50 Blogging Prompts for All Ocassions

Sunday, 10 July 2016


These blogging prompts are designed for every type of blogger, from beauty- to lifestyle- to book-bloggers. They aren't meant to be taken completely literally so feel free to only take the part that interests you the most, though they can also be used as a challenge if you find yourself in a blogging rut.

The first twenty-five of these blogging prompts are fleshed out and explained to help you out and give your posts a backbone to be built around, whereas the second twenty-five consists of either one or a few words and are completely left for you to interpret them as you wish.

I hope you enjoy and find them useful. If you use any please leave a link so I can check out your posts.

1.) Your favourite beauty product has been discontinued
What would you reach for instead? Would you forgo that type of product altogether or would you rush out to try other variations, desperate to continue using that particular beauty function? 

2.) Why did you start blogging?
It can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. And don't worry if you've only just started blogging: this will be perfect for coming back to re-read and remind yourself why you started in the first place. Think about who inspired you, why you started and what you want to get out of blogging.

3.) How did you start blogging?
Like the above, but this is a more in-depth look at starting a blog. Talk about your platform (blogger or wordpress or other) and whether you've evolved from that or stayed where you are. Other things to think about are finding the time to blog and what it is your blog is about.

4.) Write a comparison review
Reviews are brilliant and one of the staple blog posts for any type of blogger, but sometimes a singular review can lack a depth that a comparison would bring. Find two items that are similar and compare them in-depth as you would for a single item review.

5.) Something Scary for Hallowe'en
Holiday-themed posts are excellent, especially if timed right. It's still early for Hallowe'en (or the C-word) but planning ahead  is often a good way to get your blogging mojo on track.

For this prompt, instead of the traditional Hallowe'en spooky-but-frightening themes, try and go all out and get very scared indeed.

Book bloggers - scary books
Media bloggers - horror films, TV etc
Beauty bloggers - focus on scarier make-up like gore and zombie
Fashion bloggers - Scary outfits / fancy dress

6.) Writing Tips for all Occassions
Your favourite writing tips, either from school, college, University, what other authors have said, your own thoughts... anything. This is more geared towards writing/reading blogs, but there are endless possibilities concerning beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers. You can focus on tips to write more engaging posts, or even write about how you're trying to write more engaging posts.

7.) Your (bad) habits
This could be one whole post or split in to two, and can be addressed by any format of blogger. A list of your habits, bad and good, addressing them and perhaps wondering how you'll change them or stop them forever. Keep it light and only do a few of each: maybe five good, five bad. 

8.) Ghosts of Christmas Past
Another themed post (I said the C-word, uh oh) 

Try and keep it light-hearted, but write a blog post about one (or some) of the worst Christmas presents you've ever received. Maybe it was supposed to be humorous and you really didn't see it that way, or it was a velveteen tracksuit from your Aunt who doesn't really know you all that well... 

9.) Publicly Thank Them
Write a public and open letter to someone you want to thank. It could be anyone; a family member, a celebrity or another blogger.

10.) Mid-way Goal Check
Did you write any resolutions or goals for 2016 at the beginning of the year? Have a look at them and see how far you've come at this mid-way stage in the year. It'll help refresh your memory of your goals and let you know how far you've come. You might even find some that you forgot about.

11.) Books Lists
This prompt is not solely for any book bloggers out there, but any kind of blogger. There are tonnes and tonnes of different books on every kind of subject. For this prompt, pick a subject (perhaps beauty, make-up, skincare, fitness, facts, a certain TV programme etc) and make a list of around 5 books that you think are the best books for that topic.

12.) Your Talents
Most of us tend to be a bit negative about ourselves and I think there's an odd kind of British mannerism, wherein if anyone is positive about themselves we feel like they're being a bit big-headed. I say pah! to that and let us rejoice in our talents.

Five or so of your own talents, whatever they may be. List them off and tell us how you acquired them (either taught, self-taught or just always had it) and how you use them, or if you no longer use the talent, why not?

13.) Celeb Dinner Party
A selection of around five celebrities or famous people or historical figures, dead or alive or yet to come that you'd love to have at your dinner party. What food would you serve? Conversation? Games?

