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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 316

Hot off the Presses

I’m writing this Thursday, July 2, 2020. As I write this there is a drizzle falling upon my hometown of Olympia, Washington, and it is currently fifty-fix degrees.

On July 2nd!

We have the heat on!

On July 2nd!

If my conversion is correct, that is thirteen degrees Celsius.

On July 2nd!

Welcome to my world!

It’s definitely good weather for writing. It’s good weather for doing indoor chores. Visions of picnics or barbecues? As my friends in Philly would say, fogetaboutit!

I hope this finds you all healthy, safe, and happy. Let’s find out what’s on your minds today, shall we?

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

A Commentary on Life

From Liz: “Is writing a commentary on life?”

My best friend Frank, who recently went to that great forum in the sky, majored in Philosophy in college. It was the source of many a joke during those four years we studied together. “What in the hell are you going to do with a Philosophy degree?” we would ask him, and he would just smile at us and say “I don’t know. I just like to think about life.”

So this question, and my answer, Liz, is dedicated to Frank.

Hell yes writing is a commentary on life! About five-thousand years ago the Ancient Sumerians began scribbling down information about their culture, and man has been doing the same ever since. Every story, every article, every memoir and journal and diary reflect who we are as a species and thus becomes an ongoing commentary on Life.

Ain’t it cool? You are a part of a tradition dating back 5,000 years, and 5,000 years from now someone will discover one of your writings, and that person will sit down and read your thoughts, and thus the connection will continue.

I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Complete strangers will read my works long after I die

Complete strangers will read my works long after I die


From Mary: “Sometimes, I wonder about being motivated to write. Why are some writers motivated and others not?”

Holy cow, Mary, I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer to that one. Man is a complicated creature, and my guess is there are multiple reasons why someone is lacking motivation.

Clinically depressed? Check! A history of being told they are not good enough? Check! Lack of self-confidence? Check! Just plain lazy? Check! Dead tired from working two jobs and raising a family? Check! They are all valid reasons to explain a lack of motivation.

Scroll to Continue

There was a span of about twelve years when I had no motivation to write. It was called my “Alcoholic Period,” and not one word was transcribed. I was much too busy drinking away my brain cells.

So I feel a bit inadequate to answer this question. I will say this, though: a person with writing talent is doing us all a disservice by not writing. We, the reading public, are being deprived of an artistic endeavor, and I think that’s a shame anytime that happens.

Do you feel the motivation?

Do you feel the motivation?

How Long to Write a Book

From Jessica: “I’m attempting to write a novel. How long do you think it should take me to complete it? Or is that a silly question? Thanks in advance.”

I don’t think it’s a silly question at all, Jessica. If you’ve never done something, it is quite natural to want to gather information about it. Committing to writing a novel is a huge commitment of time and energy, so go into it with eyes wide open.

Unfortunately, my answer is going to sound more philosophical than it is concrete. It will take you as long as it takes you, and not a minute more.

All things being equal, when I’m not spending too much time with customers, I can write a novel in six months. However, when life is slowing me up, it can take me a year to write one. And there are some days I don’t feel like writing, and some days I write like the proverbial bat out of hell.

And then we can have a discussion about length – will it be 70,000 words or 100,000 words.

Plan on a year, and if you do it in less time, celebrate!

What Do Readers Want?

From Lizzie: “I’m playing with the idea of writing a novel for the first time. I know, from your advice and the advice of other writers, that the first page or two are crucial in ‘hooking’ the readers. My question is this: what do readers want when they pick up a novel and start reading?” Can you give me an answer which applies to most readers?”

It’s an interesting question, Liz. I was going to answer with one word, namely entertainment, and be done with it, but you specifically mentioned the first page and hooking a reader. So now I’m wavering on that answer just a bit.

I think readers want an answer to this specific question: why should I continue reading this novel? That question is the basis for “the hook.” As novelists we must give the readers a reason to continue. Obviously, everyone wants to be entertained and informed, but when talking about that opening chapter, or the prelude, we have to get down and dirty. We have to hook them with a reason why they simply must continue reading for fulfillment. And really, that applies to articles and nonfiction books as well.

Good luck to you Lizzie!

The End

From Adrian: “When are you going to stop writing? Or when do you think it’s a good time to stop writing?”

I can only answer this one for myself, Adrian, but I will call it quits when writing is no longer enjoyable for me. Until that day arrives, I’m just going to keep pouring out words for my entertainment and hopefully the entertainment of others.

