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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 198

Updated on April 16, 2018

Last Night’s Dream

I have no clue what I was dreaming last night. I rarely remember my dreams, but what I do know is I woke up humming the very first Kenny Roger’s song, back when he had a group called The First Edition . . . “just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.” It’s been something like fifty years since I heard that song, so I will file that away under Strange Occurrence and move on with my day.

I mention that because that’s how my mind works, and I suspect that’s how the minds of many creative people work. Random thoughts, random dreams, all feed the mind, and ideas are born, and from them stories and books.

It’s really pretty cool!

Am I the only one who remembers that song? Check it out on YouTube for a trip back in time.

And now let’s spring into the Present!

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

COMPILATIONS

From Eric: “The book I was thinking of would be a compilation of two pagers. What would you do differently if that was a concept that you would take on. I mean different than what you have taught us to do for a novel. Though it is not poetry is that the kind of way to go?”

Eric, thanks for the original question. I’ve read quite a few compilations and there doesn’t seem to be any magic formula for publishing them. Organize them in the order you want, put a Table of Contents at the beginning so people can thumb through at their leisure and cherry-pick, and then publish. There may be similarities in the two-pagers so they can be divided by topic; there may not be so that they stand alone in each chapter, but the final organization of them is entirely up to you.

Cool idea! Good luck with it!

Does Size Matter?

From Nikki: “I’ve a question how many chapters are best for first book consisting of how many words? Please give your wonderful advice on this,”

Well shoot, Nikki, this kind of falls under the topic “Impossible Question.”

If the book is non-fiction, there really is not answer to that question. I’ve seen forty-page books with two-or-three chapters. I’ve seen non-fiction books with seventy-five chapters and 1,000 pages in length.

In fiction, the standard is around 70,000 words for a novel, but those 70,000 words can be broken into as many chapters as you want. That is your decision as the author. One personal word of advice: do not have terribly long chapters. I think it is better for the reader, especially in fiction, if you have shorter chapters of maybe five or six pages. I have no study to prove this, but I think shorter chapters read better for people with short attention spans, which pretty much describes 75% of Americans. LOL

Anyway, shoot for 70,000, and anything over that is pure gravy, as my grandma used to say.

What to Do Next

From William: “I have created an eight generation family saga, created a community from the wilderness, in great detail from 1833, that is still active in modern times. There are now four novels, two novellas, a short story collection and a couple of hundred of Hubpages stories collected into nearly a dozen ebooks about the characters and community. My muse keeps telling me that these somehow need to be reconstituted into an even more coherent set of stories in some sort of new format to reintroduce to a whole new set of readers out there. Current readership I can best estimate in the several hundreds. Is that wacky and unrealistic, or should I just let go of this family saga idea? I cannot do that, of course. Thanks for your thoughts!”

William, I love that you answered your own question at the very end! No you can’t do that! This saga is your life’s work, and it is marvelous. As a former history teacher, I can say I would be gravely disappointed if the saga ended. I think it’s a great idea to reconstitute it for a new set of readers out there, and let’s face it, that’s what you want to do.

Follow your passion and continue teaching people of those times. By the way, for anyone who has never read Bill’s saga, I highly recommend it.

Making Time for Family

From Manatita: “Bill, are you ok with re-arranging time for family matters, amidst all this pile of diligent work? (my question) for next week.”

Am I okay with it, Manatita? Hell no!!! LOL

But I do it because, well, family matters. I have finally reached the point where if I am given advanced notice, enough time to re-arrange my schedule, then I am fine with taking breaks for family matters. It is the surprise matter which someone forgot to tell me about which gets me grinding my teeth.

I really am terribly anal when it comes to my daily schedule. I admit it, and I’m trying to temper it a bit because, well, I chose to be in a family, and spending time with them really is important. Having said that, surprises which interrupt my schedule do not make me happy, so advanced warning is greatly appreciated by this old man.

Making time for family
Making time for family | Source

Control Issues?

