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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: