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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #366

Summer Has Arrived

One day, last week, we set a record for rainfall for that date. Water flowed off the roof, down the downspouts, into the street, and a small river flowed. The temps dropped, we turned the heat on in the house, all happening on a June day in the year 2021.

Two days later the doors are open, the sun shines brightly, temps rise into the seventies, and summer has arrived.

I’m a reflective kind of guy. The sudden changes in the weather had me reflecting, of course, and similarities to life rose. Tough times we all experience, setbacks and obstacles and all manner of hindrances, but then, as if magic, they are gone, good fortune returns, and life, at least temporarily, is once again easy. Ebb and flow, the rhythm of life, tough times and easy, we all experience them, we all soldier on, and that’s just the real of it.

Some adjust. Some don’t. Some thrive. Some don’t. Some are found. Some are lost forever. Seven-billion wanderers, that number growing rapidly, roaming the landscape, stumbling and bumbling our way forward, always forward, in search of whatever it is which stokes our engine.

See what I mean? Reflective!

Let’s do this mail thing!

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Missing Creativity

From MacKenzie: “Do you ever have times when there is no creativity lurking around? Like zero, nothing, not a hint of it? What do you do?”

Been there, done that, and I’m sure it will happen again, MacKenzie. What do I do? I walk away and go do some chore, or go for a walk, or watch some television. In other words, I don’t let it bother me. My muse will speak to me when she is good and ready, and not a moment sooner. The harder I fight it, the worse it will be, so I don’t fight it at all.

I actually sat down this morning to work on one of two novels I’m into, and it just wasn’t there for me. I gave it ten minutes, wrote about thirty words, and shut it down.

Go have a bowl of ice cream. That always makes me feel better while my muse is away.

Missing creativity? Go for a walk in nature.

Missing creativity? Go for a walk in nature.

Excerpt Please

From Tony: “You haven’t shared an excerpt from a novel lately. Are you working on anything you would like to share with us?”

Actually, Tony, I’m working on two novels right now. Sure, I can give you a tidbit, this one from my Shadow series, working title “Hidden in the Shadows.”

At three a.m. they came to me in my dreams. I saw no faces. I sensed them more than saw them. Their words were muffled. If there was a message, I couldn’t discern what it was. There was darkness in the dream, and the barely recognizable outlines of three beings within the darkness. That was all. Darkness and me trying to find some message in the darkness. There was no scenery, no landscape, nothing to gain a purchase with. There were no voices, no words, only the muffled sound of a message cut short.

I woke up suddenly. Felt the sweat on my brow. Looked over at Liz, who was gently snoring. Unlike many of my other dreams, ones which Liz shared, this one was mine alone. Sleep would not return to me so I quietly got up, walked into the living room, looked out the window. There were a fresh two inches of snow on the lawn. All was as it should be. I looked in on Amber. Felt a little embarrassed when I checked to make sure she was breathing. Moved on to Sarah’s room, silently opened her door, heard her sleeping sounds. With my heartbeat returning to normal, I grabbed a blanket from the hall closet, sat down in my favorite chair in the small den, Glock in one hand, a glass of water in the other, and guarded my family.

Thanks for the request. I hope you enjoyed it.

Magazine Submissions

From Sheila: “You mentioned last week about submitting to magazines. Do you have any recommendations? Which magazines might be better than others?”

I really don’t, Sheila. There are so many to choose from. Get a copy of The Writer’s Digest, go through their lists of magazines which relate to a topic you are interested in, read the submission guidelines carefully, and give it a go. You can also just go online and find quite a few online magazines to choose from.

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I wish I could be more help, but this is really a hit and miss situation, and you can choose just as well as I can. Just dive into the water and see what happens.

Missing creativity? Relax and don't think about writing.

Missing creativity? Relax and don't think about writing.

Increase the Views on Articles

From Cat (name changed): “Can you give me some tips on how to increase traffic to my articles? I really love HP, love the community, but I also want to make money while I’m here. What’s the secret?”

