Good Morning Readers. Today I am featuring the March Priorhouse Interview with blogger Ally, from The Spectacled Bean (here). Thanks to everyone who joined us for the February interview with author VJ Knutson. To see all of the previous Priorhouse interviews, go here.
Now, let’s get to know Ally from The Spectacled Bean
PRIORHOUSE: Ally, thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview. One of the reasons I wanted to feature you this month related to your almost 20 years of blogging experience. Can you tell us a little bit about your blogging?
ALLY: I started my first blog in 2004 as a personal challenge. I majored in English Lit in undergrad and Communications in grad school so it seemed like I should be able to write a blog. Turns out I can. My current blog is on WordPress and my blogging nom de plume: Ally is a nickname and the Bean part came from the saying, “Know what I mean, jelly bean?” Thus I am Ally Bean.
PRIORHOUSE: I know your blog posts already offer various tips for bloggers, but I was wondering if you had a few tips to share here?
- Write posts in which there is something for your readers to say *YES* to
- Posts with goofy titles draw in readers more than ones with staid titles
- Double check your spelling and grammar
PRIORHOUSE: Also, I really like how you end your posts with a question or two for readers to respond/react to. The questions you provide seem to help us mentally go from reading mode to commenting mode. I think the key is to “not” ask too many closing questions and I like how you usually offer one or two.
Can you tell us a little bit about the photography you feature on your blog?
ALLY: I take photos randomly, rarely with any specific purpose.
I toss my photos into my photo file with zero identification about them.
Then, once in a while, I look through the photos to see if I could use one in a blog post.
I am NOT organized about photos.
They just happen.
PRIORHOUSE: Those photos sure do just happen – and this February bloom of yours is a recent favorite.
PRIORHOUSE: Ally, when it comes to blogging, what is your biggest pet peeve?
ALLY: My biggest pet peeve with blogging? I find it almost impossible to read white/pastel letters on a dark background. I know it looks dramatic or modern, but I find it difficult to see.
PRIORHOUSE: I do not like that white font on dark either. I also do not like the current default of light gray on a white background. I assume that the tech folks who set this up had their reasons, but the faint gray font is WAY too light at times.
And here at Priorhouse, a pet peeve is when someone starts to like a lot of my comments on other blog posts. My “reader” gets clogged with “so and so liked your comment on M; so and so liked your comment on Y; so and so liked your comment on T.” It can be annoying because those notices (of their likes) take up space and have to be clicked on to remove from the “reader”list. I am sure they mean well, clicking “all of those” likes in a row, but it should be done sparingly. I sometimes like someone’s comment on a blog post (and have met new connections that way; for example, I recently met author Maria Donovan because I liked her humorous comment on BushBoy’s blog); however, I think it is rude to over use that “like” option on comments. I recently asked someone to please stop doing that to my comments (and truly hope it was not rude to speak up about it).
ALLY: Yes, I’ve had that happen (someone starts to like a lot of my comments). To me it seems weird. For example, I have a regular commenter who will do that when she gets around to reading something I wrote. All of a sudden, she’s liking all my comments– and may or may not leave a comment of her own. I never know what to make of it. Sincere interest or just filling in some time while she waits for something else to happen?
PRIORHOUSE: What do you like the most about blogging and what keeps you around the blogosphere?
ALLY: What do I like most about blogging? I’m a creative free spirit so putting together blog posts allows me to use words, add links when appropriate, and make the whole thing look pretty with images. What keeps me blogging? I enjoy sparking conversations. It’s endlessly fascinating to see what commenters will say.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us about the recent blogroll you created?
ALLY: The crowdsourced blogroll idea came to me in a flash. I thought it would be fun and unique to put together a blogroll based on how old each blog was. I figured that maybe 25 people would want their blogs on the list, but I underestimated. In the end, there were about 90+ blogs added to the blogroll. It took me many hours to put it together. I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything like that again.