From Rodric: “Now that I have found a potentially repeat editor for my books, I can work on my other books. I have a list of books that I need to write, but they refuse to come out right now. I have written down their tittles and put description of characters. They tell they are not ready to be written! Is that weird? My books are stopping me from writing them!

“I am having trouble giving my book to the editor that I met last week. It is my baby and I have not done it before with a stranger. We were introduced through a mutual acquaintance. Bill, your encouragement through your old and new articles and books are making me move forward. Could, however, my apprehension to go with my book editing have something to do with the Editor? He is a good guy and all. I just don't know him. I am so not wanting to let his eyes on my baby to change it up! I must have some serious control issues. I await your wisdom.”

There are two questions here, Rodric. The answer to your first question is no, not weird at all. When it’s time it will be time, and not a minute before.

As for your second question, I don’t find separation anxiety funny or strange at all. It is very hard for writers to turn their creations loose for an editor or for an audience to see. We are very sensitive folks, you know, and releasing a manuscript to a semi-stranger is opening ourselves up to criticism and rebuke and all manner of unsavory outcomes.

But it is necessary if we ever want to grow as writers.

Since I’m writing this on Friday the 13th, beware of my answer. LOL Seriously, I just saw one of your comments on last week’s Mailbag, so I know you did send your manuscript to the editor. Well done! I’m sure you’ll write an article once you get his/her feedback, and I look forward to hearing about it.

Control issues? I think all writers have control issues, so welcome to the fraternity, Rodric!

I tore my mind on the jagged sky
I tore my mind on the jagged sky | Source

Just Dropped in to See What Condition . . .

A new week of writing is before us. What will the condition of our writing be like at the end of the week?

I can hardly wait to find out. Writing is my drug of choice these days, and I’ve never enjoyed getting high so much!

“I tripped on a cloud and fell a eight miles high,

I tore my mind on the jagged sky,

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”

Have a great week!

2018 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

      It was his very first recording, Lawrence, while he was still in a rock band.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 13 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Don't think I ever heard of that song before, Kenny Rogers was one of my favourite country singers.

      Great advice here about the length of a novel.

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

      It is my pleasure, Shaloo! Thank you very much.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 3 weeks ago from India

      Thanks for yet another informative mailbag!!

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

      Thank you Alyssa! I fell in love with historical fiction thanks to James Michener and Bruce Catton...their work is genius!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      I also have random thoughts or memories pop up. Most of the time it's welcome, but there is a small percentage of time that it derails me for a bit. That's when I hop on my mat and work it out through yoga or cardio. As an avid reader, I have to say, I enjoy shorter chapters. Mostly because I have a husband and a ten-year old who like to interrupt me with requests. haha! I don't like having to return to the real world in the midst of my journey in a novel. I am a huge historical fiction fan... I will definitely be checking out Bill's series. :)

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

      LOL..I probably would, Zulma!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      Welcome to my world. You get used to it. ;)

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

      How very strange, Zulma. It's not that well-known a song. For the two of us to be thinking of it....strange!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      Cool. I look forward to your reply. And yes, I was definitely thinking about this song. I just couldn't remember the actual title. It's on my Spotify playlist. :)

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

      I will for sure, Venkatachari M. See you on Monday!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Bill, for admiring my book. But, I mentioned that it is not formatted properly. What about that. Will you answer that point also in the next mailbag?

      Till then, my best wishes to you and yours.

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

      May God bless you, Sparrow...thank you!

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

      I'm late as well,Nikki, so no worries. Thank you for the wonderful question and for being the person you are. Blessings always!

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

      And I appreciate you, Devika! Thank you!

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

      You are too kind, Audrey, but thank you very much.

      love,

      bill

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

      Peggy, I am jealous that you remember your dreams and I remember nothing, and thank you for taking the time to comment.

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

      Fascinating, Sha! did you know, early on, they called Rogers "Hippy Kenny?" I laugh when I think of that.

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

      Thank you Zulma. I thought I had responded to this, but I guess I'm dreaming...answer coming on Monday...no way you were thinking about that song!!! LOL That is too funny!

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

      Thanks Frank! I appreciate you!

