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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 162

Updated on August 7, 2017

Hot Here and My Motivation Is Drained

That pretty much sums up my week, and if the National Weather Bureau can be believed, it sums up next week as well. I’m busy each morning with paying customers, and by the time afternoons roll around, I’m too hot to write. Besides, I have critters to keep alive in the heat, so there you go. By eleven in the morning I’m pretty much done with writing.

Hoping the heat leaves soon. We don’t do air-conditioning. I’ve never owned one. So when we have these rare heat waves, it can get a touch uncomfortable.

So I wish you all a great week of writing. Stay cool, stay safe, and create often.

Let’s see what mail we have.

Welcome to the Mail Room
Welcome to the Mail Room | Source

Where Is the Oomph?

From Ann: “Having said that, I feel lately that my writing is slipping - I get the ideas but the 'umph' behind them doesn't seem to come through. So I have a question for you. Am I failing as a writer or is it that I can't see them through the eyes of another reader? I don't want reassuring, I want to know if you've experienced this and what you do about it. Continuity is not easy at the moment so I could use that as an excuse but I don't think that's it. It's not writer's block either as I have plenty of ideas. It's just the delivery. This is not fishing for praise either, in case anyone thinks so, as I know you tell it like it is! Sorry that's a bit of a ramble but, as I say, delivery is not my strong point right now!!”

Ann, whatever the hell it is, I have it too!

An epidemic? One which only strikes writers? God help us all!

Seriously, Ann, I have it. I first noticed it a couple weeks ago. I sat down to do a creative piece, a reflective piece like those I once did almost daily here on HP. I had an idea for it, which is all I’ve ever needed in the past, and I wrote the opening paragraph and then . . . NOTHING!!!!!

A fluke, right? Get a good night’s sleep and try again the next day, which I did, and NOTHING!

And then I remembered the words of an old mentor and friend from many moons ago….”trust in the process, Bill, and quit trying to make a cyclone out of a glass of water.”

Listen, Ann, I know the talent is there for both of us. That’s already been proven. We’ve got the chops, as some musicians like to say. So we just have to trust that our muses have decided to take a well-deserved break and will return when they are damned good and ready.

And that’s my answer for you. I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve been writing continuously for almost seven years now, so it really isn’t that surprising that I hit an obstacle and my creativity/drive has taken a break. Now, if I’m writing this again next year at this time, I’ll probably be in panic mode. LOL

Niche Sites

From Rasma: “Another informative mailbag. Lately I have been please to note that quite a few of my poem are being sent to the niche site Letterpile. Now comes my question How much exposure does our work get in the niche sites?”

The timing couldn’t be better for this question, Rasma. A writer friend, Clive, just posted an article this morning about the HP niche sites, so I’ll refer you to that article. Follow this link and I think you’ll find it informative. Evidently some of those niche sites are doing quite well, and they could only be doing well financially if they are getting exposure.

MEDIUM

From Joy: “What do you know about the writing site Medium?”

Joy, I know absolutely nothing about Medium. I’ve never heard of it and so, obviously, I’ve never visited it. I did find the link to it, however, so follow this link and all of you curious about it can go see for yourselves.

The ultimate in a social media platform
The ultimate in a social media platform | Source

Social Media Platforms

From Laycee: “I’m just starting out, and I’ve got a question for you: there are so many social media platforms out there. I know it’s important to promote on social media, but how do you choose which ones? I mean, it would be impossible to use them all, right? Seems to me you could get bogged down in social media and never get any writing done? What do you do?”

You are absolutely correct, Laycee, it is very easy to get bogged down on social media and get nothing done with your writing. I know quite a few writers who are currently knee-deep in social media, and they haven’t written anything new in weeks.

Yes, social media is important, but so is writing. What do I do? I work with the social media I am comfortable with and leave the rest. There are some really popular sites I simply don’t belong to. I don’t have the time. I’m comfortable with Facebook, and about three others, and that’s all I do.

A writer needs to write. Do something well, like Facebook, and stop doing a variety of things in a mediocre fashion.

Freelance Start-up

From Michelle: “I want to start freelancing, but I don’t know where or how to start. What say you?”

Michelle, I say GOOD LUCK!

Seriously, luck has very little to do with succeeding as a freelance writer. It’s all about following a winning formula and putting in some hard work.

I could write a book about this topic (oh, wait, I did, The Ultimate Writing Guide), so tackling it in this single section of a single article is tough. Let me just give you a few bullet points in no particular order:

  • Treat your business like a business
  • Get a website
  • Get business cards
  • Read a couple reliable books about freelancing so you know what you are getting into
  • Continually improve your craft
  • Deliver on your promises
  • Learn Guerilla Marketing
  • And be prepared to work your ass off.

