Date Night Appetite, Because Writing & Eating are Fun

Just over a year ago, Rachael and I decided that we’d like to combine our love of escaping the house sans-children with our love of writing. Being fans of fine food and environments that enable us to focus on each other during rare, precious date nights, we thought it might be fun to share our experiences in Asheville with other couples who might be looking for a great spot to escape to, if only for an hour, or if for a whole evening. Plus, it would be a team effort that would allow us to collaborate on something we both love: writing and geeking out.

Thus, Date Night Appetite was born and officially launched back in September. To date, we’ve reviewed four local spots, but we also have some Instagram and Facebook posts to help share smaller delights that we find between date nights.

Check it out, and help add your ratings to what we have posted. And let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Writing for Listverse is a Waste of Your Time

Listverse is often a recommended website for people who wish to make a little extra cash. They make it sound like it is fun and easy to “Write & Get Paid.”

I’m here to urge you not to waste your time.

The Listverse deal seems rather straightforward at first: come up with a list of things that are quirky and unique, write at least 1200 words about them, cite your sources, then submit them for review. If approved, they send you $100 via Paypal. I thought this sounded like a fun way to make $100 by writing about topics I know and am interested in.

One thing you have to do before writing a list is to make sure they don’t already have a list about the topic you want to write about. Searching their site for existing lists is futile, as their Search feature doesn’t seem to work at all. See the example below, where I searched for a list about vampires that is shown on their home page, and even it doesn’t come up in a search result:


This leaves you with having to use Google to query the Listverse site in an attempt to make sure you don’t waste your time writing a list that is already there:


Once you think you have a good idea for a list topic, it’s a good idea to read about the Listverse guidelines on what they expect and what the rules of engagement are. Here is how they summarize it:

It works like this: You write your list (10 items per list minimum), you send it in, we reply and say “Great—we’ll publish it” and send you $100 by PayPal (don’t have an account? just make one—it’s easy and free); or we reply and say “Sorry—it isn’t the sort of thing our readers will love—give it another shot.” Just remember, your list should be at least one or two paragraphs per entry.

There is also a more detailed Author Guide that gets into writing style and some more about the rules and what they expect.

The other major caveat is not to write about something in their short list of topics that they are currently not taking submissions for, which are sports, self-help, personal stories, and gaming.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

I dove in and spent about two hours researching topics, writing up a list, proofing it, finding sources for it, then attempting to submit it. Their submission page says, “We only consider submissions with the highest standard of English and submissions should not exceed 1,500 words.”

No problem. I love writing and have what I consider a good mastery of the English language. My article was about 1000 words, so I thought it was ready to go.

First Problem

Only at this point do you learn that lists must be at least 1500 words. Wait…what? Above, on the Submission page, it says that the article “should not exceed 1500 words”. But if you click Submit List, and your article isn’t long enough, you see this:


They don’t tell you this anywhere on the submission page until you click the Submit button. And this situation makes it seem like you are set up for failure from the start. So, in one place it says no more than 1500 words, then you are scolded about not having at least 1500 words when you try to submit. What to do?

I went back and added more meat to my list, getting it to the minimum length required, and was finally allowed to proceed. The resulting page and the resulting confirmation email I got told me that it would be up to two weeks before hearing from them. Apparently they read every entry they get, and it is time consuming. I am a patient man, so I was OK with this.

Problem Two: Rejection

I got the rejection letter this morning. I understand not getting accepted for legitimate reasons; it was more about the issues surrounding it that led me to writing this lengthy blog post.

First, the rejection letter itself was not the “highest standard of English,” which was amusing more than anything, but I thought I’d point it out. For example, it said this:

“We regret that your list is just not quite what we are looking for right now; this is usually because your subject matter is outside the scope of the direction in which we are taking Listverse.”

Taking Listverse? Ok, whatever. Moving along…

Second, they go on to list out some of the same caveats about submitting a list, but only this time is it in more detail than before you actually write your list:

We are currently not taking any lists from the following categories: self-help, opinion, product rankings or reviews, money making guides, personal experience stories, health advice, gaming, sports, music, TV, movies, and animals.

My list was not in any of those categories, but I did stop to think that many of these had not been mentioned up front, and I’d have been pissed if I had spent a lot of time on a list about animals, for example.

They went on to list some “technical” reasons for rejection:

1. The list is too short, too long, or does not have ten items
2. The list requires too much editing (poor English or lack of proofing is usually the reason)
3. The topic is already covered on Listverse or the Internet in general
4. The topic is simply not in keeping with the style of content we publish

Regarding 1, I had exactly 10 items on my list. Was I rejected because the list was over 1500 words long, even though I was unable to submit a list unless it was 1500 words long? That seems stupid.

