Updated date:

The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #326

A Weird Change Has Come Over Me

Truth be told, I think I’ve read maybe five books in the last year, and I’m almost ashamed to write that. Prior to the last year, I would read, at least, one book per week. I had done that for thirteen years, since I finally sobered up in 2006. Reading was an anchor for me, something to occupy my mind, take it away from the stinkin’ thinkin’ of an alcoholic, but then, about a year ago, I just stopped reading. Instead, late at night, I now watch documentaries on Netflix, and nary a word do I read.

I wonder why? It seems strange, to me, that I would undergo such a radical shift so suddenly.

I miss reading, but not so much that I’m willing to pick up a book tonight and dive in.

Did I just grow bored with reading? I don’t think so. Will I begin again soon? I have no idea. It’s just bizarre.

Just being real. I doubt it’s anything to worry about, so don’t worry about me. We humans are complex creatures, and on a good day we might understand 50% of the things we do.

Let’s find out what the Mailbag has in store for us this week. And my apologies to Rinita. Your question came in late, so I will start off next week’s Mailbag with your question.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Female Characters

From Lisa: “Do you have trouble creating female characters for your novels, you being a male and all? Just curious how you handle that to achieve believability?”

Thanks for the question, Lisa! No, I don’t have any trouble creating female characters. I rather enjoy doing it. The first novel I wrote, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” had a female character as one of two lead characters, and I greatly loved making Sheila come alive.

Having said that, I would prefer to develop male characters simply because I’m male and I understand the male perspective much better. I’ve been with my wife Bev now for over ten years, but no way can I claim to understand her. It’s that unfamiliarity with the female species which makes me hesitate to take on that task too often. I have a lot of female characters in my novels, but I rarely attempt to give them as much depth as I do my male characters.

Maybe in my next Shadow novel, if there is a next, I’ll allow Liz to spread her wings and fly. I think she would like that. She’s certainly earned a moment in the limelight.

America’s Got Talent

From Joel: “Have you been watching this summer’s season of America’s Got Talent? There is this poet who is in the finals, a young black man who speaks his truth, and that’s his talent. He is wildly popular and one of the favorites to win the whole thing. Seems to me this is writing of a sort, or poetry. What say you?”

You’re talking about Brandon Leake, who describes himself as a “spoken word poet,” and I’m fine with that description. And yes, he is good and yes, he is, in my opinion, a poet. I love the raw power of his words. He reminds me of the coffee shop poets of the 50’s and 60’s. I saw many of them back in the old days, and Leake would fit in well with them then, or now.

I kind of want him to win simply because he is a poet and not some sword-swallower or modern dance group.

Favorite Topic

From Rochelle: “What is your favorite topic to write about?”

What an interesting question, Rochelle. I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked that before.

Three hours later . . . I had to give this some thought. I think it’s the moral dilemmas we all face throughout our lives. I like to think “that could have happened to me,” and “if it did, how would I have handled that situation?” I am barely removed from the homeless alcoholics on the streets. My birth family, two blood brothers in particular, spent time in prison, and the whole birth family died young. That could have been me. Would the outcome have been the same for me as it was for them, death in prison or death in a fiery motorcycle crash while high on meth? I am fascinated by those situations when I write. And I’ll bet if each of you reading this right now stop and ponder that question, you can all think of situations you could have easily been in, and how would you have handled it?

Moral dilemmas....we all face them.

Moral dilemmas....we all face them.

Writing Contests

From Kevin: “What do you think of all the writing contests which are offered online and in writing magazines? Do you think there is any value in entering those contests?”

Well, Kevin, you might win something, which I consider a value.

Other than the obvious prizes available, I just think it’s great practice to take on those challenges. It is much too easy to become complacent as a writer, and only write about things which are comfortable for you. I think that kind of complacency leads to stagnation in your skills. Great writers step out of their comfort zones and attempt the difficult.

And hey, again, you might win something! I say go for it and good luck! There are some great contests offered in the magazine “The Writer,” and also “Writer’s Digest,” if you’re looking for a few.

FREELANCING

From Jeannie: “Do you think it’s harder to be a freelance writer now than it was ten years ago? I mean in terms of actually making money. Is it still possible to make meaningful supplemental income as a writer?”

