Tuesday Tidbits #4- Encouraging discussion on your posts

Happy Tuesday, fellow readers! I hope you are all having an awesome day!

Today’s Tidbit will probably be a little more helpful for newer bloggers, but that’s okay! When I first started blogging, I got kind of frustrated. It felt like I wasn’t getting a whole lot of interaction with other bloggers, even though I posted somewhat regularly. So, at the end of posts I wanted people to interact with, I started leaving discussion questions.

Asking questions encourages your readers to engage with your post because 1) it makes them feel like you genuinely want to hear their opinion. You’re asking questions and seeking answers. 2) Sometimes your readers (especially readers new to the blogoshpere) really do want to interact, they just don’t know what to say, so asking questions can help them get some comment ideas.

Here are a few tips for leaving questions at the end of a post:

#1- Not all posts need discussion questions. I don’t always leave questions at the end of my book reviews, because, honestly, they don’t invite a lot of interaction. (There are some exceptions of course.) If it’s hard to come up with questions, or if they seem a little forced, that’s okay! That particular post might not need any questions.

#2- Try to have at least one open-ended questions. If all the questions you ask are yes or no questions, it can sometimes have the opposite effect. For example, if I got to the end of this post and asked, “Do you leave questions on your blog posts?” it doesn’t invite much conversation, because the answer is just “yes” or “no.” But if I ask “What sorts of questions do you ask on your blog?” it invites all kinds of different answers. Yes or no questions aren’t necessarily bad, but having at least one open-ended question can seem more inviting.

#3- Ask questions where you’ll be interested in the answer. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of having them there. If you’re not going to be genuinely interested in the answer, it’s not worth the time or page space. You won’t want to read the comments addressing that question, and your readers will be able to tell if you’re not really interested in what they have to say.

So if you’re looking for a bit more interaction with your readers, asking discussion questions at the end of your post is a great way to encourage that!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday Tidbits #3- How to use semicolons

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week so far!

Fun fact about me: I have a favorite punctuation mark, and, you guessed it, it’s the semicolon. Why? That’s a great question. Maybe it’s because it took so long for me to understand it. Maybe it’s because, once I finally did understand, I found it so useful. Maybe it’s because it’s so widely misunderstood. Whatever the reason, I love the semicolon, and as bloggers, writers, and even readers, it’s helpful to understand how this little buddy works.

I’ve seen a lot of confusion around the semicolon, so I’m gonna do my best to explain its two main uses, because I think the semicolon is underappreciated.

Main use #1 is “to connect two closely related independent clauses.”

When I first heard this, it was more frustrating than helpful, but it’s actually simpler than it sounds. All this means is if the thing can be broken into two complete sentences, but you want your reader to know the two ideas are closely linked, use a semicolon. FOR EXAMPLE:

“Ice cream is my favorite dessert; it really sucks that it’s not part of a complete breakfast.”

Both parts of that statement can make their own independent sentence: “I like ice cream” and “It really sucks that it’s not part of a complete breakfast” are both complete sentences. BUT I want you to know they are closely linked in my brain (possibly because I really wanted ice cream for breakfast) so I used a semicolon to connect two separate sentences into one related thought.

If the two thoughts CANNOT make up two different, complete sentences, use a comma or colon instead.

Main use #2 is to separate lists that already have commas.

I call this one the list within lists rule. Basically, to avoid too many commas, use semicolons to separate lists within lists. FOR EXAMPLE:

“I have favorites for each meal. For breakfast, I prefer cereal, bagels, or ice cream; for lunch, I like fruits, wraps, and sandwiches; for dinner, I’m all about fajitas.

Because I have a comma to separate each meal option, I use a semicolon to separate each meal group. Basically, semicolons separate the bigger list pieces from the smaller lists inside.

Thanks for reading!

Did this help you understand semicolons a little better? Do you have a favorite punctuation mark, or is that just me? Is there anything you’d like to see in a Tuesday Tidbit? Let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday Tidbits #2- When to use “less” and when to use “fewer”

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a Grammar Nazi, exactly. More like a friendly Grammar Neighborhood Watch.

When it comes down to it, internet slang and grammar slip ups don’t really bother me, but if you’re writing a book or a blog post or an essay, you want to make sure your writing stands out by being as grammatically correct as possible.

One thing I notice a lot is when someone uses “less” when they should use “fewer.” I can’t help it; it’s a reaction left over from my Writing Tutor days. Seriously, I never felt closer to Stannis Baratheon than in these moments:


Basically, every sign you see that says “10 items or less” is JUST WRONG! The rule is actually super simple; if you can count it, use “fewer,” if not, use “less.” So, you would have fewer items, but less stuff. Fewer dollars, but less money. Fewer books, but less happiness.

Knowing the difference is just one of those little things that can really make you stand out as a writer (or blogger or student)!

Thanks for reading!

Are there any little grammar issues that get under your skin?  Do you think I’m a grammar Nazi for being so particular about this?  Let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday Tidbits #1- A tip for blogging when your brain just won’t cooperate

Happy Tuesday to all you lovely people! As most of you probably know, I’ve been cutting back on the number of posts I write, but I wanted there to be more than just discussions and tags on my blog! So I’m introducing Tuesday Tidbits! These posts are going to be SUPER short- only about 300 words tops. They’re just little pieces of advice I think will be helpful!

Tuesday Tidbits can be about anything remotely book-related: from reading, to blogging, to writing, to just my every day, book-loving life!

My very first tidbit post deals with something most of us have dealt with. I happens to me a lot: I want to get my newest post all shiny and ready to be published, but when I sit down to actually write the thing, my brain just won’t do words! The reason can be anything; sometimes I’m tired, or I’d rather be reading, or I’m just in a mini-blogging slump.

If you’ve ever been there, you know how frustrating it can be! In my case, I sometimes have to trick my own brain into actually writing a post.

I’ll tell myself that I’m only going to start with an easy, bite-size piece. I’ll just write the introduction to the post, then I’ll go do something else if I’m still not feeling it. That way, my non-cooperative brain goes, “Yeah, I guess I can get through writing just one paragraph. No problem!” Usually, by the time the intro is done, the blogging part of my brain has finally turned on, and I can get through the rest of the post easy-peasy.

Even in the rare cases where it doesn’t work (sometimes my brain really does just need a break, and that’s okay!) and I have to leave the rest of the post for another day, at least I have an introduction, which is more than the blank page I started with when I sat down.

So if you’re ever stuck on while writing a post, try tricking your brain by committing to just a small piece, and leaving it if it’s still not working.

Thanks for reading!

What about you? Have you ever felt really stuck while writing a post? Do you have any advice for getting past that? If you’ve never felt stuck before, can you PLEASE TEACH ME YOUR WAYS?? Let me know in the comments below!