot points of the current work/s in progress. It would also encourage police and intelligence agencies to set up 24hr surveillance on the off chance the author was planning on murdering a key political figure to facilitate the buying of nuclear weapons to arm a terrorist cell that has ties to local organised crime figures who operate in drugs and prostitution; with plenty of pictures. This is slightly concerning.

Sci-fi authors don’t have quite as many concerns with their browser history. Anyone looking at it would fall asleep after the first ten pages of physics article links. Fantasy authors might receive some grief for the swords and leather searches. Romance authors would probably blush at the size of the list of “hard abs” pages. But it is going to be almost impossible for me to argue down a murder charge.

Lawyer: So you deny planning and executing the murder of the cast of Jersey Shore?
Tyson Adams: Of course I didn’t murder or plan to murder those morons.
L: Then why had you visited so many sites on forensics, samurai swords and human anatomy?
TA: Research for my book.
L: A book that you haven’t as yet published.
TA: Well the editor doesn’t like the scene with the cast of Boston Shore being beheaded.
Judge: I just don’t see the crime here. Although, Mr Adams, what is

So could any law enforcement people please keep in mind writers are likely to have a bizarre web history, and that it was very important that I know how to make meth in my backyard. For my novel…

Important bookcase features

Let’s face it, there are certain things that all houses should have: bedroom, kitchen, lounge, secret room concealed behind a bookcase. Now obviously not everyone has enough space for a hidden room in their house, others are lucky that their house has a roof. Clearly the secret room hidden behind a bookcase is the domain of the rich. But it has recently come to my attention that some rich people have failed in their duties as rich people.

If you are wealthy and you don’t have a bookcase that conceals a hidden passage or room, then you are going about being wealthy the wrong way. In the interests of society, please donate your wealth to someone who will spend it more wisely.

How to guide here.