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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #336

At the Risk of Sounding Like a Whiner

My goodness, it has not stopped raining in our parts. November has been seriously wet, and I readily admit to dragging my feet on quite a few days when it was time to go walk the dogs. They don’t mind the rain at all. In fact, they seem to enjoy it. Toby will literally lay down in puddles, happier than a pig in poop. Maggie takes her time during the heaviest of showers, sniffing and exploring and ho-humming without a care in the world, all the while I’m drenched.

Speaking of drenched, I bought a North Face waterproof winter coat back in 1995. I’ve worn it ever since. That’s 25 years for those challenged by math. This winter the rain finally found its way through the coat’s waterproofing, and I’ll be forced to buy a new coat.

25 years at a cost of $175. I would call that a good value, wouldn’t you?

Let’s do the mail thing!

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Song Lyrics and Digging Deep

By Lori: Hi Bill, “I just did a long blog piece about the power of lyrics. I've seen you post lyrics many times and what the words mean to you. Obviously, you are a man whose soul is reached by lyrics and music. Can you tell us what song or two has had the most meaning to you in terms of lyrics and why? I also found this quote by the great songwriter Neil Diamond. "I have a love-hate relationship with songwriting. I love it because it's so satisfying...when it works. I hate it because it forces you to dig inside of yourself. It is without question the most difficult thing I do." I know you're not a lyricist Bill, but you are a writer. Do this quote ring true for you?”

Hi Lori! Great questions. Meaningful song for me? The first one that came to mind was “In My Life” by The Beatles. It is just a lovely song with a wistful look back at the life we live, and in the end it comes down to the love of one special person. I just love the sentiment in that song. But there are so many others. I lean towards the introspective. You mentioned Neil Diamond and I instantly thought of “I Am I Said,” which is like a plea to be noticed, as is “Nowhere Man,” by The Beatles, or “Angel” by Sarah McClachlan, which will bring tears to my eyes every single time.

As for your second question no, I don’t hate it that I’m forced to dig deep inside myself. I rather like it. All of my novels are a look deep inside of myself. I am constantly searching for hidden gems inside of me, gems I was not aware of, or gems I had buried. Writing allows me to do that under the guise of another character.

These are all about me digging deep, trying to understand myself.

These are all about me digging deep, trying to understand myself.

Niche Sites and Commenting

No question here, just some excellent information from the guru of online writing.

This from Heidi: “Re: Google/Niche Commenting Issues. In general, Google likes to see comments and engagement on sites. However, Maven's focus is more like media, not blogging. If you look at Maven's Sports Illustrated's site ( you'll see there isn't any way to comment on those articles. What they encourage is "sharing" on social media (icons for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). That's where the commentary will appear. Bigger organizations have better ways of measuring what's called the social graph with more sophisticated ways than us HP writers going to our Notifications or Comments pages to see who's engaging with our content.”


From Brenda: “Do you self publish your books?”

I do, Brenda, with Amazon! I actually had a local publisher print my first book, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” but a few years later I even republished that with Amazon. Why Amazon? It’s an easy process for me, and I love easy.

Hub Score on the Rise

From Rodric: “I noticed my hub score go up as I am writing articles almost daily. Is that the key on HP? Write well and often?”

Is that the key, Rodric? I don’t have a clue what the key is to HP. I would say it certainly doesn’t hurt you, to publish daily, as long as the articles are of good quality, which yours are. Will that raise the Hub score? I’ve never paid attention to my Hub score, so I don’t know. It seems like my Hub score has stayed pretty much the same for years. LOL

More on Commenting

From Brian: “Bill, today I browsed hubbers whom I follow after being away for some weeks or months. When I went to comment on articles, I couldn't see how, even though I was logged in. It used to be easy to comment. I finally came upon the information in this hub. So, is my understanding correct that now HubPages niche-site articles have no comments and that HubPages articles can be commented upon only within two hours of publication, except that hubbers can comment on articles in the "feed"? I'm too new to that new policy to have an opinion yet. I'm glad there is still a roundabout way to submit a comment. Do all hubs appear in the "feed"? Is there a time limit after which a hub can't be found there? At Medium, in contrast, reader engagement and cultivating a following of readers are everything.”

Brian, I’m sorry you came to HP at this time, simply because it has become a much-less personal site. Everything you said, or asked, about commenting is true, and it is all new for us. Back in the old days, we could comment on any article at any time, years later even, and reader engagement was encouraged and greatly enjoyed. Evidently those days are gone, and it has to do with algorithms and Google scores and a bunch of other crap I just don’t care about.

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But welcome back to our little community!


From William: “Hi, Bill. Happy Monday. I have a question regarding abbreviations. When writing fiction, is it proper to write the word Doctor when using it along with the last name, as in Doctor Morgan? Or is it acceptable to abbreviate it (Dr. Morgan)? Does the same rule hold when using Mister (Mr.) and other titles? Just curious. Thanks.”

Great question, William, one I’ve never been asked before.

I’m sure somewhere in the dusty Rules of Writing there are references to this issue, but I don’t feel like going to the library to answer. I did a quick internet search on this, and came up with the answer I suspected at first. If you abbreviate Dr., then do it all the way through your novel. Be consistent! The same with Mister, or Mr. Just do the same thing throughout the novel and the grammar police will leave you alone.

The articles I read say to go with the abbreviation, because spelling out the entire word is a bit clunky and awkward, so there you go! I have a tendency to do the opposite, and spell out the entire word, but at least I’m consistent.

The Mailbag is always looking for answers to your questions.

The Mailbag is always looking for answers to your questions.

Back to the Coat

I just did the math, and $175 for 25 years means it cost me $7 per year to stay dry.

Not a bad price to pay at all.

That’s kind of how I look at my writing. A novel of mine will cost around seven or eight bucks, but it will provide entertainment, and memories, for years, and it will look good on your bookshelf long after you have read it.

Great value!

A quick update on my new novel: there were some problems with the cover formatting, so it’s been re-submitted. I should know something this week. Hooray for me!

Have a great week and please, do all things with love.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”