The first question is easy to answer: YES! It is much harder to make money as a freelance writer in 2020.

Back ten years ago, freelance writing was still relatively new. There were fewer freelance writers out there, and they all got a large piece of the pie. Today, it seems like everyone is a freelance writer, a sign, I think, of the poor economic times. The influx of freelance writers has actually driven the price down. Writing a particular article ten years ago might have paid $40 or more; today that same article will pay $10, simply because there are so many writers out there who need the money and are willing to write for less. It’s really simple Supply and Demand. Right now the supply of writers is huge, and that drives the price down. Whether that will change in the future is anyone’s guess.

There are, of course, other ways to make money as a freelancer. You can monetize a blog and make money that way, but be warned, there is a glut of blogs out there, and the demand for blogs is waning.

You can make money writing articles for magazines, or be a freelancer and sell articles to online newspapers, but again, the market is flooded with those types of writers.

I’m not trying to be discouraging. I’m trying to be real and honest.

And let me add this point: I’m not all that convinced that being a great writer is more important than being a good marketer of your writing. I’ve read some wildly successful blogs which were really pretty poor in writing quality. I’ve read some mediocre magazine articles which were about as interesting as watching paint dry. They were wildly popular because the writer was one hell of a salesperson.

Work on your writing but also work on your marketing skills. If someone could make pet rocks popular, and they did, you can surely sell your writing. I’m beginning to think the ratio is one part writing skill and three parts marketing skill but hey, what do I really know?

You build a writing career from the ground up. I don't know of any shortcuts you can take for success.

You build a writing career from the ground up. I don't know of any shortcuts you can take for success.

Hp Writers Famous?

From Mary: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an HP writer making the bestseller list. Do you think some writers on HP are worthy of it? Is some of the writing on HP good enough to be a bestseller?

Interesting question, Mary! My quick answer is yes, I think some HP writers are very good and could have a mass following, if they were ever heard of? It takes decent writing, one hell of a marketing campaign, and a whole lot of luck to make the bestseller list. I think of James Patterson anytime I entertain a question like this. I do not think Patterson is an exceptional writer, and yet he sells tens of millions of books and is often on the bestseller list. In fact, a lot of the time he doesn’t even write the book but rather outlines the story and then has a ghostwriter write it. Oh, the shame of it.

But there he is again, and again, and again, on that damned bestseller list. Why? Great marketing and a loyal following, talent be damned.

I can think of a handful of writers on HP who are every bit as good as James Patterson, but I doubt we’ll ever see them on that list. Marketing rules and dogs drool.

Back to My Reading Woes

It’s really not a woe. It’s more like a curiosity. I just find it weird that I am suddenly bored with something I found such joy in.

Sigh!

I’m a complicated being! LOL

Questions for the Mailbag? You can include them in the comment section below, or email them to me at holland1145@yahoo.com. And for those asking about my latest novel, “Shadows Over The Pond,” I will be finished with it by the end of September, so look for it on Amazon in October. Not to worry if you forget; you can count on me reminding you.

Have a beautiful week! For the love of God, or the gods, please do all things with love. We need a whole bunch of love right now.

And if you want to use my line “marketing rules and dogs drool,” feel free. I give you that one for free.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Do what makes you happy, Mary. If it is travel, then write it in such a way that makes you happy.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 23, 2020:

I missed this mailbag, so I'm late coming but I appreciate the questions as it goes deep into our being as a writer. I write on travel, but it is not my favorite topic to write on, so this is challenging me to look deeper.

You are right about marketing. Many good writers don't market their works well, especially the ones here on HP.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Lora, I'm with you all the way, my friend. We need a positive change, and our current President is unable to provide it. Let's hope and pray it changes November 3rd. I can't imagine four more years of this nonsense.