I knew my rejection wasn’t due to numbers 2, 3, or 4, as I had researched everything, proofed it all, and come up with something rather unique to write about, and made it appealing to the type of audience they cater to.

The Final Knockdown: It’s an odds game

Being rather bewildered at the reasons for rejection not lining up with my article, and still not understanding why my submission was not taken, I carefully re-read the rejection email and I found this sentence in the middle:

We receive more than 150 submissions each day and can only choose three for publication.

Only now, after spending all this time writing a list, researching it, proofing it, and waiting on the outcome, did they choose to mention that 3 per day is the limit. The odds sure would have been helpful to know up front, way before any of this ever happened.

But then, why would anyone ever choose to write a list and submit it if they knew the odds, right?

I will not be wasting any more of my time on Listverse, and I urge you not to, either!


Note: I will publish my list here soon. Since they rejected it, I retained rights to it 🙂


Speaking at WordCamp Asheville – June 3 – 5, 2016

Tickets are on sale for WordCamp Asheville, and I hope many of you will come. This is my first opportunity to attend WordCamp, and I’ll actually be getting to speak at it. Come check it out if you are attending.

My presentation will be about WordPress security, how to make yourself less of a target, and how to harden your WordPress website against hackers using freely available tools.

Come say Hi if you attend!

Words and Sayings That Annoy Me

Hate is such a strong word, and to be honest, it’s not that this list of sayings is something that really keeps me up at night. These words and sayings just really irk me for some reason. Several of these sayings seem to have been born from the Internet era, often being found in tweets, Facebook updates, and forum postings. Others are sayings I’ve heard throughout the years. Either way, I’d love to see them put to rest!

“This band is killing it.”

Having been a member of many a band, it’s nice to know that people are into what you are doing it, but this saying turns what could have been an otherwise nice compliment about a musician’s skills, performance, and/or songwriting prowess into a fraternity brother’s simplistic assessment of the situation. If you really like the way a band is sounding and you are at their live show, cheer, clap, and buy their records and t-shirts. If you feel the need to make your friends jealous by bragging about it on Twitter, try something more erudite such as “This band puts on an amazing live show. You should be here next time.”

“Just sayin’.”

This one has annoyed me perhaps more than any other, and it’s been a trend that spans just about every online social outlet. All I really need to do here is quote a recent Bill Maher ‘New Rule’:

New Rule: If you end your tweet with the words “Just sayin’,” then you’ve just tweeted something incredibly shitty.

No one ever tweets, “Had a nice lunch with my sister. Just sayin’.” It’s always, “Mexicans are what’s wrong with this country. Just sayin’.” How about this? You drop the “just sayin'” and we’ll go ahead and assume that’s what you were just saying based on the fact that you just said it.

“Wow. Just. Wow.”

This saying is used in an attempt at expressing one’s disbelief at something they just saw or read. Often found in the comments of Facebook posts, it has become the de-facto statement when someone is thinking, “Gee, that is really awful/terrible/horrific and I feel very strongly about it, but I don’t really feel like typing any of that so I’ll just leave this cliche here as an attempt to let you know that I do care.”

“Welcome to my world.”

People say this when you’ve expressed a frustration at something they tend to deal with a lot. It is a great way of diverting the topic of conversation away from the person who just expressed an honest emotion about a situation, and toward the person who likes being the center of attention.


Pronounced “suuuuuun,” this is a uniquely Southern saying which has transgressed beyond gender boundaries and is commonly heard in bluegrass picking circles. It’s the southern version of “Awesome, dude.” It can also be applicated as a salutation or any attempt at affirmation. It is a simplistic way to exonerate a thoughtful expression of approval. Who has time to say, “You just did an amazing job at singing that song,” when you can just get away with, “soooooon!”

Needless to say, this term has nothing to do with actual mother/son or father/son relationships.

“Think outside the box.”

Originating from the “9 dot” puzzle, this saying has been so overused that it has become its own box.

“That’s above my pay grade.”

That’s a cop out if I ever heard one. Do it anyway.


This is an attempt to redescribe something which is completely juvenile in nature as something that is OK for adults to do. It pretty much fails in that it still means ‘grown people trying to squeeze into superhero costumes.’ I will say that I’d be the first person in line to own an authentic stormtrooper costume, but I will also be the first person to acknowledge the childhood fantasy being played rather than trying to cloak it in some sort of sophisticated homage to a canon of literature.

“I know enough to be dangerous.”

Do you? Then by all means, put down the keyboard.