Having said that, obviously, if I have a debilitating stroke tomorrow, my answer will change. Lol

Or, I could paraphrase Charlton Heston in his speech to the NRA and say “I’ll quit writing when they pry the pen from my cold, dead fingers.

And that is the only time in this lifetime I will paraphrase anything mentioned in an NRA meeting.

On a related note, Bev mentioned, the other day, that she thought it would be a good idea for us to get a gun for protection what with the COVID scare and people being so desperate. Strange times indeed when this old Peacenik considers the pros and cons of purchasing a handgun. The thing is, I understand where she's coming from. No matter how badly I want peace on earth, there are violent people out there who will do evil things, and no amount of "talking" will stop them once they've broken into our home.

One more thing to think about!

Final Thoughts

I was out walking the dogs yesterday and I passed by a house where a woman was sitting on the front porch wrapped in a quilt.

On July 2nd!

Okay, I’m over it!

Today I’m going to plug in the circular saw and cut some lumber for the porch-extension I’m doing. It’s good weather for outside labor, so I’m done whining about it.

I hope you have a great week. Stay safe, stay healthy, and be happy always.

And please, remember, do all things with love.


2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on August 04, 2020:


Same here :-)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2020:

Boy that's the truth, Lawrence. I spend almost as much time on the first edit as I did writing the darned manuscript. I always find something I think should be improved.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on August 03, 2020:


These are strange times we live in! I'm sure there's a plot for a novel there!

Can'treally add too much, except that novels take as long as they take, and even when youthink you're finished there's still so much left to do!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 15, 2020:

I'm as late as you, Heidi. In fact, I'm later. I need to get my act together.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 13, 2020:

I wish our July 2nd would have been the same weather as your July 2nd! We've been under stifling 90-ish with blazing sun for the past couple weeks. Ugh! My least fave writing weather.


Everything was pretty philosophical in this week's Mailbag, to which the answer to everything is "it depends." So I can't provide any major practical insight this week. So I'll just have to wait 'til next week's. Wait, it is next week! Dear Lord! Where is the time going?

See you in the next Mailbag!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 10, 2020:

I'm happy you have found peace in writing, Devika. Thank you for sharing your writings with us.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 10, 2020:

Hi Bill writing has helped me through many tough times and reading what you have to say is interesting and true.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

Mel, that was a total bummer, but I forgive you. Maybe the archaeologists who find our ruins will be correct in their conclusion. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

I'll pass on your weather, William. That is much too hot for this boy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

Thank you MizB! Motivation is an interesting topic. Me thinks that stroke had something to do with yours. I'm glad you are on the mend, my friend. As for the weather, this is the summer that wasn't here in Olympia. No matter how much whining I do, it isn't changing a thing. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

I love your vision of being 105. Somehow I don't see myself making it that long, but hope springs eternal.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

All understandable, Becky! I envy you that much space. Enjoy, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

True words, Venkatachari M. I always enjoy your input, and I am thankful for your insights. Blessings to you always, my friend.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 08, 2020:

I hate to be a bummer, but the ancient Sumerians chiseled their words into stone, and our words are mostly on a digital medium that will disappear forever as soon as it is demagnetized. The future archaeologists digging through the ruins of our civilization will find none of our words, and conclude that we were illiterate.

All the same, it is fun reading your words while they last. In spite of the vast genocide you inflicted upon your brain cells in the past, you seem to have quite a few left.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 08, 2020:

Some good points to ponder, Bill. Sorry to hear about the WA temperature. I'd trade you if I could. It's in the muggy '90s here in the northeast. But you're right. that's good writing weather!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

It includes us all, Dora! Sit down at your computer and create!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2020:

Exactly, Zulma! I love your image. It's perfect. Striker keeps me constantly entertained in a very dark way. I love developing his character.

Happy Wednesday my friend!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on July 08, 2020:

Hi Bill.

Striker is spearheading your writing? I have a mental picture of your delicate, winged muse tied to a chair, ducktape over her mouth while Striker holds a gun to her head and whispers into your ear. That will keep me giggling all day. Thanks for that. lol

Have a great day, Bill.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 07, 2020:

Bill, enjoy our cool temperature. "A person with writing talent is doing us all a disservice by not writing." Thanks for saying that.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 07, 2020:

Bill, the question about how long will you write is a good one. I received an email from a hub friend recently who reminded me that I haven't been very active. I had to stop and think, yes, I've lost motivation since...when, think...I guess since I had that stroke last October. I picked up a story that I started over a year ago and added some to it, so maybe I'm getting back in the groove. But I'm not going to worry about it. It will come...or it won't.