Cat, there have been hundreds of articles about this topic. You could literally spend days reading them and taking notes and increasing your knowledge about the online numbers game. I’m going to give you two tips among many, but I strongly suggest you do some research.

First, write articles which score well with the search engines. Popular topics are “how to” articles, articles that solve a common problem, articles which promise change, articles that offer help, and articles which make bold predictions. Also, some topics score better than others. DIY articles do well. Self-sufficiency is scoring well of late. Self-help will always be in demand. Food articles, travel articles, they all have long shelf-lives online.

Second, learn the SEO game. Viewership comes from scoring well in SEO. The google gods take SEO very seriously. Learn how to link to keywords, and learn which keywords are most important.

Do those two things and you will at least have a fighting chance of increasing your views.

There is so much more, but that will get you started.

A Short One Today and That’s Okay

I can only give you what you ask for, and you didn’t ask for much this week. The Mailbag exists when questions are asked, so if you have a question, include it in the comments below, or send me an email at And if you want some one-on-one instruction, I also work as a writing coach. Mind you, I don’t pull any punches. I will tell you straight up what you need to work on to be a better writer, but you will hear the truth as I see it, based on my years of experience.

Have a great week. Spend some time reflecting on life. I highly recommend it. And please, do all things with love.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2021:

I'm happy you are all right, Devika. We have quite a few earthquakes where I live, so I know how scary they can be. Take care and be safe.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2021:

From one ice cream lover to another yes, you do need the Writer's Digest. You need a traditional publisher to take a look at your book. Please follow up.

love, bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2021:

Thank you MG! I appreciate your kind words of support.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 26, 2021:

Summer here and people are out and about. Had an earthquake last night we have had a few tremors lately but this was an earthquake that shook our place alright! Anyways all well otherwise. Your mailbag is informative and tells us what is important, and most useful. Thank you

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on June 25, 2021:

I eat plenty of ice cream.:) Love the mailbag. I always learn something new. Thanks for mentioning "The Writers Digest." I think I need this book.

Love with chocolate syrup,


MG Singh emge from Singapore on June 25, 2021:

You have posted a wonderful mailbag. Your excerpt is nice and overall leaves a good feeling.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 25, 2021:

what a fascinating question, Manatita, one I'm looking forward to answering on Monday. Be well, my friend, and peace always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 25, 2021:

Alyssa, the struggle with creativity hits us all from time to time. Enjoy that ice cream, do something fun, and your muse will return soon enough.

107 here on Sunday! There will be enjoying the weekend for this boy.

manatita44 from london on June 25, 2021:

Lovely! Great to reflect too. My Question: As you grow younger within and age externally, do you find it easier to remember the beauty of art, or is there automatically to your beck and call? Peace, Bro.

Alyssa from Ohio on June 24, 2021:

I'm showing up quite late to the mailbag this week, but I brought coffee! haha!

It's been struggle city over here with creativity. I like your tip. "Go have a bowl of ice cream." I actually have some in the freezer so I'm prepared for that.

I hope you are having a wonderful week! Enjoy the weekend! :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 24, 2021:

Thank you Sha!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 24, 2021:

MizB, I don't see where to do that in notification settings. Perhaps send an email to HP. They can probably see something behind the scenes that we don't.

That said, I just checked one of my emailed "Here are your recent Notifications from HubPages". At the bottom of the page it says to visit my email settings page if I want to change notifications. I think it's located in Account Settings.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 24, 2021:

Good luck, MizB. I don't have an answer for that particular problem. Wish I did.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 24, 2021:

Thank you very much, Vidya! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Now go have some ice cream! :)

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 23, 2021:

Bravewarrior, I appreciate your chiming in, and I wish you or somebody could tell me how to set it just for the consolidated notifications on google. I've tried and tried, but when I cut out the individual ones, it cuts the consolidated one out, too.