And read my friend Greg’s blog on this topic. Go check out Lancer Life. There is some great information there which will help you greatly.

More on the way
More on the way | Source

Plans for the Future

From Pete: “Bill, I haven’t heard anything from you about a new novel or coloring book in quite some time. What’s happening on that front? By the way, I love your Shadow series!”

Well thanks for the free plug, Pete. I appreciate it, and I’m very happy that you enjoy the Shadow series.

What’s happening? I’ve been busier than hell, busier than I really want to be, and busier than I should be if I plan to continue publishing books.

Okay, here’s what happened, since you asked: we ran into a few financial difficulties, and we needed more available cash. I put some feelers out and came up with a new customer, a big customer, a customer with a ton of freelance work, and for the past few months I have been buried in that customer’s work to the detriment of my creative writing. Add to that the fact that summers are a busy time for me. One day a week I work a farmers market, and I’m busy with quail and chickens and a thousand other things.

So I’ve made a promise to myself that we reverse this trend the end of September and I get back to publishing. After September the farmers market gig will end, and I’ll be done with quail for the season, and we’ll have the money we need. I already started in on the edits to my latest Shadow novel, “Shadows Fall On Rosarito,” so I’m making progress, and there will be a couple new coloring books published this winter, Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

And That’s All There Is This Week

I hope you found something you needed in this installment, or at the very least something interesting. If you have a question for the Mailbag, include it in the comment section below, or send me an email at holland1145@yahoo.com and I’ll include it in next week’s installment.

Have a great week of writing. Relatively speaking, we are members of a very exclusive club. There aren’t many out there who can do what we do, so be proud of the work you accomplish….and keep doing it!

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 8 days ago from Olympia, WA

      You got that one in under the wire, Mike. Answer on Monday. Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 8 days ago from Olympia, WA

      That is my hope, Aesta! I need some awesome ideas and some extra time.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 9 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like the idea of giving our Muse a break. Summer for me is always a break as it is time for family and cottage friends and relaxing. Such break often lead to awesome ideas.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 9 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Bill - Here is a question for another day. What do you think about utilizing the U.S. Copyright office?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, you are very welcome. You have had quite a time since retirement. No wonder your writing took a hit. I love that you are setting aside time for the writing now. Best wishes to you, and thank you for always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish! I am happy to report that the heat is leaving us. Bring on Fall!!!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 10 days ago from USA

      When the heat sets in I get really slow and sleepy. I try to leave the house for only short periods at a time because of what the heat does to my health. The upside is that I have been pretty productive. I like your answer regarding a formula.

    • jo miller profile image

      jo miller 10 days ago from Tennessee

      You may be in the doldrums, Bill, with your writing, but last week's mailbag inspired me to step up the pace. I retired early several years ago with the full intention of spending some of my time on writing. Before I retired I had my schedule already planned and for over a year I wrote daily. However, I then began building a house (contracting it myself) and during the process of building the house met and married my husband. Add to those changes our four grandchildren and frequent travel, it is not surprising that my writing schedule got pushed aside.

      Your discussion last week about your need for continuity struck a cord, so I've made a real effort this week to set up a schedule that works for me in my present life. When I say you are an inspiration I mean it. And I even got to this week's mailbag in less than a week's time. I may never be really prompt with that because I still have a very full life, but it feels I'm making progress. So, thanks.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, if they are to be believed, the forecasters say today is the last day of the heat. We shall see.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, ChitrangadaSharan! It is always a pleasure having you visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Larry! Last day of the heat if the weather forecasters are correct. We'll send it your way.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 11 days ago from Oklahoma

      I wish I lived where A/C just wasn't necessary. Sorry for the heat wave in your parts. Oklahoma has actually been unseasonably cool this summer.

      Good luck with the heat. Enjoyed the bag:-)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 days ago from New Delhi, India

      Interesting and informative mailbag as always!

      Learnt something new this time too.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 11 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I always enjoy reading the Mailbag. The article and the comments are interesting. I hope it gets cooler soon where you live and where I live. Like you, I've never had air conditioning in my home.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 12 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      As always, Bill. interesting and informative. glad the mail keeps coming!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ann! Great question...I see an easy fix....next Monday.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      We do always bounce back, Dora. In the meantime it is nice knowing I'm not alone in that feeling.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I've gotten in the habit, of late, of taking a nap in the late afternoon. I'll be breaking that habit as soon as the heat leaves.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 12 days ago from SW England

      I've got a question for you, bill. I put it in my answer to your comment on the 'Chalk' hub but I'll put it here as well in case you miss that.

      I have fun with the 'Take a word..' series and I just love playing with words. I'm thinking of putting them all together to publish but I don't really know how to go about it. Any suggestions? (for your mailbag?) More to do with getting it published rather than the layout.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 12 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I think I will call this one delicious. Reading it was a tasty treat so why not? The heat really messes with the umph for writing. This year we followed some advice. And just got hot with days in the high 80's and 90's, it takes one month to adjust. My son put a blanket on at 78 degrees. But it still saps you. Siesta anyone?