I had to remember to search for you again. I haven't had any notifications from HP in days. I wonder if I accidentally turned them off. I guess I'll check on that.

Sitting on the porch under a quilt? I finally had to turn the AC on a couple of days before the 4th. Hope you and Bev had a nice holiday!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 07, 2020:

Great mailbag again. Your answer about writing is the same as mine. I'll quit when I can't lift my hand any longer... when I'm dead. That should be when I'm about 105 and not before.



Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 07, 2020:

Only problem with leaving my grass long would be my 6 pound dog, that I keep losing in the grass and the fire danger all that dried grass makes. The big dog goes bouncing through the yard like Tigger, trying to keep an eye on the bunny he is chasing. It is quite amusing to watch him. I made several hides for the bunnies with mesquite branches I have cut down. I pile them up in the back of the yard to dry and they hide in those. Coyotes, hawks, and the dog can't get to them in there.

I also use the mesquite branches for wood for my fire pit and bbq. I never buy briquettes, because I have mesquite to use. I just use from the oldest pile. I do need the area about 20 feet around my house cleared for fire protection. We have had some big fires around here and I do not want to lose my house to one.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 07, 2020:

Many unique and good questions in this mailbag. I enjoyed reading them and your replies. For writers, it's only the end of life that is the stop. Until that, we keep pumping out something or other. May be about life, knowledge, or dream world. Thanks for this nice mailbag.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

It is always my pleasure, Chitrangada Sharan. Strange times we live in. Let's hope 2021 is a better year for all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Mr. Happy, I would rather extend the porch than put in a new window. lol I am rooting you on from afar. :) Love that line from the customer about the philosophy factory. Pretty funny!

Stay safe, my friend, and thank you for your entertaining comments.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Zulma, I feel much better that you turned the heat on. Ours is on again today. Sigh!

My muse is back. Striker is spearheading a new flurry of writing, and I thought of an interesting plot twist which has me quite excited...for now!

Good luck with those projects. I'm sure your muse is just taking a short break.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Thank you Linda, and I find it sad too. You're much better off in B.C.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Thank you Ruby! Stay cool and safe, my friend, and keep that heat there.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Mary, you are so good about asking questions. Thank you for that one. As for fish swimming across the lawn, that makes me laugh for some strange reason.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

it really is, Bill! We haven't done it yet, but I'm fairly certain we will. Sigh!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Thanks Melissa! It's still raining and still 58 here. I like cool summers, but would 70 be asking so much? lol Happy first week of July, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Sad indeed, Peggy, because Bev is the most peaceful person I know. Sigh! A sign of the times for sure.

I'll have an answer for you about dog days of summer next week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Manatita, thank you for the beautiful reflections. I can find not fault in any of them. They mirror my thoughts as well. These are strange times. It is taking people some time to adjust to it all, and that adjustment period is reflected in their interactions with others. There seems to be an invisible wall around people these days. I hope that wall comes down soon.

Blessings always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Mary, I think that's a valid question, and I'll tackle it in next week's Mailbag. Thank you for that. I suspect quite a few of my readers want to know the same thing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Ann, we used to sit in our lawn chairs and watch our birds for hours. They would come over and hop into our laps from time to time, which we though was great fun. In other words, I understand completely.

Maybe we are just skipping summer this year. It's chilly and rainy again today, darn it.

Have a dry, wonderful Tuesday, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Shoot, Becky, those notes could be in that tall grass out back. lol Three acres must seem like a wonderland for those snakes and coyotes, like some nature preserve. You could call it that, Becky's Nature Preserve, and not bother mowing it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2020:

Thanks Alyssa! I'm afraid the showers continue today, but it has warmed up to 58 degrees. lol When you finish your organizing your home, feel free to come here and work on ours. :)

Have a great week my energetic friend!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 07, 2020:

All useful questions, and you shared helpful information through your answers.

Regarding the present scenario in the World, the uncertainty is causing stress in many people. No one has the right answer about, when this will end.

Thanks for sharing another engaging instalment.

