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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 (SI.com) 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.”

SELF-PUBLISHING

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.

But welcome back to our little community!

ABBREVIATIONS

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.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 27, 2020:

Thank you Devika! It was just me and Bev, and we had a marvelous day.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 26, 2020:

Happy Thanksgiving Bill, have an enjoyable one.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 25, 2020:

Flourish, the only way I can manage my frustration with HP is to totally ignore it. Otherwise I'll be too invested with my anger and that's not a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 24, 2020:

The HP commenting thing has me miffed since most of my comments come from non-HP sources. I think there's very much a shoot-from-the-hip approach to site updates and a failure to foresee impacts. And don't EVEN get me started on the communication.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I'm sure they know what they are doing, Mary. It may not please us all, but it is a business, and they have to do what will make them money. I hope they work it out so we are all happy.

Thank you for mentioning my memoir. I love what you said about it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

You speak the truth, Zulma, about the dogs. They have an internal clock, and they know when it's time for their walk. When that time arrives, I get no peace whatsoever until I take care of them.

I have it so rough! lol

Happy Thanksgiving, Zulma!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

There you are, Lora! I don't think your comment ever appeared last week, but I could see it on my feed, which is weird. Anyway, that's how I knew you had commented. It had me quite confused last week, so it's nice to see you back among the comments where you belong. :) Happy Thanksgiving nice lady!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I do too, Rosina, but I doubt I'll be that lucky twice in a row.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Little did I know, Linda! I knew North Face was good, but I had no idea how good. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Thank you John! It's always good to hear from you. Have a safe and healthy week, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I just did that, Meg, because of your suggestion. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I'm not too concerned with the comment situation yet, Bill. I do think HP will fix it. We all just need to take a deep breath and relax a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, my friend. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Thank you Alyssa! Happy Thanksgiving to you and that family of yours.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Thank you Chitrangada Sharan! I comment on the ones I can find easily. I don't have the time to search for long. Hopefully HP will fix this problem soon.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Peggy, that is remarkable about your wool cape. You can't beat a good wool garment. They seem to last forever, or in your case for a good portion of your life. Bravo to the manufacturer!

Happy Thanksgiving, Peggy, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I have not figured it out at all, William. I just comment on what I can, and hope the others will understand if I don't.

Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Thank you MizB, and Happy Tuesday to you. I hadn't thought about that aspect, being able to fit into a 25-year old coat. Now I feel great about it. lol

Dogs and the rain - go figure! I dislike the rain more each year.

I would gladly send you this November rain, my friend, but I'm powerless.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Ann, a munchkin Monday? I don't think I had one of those, but it was good nonetheless. :) Thanks as always. Divine intervention? I'll have to give that some thought. Back at you next Monday. Until then, I hope your week is a brilliant one. Stay health and safe.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

Thank you Denise. I have had to allot myself a certain amount of time to find articles to comment on. If I can't find an article in that amount of time, I give up. We all have other things to do, and we will all have to be understanding of that. It will mean fewer comments, but I don't see any other way for now.

Blessings to you, and Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

bill

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 24, 2020:

Hi Bill. You are right about your novel and the memories we enjoy from it. Your memoir still plays in my mind many times.

I have also looked into Maven, and I see what HP is doing. I am getting used to the changes as I started in Squidoo and ended up here. I don't understand many of these changes, but I trust they know what they're doing.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on November 24, 2020:

Hi Bill.

Twenty-five years for one coat? That is outstanding. It's worth paying more for quality.

Thanks for the tip on abbreviations. When it comes to titles, I always go with the abbreviated version. It just looks better to my eye and I am consistent with its use.

It feels good to be able to comment directly again. Glad I read about this workaround.

Have a great day, Bill. Don't keep the pups waiting for their walk. I doubt you'll get any peace if you do.

Lora Hollings on November 24, 2020:

Hi Bill. I hope you get my comment, this time! I loved the mailbag this week and I agree with you that digging deep makes writing a very rewarding experience for the writer and, hopefully, for the reader too. Writing often uncovers another identity about ourselves that we might never have known and it's certainly worth exploring. Writing also enables you to go back in time. That's another great aspect about it. Thanks for the inspiration! Be well and Happy Thanksgiving, Bill.

Rosina S Khan on November 23, 2020:

Hope you make a good investment in your new coat which can last another 25 years. :) A great mailbag with helpful topics, Bill.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2020:

I wish I had a coat that had lasted as long as yours! It sounds like you made a great purchase, Bill.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 23, 2020:

That coat sure serviced you well, Bill, and was certainly worth the expense. A very good mailbag with interesting questions and answers.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 23, 2020:

I think 25 years for a coat must be some kind of record? Why not write to North Face and let them know about your coat?

