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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 172

Updated on October 16, 2017

MINI-VACATION

Bev and I just got back from three days in Oregon, three days spent visiting with my dear friend from high school and college. It’s the first mini-vacation I’ve been on in gosh, it must be five years now. Five years without a break from writing and urban farming . . . and truth be told, I didn’t mind not having a vacation at all.

You see, I love what I do. I love writing. I love creating. I love the fact that I am part of a rich tradition. And I love working with animals, and growing things, and knowing I’m doing my small part to make this planet a better place to live.

So although the mini-vacation was nice, it is infinitely better being back home amongst all my “homies” like you.

Welcome to the Mailbag! It’s Monday and that means another rich tradition continues. Get comfortable, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s get to it. We have an overflow this week and the bag is pretty heavy.

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

Believable Villains

From Kristen: “I have a question to ask for next week's mailbag. What tips do you have of making a villain believable and realistic? (I've recently hit a snag with this, due to a friend's feedback on my secondary baddie for one of my thrillers.)”

This is really an interesting question, Kristen, one I’ve never really considered, and that in itself is a shocker since I’ve written four “Shadow” novels with some pretty evil characters in them. So let me think about this for a moment.

Okay, I’m back! I think my brain hurts. While I was thinking about this, I was thinking about Hannibal Lecter and Ted Bundy; one is a character of evil and one was evil. Here are my observations.

A villain must have dimensions. It is not enough that they do evil acts. We must see them as real people capable of doing evil acts. They must appear to have admirable human traits i.e. kindness, compassion, humor, even empathy . . . I believe that makes them more terrifying. As you may have heard, Ted Bundy was our paperboy when I was growing up. He seemed very normal, something everyone who ever met Bundy has said . . . and that normalcy is scarier than hell.

Explain the motivation of your villain. Why does he do what he does? This, too, makes him seem more human and in turn makes him scarier.

Take his place! I think this is vital. Step into his shoes and try to understand why he does what he does. Try to see the world through his mind and eyes, and develop him accordingly. Give him some good qualities. That makes him all the more frightening . . . a killer who helps little old ladies across the street, or who works as a daycare worker….chilling!

I hope that helps, Kristen!

What Makes a Story?

From Brian: “What distinguishes a story as a literary or a dramatic presentation art form from the telling of an anecdote or the description of an incident? When a writer has an idea for a story -- I'll write a story about the time Grandpa as a young man was lost in the woods and swore he'd say the rosary every day if he survived, how do you know it'll make a short story (or a long story) and not end up a mere anecdote? My guess is that the person whom the story is about has to be significantly changed by the experience, that that has to involve struggle in a broad sense, and that the reader/listener has to care about the change -- how three days lost in the woods without provisions or tools humbled a cocky young man.”

Brian, I’m going to refer to my English class as a freshman in high school because, quite honestly, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on this answer. The five elements of a story are: setting, plot, characters, conflict, and theme. The thing you mentioned about whether a reader will care about the conflict . . . I think that’s what distinguishes a good story from a yawner!

Tumblr and Flipboard

From Rasma: “Now the second part - could you please explain to me what good it is to share links of my posts and other posts I wish to share on Tumbler and Flipboard. Does this really help in some way? Who is looking at what I post there?”

Rasma, your question had me laughing. I don’t have a clue who is looking at what you post on Tumblr or Flipboard. As for your first question, we are talking about social media sites, two of perhaps twenty or twenty-five; does it do any good to share on them? I don’t know because I don’t know your views. If you are getting a lot of views then I say it is as important as any small portion of your overall platform. If you are getting no views then stop it and try some other social media sites.

I have narrowed my efforts down to Facebook and Pinterest. That’s all I have time for and I can live with whatever happens, or doesn’t happen on those two sites.

I do think writers can get carried away with their social media efforts and forget about the most important aspect of their writing platform, which is their writing.

Mailbag Success

From Linda: “How did you promote your mailbag in the beginning? You've built up quite an enviable readership. When did you know that you had a "thing" going? Did you ever consider giving up on it, and why do you think it appeals to so many people? I don't think any of us plan on making a fortune on HP, but you seem to have really found your niche.”

Linda, this might come as a surprise, but I did nothing to promote the Mailbag. My platform had already been built five years earlier when I started writing articles. By the time the Mailbag began I had a pretty hefty following.