14.) Your Blogging Day
Pick a day of your week and give us a taste of what you get up to. Hour by hour or in to sections (morning, afternoon, evening and night for example) and just give us a little diary snippet in to what you get up to, just make sure you make it blogging related.

Some examples: taking photos for the blog, writing up posts, editing or just brainstorming ideas. This would be a good idea for some photo-journalism: using photos instead of writing to show what you do. You could show us your workspace, any materials and items you use when blogging or perhaps a little photo of the café you sit in everyday to write your content.

15.) Money
"Money is the root of all evil." Agree or disagree with this sentiment? Do you think money gives you the freedom to do what you want or not? Do you think money corrupts all, regardless of how moral they may appear?

There are many different points of view about money. Express your own, and also try and connect it to whatever kind of blogger you are. If you're a beauty blogger, try and express how money affects how you blog. Obviously, you need money in order to buy the products, so talk about how you handle (or don't) your money with this.

16.) What exactly is empowering?
There are so many different views on feminism and what is and isn't empowering to women. What do you think empowering means?

17.) Share your photography tips

Photographs are imperative on any blog and we all have our own ways of taking photos. Share your tips, including your equipment and how you set up your photos.

18.) Too Young?
Can you be too young for some things? (Aside from the obvious.)

19.) I Love You
Ahh those magical three words. We say it too much and not enough. When was the last time you said it? Who to? Have you ever said it to a significant other, not just your mother? Do you think men should say it first, or women? Do you think love is overrated?

20.) The Style Trends
What are your top five trends you hope NEVER, EVER come back in style? Were these some that you indulged in yourself? (Photos would be grand here.) They can either be all fashion, all beauty, a combination of the two or other trends altogether.

21.) Vlogging
If you're not a vlogger, either write about why you aren't, or try it out! Just grab your camera or phone and film yourself. You can use some of the other prompts here for the vlog itself, or you can just sit there and waffle on about anything at all. Have fun and don't worry too much about how terrible it's obviously going to be. It's the first one; nobody's first is their best.

22.) Motherly Advice
Our mothers are full of good, and less good, advice. Some of these we've done to the letter since the day they told us, and some of them are just stark-raving mad and we dismissed them after a couple of weeks so's we didn't hurt their feelings too much...

Pick one, or maybe a few, of your favourite bits of advice given to you by your nearest and dearest and explore them. Did they work for you? Do you still do them? What's the worst bit of advice you were given?

23.) 10 Facts
We all have things that we know a lot about, or indeed want to know a lot about, so researching and writing 10 facts about something-anything-is both informative and valuable experience as a writer. It can be in whatever area you want, but the most important thing is to research and make sure your facts are correct!

(Extra prompt: 10 Facts About You)

24.) Interview
Is there a blogger you love, or perhaps some other kind of personality you really adore (could be a family member, could be Jessie J), that you have a thousand burning questions ready to put to them? Ask them nicely and they might wish to be interviewed on your blog.

25.) Guest Post
Guest Posts are a great way to bring in another view to your blog and can help to engage your readership and fortify your relationships with other bloggers. It could be on a similar topic to what you write yourself or something completely different!

Don't be afraid to just ask people to guest post. The worst thing they can do is say no.

The next blogging prompts are all shorter and are designed to offer a prompt only, so that you can engage your imagination fully and are open to interpretation.

26.) Night Life
27.) Walking the Wrong Path
28.) Favourite Time of Day
29.) Waiting in a Queue
30.) T-Rex Attack!
31.) Subliminal Messages
32.) Questions
33.) Answers
34.) Photogenic
35.) Heartbeat
36.) Exploration of Surroundings
37.) With a Smile
38.) "It was a place I knew well."
39.) Rhymes
40.) Sandcastles
41.) Living Like This
42.) The End of Time
43.) Paper Bag
44.) False
45.) Alone
46.) Rollercoaster
47.) Magic
48.) Secret
49.) Taller Than
50.) The World's End

Beta-Reading Services

Thursday, 7 July 2016


What is Beta-Reading?