Stay safe and take care.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on July 07, 2020:

“What in the hell are you going to do with a Philosophy degree?” - I was working night shifts at a gas-station across the street when I was in university. It was the ten to six shift so, I could study because it wasn't busy at those times.

So, one night I had my philosophy text-book on the counter and was reading when a customer came-in to hand me money for the gas. He asked what I was studying and I told him that it was philosophy, to which he replied:

"Ohh, good because there's a philosophy factory opening-up down the road" and he walked out. Haha!!

Since You talked about Summerians as the first writing people, I have to put this out:

"The Tărtăria tablets /tərtəria/ are three tablets, reportedly discovered in 1961 at a Neolithic site in the village of Tărtăria (about 30 km (19 mi) from Alba Iulia), in Romania.[1]

The dating of the tablets is difficult as they cannot be carbon-dated and the stratigraphy is uncertain. A few scientists[1] suppose that they may date to around 5300 BC. Most of the scientists, analysing the signs, are for a much newer age, around 2,750 BC, maximum 3,300 BC (which is the beginning of the period of Sumerian proto-writing).[dubious – discuss][2]"

"Why are some writers motivated and others not?" - I don;t need motivation. I write because it's like breathing for me. If I didn't have a computer, I'd go back to pen and paper, or walls and blood. I have to write like I have to breath. I don't need motivation. If I have something to say, writing is inevitable.

“When are you going to stop writing? Or when do you think it’s a good time to stop writing?” - When I will stop breathing, haha!!

"And that is the only time in this lifetime I will paraphrase anything mentioned in an NRA meeting" - I appreciate that. I actually saw that bit of him and every-time I remember his angry, raging face ... it's disturbing.

Best of luck with the porch extension. I'm changing a living-room window today. May the Gods help us out! Cheers! : )

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on July 07, 2020:

Good Lord, Bill, what is going on that Bev, of all people, is seriously thinking about getting a gun?!

It's comforting to know that even you sometimes don't feel like writing. I've seemed to have lost my motivation. There are new projects popping up that distract me. My son's old room needs redecorating, I'm resurrecting an old project, and I'm crocheting blankets for two of the kids as well as myself and I'm working on a Christmas present for my oldest daughter. Having said that, I got an idea yesterday on how to rework an old story that's been sitting in my files for a couple of years. Hmmm...maybe my muse has returned. At any rate, it's nice to know that even you sometimes don't feel like writing.

The weather's pretty chilly here too. I've just turned the heat on. lol

Good talking to you. Have a lovely day and be careful with that saw.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 06, 2020:

People must do what they think is right, and I don't live in the United States and don't know what life is like there at the moment, but I find it very sad that people need to consider buying a gun for safety. I hope you and Bev stay safe, Bill.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 06, 2020:

It is 94 degrees here today, I just went out to check the mailbox and hurried back in. I wouldn't go out to eat if there was a place open, and there isn't. Don't work too hard on the renovation and stay happy and safe.

Mary Wickison from USA on July 06, 2020:

Hi Bill,

Thanks for sharing that video featuring Stephen King. Towards the end of it he says he follows the characters instead of the plot. Have your characters 'taken over' and guided your stories in a way you didn't anticipate at the beginning?

Like Peggy, the thought that Bev feels unsafe and is considering a gun, makes me sad.

We had a huge amount of rain last night. So much, I now have fish swimming across the lawn.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 06, 2020:

Hi Bill. I would actually welcome your 50s. Heat and humidity are not for me. I would prefer to be cool and have to put on a layer than to be sweltering.

We have also talked about getting a gun. We even took a basic safety class but ultimately decided against getting one. It’s a sad commentary on the world we live in. Have a great week.

Melissa Propp from Minnesota on July 06, 2020:

Happy Monday Bill! Turning the heat on in July? That sounds like something a MN gal might have to do...but we were sweltering in 90+ degrees with high humidity--also typical MN weather in July. :)

Hope you have a productive and warmer week!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2020:

Wow! 56 degrees! I wish we could combine your low temps with our high ones and meet in the middle. Our upper 90 temps with "feel-like" ones of 100+ are the "dog days" of summer down here. I wonder whoever made up that saying? I love dogs, and in this meaning, it has a less than desirable meaning.

Times are scary, and it is a shame that Bev even has to consider the purchase of a gun for protection. That makes me sad. Stay well!

manatita44 from london on July 06, 2020:

Ok, Bro. Sometimes I say little and sometimes a little more. To my mind, I totally support your response to Liz. I'll take it a bit further. She's a soul and we are her kindred Spirits, so whatever she says, applies to us too. In Maslow's Hierarchy of human needs, he makes it quite clear.