I never expected the following that the Mailbag has received but then I never expected the following or praise I have received on any of my works. That’s just who I am. No, I never considered quitting the Mailbag. Once it was obvious that people were enjoying it, I just penciled it in for Mondays and let it take its own course. As for why it’s popular, I guess it’s because writers basically write it. It is about topics and subject matter which affects us all; we all have a stake in the questions and answers, so that makes it interesting to a broad base of writers.

And hopefully I have something to do with its popularity.

Does location affect a story?
Does location affect a story? | Source

Does Location Affect a Story?

From Ann: “How much does location affect a story? Let's say you have exactly the same story but then put it into a different location or environment; would it be totally different?”

The answer to your questions, Ann, are greatly and yes!

Next question! LOL

This one gave me a pause. I kept thinking of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” My first thought was that classic had to be written in the setting it was written in for there to be under-currents of racial strife and small-town values. The central message of the story could have been delivered, I suppose, in some neighborhood in New York, but I think it was much more effective in Maycomb during the Great Depression.

Which brings me to my central point: location becomes interesting because of the people in that location and their unique viewpoints. A story in the Deep South can have some rich undertones that you couldn’t have in a story based in Anchorage, Alaska, and of course vice versa. A story in London should be unique compared to a story in Tucson, Arizona. To ignore that fact is to cheat your readers of some very rich details.

I guess what I’m saying is choose your locations carefully. Yes, your story could be told practically anywhere, but why shortchange yourself the richness of cultural nuances?

So, how much does location affect a story?

As much as you allow it to as a writer!

I could give other examples but I think you get the point.

Would You Help, Please?

From Brenda: “Bill, there is a new writer on HP who is struggling. She is a young college girl who is filled with angst, who needs writing to give her an outlet for her thoughts, but she feels like nobody on HP is hearing her based on the lack of views she gets for her articles. Could you please stop by her site and give her a word of encouragement?””

I did, Brenda, and I thank you for the suggestion.

Here’s the thing, and I really want my HP peers to pay attention: I know we are all busy with our lives. Just working, eating, and taking care of other responsibilities is exhausting on most days. Who has time to comment on an article written by a complete stranger?

Well I do, for one, and so does Brenda, and I think most of you do, too, if you take the time to make the time.

This is important. We all lose if writers like that young woman quit writing due to being ignored. In some cases all it takes is an encouraging word from a stranger to keep a writer from quitting, and how cool would it be if you were the stranger who delivered that encouraging word?

I’ve said this many times but I don’t mind saying it again. I would have quit HP six years ago after Week Two if it were not for the encouraging words of two or three veteran Hubbers who embraced me and told me I had value as a writer. And here I am, six years and eight Hubbie Awards later, kicking ass and taking names.

Please, give encouragement to the newcomers as well as the veterans!

Flashbacks should be used sparingly
Flashbacks should be used sparingly | Source

Tangled Mess

From Lori: “Mailbag question for you. My current story is quickly becoming a tangled mess. You've been following along and your recent comment spoke exactly what I've been thinking, although you seemed to be complimentary when saying it was a complicated web. The deal is I've made it a story that goes back and forth between time periods, both periods being strongly linked. I'm having trouble now finding a way to navigate both etas in a flowing cohesive way. I tend to write by the seat of my pants. I don't have a pre-planned beginning, middle and end. I just write as the ideas pop into my head. I feel I'm in over my head with structure and coordinating. Since you're familiar with the story, how can I make this story less confusing going between time periods? You may edit this question as seems best to you.”

Well, Lori, I meant it to be mainly a compliment because, well, I enjoy the story . . . and there is the dreaded “but” . . . if is a tight wire you walk when you bounce between time periods. I should know; I did it with my second novel “Resurrecting Tobias.”

Here’s the only piece of advice I can give you on a difficult problem: limit the number of times you do your time-travel thing. Make sure it is absolutely necessary at the time you do it. Consider consolidating so that you don’t do it as often, and for goodness sake, make sure there is a date before each section that involves a trip to the past or present.

Yes, with your story, it is necessary to do so. Just make sure you only do it when absolutely necessary.

Poor Review Good Review

From Mary: “I have a question for you. With so many authors, both known and yet undiscovered trying to get their books read by the public, reviews are important. What do you feel makes a good review?”

The question that popped into my mind is “good review for the other readers or good review for the author of the book?” I think, for the readers trying to find out about an unknown book, a review which is objective and states the reasons for the preference or dislike are most helpful. We all have different likes and dislikes, and reasons for them, so that combination of subjectivity and objectivity is helpful for me. If you dislike a book, I want to know why i.e. you don’t like happy endings. As for the author, I would think the same it true for a writer who wishes to improve. You can’t please everyone, but at least if you get a negative review you’ll understand why it was written.