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

      Thank you very much, Chitrangada Sharan...it has been a wonderful journey so far.

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

      Thank you Rasma! I don't know about inspirational, but it has been busy for sure.

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

      Venkatachari M, I will answer you in the next Mailbag, but until then, let me say that your paperback book is excellent. I have an Economics degree, and I consider your book to be a great read for anyone with an interest in the way economies function.

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

      Manatita, I am so happy you returned to repeat your message. Thank you for your very kind words. I, too, am very happy we are friends...like souls find each other, don't they, like homing pigeons returning to a common roost.

      Blessings and love always

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 5 weeks ago

      Hi Sir Billy very informative article :) It is interesting to read your answers :) Thank you for sharing your wisdom :) Take care and may God bless you !

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Agusfanani, I can't imagine learning this craft in a second language. It's hard enough to do in my native language. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, thanks for taking the time to stop by. Here's hoping spring arrives sooner rather than later.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      MIzB, that's just the way we writers and editors are wired, I'm afraid.LOL

      Spring has finally arrived here and I, for one,say THANK THE GODS!!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I sure wish I knew what that something was, Jackie! I'm clueless. :) Thanks for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always business as usual in my world, Bill! Thanks for the visit...have a tremendous week my friend.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 5 weeks ago from London

      Thanks Bill for your wonderful and great advice on chapters of first novel.I’ve a framework now which I can follow to get my novel published.And you’re right short and interesting chapters are better rather than long and boring.

      I also get bored reading longer ones.

      And Mike you’re right on shorter chapters as long make you lose interest.So would keep this in mind, thanks for your views, much appreciated.

      And thanks Mantitia ji for such an amazing advice on chapters and words, I would use it to write my first one.

      Sorry Bill for being late, was bit busy at home with the guests, bless you and your wife always.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Your Qs&As have taught me lots about writing. I appreciate your series of mailbags.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Bill,

      Thank you for your advice, sharing your wisdom, and being an awesome teacher. One reason I read "The Mailbag", is, I enjoy your comments so much. Your answers come across as a work of art.

      Love,

      Audrey

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      Peggy Woods 5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I enjoy your mailbag answers even if I do not take the time to comment. They are always informative and to the point. As to dreaming...I love my dreams! Most are vivid and at least once inspired a piece of my art having to do with a postage stamp collection.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Keep planning Rodric! It will happen when you are ready.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Bill! Follow your passion!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Agreed, Peg! I found one good editor a few years back, who understood how to treat a writer, but she has since retired, darn it!

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      Shauna L Bowling 5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Yes, Bill I know that song! Thanks for providing the video. I'd forgotten what Kenny Rogers looked like without silver hair!

      As to waking up with that song in your head, you may not have been dreaming at all. I wake up with a song in my head every morning (and even in the middle of the the night for the 3 a.m. pee break). This morning I awoke with Frank Sinatra's "Fly to the Moon" in my head, of all things! But it must have been for a reason. My dad's 80th birthday is on April 25th, so I just ordered him a Sinatra CD that covers his music from 1953 to 1960. I think he'll love it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Greatly appreciated, Ann! LOL

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Tuesday, Janine. I'm late on responding so it all evens out. Let's hope for some spring weather soon,my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I think the same thing, Flourish. A pleasant surprise for sure.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      Funny thing, I was thinking about this song just this morning.

      My question today is this: Do you like all your characters? Even the less savoury ones?

      While reading a Stephen King novel, one of the main characters, a writer, felt that liking all of his characters, even the unpleasant ones, helped him see the world through their eyes and understand their motivations more clearly.

      I suppose this helps create more fleshed-out characters as opposed to one-dimensional ones. Any thoughts?

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 weeks ago from Shelton

      I too want to thank you for another mailbag filled with questions and answers.. For Nikki's answer I believe you gave it plain justice and some order.. again Bill thanks for this installment..:)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank You for another wonderful installment! All good questions and helpful answers.

      Wow! This installment will reach its second century in two weeks. This must be a record of some kind. This is amazing!