She's really writing the experience of the soul from her perspective, but because we are also souls, then naturally it applies to us. We all feel, breathe, like warmth, shelter, home security, love ...chinese, blacks, whites ... todos!

That is why we are influenced by works of 5,000 years ago or even 7,000 (Vedic literature) and even further. They are simply speaking to the varying moods of the soul. My friend Bill, someone I just happen to know married to a woman called Bev, is a master at that.

Mary knows why the motivation is missing. Happens. Sometimes, we just need to change the angle of vision. One girl in our Centre very rarely contributed anything! She came over like a 'dead' soul. But she finally left and got married.

I was very surprised to hear afterwards, of how much this girl could do ... of the late hours she sat up into the night, doing things for her husband. Why? well, why does a baby cry when it's hungry? Interest is paramount and in this case 'security through human love.' Something must hold our attention. It needn't be writing, but we just need to find it.

Strange times indeed!! Spiritual philosophy is not the one of turning the other cheek. True spiritual people are inwardly very strong. They know the value of this Temple gifted by God. Why should they throw it away? So we protect it, but the purity of intention; sincerity of purpose, must be present. Pax Vorbiscum!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 06, 2020:

It's warming up where we are. I swam in the lake on the first day of July. This swim is a first for me. About two years ago, we also thought of getting a gun, but until now, we have not done so. We just have to trust in the goodness of people and continue to do so. It's a pity.

Anyway, thank you for this rich mailbag. It makes us think about our practices as writers. What hampers me, at times, is my lack of spontaneity that a native speaker who grew up in the culture would have for the English language. I will have difficulty with dialogues and building characters. Do you think I can overcome this or just forget about writing novels?

Ann Carr from SW England on July 06, 2020:

Yes, it has been cold here for a few days too. The wind has been extra strong for July but today the sun has come up. I've made the most of it by spending some time in the garden and watching the chickens too (first day we've had 3 eggs!). I never knew I'd get so excited about hens!

More rain tomorrow, so back to stuff indoors.

Great mailbag! Certainly we comment on life; what else is there to write about? I can't imagine not writing so I guess I'm just going to keep on thumping the keyboard as fast as I can.

Enjoy your week, bill, and I hope it's a peaceful one. Keep safe and well.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Pamela, I don't have a solution to all of this anger. I do know people are afraid, and many are desperate, and that is never a good combination of emotions.

Thanks for your thoughts. Let's hope your husband never has to take that gun out of its box.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 06, 2020:

It has been running in the high 90s here. I pray for a cooler day, so I can get some yard work done. My grass on the back 3 acres is currently about knee high. Do you know how many coyotes and snakes can hide in that much grass? A lot of them. I have been trying to get up early and go out again, just before dark to mow. I did manage to get the front acre mowed that way.

As for writing a book, several years ago, I wrote 3 chapters, in a week and a half. Then my husband decided to move again, and I lost all my notes of research. I have not managed to get back to that since. Some things just do not work the way you want them to. I never did find my notes. Maybe I will look for them again and see if they pop up.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Sad times for sure, Rajan! And I do think it will get worse. That's why I'm not fighting this gun idea too much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Maybe I should get you started, Shannon! lol You need a kick in the butt and about twenty less responsibilities. :) Stay cool, if that's possible in Texas.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

John, I'm cold just reading about 3 degrees. lol I don't know how I feel about owning a gun, but I better get in touch with those feelings soon. My wife is serious.

Alyssa from Ohio on July 06, 2020:

56 in July? I would have on a sweater, leggings, and be curled up with my heating pad. Yikes! We're on the opposite end over here.. mid to upper 90's, hot, and humid. Normally I live for it, but to be honest, I'm tired.

Another fantastic mailbag! I love your thoughts on writing as a commentary on life. It's incredible to think that our words will live on long after we're gone. Puts things in perspective, I think.

Well, I'm off to get some things accomplished. I've had an organization bug lately and all I want to do is tear things apart and arrange them in more interesting and useful ways.

I hope it warms up for you and the sun makes an appearance soon. Have a wonderful week!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 06, 2020:

We are living with the low 90s and daily thunderstorms, so maybe the cooler weather is perfect when you are adding on to your porch.