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 23, 2020:

Hi Bill. I also have some favorite articles of clothing that are very old, yet still perfectly functional. You can’t go wrong with North Face.

Great mailbag this week. I do miss the commenting and I think it hurts our Hubs, which is why I suspect they will find a way to fix it. A Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Alyssa from Ohio on November 23, 2020:

That's a great coat! Excellent mailbag this week! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 23, 2020:

Hello Bill!

Great set of questions and your answers are as always, helpful.

You are right about Heidi's inputs. She provides useful advice, regarding online writing. Thanks to her and to you for another wonderful mailing.

Regarding comments-- I am managing somehow. Though, it's not always that all articles appear in the feeds.

Thank you and good day.

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

That's it for both of us, Heidi. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for sharing your expertise. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Have a great day!

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

Thank you Linda! Happy Thanksgiving to you and that lovely family of yours. I enjoyed the coffee time together. Let's do it again next week.

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

Manatita, I do remember the cost of that coat, because it was such a large cost for my meager budget. I agonized over spending that much money for clothing, but in the end I decided it was a good investment.

Turns out I was right!

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.

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

Thank you Liz! I would be amazed if you couldn't find North Face where you are. They are a very big name in outdoor wear. They must be international, me thinks.

I appreciate you commenting so quickly. I hope HP finds a way to allow commenting. This new situation is problematic at best, for all of us.

Have a brilliant week!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 23, 2020:

Hi Bill, Hopefully, the comments will be reinstated on all of our posts. Sometimes people add relative comments to a post that might be years old! They can be valuable additions.

Would you believe I still have and wear a wool cape that was purchased in the 1970s! I think that I have gotten good value from that purchase! I do not remember what I paid for it, but I'll bet it is even less than what you computed for your coat on an annual basis. Ha!

Enjoy the balance of your Monday, and the rest of the week.

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

I am happy you got to comment too, Pamela. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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

Thanks Eric! I'm always inspired when talking about writing. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head. I just have to find the time.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, my friend.

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

Mr. Happy, thanks! The novel was finally approved by Amazon. I'll publish it live later today. As for the easy way out, only with technology. If I don't take the easy way, nothing will get done with these tech gadgets. I'm lost with that sort of stuff. I need it to be as simple as possible.

Even though you are in Canada, I wish you a week of Thanksgiving. This U.S. citizen is happy you are in my "world of friends."

Blessings always

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 23, 2020:

Thanks for taking my question, Bill. Makes perfect sense to me. I got here a little late and was surprised I could still comment. Have you figured out this comment stuff"?

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on November 23, 2020:

Good morning, Bill. I loved your story about the coat. Here's mine. I attended a Veterans Day ceremony at a local cemetery and wore a heavy wool blazer because it was a windy chilly day. A lady commented that she didn't own a wool blazer but she wished she did. I said mine was about 20 years old, but I'd never give it up. She laughed and said that she marveled at how I could still get into anything 20 years old. So, aren't we lucky that we didn't outgrow our beloved coats (jackets)?

Great comment from Heidi. I'm glad you republished it because I didn't see the original.

Water-loving dogs, huh? Our late chow loved to take baths or just sit in the rain. We haven't had much rain this month. Guess you got it all. Stay dry, my friend, and let the dogs get wet.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 23, 2020:

Different, interesting questions today! All good!

It's a long time since I saw 'Mister' written out in full, though 'Doctor' does come up now and then. 'Dr', in my mind, is perfectly acceptable and more common, though if it's in dialogue I tend to prefer it written in full.

You certainly have had good value from that coat. Those sort of garments are like old friends, aren't they? They've kept you warm and sheltered you for years and you're loathe to let them go. Question is (not for the mailbag!), will a new one last as long...?

Funny how circumstance suddenly turns to give you a way to solve a problem, isn't it? I needed to find a way to talk to someone and a mutual acquaintance has given me the means - fate or some divine intervention? Whichever, it's great! Has this happened to you? (real mailbag question!)

Have a munchkin of a Monday, bill!

Keep safe and well.

Ann

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 23, 2020:

Well, I'm glad this article for one, is open long enough to comment on right here. The clunky "feed" method is working but is getting me down, only because I have such a hard time finding what I want to comment on. I go read the article then I can't find it in the feed. Even when I know it isn't two weeks old, which seems to be the cut-off for the feed.

If it gets too hard I may give up for a day and come back the next but that is wearing also.

I was a secretary years ago (before the acceptable name was changed to "office administrator") and I had to know those abbreviation rules. You said it well to be consistent.

Blessings,

Denise

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 23, 2020:

Happy Mailbag Monday, dare I say it, Morning!