Thanks, as always, for being here and taking the time to comment. Blessings to you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Jo, I almost always read mysteries or thrillers. Perhaps you are correct. I suspect I'll get back into reading this winter....hopefully! :)

Lora Hollings on September 21, 2020:

Hi Bill. Maybe your declining interest in reading right now is related to all the nerve shattering events that have happened this last year! Events that at least may make you wonder if we can return to a more familiar place. Reality is much stranger than fiction now and perhaps that may account for your hiatus from reading. I have also found it quite hard to accept our country's current leadership right now, or lack thereof. I find it difficult to even comprehend how our current president has been able to stay in office with all his malfeasance. But, he certainly has been enabled by many in his party which also lends a sort of surrealness to this time. Hopefully, it will soon change if people get out and vote! I know that positive change will definitely have an impact on my mood and energy level as I will feel more hopeful about the future. To better days ahead!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on September 21, 2020:

Just curious. What type of books were you reading when you read a book a week? Maybe your taste in books has changed.

I have always found such great comfort in books I'd hate to lose that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

I will be laughing at that the rest of the day, Zulma. It is very important to be supportive, especially in the case of your "dark daughter." LOL Thanks for the laugh and Happy Monday to you! I can sure feel Fall in the air this morning.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 21, 2020:

Like I said, Bill, Striker is efficient.

Your weird is my everyday. My youngest daughter and I often conversations along these lines. (I'd be more worried about her than me.)

We let her indulge her dark side by letting her barbecue and use the mini blowtorch on the weeds. It's important to be supportive.

Good Monday to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 19, 2020:

Listen to you, Zulma, talking about the downside of slashing a throat. lol I think I might be worried about you. Your husband better behave around you at all times. :)

No throat-slashing for my buddy. He may slip a knife into your kidney and watch you bleed out, but that's last resort sort of stuff. He much prefers his Desert Eagle.

What a weird "conversation" we just had.

See ya!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 19, 2020:

I'd heard about 'Better Call Saul' but wasn't interested. There's something about prequels that seem suspect to me. My first thought is they're trying to milk a cash cow for every drop and rely mostly on the goodwill of the original show to carry them through rather than create something unique.

If I ever read a scene where Striker utilized throat-slashing, I would have to call you out on it. Striker is meticulous and leaves nothing to chance. When he kills, that person is dead, no question. Throat-slashing isn't so much brutal as inefficient and amateurish.

Have a great weekend, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Zulma, I'm through Breaking Bad and now into "Better Call Saul," the prequel to "Breaking Bad." Can't get enough of those characters! Walter was a mess, wasn't he?

Throat-slashing? That's one thing I haven't allowed Striker to do. It just seems too brutal for him. LOL

Happy weekend, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 18, 2020:

Thank you Barb! I hope things are well up in Alaska. I sure hope you haven't experienced the smoke up there that we have here.

Be well, my friend!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 18, 2020:

'Breaking Bad', huh. It is a good case study on how someone can go from good to evil without intending to. I mean Walter only wanted to get enough money together so see his family through after he passed. I wonder at what point he finally stopped using good intentions to justify his evil actions and accepted what he had become.

I too am not without my weaknesses. I recently spent two weeks binge-watching 'American Horror Story.' I can honestly say I've become immune to throat slashing. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, Bill.

Barb Johnson from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula on September 17, 2020:

Hi Bill, I wouldn’t worry about a decrease in reading habits. Mine have waxed and waned the last few years. Very busy with other necessary things as I suspect you might be too. But the right book has the power to lure each of us at the night time. Yes I believe that.

Entering writing contests is a great way to keep our literary muscles flexed and ready.

Thanks for your frankness about freelance writing.

Be Well

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 17, 2020:

Well, Zulma, documentaries and streaming "Breaking Bad." lol I'm not without my weaknesses.

One more day of the forest fire smoke and then blessed rain will appear tomorrow.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 17, 2020:

Hello again, Bill.

I wouldn't worry too much about the drop in reading. Reading a book a week is impressive but can be taxing. You probably just needed a break. I get that way sometimes. I have no doubt you'll be picking up a book again sooner than you think. There are worse ways to replace your book reading than watching documentaries.

Enjoy your day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Bottom line, Heidi, is no, it doesn't really matter at all if you write for the enjoyment of it, which I do.

Me being funny? Would I do that? lol I should probably learn to be more serious. I might insult people with my flippant nature.

Anyway, we are covered in smoke. Looks like fog, makes you think it's fog, until you take a deep breath.