      Thank you once again for your helpful advice and suggestions to the writers.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It is for sure, Dora! Very encouraging indeed! Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I wish my output was what it once was, but other interests keep derailing my efforts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Emese, I didn't even realize it until Eric pointed int out several weeks ago. Now it's a challenge for me to post at 6:30. LOL Thanks for sharing about your dreams and random thoughts. Very interesting!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      The answer, Liz, I suspect is in the thousands. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thank you for another great mailbag. Hope this week is inspirational for you.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 5 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Many good questions have been asked here. I always get some rich information through these mailbags. Thanks, Bill, for your nice tips and advice as always.

      When I went through my paperback version last week, I noticed that there is no numbering of the pages in it. Further, no space is left at the top of the page or even at the bottom in most cases. It should have been fixed by the publisher before printing. Now, what to do? You may answer it in your next mailbag.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 weeks ago from london

      Thanks Bill.

      I wrote what I considered to be an inspired piece but lost it. Here we go again.

      I started with your poetry and said that it was a nice! Nice! Really cool piece. I talked about the sweet chuckles and about Nikki's work. I suggested 70 000 to 100 000 but did say that genres can be so varied!

      Like you, I mentioned the shorter chapters and added paragraphs too, as well as paying attention to the format and fonts. I finally said that Amazon has great yearly Writer's Handbooks and she may be interested in one of them.

      I thanked you for answering my question and said something about how good it was to have you as a friend and praised you for being a decent human being. That must be it, i suppose. Sure I left somehing out.

      Oh! I commended the 'lightness' in your writings to the Chinese flying in movies. They call it lightness. A sweet, vibrant and soaring flow of artistry in motion. Peace.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 weeks ago from Indonesia

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge to become a good writer, Bill. Becoming a good writer is very challenging to me, not only in the technical aspects but also the language, English. So what I can do is keep learning, keep writing.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 5 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Monday Evening!

      Nothing I can add to today's wise answers. Just finished critiquing one book and have another one that needs to be done this week. Good to see authors are moving forward.

      A little bit o' snow this AM and below freezing, but nothing compared to the April snow some are dealing with.

      Have a wonderful week!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 5 weeks ago

      Good evening, Bill, it seems like I never get around to opening HP until afternoons because if I do, then I will neglect other necessities of life that come before writing in my life. That may sound strange for a writer, but I have chronic fatigue and there are just some things in life that have to be taken care of first.

      As a professional editor, I find Rodric's question interesting but a very common occurrence. In fact, I have experienced this very thing myself. Imagine how difficult it is for an editor to turn my own piece of writing over to someone else to edit. I beg my co-author on this book I'm rewriting and editing to carefully check my work, and then I get upset if he doesn't approve one of my changes -- but I never let him know that. LOL

      Freezing temperatures here again last night and our one little pet chicken has laryngitis again. Good news though, the weatherman promises that it will be the last. Warmer weather on the horizon, woo hoo! Have a good week, my friend.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      It is strange how we can wake up humming a long ago song isn't it? I have others speak of it too; You just hum it all day until sometimes it almost drives you crazy.

      Perhaps it is trying to tell us something?

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Can’t believe you're coming up to 200 installments of the Mailbag, amazing. Do you have anything special planned for the 200th edition? I imagine it will be business as usual. Anyway, have a great week.

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      Rodric Johnson 5 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I chickened out Bill! I was all set and ready to go and chicken out at giving the manuscript! I do plan to do it this week, however.

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      William Leverne Smith 5 weeks ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for taking on my question, Bill. Your answer was short, and to the point. It was worth more than you can know. Of course, you have continued the Mailbag, so you do know!! Thanks, again, and every week! ;-)

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      Peg Cole 5 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for another helpful and insightful mailbag. I could truly relate to the advice in this one, Bill, concerning turning our creations over to an editor. It is a daunting experience that can leave a lot of self doubt or it can also build up the spirit and encourage the author, if done properly. We can only hope to find someone that knows how to gently advise without killing our creativity.