Re: The Life Coat. Like you, I just "retired" a leather coat that I literally had for 25+ years. I loved that thing and spent years looking for something similar. Then I found one! I thanked the old coat as I put it into the box for a charity donation for someone else to enjoy. I'm looking at it as a new chapter it the coat's and my life.

Re: Niche Sites & Commenting. Thanks for sharing my info with the Mailbag! In last Wednesday's (11/18) HP Weekly email newsletter, Samantha Cubbison said, "As for a comments update, we are actively revisiting the discussion around reinstating them. In the meantime, check out our communities on Facebook and Pinterest. Thank you for your patience!" So stay tuned!

Well, that's it. Thank you for all you do and Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 23, 2020:

Bill, this is the way I like to start me week, with you and a cup of coffee. I'm glad you've still here. I am finding it difficult to hop onto Hub Pages in time to get a comment in before an article is whisked away.

Good stuff here, a friend helping everyone in need. Just like Eric's "Sunday Sermon" of today.

I wish you and Bev a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, filled with love.

manatita44 from london on November 23, 2020:

You remember the cost of the coat 25 years on? Even the cost per year! Take some doing!

I like or rather enjoy the inputs from Heidi and others this week, even more. Most certainly a changing world with Covid-19, but an online one also.

I really love that photo with Bev. Yes, it can also be interpreted as a reflective, soul-searching piece! I mean "What is the meaning or purpose of life? Just who the h.. am I? Lol. I have managed to avoid swearing all my life. Don't wish to start now.

Rodric's question has been answered in the Forum. I mentioned quite a few things and some more were added by a well informed source. Don't remember them though. It is not the regularity that seems to be helping him, but his quality and presentation. 'Nuff for now. Happy Thanksgiving!

Liz Westwood from UK on November 23, 2020:

I will certainly give North Face due consideration next time I need a new coat!

For me songs have a dual dynamic. The lyrics can connect with you through their poetry and the tune gives them added impact.

If you dig deep for your creativity, does it leave you drained or energized?

It's very useful to get Heidi's take on where we are going with the niche sites. I was told that you either need to catch an article quickly to comment, as I am here, or head to your HubPages feed, where you should be able to post comments. I am not a fan of change, so it has proved a challenge. It does feel like we are losing the community feel a bit too.

Between you and Heidi I know where to go with self publishing questions.

I wonder if individual hubscores fluctuate according to how many hits they generate. My overall score seems to improve with more activity. After vacation it drops a little. Overall it's still a mystery though.

I agree with your thoughts on consistency. If you use the same abbreviation enough times, it will be taken as regular.

I hope you can find a new coat, Bill. Shopping is a little more challenging these days.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 23, 2020:

Obviously your coat was a good investment, Bill. I do hope the rain lets up soon so you can enjoy those walks.

I think consistency whether we are talking abbreviations of words or using numbers is the key. I am not surprised you dig inside yourself when you write. I think that is reflected in your books and your writing in general. I am happy I actually get to comment today. :) Have a great week, Bill.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 23, 2020:

For some reason this was inspirational to me. Maybe I like writing so much that just talking or reading about it turns my noggin on. Oh well.

Another great start to the writing week compliments of the master. I do not know how to abbreviate that ;-)

Get that new coat. My favorite is from '95 and it is weak at best.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on November 23, 2020:

"25 years at a cost of $175. I would call that a good value, wouldn’t you?" - I had one for just about 15 years and this year it began falling apart. I am indeed sad because this was not a "water-resistant" jacket. It was a "water-proof" jacket. Buckets of water on top of my head and I would still be dry when I put the hood on. Time for a new one though and of course, they do not make the same one I had lol

"It’s an easy process for me, and I love easy." - Sigh ... been thinking about this for a while now: humans always look for the easy way to things, or out of things. So, people do not do proper research on issues because that is hard so, they get their news on facebook because that's easy. We do not work-out/exercise as much as needed because that is hard. Sitting on the sofa watching tv and eating junk food is easy. Going to talk to our member of congress about certain issues is hard. Sitting at home and complaining about those issues to our friend on the phone is easy. On and on it goes: we chase that "easy way". Sigh ... what can I do? I can just point it out.

"It seems like my Hub score has stayed pretty much the same for years." - My hub score I think has not changed in a long, long time either. I do not even see a point in having it but obviously Hub-pages does.

"the grammar police will leave you alone" - Yes, indeed I will have nothing to say if things are uniform lol

Good luck with the novel! This would be a good time to read novels as it snowed all day yesterday here. And as of today we are back to a lock-down too. Happy-happy joy-joy! lol

Cheers!

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