VIDYA D SAGAR on June 23, 2021:

A very interesting mailbag bill. It was fun reading the excerpt from your novel. Ice cream is my favorite too. It's a good idea to take a walk in nature for some inspiration. I am glad I found your article in my feed and was able to read it. Your answer to all questions are interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing, have a great day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

I am very happy to hear that, EK! Thanks for coming back and reading it a second time. I appreciate it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

I got it, I think, Brenda. Maybe not; maybe it's lost in cyberspace. Sigh!

100 here on Saturday and Sunday. I am not a happy boy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

Thanks Sha! I don't mind at all and you are correct. For some reason I didn't think of that consolidated email we all get.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

MizB, my how the tables have turned. We are going to be over 100 for three straight days this weekend. It's almost hard to believe for our neck of the woods. Just shoot me now!

Have a great week and wish us luck!

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 23, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I really enjoyed the mail and reading it second time today. Because all the questions in this mail are somehow relating to the questions that are in my mind. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us.

Stay safe and healthy...

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 22, 2021:

I did leave you a comment earlier, but I don't see it.

Maybe it's lost in cyber space...I'll check tomorrow.

In any case, we're getting a bit of your weather.

Its 53 and headed down to 49, but I'm leaving the heat off for now.

Like you will bounce back.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 22, 2021:

MizB: HP does send a consolidated email after they send the individual ones. I receive them daily. It's called something like, "Here are Your Notifications". It gives links to new articles by writers you follow in addition to comments made on articles and forums you follow. You may need to check your settings to see what you've signed up for.

I hope you don't mind me chiming in, Bill.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 22, 2021:

Bill, I noticed several people complaining about not getting notifications and having to hunt your Mailbag on their feeds. That is what I do. I had to shut down notifications several months ago because I haven't been able to select one consolidated notification per day, and all the individual ones were choking my email to death. I couldn't keep up with keeping them deleted. I wish HP would send one consolidated notification per day. It wouldn't matter to me if it came at 5 pm. I usually find you on the feed, but I don't always have time to reply to reading it though.

I really like your excerpt from the novel. It looks like a page turner!

Weatherman says we are having a cool spell. It was 81 and sunny here today. Unusual weather. So far we've been using only the kitchen window unit this summer. Guess we'll have to turn the other one on soon. Maybe our next house will have a working central unit. Have a good week, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Great suggestions, Flourish! Thank you for sharing those. I'm going to share them next week in the Mailbag if you don't mind.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Thank you Vanita! The dogs appreciate your hugs. Loved your pun...not your cups of

Take care, my friend! Be safe!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Thank you Rozlin! You do the same.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

I have no doubt about that, Linda. You are a nature lover and always will be. Thanks for the kind words about my excerpt.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

I have no doubt she will return soon, Peg. Just keep eating that ice cream and be patient. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

It really can be, Mary! I'm not much for crowds, but having a meal at a sidewalk cafe is always entertaining. I'm glad you are enjoying yourself now that restrictions are loosening.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Pamela, I don't know what HP's problem is of late, but you aren't the only one having trouble commenting or even finding articles in the feed. As for writing two books at once, I'll tackle that one in next week's Mailbag. Thanks for the questions, and have a great week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Hi Denise! Great questions. I'm going to have fun answering them, and thank you for giving me something to write about. I hope you are having a great week so far. Talk soon!

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

Happy Monday, Gyanencra! Thank you, my friend. You are appreciated!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

I'll bet you are quite eager to get back to Massachusetts, Bill. Safe travels my friend, and thanks for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 22, 2021:

For your reader who is looking for article topics, every time they have a practical problem they should write it down on a list. Their evolving idea list will help them generate "how to" article ideas. Or if they have an expertise area, break down the elements into bite-sized chunks and make it instructable/actionable.

Vanita Thakkar on June 21, 2021:

Hello, Bill !! Enjoyed reading your mailbag and happy to be able to comment.

Interesting and informative article.