And I don’t know what Amazon considers a good review. That part of the process . . . pleasing Amazon . . . bored the stuffing out of me.

No More Vacations the Rest of This Year

And probably for 2018 as well! I’m just having too much fun doing what I’m doing. Listen, I traveled quite a bit when I was younger. I’ve seen quite a few places. I’ve had many cool experiences. Now I’m pretty okay with staying home and doing that which I love.

Until I get a better offer that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

Later, gators!

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 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Indeed, Manatita! May the gods' control over our reasoning lessen in time. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

      That was very sweet of Brenda. I did not see the name, though.

      Mr President is successful on Twitter, it seems. So I guess power and prestige helps. Ha ha.

      Bill so many of your ideas continue to mirror my way of thinking. Awesome!

      By the way, I took a great piece of writing from Mailbag 171, I believe. Forgot to paste it. Here it is:

      ' to build your entire business upon the fickle nature of those gods must be a good reason to drink heavily'. Sweeettt!!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Tamara, and thank you once more.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 3 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Thank you, Bill; very interesting to learn these new things from your Mailbag posts. Glad you will be staying put for awhile :-)

      Tamara xxx

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree, Shaloo.Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure, Anusha! You can always just ask a question here in the comment section. 99% of the time I'll remember to add it to the Mailbag.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 3 weeks ago

      Encouraging newbies is very important and I am glad that you put across this in the mailbag. The comments and constructive feedback from seasoned hunters are quite motivating and helps in improving upon as a writer.

    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 3 weeks ago from Delhi, India

      You know what, I was about to ask, where shall I message you the questions, if I ever have any, for the writer's mailbag. I thought we are supposed to email you or something. :)

      Thanks for considering these worthy of being replied to in the next mailbag, and needless to say I'm looking forward to Monday :D

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      My goodness, Anusha, look at you with the brilliant questions. Thanks so much for the depth of your questions. I'll return Monday with the answers.

    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 4 weeks ago from Delhi, India

      A month off... Wow. Your mailbag and this comment have actually made me appreciate the storytellers much more, not that I didn't already, but really, hats off. I can just imagine what authors like JK Rowling go through while creating characters with so many shades. Especially with all the supernatural twist. A good person Harry, with the dark influence of Horcrux, and his perpetual fight with what's going inside him, especially until the time he does not know about it.

      I am more curious than before though. Do you think a person who is too gentle should not consider himself or herself fit for this job? I mean, strength and control on one's psyche during the creation of such perverts would be a must? Does meditation help?

      There was a discussion about the importance of location in the Mailbag too. Does location also help with the creation of villain?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Anusha Jain, thank you for finding the time to read the Mailbag, and for leaving such a wonderful comment. The novels I write are about Evil...and serial killers....and I know, for me, I need to take a month off between novels to return to normal. It does affect one's psyche if you do it continually.

    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 4 weeks ago from Delhi, India

      Wow! That was really something. Let me start by saying that, before this, whenever I started reading the Writer's Mailbag, either something else popped up, or I just got distracted... maybe because of the length. So today was the first "read-the-mailbag-completely" session.

      And it was a fantastic one!

      My favorite portion was the one where you help with the creation of bad guys. Sometimes I feel, depending on the author, how difficult would it be to step into the shoes of someone who is as different from him or her as possible. Now, when we talk evil, thinking like the one who is portraying that evil in our story is definitely a must, but it is such a hard thing to do! For e.g., I do have a temper, so imagining someone with a bad temper is easy. But when I don't even kill insects; I find it difficult to kill mosquitoes too, although that has become somewhat of a necessity now; imagining from the perspective of say, a serial killer is definitely a daunting task.

      I read about an interesting incidence off late. An actor, who normally does positive roles, did a negative one in his latest movie. This villain is cruel, barbaric and obsessed with his own concept of beauty. After playing this role, the actor reportedly had to visit a psychiatrist for coming out of the role. His behavior was concerning, and all the behavioral traits he embraced for playing his role successfully started to coincide with his own behavior which got his friends and family worried!

