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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 206

Updated on June 11, 2018

Questions Trickling In

Maybe it’s the fact that nice weather has arrived, and people aren’t writing as often, but for whatever reason the questions are few and far between this week.

Oh well! The mail must be delivered! Let’s answer a couple and then we will all go out and dance in the sunshine.

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

Different Reviews

From Lawrence: “I've got a question, it might be a bit of a strange one, but it might also be 'enlightening' See the last few days I've been doing some marketing research on my books and discovered something strange. For one book on the Amazon USA site there's one review (five stars) but when I went onto the Amazon UK site the same book had two five star reviews, different reviews to the USA one! Have you come across where Amazon has different reviews on different sites within its network?”

Lawrence, I have no clue. I went online to find the answer, but failed miserably. It seems odd to me, and I’m not sure why they would do that. Does anyone else know?????

The Perfect Pitch

From Eric: “So the question goes like this; When, in writing do you hit just the right mark? I know that it is inside not outside. That perfect throw and your own pat on the back. You spit on the ground, have raspberries and raise your hand in victory of your own.”

Eric, I’ve never experienced the perfect pitch in writing. I’ve had a few out playing baseball, but not while writing.

Just one of the many crosses I carry. Lol

Seriously, I never think my writing is perfect. I eventually just throw up my hands and say ENOUGH!!!! I then publish and five minutes after publishing I will wish I had written some chapter just a bit differently.

Now a certain amount of that type of angst is normal, but I know some writers who never get beyond it. That fear of not being good enough keeps them from ever publishing, and I find that very sad.

So, I continue to throw the change-up, mix in a few four-seam fastballs, and tantalize with the occasional circle curve. Mister Junkball, that’s me. There will be no no-hitters in my future, but I think I can count on a few W’s along the way, and a whole lot of No-Decisions.

I love baseball talk! Thanks, Eric!

Get it? The perfect pitch? Baseball picture?
Get it? The perfect pitch? Baseball picture? | Source

A New Series

From Angela: I’m thinking of writing a series of stories about growing up in rural West Virginia in the 1960’s. Do you think anyone would be interested in that type of series? There will be no murders, no juicy love scenes; it will just be a story about life at that time in that place. I’ve been wanting to write it for quite awhile now, but I’m not sure if anyone else will find it interesting.”

Angela, who cares what anyone else thinks?

I’m serious when I say that. You stated that you’ve been wanting to write it for quite some time now, so write it for you. If no one else reads it, oh well! At least you wrote it for you and you scratched that itch.

You mentioned the story would have no murders or love scenes, which is fine, but remember this: if you do want others to find it interesting, there has to be some sort of plot/storyline/antagonist/protagonist. A random story about a random time about a random town needs a spark to propel it, and that is one of those golden rules of writing which is pretty much set in stone.

Best wishes on your project!

Travel Articles

From Steve: “I’m pretty new to all of this, so this question may seem a bit silly, or even redundant. I spent quite a few years in the military, and I’ve traveled pretty much all around the world. I was thinking of writing a series of travel articles. My concern, though, is that there is a glut of travel articles online. Would anyone really find mine interesting or worth reading?”

Well, Steve, it seems to me that the answer to your question is pretty much up to you. In other words, will you make those articles interesting?

I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as a new storyline in fiction, and there are very few new topics in non-fiction. What makes a book interesting, even one which is covering territory covered thousands of times earlier, is the author and the way they tell the story or present the facts.

Guy meets girl, guy dates girl, guy marries girl…that story has been told ad nauseum….and yet we see it told every single year in new novels and in new movies. Interpretation….unique voice….different approach….those things are what differentiate the mundane from the interesting. You want to write travel articles. My advice to you is to find a new, vibrant, unique approach to writing those travel articles. Put your own personal stamp on them. Come from a direction no one else has come from before. See things differently from all the other travel writers. Write about an aspect of traveling no other writer has covered before.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will come to your doorstep! I’m mixing metaphors but I think you get the point.

Find a new way to tell a familiar story
Find a new way to tell a familiar story | Source

And Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Short and sweet! No 1,250 words to appease the HP gods, nothing to designate this as a classic piece of literature . . . just another Mailbag, one of hundreds, and with it the tradition continues.

And I find great satisfaction in that fact.