PRIORHOUSE: For those that want to check out this blogroll, the page is here. I found it interesting because I saw bloggers on that list that I had not connected with in years. A goal of mine is to return to that page a few more times to connect with a few more bloggers (and I’ll tell them, Ally sent me).
I also noticed that last March (2021) you had a clever post with “A LIST OF WHO’S DOING WHAT” and if anyone wants to connect with more bloggers, the 17 bloggers listed there are some great options to consider. Here is the link.
QUIZZES & TERMS
PRIORHOUSE: Another thing readers encounter on The Spectacled Bean blog relates to the sharing of fun tests, charts, terms, definitions, surveys, and research tidbits. Can you share about this?
ALLY: I’m curious so I take quizzes, create surveys, and/or research things. My most popular posts are lists of terms. I get hits on these every week. Here are a few for readers to check out:
• In Which Ms. Bean Answers Mr. Monk’s Question + The Names Of Measuring Spoons & Cups https://thespectacledbean.com/2022/01/11/in-which-ms-bean-answers-mr-monks-question-the-names-of-measuring-spoons-cups/
• 28 Pig Phrases: A List Created [For Fun], A Goal Achieved [Finally] https://thespectacledbean.com/2020/02/27/28-pig-phrases-a-list-created-for-fun-a-goal-achieved-finally/
• The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained https://thespectacledbean.com/2018/10/23/the-great-cobbler-debacle-of-2018-12-fruit-based-desserts-explained/
• 1930s Slang: How Do You Say Very Good? https://thespectacledbean.com/2019/04/30/1930s-slang-how-do-you-say-very-good/
MANAGING BLOG COMMENTS
PRIORHOUSE: Ally, we have been blog friends for a while now and when I first came to your blog, I felt like you always had time for newcomers. I still feel that way and thank you for it. Anyhow, with each of your posts often having 200+ comments, how do you manage the replies and also stay open for connecting with new folks?
ALLY: Thanks for the compliment, I try to be kind and inclusive to everyone. I feel friendliness is the essence of personal blogging. After all, the way you respond to comments is an insight into who you are at heart; if you ignore commenters they’ll notice– and think less of you for it.
- I’ve learned that with blog comments it is like the ocean, you should never turn your back on them.
- As for how I handle the comments, I tend to post once a week and then I check my blog a few times during all the subsequent days replying to comments as they appear.
- I never intentionally ignore a commenter, but I know I occasionally miss a few people. Mea culpa.
PRIORHOUSE: I wanted to share the five-word descriptions from your about page:
• Five words that describe who I am: curious, articulate, light-hearted, genuine, creative.
• Five words that describe who I am not: sneaky, insincere, dishonest, uptight, athletic.
So… now can you tell us something about you that is NOT well known?
ALLY: I’ve taken the classes and have been attuned to Reiki Level 2. This means I know a few things about energy healing.
- Reiki is both a way to understand/process the world around you– and a way to move your hands over someone to help a person relax. I understand the principles and symbols well enough, but I am not very good at the hand part.
- If someone was interested in learning more about Reiki, I would suggest researching the term online, then look for classes in your local area. Back when I discovered Reiki it was from a yoga teacher who knew a nun at a spiritual center who gave classes in it. It was all word of mouth, this was before the Internet was so accessible.
PRIORHOUSE: What is something you are working on? Any habits or goals for change?
ALLY: I am, by nature, a sloth. I accomplish things but not quickly. That being said, now that it’s springtime, I’m trying to get into the habit of going for a healthful walk every day– like some kind of gazelle or something.
PRIORHOUSE: What is on your TBR list?
ALLY: I’m about to start reading: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
PRIORHOUSE: Have you written any books?