      So, probably Creating a story is not just thinking and writing... it's an adventure with its own set of challenges and risks.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      So am I, Dora, because if I'm not sharing it, that means I'm dead. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Larry! I was thinking of writing all the time I was gone. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      :) Tamara

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great to getaway no matter how short the break. Glad you are still sharing your honest work here.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 4 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Glad you got a mini-vaca in. You deserve it.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 4 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Awwe, that is cool :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Tamara and you are very welcome. I really don't spend much time with the HP staff or wondering how they do things. I "parted ways" with the management of this site a long time ago. I'm here for the writers and that's more than enough for me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's really a roll of the dice, Rasma! I'm not sure one is any better than the other. Just don't spend too much time on too many of them. You are, after all, a writer first.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 4 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Bill,

      Thank you for helping us with your excellent answers to our questions.

      I am astonished at Hubpages ability to reviews soooo many posts every single day...there must be millions of them. I don’t know how they find the time!

      And, being a bit OCD, sometimes I redo my posts over, and over, again, even after they have been Featured, or put in Letterpile. Yet, they still review each one! They must have thousands of workers back there! I am truly amazed.

      Tamara xxx

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      Another interesting mailbag. Thank you for your reply. Well I will see what good it does me since I have been congratulated on Tumblr for my 100th post. I suppose it is similar to all the others and eventually if I ever see the numbers of my followers rising and other good things happen then I will know.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! If I mastered anything it's been by trial and error. It's all hard work and dedication for me.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, thanks for sticking with HP and special thanks for sticking with the mailbag. It's like having a class every Monday (or whenever I get to it). You seem to have mastered the mechanics of the trade and you share so unselfishly. Wishing you continued success!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree with you, Mike. If I was on the outside of this thing, I'd come a day late so I could check out the other comments. You're a wise man, my friend, but then I already knew that.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - Talk about a local gathering place. This is it. Lots of good questions and answers and comments. I think it actually pays to arrive late, just to see the stream of comments. Good that you took a vacation, everyone needs a break.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Eric! I've taken a few of those benders myself, one in particular which signaled the end of an old life.

      Thanks my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It is my pleasure, Linda, always has been, always will be. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      He was indeed MizB, and I still shiver at the thought of it. Yep, fall has arrived with a vengeance today....the rains have returned now until May. Sigh!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your input, Bill, and just for always being here for me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always good to hear from you, Chris, and I understand being pulled away. I find it harder daily to multi-task.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is, Nell! I died and went to heaven right here on Fir Street. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pop! I'm sorry I missed your last article. Will try to find the time to catch up on missed writings sometime this week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, as always, great points made. Thanks for them...and the plug for the Mailbag. Happy Tuesday my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point, Audrey! Thanks for sharing that and yes, that would help greatly.

      love,

      bill....ain't no hero, but thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill I like your "mini vacation" comments.

      My elder son and I go on a couple a year. But we stopped calling the "road trips" because it became to cliche'. Now we just say we are "going". Our journey is always as good as the destination.

      And so I ask you. Is your journey of writing better than getting finished? Sometimes I kind of fall in love with writing. And so it is almost like an empty nest syndrome when I am done. Do you get that feeling?

      And another thing about mini vacations. Back a ways, it was with a bottle, or four, in isolation for a bender. I am glad I do not go on those "trips" anymore.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi, Bill. Glad you were able to get away for a bit. Hope the break was meaningful for you. Just wondering if you could send me the newbie's site. I'd like to check it out. Have a great week. See ya next Monday (or Tuesday).

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      All of your mailbag hubs are useful, Bill, but some, like this one, are especially so. Thank you once again for sharing your advice and experience.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 weeks ago

      A mini vacation, Bill, well bless your heart, I'm glad you enjoyed it. But you know that no matter how much we enjoy a break, there's still nothing like returning home. You have some good questions this week and some great answers. Ted Bundy was your paperboy? Now there's a plethora of ideas! It's starting to feel like autumn here, how about your neck of the woods? Have a great rest of the week, my friend.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Welcome back Bill, hope you had an enjoyable vacation in Oregon. Regarding social media I do exactly as you do, FB and Pinterest, that’s it. The others really don’t seem to generate much plus I just don’t have time for all of these sites. Welcome back.

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      Chris Mills 4 weeks ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Bill, you had several technical questions about writing a story. I really liked what you said about villains...The bad guy works in a day care center...Oh, man, that's good...no, it's bad, but in a good way.

      And what distinguishes a story from an anecdote? Back to the basics, you went, and it was the perfect answer.