Have a great week, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thanks for the two questions, Liz. I'll answer them this Monday. Until then, have a wonderful remainder of the week. Stay safe and be happy always. Small fish in a big ocean...so very true.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thanks James! I appreciate the recommendations. I might check them out once the library opens up again.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thank you Liliane! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 16, 2020:

Mailbag Wednesday this week. Catching up after some dental work done late last week and a busy weekend. Oh well...

Re: Weird Change. You and me both! I barely have time to actually read books anymore. Yeah, I could do audio books. But I have limited time to listen, and I'd rather listen to podcasts. Plus, all the writing, editing, and video/audio work I do makes it impossible to spend hours reading. I am reading a longer book on linguistics right now. Kindle tells me I have about 4.5 hours left in the book. That's a half a work day!

I know you're just being funny about the issue. But it is a real issue. And it's why I tell authors to think about becoming content creators. Does it really matter that it's in a book? Would a video or podcast be better? People have limited time and attention spans these days. So authors shouldn't get bummed when people aren't buying and reading their books. Sometimes readers are just overwhelmed. But authors tend to take it personally.

Re: Freelancing Then and Now. I so agree that it's more difficult now to be a freelancer than it was a decade ago. More people are turning to gig work as their day job. So the competition is getting fierce from that. As well, you have competition from every corner of the world. Some of those workers will work for way less. Yes, you're right. It's not enough to be a good writer. You have to be a good marketer.

Re: HP Best Selling Authors. I get a chuckle when I hear "NYT Best Selling Author." Those systems are so out of the reach of most HP authors. And does it really matter?

I could soapbox on any of these topics, but I'll spare you. Hope you're having a great week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2020:

Thank you Chitrangada Sharan! Funny thing, I'm not sure I miss reading all that much. I'm just too busy with other things right now.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:

Now I think about it, my reading has decreased. I put it down to being busier and not having enough time.

I read your comment about characters with interest. Do you think your character portrayal has improved with experience and practice?

I was interested to see how America's Got Talent has gripped interest like Britain's Got Talent over here.

Your favourite topic intrigued me. Do you consciously weave moral dilemmas into your fiction?

I haven't given much thought to writing contests, but your comments encourage me to look into them.

I appreciate your realistic approach to freelancing. You don't sell a dream, you say it as it is. I think this probably relates also to the success of HP writers. We're small fish in a big ocean!

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on September 15, 2020:

When it comes to male writers creating believable female characters, two examples come to mind. Guy Johnson author of " Standing on the Scratch Line" his character Serena did things I've known several women to do. She was believable. Also, Teresa Mendoza of "Queen of the South" fame was someone I found to be authentic. Arturo Perez- Reverte, a writer who usually writes swash buckling male dominated adventure lit wrote a believable Teresa. So, it can be done.

Liliane Najm from Toronto, Canada on September 15, 2020:

I’ve had times in my life when I didn’t read. But it was mostly because I needed to digest information and life events. You watch documentaries; it’s another form of reading that opens your mind and eyes. Good for you.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 15, 2020:

Hello Bill!

I am sure you would read more in the coming days. As you say, we human beings are sometimes complex.

Interesting questions by fellow writers and useful answers by you. As always, I enjoyed reading the mailbag. Thank you for sharing and good day.

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

Thank you Umesh! It's nice to know I'm not the only one delinquent on my reading. Take care, my friend, and Happy Writing to you.

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

Thank you Dora! If I moved you then my job is done for the time being, at least until I sit to write again. :) Blessings to you always.

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

Thank you Devika! I hope this finds you well. Be safe and have a wonderful week ahead.

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

MizB, I'm afraid we sent some of that smoke back to the east. It only seemed neighborly to share our abundance, you know? lol Seriously, this is nasty stuff, and I'm so done with it. They say relief is coming Thursday. I sure hope they are right because I'm tired of wheezing and coughing.

Be well my friend!

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

It's a fine motto, Alyssa. lol Thanks for sharing it with me and giving me the justification I needed. :) Happy Tuesday to you, young lady.

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

I hope you like him, Linda. I think you will.

