It’s been almost 5 years, Time to Pay it Forward

When I first started the blog, I wanted to achieve 3 things:

Make money 

I won’t lie. When I opened this blog, I had money on my mind. Money from traffic, money from ads, money money money. In fact, I really did believe I would just punch out a few articles and boom! Watch the dollars roll in.


Yeah I know, it makes me laugh as well.

Fortunately, and in spite of my misconceived expectations, the blog still happened to bring me some value, monetary and otherwise.  I’ve gotten writing gigs and referrals based on someone reading something I wrote and deciding they wanted to work with me.

So things still worked out great in the end….

Get better as a writer

Writing for an audience rather than writing purely for myself, I assumed would help me write better. And help also with discipline.

I also needed a place to display my written work, as I wasn’t employed at the time.

Needless to say, this was/is the most realistic and most successful goal on this list.

Help others write better

This was not a priority for me back then, cos I was just getting into the groove of things myself.

It’s been almost four years now. And even though there’s a universe of things out there I still do not know, I feel there’s some value to be had in paying it forward.

I learned how to write exclusively from the internet.

Every tip, every video, every PDF and ePub I have consumed was from the internet and after thousands of hours learning and practising, I’m making a decent living off these skills.

I figured I owe the internet some payback.

Within the past 4 months, I’ve had several people buzz me asking for advice on how to get started with a career in writing. Or asking for tips on improving their writing.

It was becoming cumbersome to dig up articles, resources etc. And the fact that everyone is unique and we retain our individuality, hence it’s hard to find a one-size fits all approach to teaching an elusive skill like writing.

And so, starting from today, I’m going to be doing writing tutorials (if you can call it that).

There will still be the occasional rant, but for the most part, I’ll be focusing my time and mental energy on the art of writing and how to get better at it.

I’m currently compiling a list of topics to begin with so if there’s anything you would be interested in learning, please leave a comment.

Until then…

2015 in Review, according to Google


The end of the year brings along its own atmosphere – a unique mix of laid back and hectic. Naturally, you’re thrilled the holiday is just days away, lots of food, plenty to drink, christmas carols and you get to spend time with family and friends. All those reasons are also major stressors, as you’ll be planning trips to the market, scheduling visits and making budgets for christmas gifts.

This time of year is also when Google shows us how nice/naughty we’ve been all through the year as it unveils a list of the year’s most “googled” topics, stories and phrases. Obviously, Google is now a convenient resource for researching exactly what people are/were interested in (also, am I the only one thinking, if we ever get invaded by aliens, the first thing they’d do is google stuff?).

Here’s a quick recap of the World’s most googled searches

Searches are influenced by real world events. This year, the Paris bombings and the 2015 Oscars (you know, the one where Birdman won Best Picture) were the most searched, having over 894 million and 406 million related queries respectively.

This same year, we lost Leonard Nimoy, the definitive Spock (sorry Zachary Quinto), a tragedy that garnered over 123 million queries. Apparently, a lot of people LOVE Cricket, because between February and March, the Cricket World Cup was googled over 323 million times.

We also had a lot of bad news. This year, the world endured a very grueling financial crisis as economic systems continued to degrade, especially in Greece (35 million searches) and Shanghai (12 million). We also lost Cecil the lion and let’s not forget the EU refugee crisis, of which interest peaked in September, when the bodies of three refugees wound up on a sea shore.

If you’re currently reading this on a mobile phone, and you know you’re gonna be sleeping tonight on a (relatively) warm bed, there’s a lot to be grateful for.

Make sure you close out the year with gratitude.

The full list can be found here. And here’s a really cool video summary of the year in search, courtesy, Google.

Photo Credit: Gui Trento via Compfight cc

Nebula Award Winners 2014


Wow! I’m really getting good at predicting these things.

The 2014 Nebula Awards held yesterday. And most of my favorites won. The only place where I was off with my predictions was in the Short Story Category, I thought “Alive, Alive Oh,’’ by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was a definite shoe-in.

Special congratulations goes to Alliette Bodard (a friend) who took home the award for best novellette for The Waiting Stars. She wrote the first science fiction short story I ever read.

I put a link to all the short stories which can be read online for free. You’re welcome.