      And how does location affect a story? I love this part of storytelling; delving into the location to find those things that will enrich the story.

      Reading and commenting on HP. My frequent ventures into a particular writing competition that is time-consuming for months on end pull me away from HP. Not being a multitasker has been the bane of my five years here. But this is the only writing home I have and I'll keep at it. You and many others have done it well for years, and my hat is off to you.

      Good mailbag week, Bill. Great answers.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 weeks ago from England

      Always great to get your ideas and show us the stuff that we miss, mess up or just cannot get! lol! (me that is!) and I am glad you had a good time but love being where you are. sounds like a lovely place to be.

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      breakfastpop 4 weeks ago

      Welcome home, billy. It's good to get away for a bit, but coming home is sweet. Audrey has a great idea. We should learn about new writers to the site, so that we can be supportive.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      So glad you got some much needed vacation time!

      Re: Tumblr, Flipboard, and ??? From my observation, I see people using Tumblr as primarily a mini-blogging platform. So what would possess someone to post links to other stuff there? Okay, maybe I'm missing the point.

      Flipboard? I see it as a hopped up RSS feed reader. Sorry, but my RSS feed works just as well and more simply.

      So my overall concern is how many of these sites can one really pay attention to? Like you, I narrow it to a couple: Primarily Twitter and Facebook Page, with links here and there over to LinkedIn or Pinterest.

      Re: Good Review, Bad Review. Love the distinction between "good for the buyer" and "good for the author!" Even though they might be positive, the most useless reviews for me are those that say, "Good book" or "I liked it." I agree, I'd rather have a negative, but insightful review, than a good review without substance.

      Re: New Writers. In addition to stopping by their profile and, if useful, following them, I'd encourage new HP writers to follow you and join the Mailbag. It's a great hangout for hubbers new and old.

      Hope you got rested on your vacation and are ready to start "writing season." Have a great week!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      Super questions here! The mailbag is a goldmine for helping writers to up their game. Brenda's story is a reminder to all of us to send new writer's an encouraging word now and then. I joined 8 years ago...was surrounded with great support and plenty of help from my fellow writers. The encouraging comments saved my behind.

      Here's a thought. If HP would send a notification when a new hubbie joins up (and writes their first hub) this would help me to be more supportive. As it stands now the only way I know someone has joined is when they follow me or send fan mail. And most of the time these hubbers haven't produced any hubs at all.

      You're my hero.

      Love

      Audrey

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great ad, Flourish. I'm in touch with Linda quite a bit during each week, and we've been talking about it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Mary! Regarding reviews on books, I will never leave a negative one. I'm aware of how much angst goes into publishing . . . it doesn't seem right for me to add to it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, shhhh

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M. I feel lucky that you join me each week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

      I wanted to encourage everyone to stop by and read the new weekly cooking and food Q&A column by Linda Lum (Carb Diva). Maybe offer some specific advice and encouragement on how to ensure success ... ?

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 weeks ago from Brazil

      Thanks for answering my question about reviews. I find with a product if I don't like it I would say so in a review, however, with a book, that is so personal for the author, I'd rather not leave a comment than say something negative. I can see your point however that a constructive comment could be helpful to the author.

      Regarding the tangled mess question, some stories are so confusing I can't be arsed to finish them.

      On Flipboard, I had one article go viral (7,000 views) for a couple of hours so I would say, yes it may be worth putting a link there.

      Glad to see a full mailbag, have a wonderful week.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 4 weeks ago

      Oh, LOL!!!! More like a big, soft heart, but OK.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      This mailbag is very much educating with many great questions and your wisdom/experience filled answers. It is true that the series is of much educative and helpful to us writers. I, particularly, feel very lucky to be reading all these weekly bags containing so much rich advice.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks, Shannon, but keep that teddy bear thought to yourself. We don't want people thinking I'm a soft touch. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks again, Kari and yes, Bundy was our paperboy. If that doesn't give one a moment of pause, nothing will. :)

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      shanmarie 4 weeks ago

      Bored the stuffing out if you. . .Bill, you're just a big ol' teddy bear!!! I love that you took time out of your busy schedule to encourage a young writer. I've no doubt that you are a large part of why the mailbag is so successful.

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      Kari Poulsen 4 weeks ago from Ohio

      Thank you, Bill. I agree, very cool!

