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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #337

It Has Been Published

Finally, I can report that my latest novel, “Shadows Across the Pond,” has been published. You can find the paperback version by following this link. As for the ebook, well, problems persist. Maybe I’ll have news about that next week.

There is always a great relief once a book is published. Quite frankly, I’m happier than hell to be rid of it once I finish the editing. I’ve lived with it for six months. It has challenged me, screamed at me, made me feel inferior and talentless, and finally relented to me, so I’m quite happy to say goodbye to it, like a lover who has overstayed her welcome. And now a new novel awaits, or actually an old novel re-written, and I’m three chapters into that one. Must hurry, as there is one waiting after that one, and one after that, and . . .

It’s time for the Mailbag!

The Mail Room!

The Mail Room!

Digging Deep

From Liz: “If you dig deep for your creativity, does it leave you drained or energized?”

No, it doesn’t, Liz, and the reason is simple: I had to strip my emotions bare back when I got sober fourteen years ago. I had to do a complete housekeeping of all the crap which was preventing me from being happy and loving myself. Having done that, way back then, I am fine revisiting it now when I write. My past can no longer harm me, and that is an incredibly liberating feeling.

Laid bare for all to see

Laid bare for all to see

Commenting Dilemma

From Brenda: “I have a question but couldn't find your article to leave it so I sent it here. I am pulling my hair out here trying to find articles recently written to leave comments. I try to go to my Hubpages feed but it isn't showing everyone I follow. So I go to hubbers I follow only to find their article is already moved. Then I go back to the hubpages feed and painstakingly search. I eventually have to go back to article under hubpages I follow to find category, then back to Hubpages feed and add category.

“There has to be an easier way...or do we just forget about commenting and move on. I mean, I can pull up articles under Hubbers I follow to read the work. This is taking so much time that I don't get to other projects. Any suggestions?”

I’ll tell you what I do, Brenda, but it may not be a satisfying answer. I have had to allot myself a certain amount of time for commenting. If I am unable to find a particular article within that time, it falls by the wayside, never to be read by me. Believe me, that is against everything I have ever done on HP, but for my sanity that is what I have to do. I have other work to do. I have customers to write for, and I have novels to write. I can’t spend a half hour searching for one particular article. If I did that for ten articles, the bulk of my day would be gone and nothing else would be accomplished.

I sure hope things change soon. I feel your frustration, but I have no solution. I have to assume that writers I follow will understand.

All paths lead us to this moment in time.

All paths lead us to this moment in time.

Divine Intervention

From Ann: “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!)”

What a fascinating question, Ann! This is right in my wheelhouse, to borrow from an old sailor’s jargon.

Do I believe in divine intervention? Fate? How about karma? I don’t know which words I would use to describe it, but I do believe we put ourselves in a position, while living our lives, so that certain things will happen to us. I guess I’m talking about a variation of the Butterfly Effect. I think tens-of-thousands of individual actions during our lifetime lead us to a particular moment when a particular thing happens . . . one thing causes another causes another causes another . . . on and on it goes, for years, until the outcome is almost predictable.

That mutual acquaintance you spoke of was put in place years earlier, and just happened to appear when they were needed, but I don’t think it was by accident.

Does that make sense?

People always talk about good luck or bad luck. I believe we make our luck, by our actions, spread out over decades.

Of course, I could be completely mistaken, so there’s that to consider. LOL

Scroll to Continue

Teaching Writing

From Lori: “Thanks for answering my question Bill. Now I need some advice. I may have an opportunity to teach some homeschoolers about writing. You had a career in teaching and you're a writer. I'm not sure how to begin because the ages go from 4 to 15 I think. I will probably start with the little ones and do the older ones differently. Do you have any advice for me?”

This is a tough one, Lori, because of the span in ages, but still I think there are certain writing exercises which can be adapted for any age group. My goodness, I could write a book about this, but I’ll refrain from being too wordy and limit myself to a few ideas below.