Have a great week!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Rajan!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      I just love these informational Q&A articles from you, Bill. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are welcome, Lawrence. I really don't understand Amazon and why they do such things, but oh well.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Great Mailbag here, and thanks for at least trying to answer the question about Amazon, I was just amused that they would do what they do, we often hear of them 'taking reviews down' or not placing them in the first place, but putting them on different sites within their own network?

      I kind of expected they'd put them all on the same site, but maybe what Ann says is nearer to what they do, either way, I'm thankful for it if somewhat mystified at the same time.

      Thank you for taking the time to look at this.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, scary stuff, my friend. I am sending positive thoughts your way...give your husband my best, please.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Hi, Bill, finally got around to reading last week's mailbag. Hubby spent all week in the hospital getting a pacemaker. He had a very close call with his heart Sunday week ago, and it took them days to decide what to do about it. Anyway, maybe your mailbag was short, but the questions and answers were very good and enjoyable reading. I'm glad I finally made it. See you in the next one later on today.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy to hear that, Alyssa! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill, and Happy Father's Day to you as well.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      2 years ago from Ohio

      Another mailbag filled with awesome advice! I always find these helpful. Thank you, Bill!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. I’m late this week, was traveling for work, which was not much fun. Great advice about travel writing. It’s pretty much all been covered already so trying to present it from a new and uñique perspective is key. Have a great weekend and Happy Father’s Day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I'm late at your door with a response...sorry about that!

      I agree with you about Amazon...your solution is much too simple and logical.

      A travel book through military eyes...great really should be pursued.

      Heat is on its way to us....too much heat but hey, it's summer so there you go. It will soon be gone and then we can complain about the fall rains. :)

      Enjoy the heck out of your weekend, my friend.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks once more, Liz! I am of the belief that a good writer can make a tired, old subject interesting....find a new way and they will come to you.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Bit late at your door for this one, bill. Lots going on this week.

      As far as the Amazon question is concerned, I would presume that the British site has British reviews and the US site has US reviews, or am I being too obvious! Personally I would expect to see all reviews of a certain book on all the sites regardless but that would be too easy...

      I would think that a travel book written from military eyes would be really interesting; same places but a different viewpoint.

      Great mailbag but then it would be even if you had only one question.

      Thing is, when you don't have many questions I feel guilty that I haven't asked one! Better go and think of something....


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good information, Elf...thank you for sharing that with us.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! Yes, Amazon is mysterious...I worry about the power they are gaining, but evidently I'm in the minority on that one.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh God, Frank, there is a ton I don't know about. No sense in trying to fake it with this group.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      No matter how many or how varied the questions are, Bill, you always do them justice. Wish I could answer the question about Amazon ratings but they are a mysterious organization. I like your answer about writing the story for ourselves. That sounds like a winner.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

      Each time I read one of your mailbag articles, whether it's long or short, I always come away with something that I have learned or that resonates with me and my writing. As my tendency is towards writing travel articles, I read what you said on the subject with interest.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      I like the fact that you continue to shoot from the hip.. didn't find an answer for the UK stars and you admit it.. gotta love it Bill.. awesome bag here

    • RedElf profile image


      2 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for another mailbag, Bill. Always interesting. And, if any of your readers are interested, I've found some awesome information about pitches, queries, log lines (didn't know what those were - fancy name for "what is the heart of your story") and summaries by reading the archives at Query Shark. Awesome pile of knowledge there.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Too funny, Nell! Embrace your Irish...I am miserable at dialects, so your's sounded pretty good to me.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! I suspect your thoughts on Amazon are correct.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love it, Manatita! I've never had a mango. Aim some my way, please. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You summed it up perfectly, Venkatachari M. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      it is my pleasure, Linda! thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Flourish! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was that way for about six months, Larry, but it's back with a vengeance now. :) Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Mike! It happens, but rarely.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Just wanted to answer about the reviews. On my American Amazon site, my book has got great reviews. on the English? two are okay but do criticise it, and one is so horrible it was either done by a Troll, yep big and hairy, or someone who as it said 'Gets better stories darn the pub!' says it all doesn't it! Suffice to say I promote the American friendly good mannered one, and embrace my irish as I am ashamed of the english at the moment! LOL! Great advice as always.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      In answer to the first question, it may be possible for the US site to record only US reviews, and the UK site, only UK reviews. Amazon is a pacesetter.

      Thanks for informing me in the perfect pitch question that you never outgrow the desire to add or delete. Consoled to know that it is a general problem.