Keep beating the heat with ice creams !! My brother is also a great ice cream lover, but his greatest love is TEA :) :). And neither of them are my cups of tea (Ha, Ha)

Enjoy your nature walks that inspire creativity. That is how it is for most of us.

Lots of love and best regards to you and Bev. Love to your cute pets, too. Give them nice, loving hugs on my behalf.

Rozlin from UAE on June 21, 2021:

Enjoyed reading your mailbag, sir. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2021:

The last sentence in your novel excerpt was a great one to end with. Your advice to go for a walk in nature to inspire creativity is an excellent idea. It’s what I do.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 21, 2021:

Mmmm. Ice cream. That explains my recent ice cream cravings. The muse has been on vacation at my house. Hoping it returns soon.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 21, 2021:

Bill, summer is here and I have to say all the socials are back with a force with the opening of more stores and outdoor dining. Nature walks are always inspiring but so are walks in the city streets and having coffee in some cafes where people surprise you with their stories. Today, a guy in another table told us he wants to produce a show on the red carpet interviewing fashion personalities in the city. Yesterday, another guy told us of the music he writes as he scoops out our order of gelato. Life in the city can be also inspiring.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 21, 2021:

Your mailbags are always interesting, Bill. I like the Shadows excerpt from your new book. I don't think I knew you were writing two books at once. I have heard of authors writing two books at once. When they get stuck they switch to the other book. Is that how you handle it?

I wonder if anyone else is having trouble getting emails about new articles from Hubpages. I did not receive an email about this one, and I was looking for it all morning. Then, I found you in my feed. I did not get one email today from Hubpages and that is hard to believe on any day. Maybe there is something wrong in my settings. I checked what I could and don't see a problem.

Have a great week, Bill.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 21, 2021:

Well, Bill, another worthwhile mailbag in the can. It is a great way for me to start my week. I wouldn't miss it if I can help it. You are right about the magazines and there being so many to choose from that you couldn't recommend just one. I heard about 10 years back that magazines were going to be a thing of the past soon because of the digital age. Do you think that is true? I get the feeling they have embraced the digital medium and adopted. If anything there seem to be even more magazines than ever before. Do you think that is true? Have you noticed a reduction in the amount they pay for articles (compared with 10 to 20 years ago)? I thought some of the children's magazines were being very chintzy in their prices quoted. Even Highlights for Children, who are very well-read, seem to be offering less and less for world rights.



gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on June 21, 2021:


Happy Monday again for me and Hubbers who wait for this bright day.

Thank you again.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on June 21, 2021:

Excellent mailbag, Bill. Our time in Florida comes to an end later this week. I am very much looking forward to getting back to Massachusetts. The heat and humidity is too much for me here. Loved the Shadows excerpt. Have a great week, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

By the end of this week, Sha, I'll be praying for rain again. 90 today, 90 this coming Friday, 97 Saturday, 92 Sunday. Just shoot me now and put me out of my misery. LOL Thanks, my friend. Be well!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

All good indeed, Heidi! Any day you don't get hit by a tornado is a good day. LOL Happy Monday my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

I'm with you all the way, Mr. Happy. I'm afraid there are far too many people interested in scoring well on Google, and not nearly enough writers trying to improve their craft.

Ice cream for lunch? Sure, why not. It's time!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

Rosina, I'm glad you have AC. It is a great invention for these hot summer months. We don't have it, but we do have ice cream. :) Happy Monday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

I am doing well, Chitrangada Sharan. Thank you, and I hope your week is everything you want it to be.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

I appreciate that, Peggy! Thank you for your kind words. Stay safe in that heat you're having, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

Thank you Dora! I hope your summer is enjoyable as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

Thanks John! I don't like heat. Bev hates it. I'm afraid we will not be enjoying this next wee, but we will survive it and carry on.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

Misbah, don't get me started talking about the HP feed. It drives me crazy just thinking about it. I don't know why they make it so hard on us to read articles by our friends. You would think they would want it to be easy to do so.