First, never, and I mean never, set stringent rules when starting out. Creative writing should be about a free flow of ideas and words. Children, no matter the age, should be encouraged and not discouraged. Don’t worry about spelling or rules of grammar when you are starting out. You can deal with those matters down the road a bit.

Start out by modeling creative writing. Show them how to be creative. Name a topic, like a picnic, and then share with them a quick story about a picnic, drawing upon your imagination. Once you have shown them how it’s done, turn them loose with a new topic, and let them write a quick story about that topic.

Praise the results. Do not, and I repeat, do not criticize any of it. I know you wouldn’t do that, but it’s important to point it out. Little kids need encouragement every step of the way.

You can move on from that. The next step is to guide them in their writings. Work on substituting words so they grow accustomed to synonyms and word-choice. Work on character development, starting out small like a physical description. Teach them how to describe a scene, again showing them how to do it by using one of your examples.

Impress upon them that they are the storytellers, and it is their job to show people, through their words, what the make-believe world of a story looks like.

Continue on like that and improve as you go. That approach should work for any age group, scaling down for the very young, of course.

Good luck!

That’s a Wrap

The holidays are a tough time for people who suffer from depression. Just a note to those of you who do: you are not alone. If you would like to talk to a good listener, drop me an email at and we’ll arrange a time for a chat.

I’ll leave you with some lyrics from Dan Fogelberg:

“Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart
Gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road.

Along the road
Your path may wander
A pilgrim's faith may fail
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Darkness obscures the trail.

Cursing the quest
Courting disaster
Measureless nights forebode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road.”

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

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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

Thank you Lora! I appreciate your well-wishes and very kind words. Take care, my friend, and be safe.

Lora Hollings on December 06, 2020:

Congrats on another book published, Bill, in your Shadow series. I’m sure it is another first rate thriller. You are such a gifted writer!

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

Thank you Jo! I appreciate it very much.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 03, 2020:

Congratulations on the book. Loved the new photo.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Rodric, I will tackle all of your questions on Monday in the next Mailbag. Thanks for stopping by. As for your daughter, I hope she keeps writing. Have her send one of her pieces to me in an email. I would love to read it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

I appreciate that, Venkatachari M. Any look that makes me look smarter is a good look, in my opinion. lol I need all the help I can get, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Thank you Rasma! I'll tell Toby you think he's handsome. He'll appreciate that. :)

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on December 02, 2020:

I enjoyed this mailbag. I received answers to questions about teaching and encouraging kids to write. My oldest daughter has wanted to write since fifth grade, but I may have discouraged her some years back. I have been trying to get her to do it since and publish. If only I would have known then what I now know... She is 18 now and preparing for college. She is a Noir writer of sorts. I don't get to read her writings, but I hope she will soon post them. She wrote one article for Hubpages when she was in fifth grade with my help. For the life of me, cannot find it!

I was thrilled to read about your book! I cannot wait to get the ebook. I purchased a paperback recently and could not read it because my eyes hurt from using my bifocals to read for long periods of time. I can only read ebooks or do audiobooks. How long will it be for the ebook?

You probably mentioned this before but I must ask again with a bit of a preamble. I was recently rejected by a traditional publisher. I was thinking about self-publishing because my feelings were hurt. I remember reading that you approve of self-publishing. None of my other books have done well going that route, three so far. It really is affecting my confidence in my ability to write anything other than an article. I don't want to give up. I need to sign up for your writer's course if you still give it. How can I do that? I have lost the information I had before. Also, I am reexamining the rejected manuscript. It is not fiction, but a faith-promoting book. Does that have any bearing on why it was rejected, you think?

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on December 01, 2020:

A great mailbag. I enjoyed the questions and your nice answers.