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

All great points, Flourish! Empathy is such an important trait for us humans. It would seem like we shouldn't have to work so hard for it, but that doesn't seem to be the case in 2020.

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

We are looking at rain Thursday or Friday, Mary. I don't know about California, but at least we will see the sky again by this weekend.

I'm glad you are still here, my friend. Take care and stay safe.

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

Supposedly, Bill, relief will come on Thursday. It can't get here soon enough, my friend. It is nasty here.

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

Thanks, Greg! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate you being part of my base. A man cannot have enough good friends, me thinks

I have to go back and read Andromeda Strain. That was a wonderful book and I'm sure it still is. I also want to read a couple other books from long ago, like Fahrenheit 451. I think it is as important today as it was several decades ago.

Anyway, I hope this finds you well and the smoke isn't too bad where you are. Relief is a few days away for us.

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

Downright nasty right now, Ann, but this too shall pass.

bill

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 15, 2020:

Maybe because I'm reading this in the morning when inspiration comes powerfully, but I'm moved by your answer to the question about your favorite topic. I take seriously the question you pose. Lots there to write about. Thanks.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 15, 2020:

Bill you have answered questions with your great knowledge that is why I enjoy reading your hubs. To the point, honest and well done to another perfect write up.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 14, 2020:

I made a comment yesterday but perhsps forgot to submit it so I am repeating it as per my memory.

I was a voracious reader once but now only read on need basis. That is some reference book or some information that I want to use in my writings etc. So I thought it was a usual thing that you mentioned in your opening para. I enjoyed reading this mailbag edition.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 14, 2020:

These are some very sharp questions today, Bill, and you had some sharp answers. I do wonder why you've given up reading though. Could you be experiencing eye problems that you aren't aware of? I'm still an avid reader. I just finished the Outlander series, and it takes me about three weeks to finish one of those long dudes what with my other responsibilities. But I have to read them on my Kindle because I can adjust the size and color of the print and background to be able to see the print. I've noticed that paper books are printed in a dimmer gray ink instead of the old black, and the eye doc tells me that my vision is limited because of retinal problems.

Except for documentaries, I just can't get interested in television anymore. I like the fine details and nuances of the story in written form.

I haven't written anything for publication in a long time, but I'm not worried about it. I still have those ideas and stories go through my head. In fact, my cup runneth over. Larry tells me that I should get a speech to text program and speak my writing. It would save a step, I guess.

Anyway, I hope you and Bev aren't too affected by the wildfires on the west coast. Our weatherman says that the smoke has made it all the way to Arkansas. I guess that explains why I've been coughing a lot and having to use an inhaler although I spend most of my time indoors.

Alyssa from Ohio on September 14, 2020:

Sometimes it's just nice to settle in with a documentary. Nothing wrong with watching TV, especially if you're learning! --That's my motto anyway. haha!

Another fantastic mailbag! Have a wonderful week Bill!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 14, 2020:

I've never heard of Brandon Leake. Thanks to you and Joel for introducing him to me. I'm going to explore his work.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 14, 2020:

I’ve slowed on my reading of novels as well due to too many lackluster reads in a row. I can use my time and money in other ways. I previously read only nonfiction often in the health and medical arena and I love Netflix documentaries. With your musings on your birth family, there are significant forks in the road in life that impact the trajectory of our lives. Sometimes we understand their magnitude at the time (an adoption, an accident, a diagnosis) and at other times it’s not as clear (meeting someone who will play a significant role in our lives). I think about this issue and it reminds me to be empathic.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on September 14, 2020:

I read every night, it helps relax my brain and my eyes before bed. Too much time looking at my laptop screen isn't good. I'm sure you'll go back to it when you're ready.

I've been in two life threatening situations so I don't feel l need to look elsewhere for inspiration on what I'd do. Thankfully, I'm still here!

I love the idea of writing contests. That must be a boost to a writer's confidence if they win.

Have a safe week. I hope for rain for California and Oregon but it doesn't look likely. The Farmer's Almanac says the 28th of September there may be showers in California.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 14, 2020:

My reading seems to go in cycles. There are times when I am reading one book after another in quick fashion. And at other times I won’t touch a book for months at a time. Could be time of year or time available due to work and projects around the house?