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 12 days ago from The Caribbean

      Good advice as always. No air-conditioning in my Caribbean home either and we're at a steady 80-degree and above temperature. Great to know that I'm not alone feeling neglected by my Muse. We always bounce back, though!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, thank God someone younger than me also has trouble on the cell phone....LOL...and thank God someone is actually looking forward to the new Shadow book. I'm getting itchy to get that thing published because I have the next one half-written already.

      Have a stupendous week, my friend.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 12 days ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday/Tuesday Bill! I read the mailbag yesterday, but I am just not techy enough to respond on my cell phone... lol. I hope you get a little relief on the hot weather soon. Being from MN, I always get to remind myself that I will be looking back and WISHING it were hot again come January...

      Glad to hear you are still making progress on your Shadows Series book...I will patiently wait!

      Have a great rest of the week!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      It is for sure, Linda! Patience is called for from this boy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Muse-melodic Monday...I like that, Ann! Thanks for the smile it brought to my face.

      Great thoughts about the oomph problem....one with the environment...I'll have to work on a few things and see if I can't kickstart this career of mine.

      Wishing you a tumultuously-terrific Tuesday!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      That is sweet of you to say, Sally! I'm feeling like a failure today simply because I don't have the energy to do anything well...but I know it will pass, and your words help greatly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      This is my second home, Shyron, one of the few places that embraces me. Why in the world would I leave? :)

      Blessings my friend, and thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Five more days of it, Zulma, and then blessed clouds. :) Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, John,and thanks for mentioning Medium. It's always good to hear from those who have tried something firsthand. Weather is cooling this coming weekend, thank the gods.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 12 days ago from Queensland Australia

      I found this to be one of the most interesting mailbags in a while, Bill. I think the lack of creative writing "oomph" must be an epidemic at the moment. I go to bed with a notebook and pen and the intention to write something amazing and not a word materialises. I am trying to be patient rather than ty to force it.

      In regard to Joy's query about "Medium." I am a member of the site and follow some of the authors there. I have read some great articles, but still haven't written anything there myself. I know it is owned and run by the creators of Twitter.

      Thanks for reminding me about Clive's article about niche sites. I have been intending to read it and will o there now. I hope the weather cools for you.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 13 days ago from United Kingdom

      I know what you mean regarding the heat, Bill. It just saps your energy. All anyone can do is wait it out. It won't last forever. Stay cool, my friend. Oh, wait...you already are.:)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 13 days ago from Texas

      Thank you Bill for staying with us Hubber-heads who stick with HP no matter what.

      Blessings always

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 13 days ago from Norfolk

      You amaze me with all of your creativity and hard work! I find myself grateful today to learn that you have so many eggs in so many baskets. I think it is the inspiration I need today. I think I am going to go find me a few more baskets for me to lay some eggs in. Have a great week Billy and hope that a cold front might soon be on its way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Lots of gravy, Pop! Lots of gravy we writers receive.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rasma! I wish the same for you, my friend.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 13 days ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thank you Bill. Another great mailbag. Thank you for the link I will go there are see what he has to say. Hope you have an inspiring week.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 13 days ago

      I always find something useful in this series. Some of my work has gone to soapboxie. More could have gone, but frankly I didn't want to make the changes HP wanted. For me it is still the same thing. I write because I love it. Anything else is gravy.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 13 days ago from SW England

      Thanks for answering my question, bill. You're right.

      I've got a couple of other ideas though. You said yourself that you've been too busy and writing has suffered. I've had the house stuff to concentrate on too, not wanting to let my partner think he's left to do it all - that kind of thing does take its toll so writing takes a back seat and the flow suffers I suppose.

      I've also gone back to a favourite book of mine (Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, because I suggested it to my book club) which encourages a writer to become one with the environment, using words which reflect the environment you're in with precision and conveying that sense of 'being one'. It's the boost I needed; he's fired my enthusiasm once again and I think I've got past it - well, I hope I have!

      I hope this series goes on for ever, bill. It's the only sane 'bucket' of advice I know and understand!

      Oh, yes, and could we have some of your warmth please; August thinks it's March and I'm COLD!

      Have a muse-melodic Monday and may your machinations move mountains.

      Ann

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 13 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, autumn is right around the corner. I saw the first wild cyclamen of the year in our woods yesterday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Enjoy the hell out of that retirement, MizB. You earned it!