ALLY: In essence, I have written at least three books. Here is a post I wrote about this very topic: Words Do Not Fail Me: A Study Of Wordiness In My Blog Posts & Your Comments, Forsooth https://thespectacledbean.com/2021/01/22/words-do-not-fail-me-a-study-of-wordiness-in-my-blog-posts-your-comments-forsooth/
PRIORHOUSE: That is SO INTERESTING about the word count. Let me share a snippet of that post here:
“As of January 2021, I had written and published a total of 962 posts with a word count of 282,612 words. According to this article, A Word Count Guide for 18 Book Genres, Including Novels and Non-Fiction, 80,000 words is the ideal length for a novel. “If you’re working on a novel-length book, aim for 50,000 words at the very least — but it’s better to aim for 90,000. Editorial trimming is inevitable.” Ergo, keeping the above rule of thumb in mind while applying it to my blog word count [282,612 divided by 90,000] you can see that in essence: I’VE WRITTEN THREE BOOKS.” ~Ally Bean
PRIORHOUSE: I like how you often surprise readers with splashes of humor, like with this video (in your runaway mailbox post) with a dog named BEAN:
PRIORHOUSE: Do you have a favorite quote?
ALLY: “Love many, trust few, learn to paddle your own canoe.”
PRIORHOUSE: I also grabbed these two quotes from your blog:
PRIORHOUSE: Do you have a favorite movie?
ALLY: One of my Favorite movies is Bull Durham.
- My favorite quote from Bull Durham is, “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.”
- I have no idea how many times I have seen the movie.
- We don’t own any movies, so I watch it every few years when I see that it is going to be on cable or on a streaming service.
The “Pass Me By” song encapsulates how the main character, Walter [Cary Grant], feels about the world as he attempts to avoid WWII while living on a remote tropical island. The Father Goose movie is a comedy. Grumpy Walter is forced to look after a group of French school girls and their gorgeous teacher [Leslie Caron] when they find themselves marooned on his island.
- Favorite Movie in December: The Holiday
- Favorite TV shows: The Good Place or Schitt’s Creek
- Another favorite show has been Murdoch Mysteries
PRIORHOUSE: I have not seen the Murdoch Mysteries and I hope to check it out some year. What season are you on and did you start from season one?
ALLY: We started with Season 1 last summer and we are now on Season 13! The main characters are still around but are more mature now, less flighty. The recurring bad guy characters come and go, as do the other constables in the station house. The most marked change in the show is how women’s fashions have become less fussy, more tailored.
ALLY’S OTHER RECENT INTERVIEW
PRIORHOUSE: Well Ally, this has been fun and thanks so much for your time.
ALLY: You are welcome, Yvette.
PRIORHOUSE: As we wind down this March interview, I wanted to also let bloggers know that you were featured in an interview last month.
ALLY: Yes, Jen from the BOSSSY BABE blog posted an interview with me for her ongoing monthly Blogger Spotlight Series. I was thrilled to be asked to participate for February 2022. Readers can go HERE to read the interview.
PRIORHOUSE: I really like how Bossy Babe described you and have a snippet here, because it sure sums up the Ally Bean I know:
“The blogger I chose to spotlight for the month of February is definitely not new to the blogosphere. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon her (Ally Bean) page but so happy I did. I have to admit, I am pretty stoked she agreed to let me interview her. I enjoy her wit and style of writing (she makes me laugh), and I admire her ability to write about life’s mundane mishaps. Also, I kind of love her blog name” The (Spectacled Bean )
Here are some links if anyone wants to connect more with ALLY:
- On Twitter: @spectacledbean https://twitter.com/spectacledbean
- On Instagram: @thespectacledbean https://www.instagram.com/thespectacledbean/
- On Bloglovin’: @allybean https://www.bloglovin.com/@allybean
- On Pinterest: @thespectacledbean https://www.pinterest.com/thespectacledbean/
****UPDATE: Ally’s Post HERE links this interview and also offers some excellent tips for blog balance***
Thanks for joining us with the ALLY BEAN interview.
If you have any questions or comments, we would love your feedback