Your picture of yourself is amazingly great! You seem like some great philosopher or scientist in that look. I kept looking at you for quite a long appreciating the get-up.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on December 01, 2020:

First, let me say I love the photo of you and your best friend. I enjoyed reading this mailbag and agree with the commenting frustration. I hope you have an inspirational new week,

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Thank you Devika. I appreciate that very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

You and me both, Bill! I think about that stuff all the time. I have quite a few moments in my life where it was Choice A or Choice B, important choices which altered my life. Thank God I made the choices I did because I love my life the way it is.

Thank you sir! Have a great week as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Manatita, I give all the credit to the perceptive dog. lol Thanks my friend. Stay safe!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Good morning Alyssa! Snow there? Fog here. A little chilly, but really great weather for December . . . so far! I think it's important to include that insert, because the weather can turn to poop very quickly here. :)

Enjoy the heck out of your week, young lady.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Good morning MizB!

That's Toby in that picture. Maggie didn't want to be photographed that morning. :)

Digging for creativity is probably a poor use of words and I do understand what you are saying. I do think we can give some prompts which help bring out the latent creativity, but if it ain't there, there's very little we can do to foster it, ya know?

Chilly and foggy this week, but no snow on the horizon, so all is well. It's great weather for walking the dogs.

Be well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Well, Denise, I sure hope it isn't the end of the community, but I suspect we will lose quite a few writers over this problem, and that saddens me. I'm too damned old to go shopping for a new community, so I'll just ride this horse until it collapses under me.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2020:

Thank you Mary! I am having trouble formatting for the Kindle version, which is weird because I've never had trouble doing it before. Oh well, thank you for finding it in I sure hope you enjoy it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 01, 2020:

You are doing well and know exactly what is required of you in writing and sharing informative hubs.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 30, 2020:

Hi Bill. Congratulations on the book, must be a huge relief to have it finished. I have always felt, as you indicated, that every little fork in life has led us to where we are at this moment in time. I am always amazed when I think back and realize that one decision years ago could have me somewhere else today. It’s absolutely fascinating to think about this. I often wonder what my life would be like today if I had altered just one decision, if I had gone left instead of right? Guess we’ll never know. Have a great week.

manatita44 from london on November 30, 2020:

Some really cute questions. That was a brilliant response to Ann. I could not have done better myself. Probably comes from that deeply reflective soul and an equally perceptive dog. Pax Vorbiscum!

Alyssa from Ohio on November 30, 2020:

Another great mailbag, Bill! Congratulations on finishing your novel! I appreciate your advice on teaching writing. Anything Language Arts related gets an eyeroll from my son. haha! He's a math and science kid. But he's good at all the subjects, when he sets his mind to it. Unfortunately, he has inherited my Type A, perfectionist personality.

It's almost December! Right now, it's snowing here. Winter has finally arrived. How is it up in your neck of the woods?

Have a wonderful week!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on November 30, 2020:

Good morning, Bill. Just a thought, but somehow I can’t see digging for creativity. Is that really creativity or is it manipulation? In my case the creativity comes to me and I write it up, but any digging I do is for the authorship or carrying out of the idea. Does that make sense or do I have the wrong understanding of the question?

The kid writing is intriguing. I think your advice is great to never criticize but encourage. My father taught school for 5 years before WWII, and he was a fantastic storyteller. He taught me how to tell stories, but not how write them down. That training came later. Somehow I can’t see 4-year-olds following rules. In our day, we didn’t learn to write until we were in elementary school.

I think that’s a great new photo of you. Is that Maggie with you (or Toby)? Stay warm, my friend.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 30, 2020:

What a great mailbag. I am feeling the "feed" pain too. I hadn't thought of typing in the category in the feed settings to find an article I'm looking for but still, it means a lot of searching. Do you believe it is the end of the writing community and we are back to being hermit writers with little or no feedback? I would really hate to lose all the valuable feedback and encouragement I've received these past 6 years.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Mr. Happy, I hadn't heard that about Point Roberts. Is the U.S. that hard up for cash? lol Seriously, it's fine with me. How about a trade? We give you Point Roberts and you guys give us 100 hockey sticks? And we'll throw in North Dakota to sweeten the deal. :)

Have a great week, my friend!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2020:

Hi Bill. I love your advice on teaching kids how to write. I remembered when our essays were evaluated. Forgive our teachers. They didn't know any better. I was looking forward to reading your book, but they don't ship it to Toronto. Are you coming up with a kindle version? I have to go to if it is available here.