Anyway, take care in that heat. Be safe, be happy, and blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2021:

Zulma, it's a twist in the Shadow series. It was time for me to shake things up a bit and yes, I'll gladly allow it to bug you the rest of the day. :) In fact, I'll find great joy knowing it is bugging you. lol

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 21, 2021:

Well, it's apparent I'm behind in my Shadows reading. I didn't know Eli and Liz had daughters! I've got some catching up to do!

We've finally been getting some much needed rain here. Although our rainy season has officially started, we've been in a drought situation for the past couple of months. Never thought I'd be praying for rain in June!

Have a great week, my friend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 21, 2021:

Happy Mailbag Monday!

Re: Nothing to Rant About. Well, I guess I could rant about the getting more traffic to your articles question. But I'll spare you. It's nice and cool today, and we didn't get hit by a tornado that ripped through a couple suburbs about 10 miles away late last night. So all good here for a Monday.

Make it a great week!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on June 21, 2021:

"Go have a bowl of ice cream." - That sounds like a great idea! I just gotta go get some ice-cream first. It is hot enough anyway.

"Just dive into the water and see what happens." - Just shoot! lol

"First, write articles which score well with the search engines. Popular topics are “how to”" - Noooooooooo!!!!!!!! lol All we're gonna be left with in this world soon, are "how to" articles. (Not many things I dislike more than "how to" articles. (Simply for what they are doing to the written word.) You know what other type of writers are needed? Ones to write manuals for your toaster. Sigh ...

Alright, time for me to go get some ice-cream. Or, maybe I should first read an article on "hot to" go buy ice cream LOL


Rosina S Khan on June 21, 2021:

Even though short, an interesting mailbag. I loved the excerpt from your novel. It had my full attention. The weather here is very hot and we have to put on AC. But sometimes it rains also, cooling the atmosphere and clearing the polluted air. Anyways we live in a residential area and so there is less pollution here from the city center.

Thanks for sharing today's marvelous mailbag. Happy Monday, Bill and wish you a great start to the week.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2021:

Hello Bill!

Thanks for an interesting and reflective piece of writing. I agree, that Nature walks provide inspiration, and help in creative thoughts.

I hope you are doing well. Thank you for sharing another wonderful mailbag.

Have a great week.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2021:

That preview of your new book made that nightmare come alive! You are a master at grabbing our attention in a few short sentences. Even though I have never thought to write a book, I always find your mailbag posts of interest. Enjoy your week ahead!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 21, 2021:

This week's mailbag is to the point. Still rich with information and good ideas. Enjoy your summer!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 21, 2021:

Like Misbah, I cannot understand why the Mailbag never appears on my feed. I have to go to it from my email notification and luckily I am quick enough again. Short but sweet this week, but I loved the tempter from your novel..great stuff. Enjoy that changing weather.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 21, 2021:

Happy Monday, Mr. Bill. I don't know why but HubPages sometimes really irritates me. You know this time they wanted me to miss your mailbag. I am clever enough I always read it on time and have defeated them... Lol. It didn't appear on my feed for whatever reason. Thankfully I caught it from my email notification. Lovely mailbag, Sir. The weather here in Barcelona is extremely hot and no rain until now. I hope we will have it soon. I love your answer about the novel question. Thanks for sharing, Sir

God Bless you and keeps you safe and healthy. Keep smiling and keep writing to us even if it is short. It's always full of wisdom

Blessings always

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on June 21, 2021:

Hi Bill.

I've got the heat on right now. It's been a chilly few days but it will get better. It always does.

Interesting excerpt. So, no lucid dreams. Is Eli losing his touch or is the Shadow Man blocking those visions somehow? Maybe the Shadow Man isn't ready to show his hand yet? That's going to bug me all day now. Thanks for that. (I kid.)

Have a lovely Solstice, Bill.

P.S. Ice cream make everything better.

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