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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 173

Updated on October 23, 2017

Last Full Week of October

And the leaves are falling . . . and the rains are falling . . . and the temperature is falling . . . a whole lot of gravity happening as we approach November! I know, I know, falling temperatures have nothing to do with gravity, but I thought it sounded clever, so there you go.

Someone asked me recently if I ever run out of ideas. The answer is no! Sometimes my ideas fall like a thunderstorm, a furious torrent of rain, and other times they fall like a gentle shower, almost like a mist, but they do keep falling, and my job is to trust in the process and allow them to fall at their own rate. I already know I’m creative, so there is no reason to panic and try to rush the process. It will happen when it happens and not a moment before.

One plug for yours truly . . . I published my new novel in the “Shadow” series, this one called “Shadows Fall On Rosarito,” and it is available in paperback and as an ebook through Amazon.

And now, on to the Mailbag!

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

Advice for New Food Series

From Flourish: “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 ... ?”

And I want to also encourage people to visit Linda’s food question and answer series here on HubPages. You can find the second installment by following this link. Linda also has a blog called The Creative Corner filled with great ideas for artsy-crafty people. Check her out and thank you, Flourish, for the suggestion.

As for offering specific advice and encouragement on how to ensure success, I’ve been doing this for over seven years now, and I’ve had some fair success, and my number one word of advice, in case anyone is interesting, is to do everything in this business with determined hard work. There are no shortcuts to success in writing. You have to slowly build your platform, build your audience, and continue to kick out quality work.

The Writing Bible according to Bill Holland!

The food genre is a popular online genre
The food genre is a popular online genre | Source

The Joy of the Journey

From Eric: “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?”

I get that feeling, Eric, after every book is completed. I actually just posted on Facebook that I love the process. I am thrilled when I start a new book because I can feel the creativity flowing through me, like heroin to a junkie, or that first sip of 30-year old malt to an alcoholic. It is a serious high for this guy, and that high comes crashing down when the book is completed. That’s why I rush right back into the process and begin a new book as soon as possible. I’m a junkie at heart and I’m always looking for my next fix.

True words!

Photos and Hp

From Tamara: “On my Song Lyrics that have had the honor of being sent to Letterpile, HP keeps removing the photo I add to these Song Lyrics posts, and using their own generic photos. I have used high-resolution photos that I had thought were on the subject of my Song Lyrics, but even as I keep trying different photos to see if they will accept them, they continue to snip them out, and replaced with their standard photos. So, my posts have no Featured Photo. There have been about nine posts of Song Lyrics that have gone to Letterpile in which they have removed my featured photo to replace with their own. (LOL). Do you know why this would be?”

I’ve got two words for you, Tamara, and these two words are always my answer to HP related questions: Christy Kirwan! She is pretty good about getting back to you about HP questions, so drop her a note. Anything I would say would be supposition. I gave up trying to understand how HP works about six years ago, and I’ve made no attempt during that time to learn. They frustrate me and I’m sure I frustrate them, and that’s just the way it’s going to be going into the future.

The Beginning of the Mailbag

From Nancy: “Hi! I remember when you started this series, and congratulate you on your success with it. How did it begin? Do people email you through Hubpages, or send actual letters by mail?”

Hi, Nancy, and thanks for a look back. How did the Mailbag begin? It was just a whim; nothing more, nothing less. Some people had emailed questions to me that first week, and rather than writing individual responses I decided that we could all learn from those questions and answers. To my surprise that first Mailbag had a great reception, and there were requests to keep it going, and so I did. And here we are, 172 weeks later.

The questions are asked via email (holland1145@yahoo.com) and in the comment section of each Mailbag.

And that’s how it’s been done in the past and how it’s done today!

In the beginning . . .
In the beginning . . . | Source

Getting Into Your Character and More on Location

From Anusha: “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?”

Thank you Anusha! For the audience, this is a continuation of a discussion Anusha and I had recently about creating villains and how difficult it is to do . . . and what effect that kind of “darkness” has on the psyche of the writer.

I think a truly gentle person would have a very hard time creating a fictional “monster.” I know my wife would never be able to do it. It would just be too disturbing for her. I also think there has to be a certain amount of “darkness” in a writer’s soul to create a disturbing character. Somewhere in their past they had to either encounter darkness or be the instrument of darkness. I’m talking about a Hannibal Lecter-type character . . . that type of darkness is very hard to create without some sort of “inspiration.” I’m sure there are those who would disagree with my opinion and that’s fine. I never claimed to be the All-Seer!

As for location in the creation of a villain, my personal opinion is I can create a villain in the middle of a forest, in a crowded city, or in a suburban village. I can create a villain in an orphanage, a hospital, or a retirement home, so for me, the location does not aid in the creation of the villain/monster . . . but . . . I think a carefully-chosen location can add to the creepiness of the story and the creepiness of the villain. Having a psychotic villain roaming through an orphanage is, to me, scarier than having that same villain roaming the streets of New York.

Does that make sense? That’s why I’ve always considered Ted Bundy to be the scariest of the scary . . . he was so normal . . . his location was so mundane . . . and his murders so horrific . . . the combination of those three things made him truly horrifying.

Disclosure or No Disclosure?, That Is the Question

From Bill: “Bill, just a question maybe for the mailbag. I have an idea for a short story that involves an old man reflecting on his life. There's a sad mood about it. Just asking your opinion. Would the story be best if the reason for the sadness was left untold allowing the readers to draw their own conclusion, or would the readers feel cheated because the story was left undone? Thanks in advance.”

Bill, this really is an interesting question, one I’ve faced in the past. It really comes down to preference and talent. In the scenario you outlined, my preference would be to leave the reason for the sadness left untold, but leave enough clues which will allow the readers to draw a number of conclusions on their own. I’ve seen this done masterfully by other authors and I think it not only adds intrigue to a story but also adds great depth.

Again, though, that’s just my preference and the reasons for it.

The Falling Leaves Drift by My Window

That was one of the first songs I learned, “Autumn Leaves,” when I started taking organ lessons as a young teen. I played it many times at church recitals. Talk about a horror scene! LOL

If you want to meet a true villain . . . Evil himself . . . check out my new novel

Thanks for the question. I hope you found the answers satisfying.

Hopefully I’ll see all of you next week.

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 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point about HP, Manatita, but I would expect nothing less. I try not to over-react to anything in life, a complete turnaround to my earlier life. I let HP do their thing and I do mine, and sometimes we benefit each other.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

      Yes, the villian thing is quite hard to take. Still, I would advice Anusha to meditate, it will help her, even if she turns out to be a loving soul like Debs.

      I have done The Deadly Mamba, The Sad Face of War and a few others, just for fun really. I get pure joy with no real serious intent and I do love your Billy the kid series. Indeed Bundy too, but Hannibal might be taking it too far.

      Seriously, meditation makes us extremely intuitive and this feeds our writing, whether we use the dark or good side.

      HP is very difficult to fathom. But like you I'm sort of used to them. They are good at adjusting to survive and I admire this quality. Have a great evening.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jo! What's amazing to me is that all of you have kept the questions fresh.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 weeks ago from Tennessee

      Interesting information about how you began this series. Amazing that you have kept it going with new information for all of this time.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Zulma! Those are the scariest by far, in real life, the boy next door, Mr. Average Citizen....and a good writer can pull that off without a hitch.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      I think the best villains are the ones who were right in front of you the whole time. Maybe you didn't see them because there was a more imminent danger that needed dealing with. He may have even helped you. Then at the end comes the big reveal.

      I like these because when you go back and read the story again, you see all the clues were right there.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      We do indeed, Ann, and you brought a smile to my face with that scene. Thank you!

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 weeks ago from SW England

      Don't know how I missed this one, bill; apologies. I always imagine hubbers huddling all together to read your Monday mailbag; maybe that's why I get that feeling of community more than ever with this series. Everyone benefits from your experience and generosity and we can all sit down with a cup of coffee or tea with your mailbag as the focus. Don't we all have a great time?!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Nithya!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry Anusha! I tackled the rest of the question in today's Mailbag.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 weeks ago from Dubai

      Another great Writer's Mailbag Installment. Congratulations on publishing your new novel.

    • anusha15 profile image

      Anusha Jain 3 weeks ago from Delhi, India

      Whoa! That was some read!!

      I loved the "Joy of Journey" part. Although, it's true that completion of a project does mark a beginning of... kind of emptiness. But I think, a person who feels that emptiness is amazingly fortunate. I mean, compared to those guys, who are truly happy when a project is complete because they were tired and fed up from it, this emptiness sounds like a lovely melody. It means that the "traveler" does something s/he is deeply in love with.

      The Euphoria of completion, of achievement, of accomplishment doesn't last for a very long time. Few short days. But if the journey is not just enjoyable, but full of passion, we are talking about an extremely fortunate person here.