Beta-reading is not a proof-reading or editing service.

Beta-reading is where a reader looks at the first or second draft of a novel (and sometimes a short story or poetry) and works with the author to provide constructive criticism in terms of the story as a whole. It is not intended to correct any grammar or punctuation, but look at the bigger picture. It helps to sort out any loose threads the novel may have left over and to help build the characterisation of the protagonists.

What are your qualifications?

I have been reading for over 10 years.

All genres and all audience-aimed books. I mostly read fantasy, but I have opened up to reading science fiction, contemporary and children's in recent years. I have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and a 2:1 Bachelor of Arts degree in English Studies.

I also write reviews of all the books I write. You can read them on my website right here, or you can find every review I've ever read over on my GoodReads site.

What are your prices?

Beta-reading is a time-consuming process.

However, my beta-reading time is free of charge. Having said this, it takes a while to read a book and a while to write a coherent, beta-reading service for that book. If you are looking to get your book beta-read with a quick turn around, you may  want to look somewhere else.

What do you beta-read?

I won't read anything over 70,000 words.
I will only beta-read first or second drafts of novels or short stories.
I may read semi-completed novels if the topic, genre and audience suit me.
I don't read enough YA to offer that service, but please feel free to contact me just in case.

If you are a budding author and you have a novel you've written but haven't gotten past the first few drafts, beta-reading could suit you very well, especially if you are looking to self-publish via Kindle, another e-reader or a self-publishing press or are having trouble working out the kinks in your story.

Please email me at xleptodactylous@gmail.com to enquire about my beta-reading services.

Book Reviews .041 | Nation, Memoirs of a Geisha

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

saoirse t e sterling book reviews xleptodactylous

According to GoodReads, I have now read 1004 books. Which is nice, I suppose, if you like stats. I quite like a good stat, even though I don't think they contribute to anything much at all (Cricket stats are my favourite: "that's the first boundary scored this year from the 5th ball of the second opening bowler's third spell on a Thursday." That kind of thing) and, although the amount of books you've read doesn't mean a thing (quality over quantity always) I do think 1000 is something nice to celebrate.

As a result I wanted a book I knew I had a good chance of enjoying. Obviously the only way you know you'll enjoy a book is if you've read it before, but this was not the time for a re-read of Little Rabbit Foo Foo (five stars all day long), because that would still put me on 999. This called for the Big Guns. A Dickens. A Pratchett. A Rankin. A Cornwell.

However, I was rather bored of Dickens (even though he's still amazing when he dies half way through writing a book) and there was no new Scottish Noir from Rankin for me. So I had to move to my Pratchett shelf. I own every Pratchett book, but I haven't read them all. I think, in hindsight, I was saving them up for occasions such as these.

I was disappointed in Pratchett's Long Earth series he co-wrote with *some author here whatshisname* and I've yet to read any except the first, so I thought that would only bring disappointment. I was apprehensive to read them, thought, because Pratchett's non-Discworld books are generally not as good as his Discworld books are.

But, happily, every doubt was quashed pretty much, as you'll find out below.

Arthur Golden; Memoirs of a Geisha
1 / 5

Pages: 497
Published: 2005 by Vintage (Originally published in 1997)
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Biographical, American

Memoirs of a Geisha is a fictionalised biography of Sayuri, a young peasant girl who is forced to move with her sister to 1930's Tokyo to become a Geisha after the death of her mother.

There's nothing positive about this book, so let's just go straight in to why it was so bad.

The narrative was unbelievable. And I don't mean "OMGA DID YOU SEE THAT?" kind of unbelievable, I mean it was so unconvincing it was dire. At not point did it feel like a woman, a Geisha, a girl, a human being was telling me a story. It felt so flat and boring and my gosh, she was tedious. She had the emotional range of an egg.

The world description was non-existent. The beginning, when we are in the Japanese countryside, was the only part that was descriptive: we had a lovely house and lovely scenery, and then we moved to Tokyo and all of a sudden it's just grey and stone, and that's it. And oddly empty of people. No atmosphere, no city scenery; it was vague at best. It could have still been happening in the fish factory.