Best Novel
Winner: Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Best Novella
Winner: ‘‘The Weight of the Sunrise,’’ Vylar Kaftan (Asimov’s 2/13)

Best Novelette
Winner: ‘‘The Waiting Stars,’’ Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)

Best Short Story
Winner: ‘‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,’’ Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)


‘‘The Sounds of Old Earth,’’ Matthew Kressel

Selkie Stories Are for Losers,’’ Sofia Samatar

‘‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’’ Kenneth Schneyer

‘‘Alive, Alive Oh,’’ Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Winner: Gravity

Doctor Who: ‘‘The Day of the Doctor’’; Europa Report; Her; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Pacific Rim

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book
Winner: Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central)

Full list here.

There’s some media buzz about the fact that more women won awards this year than men, so everyone’s happy, for now.

Expect to see me there next year, fingers crossed.

P.S. If you’ve not read Ancilliary Justice by Ann Leckie, you absolutely should. I started reading it last week and I can testify that it’s solid sci-fi, and it’s different.

South Africa stuns International Community with New Bell’s Whisky Ad

advertising in nigeria

King James, a South African advertising agency has landed itself some international attention with its latest television ad for Bell’s whisky. The ad, which has gotten mentions in Adweek and Business Insider, hits all the right notes that an advert should – emotional story, soul thumping twist/reveal at the end, memorable and shareable.

Take a look

This ad should be archived in every advertising agency and training school. There are several cool story techniques used in it that would dramatically help rookie copywriters and veterans alike.

The piece is on the lengthy side (121 seconds). In the traditional advertising world, that is like the duration of the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But with the amount of traction it’s currently getting on the web (over a million views on Youtube already), I think the advertiser’s gamble paid off.

This is a strong message to advertisers and agencies – the ad landscape is terraforming. It’s not clear yet what it will turn into but these are very exciting times.

Chinua Achebe makes Amazon’s list of 100 Books To Read in a Lifetime

scattered books

Amazon recently compiled its list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. The list is a compendium of exactly 200 years of literary goodness (the oldest book on the list is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – 1813). Despite the fact that majority of the list consists of literature classics (Alice in Wonderland) and recent bestsellers (The Hunger Games), acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart) is on the list.

Here’s the list in alphabetical order (with an asterix beside the ones I’ve read).

  1. “1984” by George Orwell *
  2. “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
  3. “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
  4. “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah
  5. “A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition” by Lemony Snicket *
  6. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
  7. “Alice Munro: Selected Stories” by Alice Munro
  8. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll *
  9. “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  10. “Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir” by Frank McCourt
  11. “Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume
  12. “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
  13. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  14. “Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall
  15. “Breath, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat
  16. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  17. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
  18. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
  19. “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese
  20. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown
  21. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1” by Jeff Kinney
  22. “Dune” by Frank Herbert *
  23. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
  24. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn *
  26. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  27. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens *
  28. “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared M. Diamond
  29. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
  30. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
  31. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  32. “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
  33. “Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware
  34. “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain
  35. “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson
  36. “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  37. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
  38. “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  39. “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich
  40. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
  41. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris
  42. “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
  43. “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
  44. “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis
  45. “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham
  46. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
  47. “Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen
  48. Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi
  49. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth
  50. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  51. “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson
  52. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
  53. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  54. “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton
  55. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon
  56. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  57. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
  58. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz
  59. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  60. “The Color of Water” by James McBride
  61. “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen
  62. “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson
  63. “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
  64. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  65. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  66. “The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman
  67. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  68. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  69. “The House At Pooh Corner” by A. A. Milne
  70. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins *
  71. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  72. “The Liars’ Club: A Memoir” by Mary Karr
  73. “The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)” by Rick Riordan *
  74. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  75. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler
  76. “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright
  77. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien *
  78. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales” by Oliver Sacks
  79. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan
  80. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
  81. “The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
  82. “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert A. Caro
  83. “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe
  84. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy *
  85. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
  86. “The Shining” by Stephen King
  87. “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
  88. “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
  89. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
  90. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  91. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
  92. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel” by Haruki Murakami
  93. “The World According to Garp” by John Irving
  94. “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion
  95. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe *
  96. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee *
  97. “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand
  98. “Valley of the Dolls” by Jacqueline Susann
  99. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
  100. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak