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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 197

Updated on April 9, 2018

Great Things in Small Packages

Not much in the way of questions this week, but what we do have packs a lot of punch.

Let’s play word association….packs a lot of punch….Ali….Islam….1960’s….inclusion….fear….anger….justice….pain….always necessary…..lessons learned…..the way of this country.

Wasn’t that fun? I do that every once in awhile as a writing exercise, or to just knock loose an idea or two for future articles. Turn your subconscious loose and see where it takes you. It will often lead you to a story or article which is demanding to be told.

Let’s do this!

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

Expand a Short Story

From William: “Wow, Bill. I'm impressed. Cherry blossoms! The ground is covered with three inches of snow here in PA. What's up with that? Snow and cherry blossoms aside, you've given us another great mailbag. Maybe a question for next week - have you ever written a short story and wanted to develop it further. maybe into a novel? If so, how did that work out for you? I have several short stories that I'd like to take further, but they seem to be stuck as short stories, nothing more. Any thoughts?”

My first thought, William, is that they might be speaking to you. If they are stuck in short form, maybe that’s where they believe they belong.

To answer your first question yes, quite often. My first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today, was simply a writing exercise. I was going to write a short story and be done with it. 80,000 words followed.

My second novel, Resurrecting Tobias, began as a short story. Bev then suggested I incorporate some of my social articles into the story. 110,000 words later that story was finished.

My “Shadows” series of paranormal thrillers started out as a short story. I now have four novels in the series.

And so it goes! Not one of those was intended to be a novel, but my muse had other ideas, and I’m sure glad she did.

On the other end of the novel spectrum, some stories simply come to an end in short story form. You’ll know what to do if you listen to your muse.

What path do you take?
What path do you take? | Source

Published Book, Now What?

From Rasma: “Thank you for another mailbag. Now that I have finally come forth with my first self-published book of poems what are some other things I can do to be sure to get the word out? I have a FB page for the book, I have it on Amazon and an author's page and an author's page on Goodreads. I have also done the usual round of social networks and my own poetry blog and on sites on which I write that have nodded their go-ahead for making my announcement. I didn't appear to do it right for HP so I deleted what I wrote here. Is there anything I have missed for my book so far Poetic Thoughts Fly?”

Rasma, first of all, congratulations on publishing that book.

You’ve done quite a bit. One thing I didn’t see on your list of activities were personal appearances, readings, meet n greets, book signings. Now it could be, since you are in a foreign country, those sorts of things are not possible…it could be you have no desire to do public gigs…but that is an omission from your list.

Pick up a copy of “Guerilla Marketing.” Perhaps it will help you to think outside the box when marketing. I found it very helpful for me.

In my opinion, and that means you can discount what I’m about to say by quite a bit (lol), the two greatest marketing tools we writers have are our work and ourselves. Marketing a self-published book takes time . . . lots of time. And a book of poetry??? Add lots of time to the lots of time! Another book I believe in is “Writer, Publish, Repeat.” Settle in for the long run and prepare for success to arrive very, very slowly, one positive review at a time.

The best marketing you can do is to continue to write and publish.
The best marketing you can do is to continue to write and publish. | Source


From LeLonni: “I know you have a series of mysteries; I was wondering how one decides whether to do a stand-alone novel or develop it into a series? Is there something you look for specifically which helps you to decide?”

It’s a great question, LeLonni, but I don’t really have a great answer for you. LOL It goes that way sometimes in the Mail Room.

The decision to do a series or a sequel, for me, is a gut feeling. As trite as it may sound, I let me muse make that decision. When I finished my first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today, I fully intended for there to be a sequel once I really got into the novel. That’s why I ended it the way I did with this passage:

“We are not depressed. We never underestimate the power that a small group of determined people can have. I now see the whole board and I now understand that love can alter reality. Sheila took me on another future vision and we saw Astarte give birth to her first child, twenty years in the future.

Our grandchild’s name will be......Hope!”

I haven’t written it yet, but the foundation was laid seven years ago. On my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias,” I had no desire to follow-up with a sequel and I still don’t. On my third novel, “Shadows Kill,” I had so much fun killing people as an avenger, I just knew there would be a series. Perhaps that should concern me, right?

So that’s how it goes with me. No rhyme or reason behind it. My muse is in complete control of those decisions.

And so It Goes

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. The temperatures are rising and the critters are calling me. If you want an insight into who I am as a human being, and not just a writer, you can read all about it on my blog posting tomorrow . . . follow this link to the blog.

Catch ya on the flip side!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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