Sorry, I just checked on and it is available. You have to type the title. When I typed your name, it did not come out. I await my copy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

I appreciate that, Louise! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

The fire is built, Eric, and it feels mighty good. As for relaxing, I do a lot more of that in the winter. I'm just not a big fan of windy, drizzly, 40's temps. I can find all manner of chores to do during the winter, and leave the Great Outdoors to nature.

Have a good one, buddy, and thanks for the kind words. As for the season to write, answer coming next Monday.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Mary! A force greater than me? Not hard to imagine that at all. :) That sounds like a very interesting course. Maybe you'll write an article about it????

Have a great week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Liz! I've noticed that too, fewer articles being written of late. I don't know if that's a holiday thing, or a protest against HP. I miss the old ways, but I don't think HP particularly cares what I miss or think.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Chitrangada Sharan! The beard will remain for the short-term, at least. I'll see how I feel about it in a couple months. It's already starting to itch. lol

Wishing you a wonderful week as well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Peggy! That's my hope as well regarding comments. We are all in the same boat together, and we can't spend countless hours trying to comment. At some point we just have to throw up our hands and quit trying, and hope everyone understands.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thanks a bunch, Linda! I think this is the first Thanksgiving in a very long time without turkey. Kind of strange, actually. I do miss the leftovers, but that's more wistful than practical. :) Happy Monday my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

I appreciate the thumbs-up on the beard, Heidi. So far I'm inclined to keep it, at least through the winter. Summer and warm weather might change my mind.

Have a good week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Rosina! Anything that helps to make me look wise is something to consider long-term. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you, Will! I appreciate it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thanks, Ann, for the writing tips. I hope Lori reads the comments and sees your thoughts.

I hope you are well. Everything is the same here, with a little touch of hope we didn't have, as a nation, six months ago. Now, at least, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to stay healthy until that light is close enough to touch.

Wishing you a brilliant week, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Pamela! I'll try to find that movie and watch it. Now you have me curious, and I'm a movie buff anyway, so why not?

I hope you have a wonderful week, my friend.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on November 30, 2020:

Gratz on the book publishing! You have another creation. : )

Nice photo with the furry buddy too. (I think we have the same shoes lolol - They're good for hiking. I'm so weird. I always look at shoes. They tell me stuff about people lol)

"Divine Intervention" - Yes. Without it I would not be here writing this comment now. I've slipped out of the hands of Death a few times: "Divine Intervention". So grateful ...

Thanks for the teaching hints. I appreciate them. Cheers! Stay safe.

Ohh, I almost forgot: what do You think about the US selling Point Roberts, WA to Canada? It's real talk. I'll take it lol Slowly, slowly we'll take Texas too eventually lmao jk

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 30, 2020:

Hey, congratulations on the publication of your book. That is good news!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 30, 2020:

Dear Bill,

In these days of joy and cheer you just made me notice that you do it year 'round. I hope you enjoy the company during this holiday time.

Winter is a good time for writing, don't you think? Tell me a notion of seasons for writing. Perhaps it is just my locale of desert. But I have some issues doing seasonal moods.

Your book getting the boot, made me wonder. If us mere mortals start it in spring and finish it in late fall. Of what season do we write. Indeed our daily seasons and our seasons of life.

Pay me no mind as I stumble for words to express my thought here.

Build a fall fire for me and relax my friend.

Mary Wickison from USA on November 30, 2020:

I love your advice about teaching them to write without criticism. It frees up their imagination.