      Bill, thanks for giving such detailed and explanatory resolutions of my queries. But you didn't answer the one about meditation. Has it helped you, or someone you know, after dreaming of such scary characters day and night?

      I specifically asked that one, because, although I love the genre of Romance infinitely more than anything else, let alone the creepy world of scary villians and horrific locations, I was just curious whether the career path is totally out for me or there is still some hope. :D

      Another great mailbag. Thanks a lot again.

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

      As always, thank you, Devika!

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

      Thank you very much, Mahaveer!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You share and help us writers think better and writer better.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 3 weeks ago from Pune, India

      A great article from you, as always!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rasma! It's always interesting to me, hearing what other writers are thinking and doing.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      As always thought provoking and something to keep in mind.

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

      Thank you very much, Mary! I agree about Linda. I love the way she writes a food article. The lady knows her stuff.

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

      No reason to be disturbed, Natalie. It's just my ramblings and I'm fully capable of being wrong more often than I'm correct. LOL In fact I'd bet on it!

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 3 weeks ago from Chicago, IL

      Hi Bill,

      Another great installment. I'm a bit disturbed by what you said in terms of needing a certain amount of darkness in the soul to create monstrous villains. I always though I was a gentle soul and yet I seem to have no trouble creating villains nor have I ever had difficulty killing my darlings! I guess I always though that perhaps the gentler the person the more likely they are to be able to create monstrous villains. This because it's an outlet they'd never have any access to in any way in the real world. Those that say they don't do so I simply thought didn't because they chose not to not because they couldn't. Though at the same time, I need to have a fitting end for my monsters and can't let them off free to roam at the end of the story. This is why I will never be able to write a series of books with the same villain. I can't let the monsters live at the end of the story. I can't even just jail them - I must kill them off to make sure there isn't even the possibility they can hurt more people after the story ends. This likely sounds a bit weird but there you have it. Or maybe I'm just justifying my own ability to create dark frightening monsters that do terrible things! Thanks again for a great article.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 weeks ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I think Linda's food Q & A is a winner and I hope it lasts as long as your mailbag.

      Useful questions and answers as always.

      Congratulations on your latest book.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Linda! Thank you very much for always being here.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Congratulations on the publication of your new novel, Bill. As always, the information in this edition of the mailbag is interesting. You always give writers things to think about!

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

      I really appreciate that, Peg. Thank you so much for buying my book. Best wishes to you always.

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

      If they don't love you, Sis, they ain't worth knowing.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh, I forgot to add congratulations on your latest "Shadows" publication release. Wow. You're an inspiration. I'm still working on reading "Resurrecting Tobias". So many good books with so little time to read. Keep writing!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      You have a point, oh favorite (only) brother. How can ANYONE not love me?? Hey! Don't even THINK about taking a poll!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, it's too bad I never knew my birth parents. I'd like to thank them for my genetics.

      And yes, there has never been a doubt, Mom & Dad liked you best. How could they not? :)

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

      I'm glad to hear that, Dora, and thank you for the well-wishes on my novel.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I don't wanna hear anything about "Feeling my age," little bro!

      You're younger, more energetic & more productive than 30 year olds! So, stick that in your mail bag & carry it!!

      You apparently got all the Grade A genetics in the family.

      Oh, but far be it from me to harbor sibling rivalry! Mom & Dad liked me BEST! LOL!!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Congratulations on your new publication! This edition of the mailbag is so empowering, with all the sharing and supporting going on. Bill's question on disclosure presents food for thought, for me especially. Thanks!

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

      Thanks so much, Pop! Today I'm a writing machine who feels his age. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Chitrangada Sharan! You are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I don't know how I do it either. Thankfully it doesn't carry into my real life. LOL Thanks my friend.

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

      For sure, Flourish! That's why I've always been fascinate with Bundy.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 3 weeks ago

      Congratulations on the publication of your new book! You are a writing machine.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations on publishing another novel!

      Your reference to the change of season in the beginning is beautiful.

      As always another set of helpful questions and answers.

      Thanks for sharing !

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Another great week for the mailbag. I don’t know how you manage to create such realistic evil characters? It is something I just could not do. You clearly have a very creative mind, and I do not.

      We have had a relatively warm autumn so far with little rain but it will change soon enough. Can’t say I looking forward to winter.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Regarding the evil character question, for me what makes a character really frightening is their ability to blend in with the rest of us and seem "normal."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I finally came to that conclusion, Melissa! LOL Thanks so much. I think you're going to like this new book....the characters are becoming very clearly defined now.