You had some unusual questions today, which I did find interesting. I think if y ou are writing fiction your perspective on many things in your life will be a part of the story. As I write medical articles most of the time I think they are less personal most of the time.

I understand Bev's concern that brought up the gun decision. My husband has a gun for that reason and he will hopefully never have to use it. I truly hope someone positive will come out of this violence. Why can't people just talk and make necessary changes to settle their differences? This year has been sad so far and I sure hope things improve. Like Eric tells us, love is the answer.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 06, 2020:

Lots of useful advice for writers, Bill. Just the other day my daughter's father-in-law got robbed at knife-point as he was coming back home after withdrawing cash from the ATM. Scary times indeed! I wonder what the situation will be like in the coming months with joblessness at an all-time high? A gun for protection should surely be high on one's purchase list.

Shannon Henry from Texas on July 06, 2020:

Happy Monday! The weatherman said we have triple-digit temps headed our way. Pretty typical hot July for us, I guess. I don't like the cold, but I'll gladly take a blast of your cool air to mix wit this heat!

Don't get me started on writing a novel....I haven't made much progress.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

I'd rather do yours, Linda. Replacing decking is in my skill set. Just tear apart and nail the new on. Easy-peasy.

You might want to wait until you see the whites of my eyes. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

It is a shame, Sha! I'm dragging my feet on that gun-buying thing. I'm hoping she will change her mind. As for the porch, the preliminary stuff is done. Now i have to get serious and tear something apart. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Eric, I'm not sure three bucks will get you a decent cup of coffee here, but I would pay for it anyway if you ever visit. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

I'm happy to share whatever knowledge I have, Rosina. Thank you for finding the time to visit.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Janine, I'm happy for you. It's nice to know someone enjoys hot weather. I did once, long ago, but no longer. Give me 70 and I'm a happy man.

Have a fantastic week, my friend, and thank you.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 06, 2020:

Sound advice as always, Bill. It s a sad world when peace loving individuals need to consider buying a gun for protection but you do what you need to. Wow, quite a cold spell you are going through. Nights are a little cold here dropping to 3 or 4 celsius but it is winter.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 06, 2020:

Congratulations, Nell, on that prequel. That's great, and good luck with the sales. As for the weather, I actually prefer cool to boiling hot, so I'm fine.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on July 06, 2020:

Bill lots of good stuff today for future writers. Look what you've started! As for the weather, the 4th was kinda nice. We hauled the fire pit up to our driveway and pretended we were camping. S'mores for dessert.

When you finish up that porch you'll be so full of knowledge and know-how perhaps you could swing by and help us with ours. We're replacing the decking on our 36-foot front porch. See you about noon perhaps?

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 06, 2020:

Fifty six?! Holy Mackerel! It's been in the upper nineties here. Way too hot!

Isn't it a crying shame that peace loving people have to actually consider buying guns in order to feel safe these days? The world's a mess.

Great answers to this week's questions, Bill. How's the front porch extension coming?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 06, 2020:

A lot to think about here. My philosophy degree and 3 bucks or so will buy me a coffee. So there.

Motivation interests me. I read stuff on it and it just gets me unmotivated. See that is another thing a philosophy degree will get you.

I like to think of the "hook" as something "for" my readers. I don't hide the style and subject. So they can spit me out if they don't like the bait.

Rosina S Khan on July 06, 2020:

How to be motivated to write, how long it takes to write a book and how to capture the interest of the readers were all good information for me in this mailbag. Thank you, Bill for pouring out the answers. It was extremely valuable and useful.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 06, 2020:

Omg to the temperature in your neck of the woods on July 2nd! In NY, we are in the middle of a heat wave. It is 9:30 and already 80 degrees with a real feel of 91 right now outside. So definitely no quilts needed outside. No complaints on my end though as this weather is totally my weather. Sounds crazy, but I love the heat. At the very least, it is helping me feel less down about having to cancel Disney this summer as if I can't be there during the hottest time of the year at least it is hot here. Happy Monday though and hoping it warms up for you this week.

Nell Rose from England on July 06, 2020:

Hi Bill, great advice about writing. I have just finished my prequel to GYPSIES! so I am going to re-do my Timeslip book. long story! And yes, the weather over here is exactly the same. By now it should be boiling hot as usual. To be honest, I don't really mind as we can't go far with this damn virus in the population. Anyway, stay safe as always.

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