      Seasons change quickly here in western Washington. We have one more week of hot weather predicted, and then the inevitable slide into fall begins with lower temps and cooler evenings. I, for one, can hardly wait. Unfortunately, that also means we will be one step closer to the rainy season. Sigh!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Clive! much-appreciated

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Venkatachari M, for sharing your thoughts and schedule with us all. We all learn from each other.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 13 days ago from Hyderabad, India

      Much useful and interesting knowledge in this mailbag too. You have stated many wonderful facts about that Umph period, freelancing, guerilla marketing, and social media platforms.

      I often take breaks due to that lack of oomph and mood. I like freelancing but it did not work for me as it requires meeting tight targets. So, I am doing some activity only at my blog and reading other's works and posting comments. At Facebook or other social media sites, I spend overall one hour in a day.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 13 days ago from Nibiru

      Nice and truthful advice here billy.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 13 days ago

      Good mornin', Bill, or is it afternoon yet? I'm starting my second week of retirement and so far haven't accomplished a creative thing. I had no idea that the process of retiring would be so exhausting. I still didn't do it all, since I got a call from work saying that I forgot to put in for the bulk payment of my 42 days of annual leave. LOL I'm tired and not worrying about lack of creativity. Ann shouldn't either. I think the dog days of summer have something to do with it.

      We've had one of the coolest summers in a couple of decades. Our main air conditioner blew its compressor, so we are doing with a couple of window units. You've never owned an AC? I guess in WA so near the ocean you probably can do without one. Not here in this semi-tropical state where I live. Hot, muggy, and mosquitoes balore. Some of us have threatened to request the legislature to make the mosquito the state bird. That should throw the Audubon Society for a loop! The temp is in the low 80s today and will be all week, along with rain. Go buy yourself a cheap fan and have a good rest of your hot week, if you can, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Mike. I actually started to worry last week when a short story wouldn't materialize, and then I realized it was only natural after 1300 articles...cut myself some slack and now I'm fine.

      Thanks my friend and Happy Monday to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Good suggestion for many, Brian. Me, I would just get too distracted. I need quiet and alone time to write. Maybe I'm a bit anal? :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you PS, and you are never far from mine. Sending hugs and angels your way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! Don't worry about that story of yours. If it is meant to be told it will find a way out of the closet. Trust in the process.

      Cooler weather after Friday. We just have to hang in for five more days.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 13 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I would do just about anything for some relief from this hot weather, but I won't share it with Janine. She's far too sweet. Thank you for writing to Ann about losing (and finding) that oomph. Mine fizzled with the heat; or at least that's the excuse I'm allowing myself for the moment.

      I have a story buried deep inside that I really want to get out, but each time I begin to write I become almost paralyzed. I have the bare bones, but cannot find the words to flesh it out.

      This is a different mailbag (questions). I don't think this series will ever grow stale. I love it each and every week.

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      Patricia K Scott/pstraubie48 13 days ago

      Always interesting to read...am not here enough...too much going on but you and others are not far from.my thoughts.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 13 days ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      When you need to write in hot weather to meet a deadline, how about taking a computer or pen and paper and heading to an air-conditioned public library, coffee shop, fast food joint, or hospital cafeteria?

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 13 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - I thought I would try and not wait until the end of the week to comment.

      My thought on Ann's question is that Babe Ruth did not hit a home run every time at bat. Far from it. He only hit enough home runs to get famous. Writer's are too tough on themselves. Step into the batters box. Believe me, when I see some of my HP statistics I cringe, bandage the wounds and stand back up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Heidi! I always love it when you agree with me. You made my day!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it seems funny, telling someone in Brazil that it's too hot, but for us pampered Northwesterners, it is TOO HOT! LOL Thanks for your thoughts, my friend.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 13 days ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      Regarding lack of oomph.

      I think sometimes we just need to step away for the keyboard and take a breather. I have started a few articles, walked away from them and returned ready to complete them. I find it helpful just to add the subtitles and then think about the contents of that section away from the laptop.

      Social media can be like quicksand, and I honestly question how effective it is for writers.

      Hope your weather cools down for you soon, have a great week.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 13 days ago from Chicago Area

      G'morning!

      Glad to hear your writing work is hot, but not that it's hot in the fair state of WA. Luckily, it's been bearable here, save for some of the flooding in areas just north of us.

      Re: Social Media for Authors. I say "pick and stick" with the platforms that give you the most satisfaction personally and professionally. And my 30-minute limit per day (total!) rule has served me well.

      Have a successful week!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      We have one more week of it, Janine, and then evidently changes are coming, which means you are a week from changes as well. Hang in there, my friend, and Happy Monday to you.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 13 days ago from New York, New York

      Can you send some of that heat this way. It has been truly not a very hot summer here int he Northeast and rainy, too. Today, is another chilly washout for us and honestly getting a bit tired of all the rain and colder than normal temps. But still thank you for always sharing your writing advice and hoping that you are having a great week so far now, Bill!! :)