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      Ann Carr 5 weeks ago from SW England

      Old man? What old man?!

      Thank you, bill.

      Ann

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      Janine Huldie 5 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Just had to stop in and apologize for being way not he late side. But just got back from a rainy, Monday trip to the playhouse here with my younger daughter's class. So, truly been a bit of a busy and crazy Monday to say the least. So playing catchup and of course yours was one of my first stops. Happy Monday to you, my friend now :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 5 weeks ago from USA

      Coming up on 200 — that is really impressive. You’d think that people would have run out of questions but they keep rolling in!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Great to see so many HP writers aspiring to be published authors! Best to all! It's encouraging!

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      Linda Crampton 5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Two more articles to go to reach 200 in this series! Your output is impressive, Bill.

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      Emese Fromm 5 weeks ago from The Desert

      I was checking my email early this morning and I realized that indeed you publish at 6:30 am every Monday morning. If I could just learn to be a bit more a creature of habit like you, my life would not be so chaotic. Then again, I would not be me, I sort of like chaotic (most of the time). I usually remember my dreams (wonder why) and they are mostly very weird, entertaining, or just plain good stories. Sometimes I remember the main colors in my dream or people I never met, perfect characters for stories. My dreams give me ideas for novels (a few of them so far). Now if I could follow up and finish them, give them a proper form rather than just scribbles, I'd end up with something... Or maybe the scribbles decided that they need to wait to be developed when I have more time on my hands - or I have a better command of the language. Great answers to great questions, as always; your Monday morning mailbags start off my week with some structure ;). Thank you.

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      Liz Westwood 5 weeks ago from UK

      I wonder, over the years, how many great books have been inspired by random thoughts. Another interesting and very informative article.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Elf, you raise a great point about short chapters...they drive the action forward for sure, whereas longer chapters tend to slow things up a bit too much. Thanks for mentioning that, and good luck with that ego. Believe me, we all know what you are going through.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, I'm laughing. I do the same thing, flip ahead to find out when the damned chapter will end. LOL Like that's going to change anything at all.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Clive! No sense complicating things...sit your butt down and churn out the words.

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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Me or Kenny, Pop? LOL Thanks a lot.

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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I was thinking about you, Melissa, when I saw the national weather....what a rotten spring surprise that was. Stay safe...rumor has it spring is approaching and that's not a joke. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Crazy creature of habit? Me? Eric, you insult me! LOL No, you are right on, my friend. Sadly right on!

      But it also makes me ultra-productive, so it's not all bad.

      I'll have an answer for you on Monday. Thanks for always feeding the Mailbag with great questions.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I'm afraid my Monday is manic. I've just got too much to do. That's what I get for volunteering to run the farmers market, which opens this Wednesday....way too much for this old man to do. :)

      Thank you always...hoping for sunshine in your life today and always.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Linda! HP really has been a very giving community for me. No regrets at all in joining it.

      As for that song, I've been humming it now for four days. Sigh!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you don't give yourself enough credit. You had me laughing with your comment about God. I have a couple thoughts about that. I'll share next Monday.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 weeks ago from Canada

      Good Monday to you, sir. I am currently working with an editor. My second. It can be a rude awakening. Things I thought were blatantly apparent aren't, etc.

      Also, it can be ego-bruising, to say the least, when you've spent so much time and effort on your work. I am learning (I hope) to be WAAAY less precious about my pages. So far, I have been able to manage the rewrites with some equanimity, though to be honest my first response is often "Say, what?" "Excuse me?" and "No, I don't think so, Margaret." But I keep those thoughts to myself and get on with the work (after I've vented a bit.) Trust is key, but you still have to hold your work in a healthy regard.

      Your point about chapter length is a good one. The prolific Mr. James Patterson is a master of the short punchy chapter. The length will vary considerably for content and effect, but overall chapter length is short. His style is an excellent lesson in driving the action forward.

      Thanks for a great start to the week.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - I agree that chapters should not be very long, in fiction, I am used to reading chapters between 20-25 pages and hence 10-12 chapters. Longer chapters, and I find myself flipping pages ahead to see where the finish line is. As far as books with short essays, literature is filled with them.