There also needs to be an amendment to the Bechdel Test. 3.1: Two women have a conversation about something that isn't just bitching about other women.

And, whilst I don't agree that "culture" automatically means you forgive something, and I realise it was a different time and a different place, but I don't want to read about creepy old men who creep about pubic hair growing on twelve year olds' vaginas. I just don't.

And I know this is the most unhinged and incoherent review ever, but I also didn't find myself learning anything particular about Geisha. In fact, I'd agree with most other reviewers and say it was far too Westernised and almost Romanticised. 

Terry Pratchett; Nation
4 / 5

Pages: 410
Published: 2009 by Corgi Children (Originally published 2008)
Genre: Fiction, Alternative Historical, Children's, English

Mau and Daphne have been brought up very differently in the 1850s, but having both become marooned on an island after a Tsunami, they must overcome their previous prejudices and come together to rebuild Nation and await rescue, either from Daphne's father-137th to the Throne-or any of Mau's indigenous fellow brethren.

Deciding what one reads for the quite particular milestone of the 1000th book read is quite something. Whilst stats are never important in any area of life (reading, playing Cricket, sex) they are incredibly fun. And, let's face it, 1000 is a ruddy good number. The importance of reading a good book on the 1000th turn was pivotal because the past few books have been, in a word, dire.

Charles Dickens was a good bet. Charles Dickens is always a good bet. Even when he dies and leaves a book unfinished, he's still a good bet. But Charles Dickens only really has a few ways of writing, a few things to write about. It was a slow world in 1854. Terry Pratchett on the other hand, the ever-funny, ever-real, ever-unashamed of voicing his views, is also a good bet... sort of. Discworld is brilliant, but this is not Discworld. This is... Other. And past experience with PTerry's other was mixed at best.

Nation is an alternative history edition of a marooned Westerner and a native indigenous Great Southern Pelagic Ocean (South Pacific Ocean) island dweller. On the surface it is a relative easy to read older children's book, much in the same vain as his Tiffany Aching Discworld novels. But, as with all of PTerry's works, scratch the surface just a little and you enter a world that is full of adult themes that we, for some reason, have initialised as being Too Grown Up For Kids And Therefore Should Never Be Mentioned In Front Of Them.

Death is a big part of PTerry's works. We don't have the capitalised DEATH of Discworld, but we still have the humour of death surrounding Mau. There's nothing twee here, which connects with the period this novel is set in: 1860s and people died a lot. Mostly of diseases. Death was never a mythical beast who visited and left a shadow but instead it was dealt with. Mau deals with it, as does Daphne, the Western cast-away. It is still dealt with calmly and there are no Lord of the Flies moments, but the important thing is that it is dealt with. It is fast-paced with the occasional lull, with no time for thoughts because of the situation, except the really big thoughts that are impossible to ignore no matter how many dead relatives one must bury.

Colonisation and Western approaches to dealing with Indigenous Peoples is also dealt with marvellously. It's ridiculous to expect every Westerner to apologise for what their ancestors did, but PTerry gives it a good go by offering up an alternative view of what should have happened. It's also a good way of seeing how other cultures expect children to grow in to adults, cutting out the society pressure of such a thing and instead giving Mau (and Daphne, to some extent) the means of physically and mentally growing in to adults by forcing them to become adults.

It is one of those kid's books that does not talk down to them, but instead talks them up. It is full of character who embody something different, yet are able to-somehow-work together for the same end. It has goodies and baddies, but also in-betweenies, which is rare in a kid's book. It is likeable and clever, but above all easy to read and understand. It is very funny and very, very Terry Pratchett.

A Move in An Other Direction

Monday, 4 July 2016


Just a quick note to say that my comedy reviews have moved over to The Gruesome, which is where they will live from now on and, hopefully, other comedy-related things will appear there, too. (There's a fun little button just at the side you can click on anytime you like). It's been something I've been thinking of doing for a long time and, whilst I don't like the idea of niche-only blogging, I think it's the best thing right now.