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

      I appreciate that, Venkatachari M. Thank you very much.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! I am so excited that the newest Shadows Series is released. I've been waiting patiently (as patient as I can anyway) and can't wait to read it! Congrats!

      In regards to your response last week, I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't do facebook, lol.

      Have a great and productive week!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      One more Monday and one more interesting mailbag with good questions and intelligent answers. Each one is informative adding one more tip to be a good writer. Thanks for it.

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

      Thank you very much, Kari. I think you'll love Linda.

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

      LOL...no worries, Sha. I know all about being busy and being hopelessly behind. I still owe you a phone call. But I am hopeful.

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

      Thank you, Linda, for purchasing my book. I appreciate it very much. I suspect you will be in the new one I'm now working on.

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

      Thanks Larry! I solved that problem by tearing out the lawn and planting berries. No more mowing for this guy, ever!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      Another wonderful mailbag. I love reading these! Thanks for the info about the Q&A by Linda Lum. I'll be checking that out in a moment.

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I'm thrilled to hear you have another Shadows novel out! I still haven't finished Shadows Over a Hangman's Noose. I'm not only behind in my HP reading, but ALL of my reading! So far, I think it's the best in the series, but - alas - I'm behind there too!

      I didn't want you to think I've dropped off the face of the planet. I've given up on trying to read from the bottom up, so I'll be dropping in randomly.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, thank you (and Flourish) for mentioning my new series and my blog. You are both very kind, good friends. My copy of "Shadows Fall on Rosarito" arrived just a few days ago and I'm looking forward to having the time to sit down and read it and (I'm sure) being frightened in the process. You do dark good!

      Thank you also for including the video on food blogging.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree with you Heidi. I don't take anything HP does as personal. In fact, I pretty much ignore what they do. LOL

      Happy Monday my friend, and thank you!

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

      Gosh, Sally, I think January will mark seven years at HP for me, and I joined HP about six months after I began as a freelance writer. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

      Thank you my friend. It's good to call you my friend.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      The joy usually is in the journey, but sometimes it's hard to appreciate when you're like me and never really get to succeed. Ah boohoo me!;-)

      Finally done mowing the lawn for the year, and we still have global warming deniers, lol.

      Anyway, have a wonderful Halloween.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Fall Mailbag Monday Morning!

      Re: Photos Changing. I've had a couple of photo changes, too, along with an occasional minor text edit. Without seeing the photos, it's hard to tell why there might be a photo change. I think we have to remember that HP is not trying to hurt anyone's feelings with whatever they do. They're trying to keep the site in the good graces of Google so they (and we!) can make money.

      Have an amazing week!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 weeks ago from Norfolk

      Seven years at this writing lark! For some reason, I had it in my mind that you and I joined HubPages at around the same time! It is hard to believe that I, at any rate, have been doing this for nearly 5 years!

      Were you writing someplace else before HubPages?

      I enjoyed my visit to The Creative Corner so thanks for that. Always good to see what others in the crafty business are doing. Have a good week Billy.

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

      It's my pleasure, Bill. Thanks for that question.

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

      Thanks Peg! And maybe it doesn't. I really don't know, but I don't think I'd want Stephen King for a neighbor. LOL

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      William Kovacic 3 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for taking my question, Bill. And thanks for your thoughts. You always make perfect sense.

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      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      I enjoyed the commentary on creating a villain. Maybe it does take a brush with a nefarious character in real life to create a fictional one. Another great installment here.

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

      It has flown by, Kristen. Thank you! I still have much I want to accomplish.

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      Kristen Howe 3 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, seven years is a long time. But I do enjoy the mailbag series every week my friend. More power to you and to your books.

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

      Happy Monday Janine! We are having a new roof put on this week and then bring on the serious rains!

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

      Very true, Alyssa! I guess you could say that is my mantra for all things in life.

      Thank you!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Been warmer than usual here the past few days making it feel almost like late summer than mid fall. But supposed to cool down mid-week. Still, no complaints as I can totally wait for colder weather and would truly be happy if it never quite found us still. That said, Happy Monday and wishing you a lovely week ahead, too! ;)

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      My favorite part this week - "Do everything in this business with determined hard work. There are no shortcuts to success in writing. You have to slowly build your platform, build your audience, and continue to kick out quality work." - Very inspiring and true in many areas of life! Thank you for another great mailbag! Have a wonderful week!