I haven’t been watching AGT but will check out Brandon. It sounds kind of refreshing to have a poet in contention.

My brother in Bellevue has been sending pictures of the smokey conditions, hopefully rain is in the forecast and things improve. Stay safe, Bill. Great Mailbag.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on September 14, 2020:

Bill - I really loved this edition of The Mailbag. You opening wide up at the outset was a bit...surprising, I guess, for a relative newbie like me, but it also seemed natural. I also appreciated it, and loved the tone it set. So real. Like maybe we were all sitting around in a coffee shop chatting or something. I love that sense. It's similar to the campfire-chat-with-everyone-sitting-around-cross-legged-and-starry-eyed sense I've gotten from other Mailbags. Anyway, it's fascinating, coincidental and true that I just picked up two new books this week, am knee deep into both of them after a long, inexplicable hiatus. I started the "Andromeda Strain"--again, and probably for obvious reasons and also with intent to finish it this time--and I also went back to Neustadt and May's "Thinking in Tiime," for reasons that might be less obvious. In any case, what I remembered almost instantly was how much I love to read, how much I missed it when I stopped doing it, stopped making time for it. There is so much to learn from the content and style of others' writings. I also remember as I read one of the sayings a professor of mine had, "If you want a new idea, read an old book." So true. Anyway, I'm guessing that someday this will probably happen to you (and to Sha Sha), too. Just guessing.

Fame and fortune might just be overrated, if you read any famous people's bios or watch any biopic movies I've ever seen. But success can come to those who write about what they love, what they know, what they are passionate about. I think the issue there, though, is one's definition of success. We probably all see that in a different way, have different metrics for it.

In any case, I'd say you're both famous and successful, as many others have said here. You have a good-sized fan base here on HubPages, anyway, and we're all looking forward to what will be inside next week's Mailbag.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 14, 2020:

Thanks, bill; I'll try to send some your way! Smoke is so invasive.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Thank you Becky! I do love that about Prime and Netflix, the ability to go watch old shows, stream them, binge on them if desired. It's a pretty cool feature.

As for books, I'm sure it's just a phase and I'll return to them soon. Until then, I'm quite busy without reading.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

We sure need it, Peggy. Thank you! It was supposed to be better today, but no such luck. The same gray/brown covering.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

You are very kind, Linda! I don't think I'll live long enough for that to happen, but thanks nonetheless.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Thank you Pamela! You and Bev are in agreement about sword swallowers. Bev can't even watch those acts. lol Yes about Patterson; I think those short chapters are very appealing to many readers.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Thank you John! You are correct about freelancing. I have had the same customers for about ten years now. I don't have any need to go out and find new customers, as long as I keep making these people happy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Thank you Rosina! It's all good. I'll read when I'm ready to read; in the meantime, I have a lot to do.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

I have no clue, Sha! No clue at all. Oh well, I've got other things to really be concerned about, like clean air to breathe. lol Have a great week, my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

I'm laughing again, Eric. Famous to you and a legend in my own mind. Not a bad fan base at all. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Thanks for understanding, Rinita. I promise your question will lead us off next week. And yes, marketing is a sad reality for writers.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

Good morning Ann!

The air is still terrible here. Our problem is smoke; we aren't even close to any of the fires. We live in a marine climate, so this amount of fires is unusual for us; having said that, summers are getting warmer and warmer, and humidity is getting lower and lower. It's not a good combination and does not foster hope for the future. Our marine climate does not feel all that marine right now.

Have a brilliant week, my friend. Breathe in some good air for me.

bill

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on September 14, 2020:

I have always been a huge reader, but about 8 years ago, I quit reading books for about 1 1/2 years. I read on HP, but not any books. Then I went back to reading again. I just needed a break. Recently I noticed that my TV has not been turned on for a couple of months. I have a couple of books going at a time, and often find that I am going through a large book a day. Thankfully, I have a huge collection of old favorites. I don't get rid of my books after I read them, unless they were not that great. I have over 1000 books on my Kindle and I go through some of them several times. Right now, I am reading Marion Zimmer Bradley books, and Anne McCaffrey. I love their books and have no problems revisiting them over and over.