      Now, as for that dream ...... have you considered ..... oh, never mind.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 5 weeks ago from Jamaica

      Billy. How to become a writer is simply put as you stated. Sit down and write. Now being great is another kettle of fish. But you simply have to love writing to become a writer. Very good point man.

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      breakfastpop 5 weeks ago

      Love the video!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 5 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! We got buried in snow this weekend (18 inches), so still shoveling out and trying to get back to normal around here (nothing normal about this kind of snow in April--even in MN). I'm so glad that at least your mail bag can make it thru the storm! Now, if I could just get the rest of my mail...lol

      Have a great and productive week!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh William, the last thing I need is to try movies. lol but thanks for the kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Five cents worth a million bucks, Kristen. Thanks for adding to the knowledge pool,my friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cool advice on the chapters. Now I know why I like short chapters. Wait I need to go back and read what I just wrote, I forgot it. LoL So happy to have these every Monday morning. You publish at my 6:30 am on the dot. You crazy creature of habit. I would like to be like that with my series. But for some reason my inspiration really hits me on Sunday mornings. Maybe that is why it is a Sunday kind of gig.

      I am like you about short notice family interruptions. So as a shrink and a writer how do you kick out the resentment (or any issue like it) and get back in the groove? I mean, how do you do it so fast? Does just sitting in your chair clear your mind?

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 weeks ago from SW England

      Yes I remember that song too; I like Kenny Rogers.

      I know exactly what you mean about strange thoughts and dreams suddenly making an impact on my writing ideas. In fact, I've just penned another poem along those lines.

      Great questions this week! And, yes of course, great answers from the master!

      Hope your Monday is not too manic, bill.

      Ann

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      Linda Lum 5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. You are almost at the 200 mark. That is truly amazing. How many unique questions (no, I don't expect to see you go back over the past 197 to find the answer), but I remember only a handful of 'repeaters'. Most of them are unique each and every week. And your answers are always well-thought out.

      The collection of sagas by William made me think of Alex Hailley's "Roots." This is such a talented group of people. I'm happy that I know all of you.

      Now, if I could just get the Kenny Rodgers song out of my head.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I will come back and watch that video again. I need to watch it when I'm not in a hurry. You have gone out of your way to help us out and we really appreciate it. Bill, my problem is I am too serious in my writing. When God spread humour around, I was not there. I also don't like trends. That makes me so conservative. So what can I do to make my writing much more interesting and entertaining?

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You know, Bill. Kenny Rogers hasn't changed except for the color of his hair. that video takes me back in time. I thought the questions were especially interesting this week, and of course, the answers were exceptional. The last video was fantastic. Maybe you should consider movies - lol.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 5 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag Bill. I vaguely remember that song. Strange dream. For Nikki's question, it depends on the genre and age market she's aiming for. I've learned from a writers conference last fall that you should shoot for a consistent length of chapters throughout your novel. Though my chapters vary from 5 pages to 20 pages.As for Rodric, he should file those ideas away. He should work on one book at a time to edit and get it polished before he hits the send button to publish, and one to write while he waits to hear back, unless he has a self-imposed deadline. I never heard of a repeat editor before. But he should have some betas or crit partners,or join a local writing group or Internet crit list to help him refine his writing with his editor. That's my five cents.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point, Mary,and Happy Monday to you. A good editor is worth their weight in gold, for sure. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Just doing my thing,Rochelle, but thank you for the kind words.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 5 weeks ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      Happy Monday to you. When I read the first question from Eric, I thought of the 'Chicken Soup' series of books. They are short compilations of stories just a couple of pages each.

      Regarding editors. Although my only experience with editors is here on Hubpages, I had an article recently put through the basic editing program and was over the moon with the changes they made. It really opened my eyes about what was necessary to make an article more visually appealing.

      Have a great week.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      Your condition seems pretty good, closing in on two hundred bags of mail. With your busy schedule, it is very generous of you to answer so many questions and respond to comments.

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