I just finished a weekend course about divine intervention. Not necessarily God, but a force greater than ourselves. It was very interesting.

Glad to see I still had the option to comment.

Have a wonderful week.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 30, 2020:

Congratulations on getting your book published. Thanks for the frank answer to my question. I am relieved that I have caught your article whilst it's still in the old familiar format. These comments via the Hubfeed are a pain. Whether it's just the holiday season or the new format, but it seems to me that less articles are being written by writers I follow these days. I would go along with the Divine intervention theory sometimes. It's good to listen in to your teaching tips. Your offer to listen to those struggling with depression is extremely thoughtful and kind. I hope you have a great week too.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 30, 2020:

Great mailbag Bill!

Congratulations on publishing another book of yours. Wish you all the best.

Like others have said, the bearded look suits you. Though I believe, it might change in near future.

I can relate to the question by BRENDA. It seems that we are getting used to the new situation, since there is no other option. Although, I am still hoping that the concerns of the writers are addressed.

Thank you for sharing and wish you a wonderful week.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 30, 2020:

Congratulations on the publishing of another book!

As to finding articles upon which to comment, sometimes I spend way too much time scrolling down to try and find one in the feed if it has already been moved. It is very frustrating! At times I cannot find one, and I hope that the people who have left comments on mine understand.

As to creative writing, it is great that some teachers start out with very young kids. It will give them a head start on possibly doing it later in life.

Take care! Enjoy the balance of your week!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 30, 2020:

Good morning Bill and happy "I'm getting tired of turkey day." (But I know you had roast beef, so no problem in your house).

Congratulations on the book. I know you've got a lot still on your plate. Looking forward to that re-write (although I love the original).

I don't know if I believe in "fate" but I do believe that things happen for a reason; it's all part of a bigger picture.

I'm glad I was able to tap into this article before it was whisked away by Beezlebub (aka HP).

I recently saw a "writing prompts for kid's stories" on Google and perhaps Lori should give that a try. It even gave ME a few ideas.

Have a good week my friend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 30, 2020:

Happy Post-Thanksgiving Mailbag Monday!

Re: Congrats. Congrats on finishing the book! I know how that feels. Best of luck with it.

Re: Who Dis? I think the beard looks great, even though it may have been your Covid look. And Maggie (it is Maggie, right?) is adorable.

Well, not much to say. Gotta get some more writing done this week. Make it a good one!

Rosina S Khan on November 30, 2020:

A terrific mailbag. I am happy your novel is up for sale finally. I liked the lyrics by Dan Fogelberg. Wish you a fabulous Monday and a great start to the week. By the way, I liked your new pic too. Like Pamela, I agree you look very wise in your beard. LOL!

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on November 30, 2020:

Congratulations on being published, Bill!

Ann Carr from SW England on November 30, 2020:

Great mailbag, bill. Thanks for answering my question. I see exactly what you mean and it's a great way of putting it. You're probably right. Nothing is purely accidental, there are always reasons.

As for teaching creative writing, I would start with the person's interests, child or adult, and go from there. Ask them questions and get them to discuss and then do a mind map of each of their own answers, just notes (a bubble from the centre for each different answer), colour code each one, number the sequence, then attempt to write it all down! Little illustrations are good to add too, if they are that way inclined. Your idea of a story to inspire is a great one too. Ideas are the anchor and then everything stems from those! I feel a hub coming on!!

Congratulations on the publication too!

Have a great day, bill!


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 30, 2020:

Glad I was checking my mail when your article appeared. I am also glad your book is published, Bill. That was quite a grand list of emotions you expereinced over the past six months.

I like your picture as the beard gives you a look of a wise man.

As for Lori's question, I recently watched a movie on Prime - "The Secret". It had a message that explains how we can somewhat control what happens in our lives. I won't give away anymore. Apparently there was a book by that name, which I have never read and I don't know the author.

This is an interesting Mailbag, as usual my friend. Have a good week.

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