And another note to say that XLeptodactylous will be leaning more toward being a Book kind of Blog, though I hope I will still write of creative-type things, as well. I'm hoping to share a lot of book-related things, like book care ideas, book collecting and general bookish things.

Because books are nice.

I think it's more of a "let's see what I can do to make me care about blogging again". I haven't read a single blog post for a long time now and I kind of miss it. It's just there are SO MANY BLOGS. SO MANY.

How do you even choose between them all? I'm having a hard time finding the good ones.

I'll also be announcing a few other things soon, like beta-reading, book club stuff and hopefully we'll get some book reviews up here tomorrow.

But don't hold your breath!

Because the sun is out.

And we know how long that lasts.

I'm not looking forward to Winter at all.


Tab For A Cause: An Easy Way To Give

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tab For A Cause is a simple but very effective way to help raise money for charities without having to donate anything yourself at all. Whilst giving to charity is one of the most altruistic, feel-good and humble things in life you can do, sometimes we really have to think of ourselves first and charity has to begin at home when we're feeling the pressures of the world on us.

It's a terrible world we live in, but there are people out there who are fighting for it and those who can't use their voices for whatever reason. Tab For A Cause is very simple to use: you simply allow them to place an extension or app on to your web browser and for every new tab you open you will gain a heart, which you donate back to them when you feel like it and raise money at the same time. The page that opens on the new tab has advertisements dotted around it and it's these adverts that give the money, so remember to turn your ad-block off for Tab For A Cause!

(If you use Google Chrome and find it won't work please let me know because there may be something else you need to do.)

There are five charitable areas to choose from, but you don't have to stick to just one! You can pick and choose whenever you like, and the money will go straight to them. You don't have to specify a certain charity, as each category holds several and will distribute the money evenly between them. (I've listed each charity and linked to their official websites below if you want to find out more about them.)

001. Human Rights
001.1 - Human Rights Watch
001.2 - The Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck

002. Water
002.1 - Water.org

003. Education
003.1 - Room To Read
003.2 - Educate!

004. Health
004.1 - Save The Children
004.2 - Action Against Hunger

005. The Environment
005.1 - Conservation International

If there is one charity, or a certain category, you're particularly interested in, you can choose those specific charities when you decide to donate your "hearts". You're not bound to one charity over the other, either, so picking and choosing each time is an option if you haven't quite decided what charities you'd like to help out.

My impact has been quite small in terms of other people, but it's still more than I'd ever thought possible. I don't have enough money to look after myself really, let alone think of other people, but doing this makes me feel like I'm doing something. Even though it's a small impact, ANY kind of impact is a good start.

My impact is on the left on the above image and you can see I've raised the monetary equivalent of providing 7 people with clean water for one whole year (in reality I've only donated money to Conservation International), whereas the total impact by all Tabbers is given on the right, and together we've raised the monetary equivalent of giving 2,600 people clean water for a lifetime. And that's just by opening tabs on the computer.

(Just to clarify, the difference in the top graphs beside my name where it says 98 (heart symbol) and 102 (heart symbol) is just the different between opening 4 new tabs between seeing the graphs!)


One tab opened equals one heart gained, however 1 heart equals less than a cent, but it soon adds up. You can donate your hearts wherever you like, as already stated above, and you can either donate them as you earn them or save them up for a larger donation less frequently. At least 90% of the money raised goes to the charities, with some of it being held back to pay for admin of Tab For A Cause themselves (such as the site hosting and reinvesting. You can read their FAQ here.)

I haven't been Tabbing for very long (201 days apparently! About 6-7 months), but I've managed to acquire 4,659 hearts (that's 4,659+ tabs I've opened!) and I've donated all of my hearts to The Environment (Conservation International) because that is what I hold most dear, but I would never think to not donate to any of the others. I'm also currently the 93rd highest Heart Donater.

They've very nearly raised $100,000 altogether which is great for something that only a few people know about and are joining in with, and for something with the least amount of effort required. Just think about when you're on the computer how many times you've opened a new tab to Google something, or seen adverts dotted around and knowing that they're not good for anything except being annoying.

If you'd like to help out every time you open a tab, just follow this link here.