I don't even miss the TV. I should catch up on a couple of series I really like though. I have tried, and couldn't even get through a whole episode. I guess it will happen sooner or later. Thanks to Prime, I can do that without problems.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 14, 2020:

I think that we all go through stages in life and whether we read books frequently, or occasionally, knowing that they are there waiting to be read is reassuring. Now that I have moved most of my blog posts over to HP, I have more time to read books and have been enjoying it again. Occasionally, I even write a review.

Stay safe! I hope you get some much needed rain to help squelch those fires on the west coast.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 14, 2020:

Good morning Bill. I have also lost interest in reading, and I don't really know why. I used to have 2 or 3 books going at the same time. I do have a "slight" (though flimsy) excuse in that the library has been closed due to the Covid thing. If anyone on HP becomes a well-known author it will be you and John.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 14, 2020:

I seem to go through times of reading intensely then taking a break. I think when I find a new author that I really enjoy I tend to read other books they have written, if that make sense. As for James Patterson, I read a couple of his books years ago and I thought the mysteries were decent. What I liked was the short chapters. It was mindless, easy reading. LOL

As for AGT, I think Brandon Leake is terrific. I hope he wins. I do not like sword swallowers or other acts where the contestant puts their life at risk either.

I do think it is possible that a writer on Hubpages could get on the best seller's list, perhaps you, Bill. Have a great week.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 14, 2020:

I think this would be one of my favourite mailbags yet. Terrific questions this week. I agree there are some wonderful writers here at HubPages, they just need to be discovered. If anyone will it will be you though, I feel.

Yes, freelance writing, as all forms of freelancing is saturated but if you persist and are good at what you do you can still make money and a success of it. Once you start getting returning buyers.

My reading has also dropped off in the last four or five years. Most of my reading is other hubs. I always have a novel or two by my bed just waiting for me to get the urge to pick them up and start. If I do I will probably finish the book within a week, it is just making the move to devote myself to it.

I’m not sure of my favourite topic/subject. I prefer to write poems that tell a story over any other form of writing, but subject matters vary.

Rosina S Khan on September 14, 2020:

Today's mailbag was interesting and packed with information via questions and answers. I loved it. Hopefully you will regain back your interest in reading. Wonderful Monday, Bill.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 14, 2020:

Bill, you and I recently had a conversation about not reading for pleasure in the last couple of years. I have no idea why I've lost interest in reading. Instead, I've chosen TV over sitting out back with a good book. (Too hot for one thing). I hope this is a temporary setback, but not picking up a novel in over two years is a bit disconcerting to me. I keep up with my HP writer friends and what they post, but that's about the extent of it. As a result I'm behind in your Shadows series and haven't even opened the autographed novel Peg Cole sent me.

If you figure it out, let me know and I'll do the same, my friend.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 14, 2020:

Most excellent sir. Hey you are a famous writer. At least to me, does that count?

I also think you are a fine female character -- nowadays who knows ;-)

Rinita Sen on September 14, 2020:

No worries, Bill. I did send that question quite late. I look forward to the next version. Enjoyed the mailbag today. The marketing vs the writing part makes me sad, though. But then, that's the harsh reality. Better accept it.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 14, 2020:

I used to be an avid reader. Then I didn't read for years - family, work.... Then I joined a book club a couple of years ago. That made me read again and now I've usually got that and another couple of books on the go at the same time! I've read books I wouldn't have chosen for myself and that broadened my scope of interesting, talented writers, more contemporary ones. Talking about them is one important part of it, seeing how others receive them and their views on writing. I love reading and now I have more time, so it's great!

I'm not sure what my favourite topic is; it depends on the mood! Generally I go with the flow. Something grabs me and I have to write about it, or I get nostalgic and write about family and their talents. I think it's nature that gets me going the most. It's all around me and I've always valued it highly - now I value it more as I realise what I always took for granted is in danger.

Well, you're not far off being half way to 400 mailbags, bill! I bet you'll sail through to at least 500.

Are those fires affecting you? They are awful and I'm so glad I live in a temperate climate. I think of my HP friends around that area and I worry for them.

Wishing you a clean-air Monday and a fire-free week, bill. Stay safe!

Ann