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Kari, thank you for looking forward to the Mailbags. It is a fun series to write, kind of like a tea party for my writer friends. And now you are one of us and that is very cool.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I know, right? Ann always gives me a chuckle, Linda.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks Mary! I do truly enjoy what I'm doing, and I want others to experience that.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, you make me smile. Thank you for that...an institution? How cool is that? And you are very welcome. I do think it's sort of like the chicken and the egg riddle . . . they are all tied together and where the importance should be allocated is anyone's guess.

      A Monkey-wave Monday to you!

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      This was a big one, Linda! I had to leave out two questions. I couldn't lift the bag. LOL Yes, the animals were happy to see us...even the chickens. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! I was worried that I was crazy, not liking vacations. LOL It's just that I'm in heaven here at home, so why would I want to leave it? :)

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      Kari Poulsen 4 weeks ago from Ohio

      Ted Bundy was your paperboy?! How scary is that, lol. I'm finding myself looking forward to you mailbags. And I'm with you on vacations. Been there, done that, now I enjoy being home. :)

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mondays are for morphing muses? I love that!

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      Mary Norton 4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      There's quite a lot to digest here. I just love the tone you've set in the beginning of how much you enjoy what you're doing. I think this is the core of your success. Thanks again for keeping on here. I have a reason to get to the site.

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      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, bill, for your answer to my query. I guess it's like the link between landscape and words that I keep banging on about; each affects the other but location is key.

      Love the answer about supporting newbies; it's so important to feel part of the whole community from the beginning. I remember feeling the trepidation of pushing that 'publish' button for the first time and now I'm totally 'blasé'! Maybe that's not a good thing!

      Oh, and your mailbag is an institution now so it just has to go on for ever....

      Mondays are for morphing your muse! Enjoy!

      Ann :)

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow, that was a heavy mailbag, with lots of good stuff. Thanks for including my question. I doubt there will be 172 Carb Diva Q&A's but who knows? And I'm glad that you mentioned the importance of location. I'm struggling with that now--probably because I live in the here and now and am writing of a place half way around the world and 2,000 years ago.

      I'm glad you and Bev had a good weekend, but I'll bet the critters were glad to have you back home.

      Have a great week my friend.

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      Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      As far as vacations go, Bill, I feel the same way. I love where I live - the privacy, the isolation, the time it gives me to write. On the other hand, vacations give us new material to write about, LOL, as if we need it! Everywhere I go seems to provide new stimulus for stories.

      This issue of the mailbag was of great interest to me as it answered a lot of questions about reviews, positive reinforcement of strangers and settings for stories. Thanks for this.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I hope you do, Melissa! Hey, are you on Facebook? If so, look me up...Bill Holland...would love to follow, not stalk, you. :)

      Happy Monday my friend!

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's been a long road, McKenna, but I finally arrived at a place of peace. Thank you!

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      Melissa Propp 4 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! This mailbag was stuffed and overflowing, I love it! That is a long time to go without a vacation...but that shows how much you love your work! I'm looking forward to my own "staycation" coming up soon. I'm considering trying to do the Nanowrimo again in November, even though I have yet to "finish". I might not get to 50k words, but I get more done with a goal and a deadline--so it is all good!

      Have a great and productive week!

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      McKenna Meyers 4 weeks ago from Bend, OR

      That was a mailbag chockfull of helpful information, Bill. I think it was most useful to hear your feelings on writing and farming and how home is where you enjoy being the most. You're a lucky man to be comfortable in your own skin and so content in your life's purpose. That brings more peace and joy than any exotic vacation.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Well to a degree is better than zilch, Kristen, so I'm happy I could help. Thanks again!

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine! Yes, the prepwork before, and the makeup work afterwards, are always tough. Today is going to be a long day for me, but it will be worth it.

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      Kristen Howe 4 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, great mailbag with useful morsels of knowledge. Thanks for answering my question, my friend. And yes it does help to a degree.

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      Janine Huldie 4 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Bill, while I love what I do, too I do look forward to a vacation here and there still. But I will admit the prep work beforehand and the return to reality are two of my least favorite things. Right now, I planning for a mini trip back to Disney with my gang right before Thanksgiving for my youngest's Thanksgiving Turkey Day Birthday (yup, my girl's birthday finally falls on thanksgiving this year after having given birth 7 years ago two days before Thanksgiving - hey it was bound to happen!). That said, I am already stressing about the school work they will be missing and what they will have to make up when they return. But I know once I see my youngest's face celebrating in the place she absolutely loves it will be all worth it. That said, welcome back and Happy Monday now to you!! ;)