      There's always something to learn from the mailbag.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      At least two cents for today, Kristen. I'm not going to give back any change,either. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Congratulations, Heidi, on that audio book. You are light years ahead of me in that area.

      Wishing you a productive week ahead.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are a rare breed, Pop,and I'm glad you are.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for your input, Nikki...a good story is a good story, first and foremost.

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      If I understand Lawrence's questions right, the book is on different sites and as such entitled to these reviews. Again, this is reinforced by the fact that they are different reviews.

      Eric, don't look for raspberries, Bro. Just write and they will come. I may even send you some mangoes!

      Thanks Bill. Short but sweet!!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and informative one. Your tips and advice are always useful and creative. It's true that writers should first write to satisfy their own urge to write. And, if they want an audience, they should do it uniquely.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Even the short Mailbag articles are useful, Bill. Thanks for another edition.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      Steve and Angela should both pursue their ideas.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've really been on a writing drought lately:-/ Just can't find my flair right now.

      Thanks for another lovely Mailbag.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - To Angela, I would say write the story. Character is everything. The trick would be to make the reader want to be there with them.

      As for the perfect pitch, seldom do I see a sentence that makes me pause, or wish that my muse had delivered the sentence to my keyboard.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag Bill. Per Angela's question, it sounds like she wants to write woman's fiction in that time zone. Or maybe a saga series. It also depends on whether she wants to go traditionally and self-publish to find her audience via other route. Maybe two cents for today.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      It's still Monday and I'm in the Mailbag! Another week, another manuscript for me. So keeping busy with client work and the podcast (still haven't fallen into a groove yet with it which takes more time) AND, *drum roll*, my first audio book is live on! Woohoo!

      Re: Different Amazon, Different Reviews. I'll be curious to hear if other authors are experiencing different reviews on different regional Amazon sites. On one of my books, I know that one of the reviewers was from Australia, and I think they have their own Amazon site. Hmm.

      Anyway, hope your summer and the farmers market are going well. Have a terrific week!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      2 years ago

      All I do is try my best and enjoy myself. I stopped second guessing myself, and I am much happier.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      2 years ago from London

      Well, short and interesting as usual Bill.

      I would love to read the story of rural area in 1960s.

      A good story doesn’t need any murder scenes or hot ones.Yet requires some good techniques to explain it so interestingly to draw readers’ attention, I guess.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Mary! I'm thinking about The Waltons...wasn't that set in West Virginia? It made for pretty good entertainment. Yes to Harriott...great reading.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Top o'the morning to you, Linda. Great suggestion about the travel articles...and would love to see you on Wednesday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Genna...don't forget to pick up that rosin bag and rub it good. :)

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      I think a series about rural West Virginia would be interesting. When I read that, I immediately thought of The Little House on the Prairie. Loved it.

      One of my favorite books is about the vet, James Harriott in Yorkshire. No gunfights, explosions, or murders, just runaway cows and hardworking people in the countryside of England.

      Regarding travel writing, excellent advice. I would also like to suggest a touch of humor, if I may.

      Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Top o'the morning to you Bill. Good stuff in this light version of the mailbag. I do hope that Steve will write those travel articles. Perhaps he has a hobby (other than writing) that he could weave into those posts. (Photography, wine, dining, baking bread, a love of architecture, graffiti, etc.)

      Have a great week my friend and we might pop into the Market on Wednesday, weather permitting.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, we have some hot weather coming in a week, and I just can't imagine me doing much writing at that I had better pick up the pace now.

      I know it's Monday when Melissa pays me a visit. Thank you always!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot, Verlie, I would have loved that dating question. lol Now I feel cheated!

      Wishing for you some sunshine!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks William! I actually cringe when I look at it..such a scrawny nerd I was. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I completely agree, Mary! I hope he continues...and I wish you a wonderful summer of traveling.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Best wishes, Chitrangada Sharan, in finding that new way. Thank you !

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Truth there, Eric, and I'm beginning to get the hang of it. :) Happy Monday my friend.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! So happy to start off my week reading the mailbag. I wonder if you were able to analyze all the data, if there would truly be less "writing" going on in the summer months? Vacations, nice weather, catching up on outdoor activities, etc, just seem to pull people away from sitting at their desk and writing...Now, I know you can take your laptop to the beach--but who wants to risk getting sand in their keyboard? LOL

      Maybe I should hope for some more stormy weather on the weekends. I always like to write when the weather is nasty! LOL

      Have a great and productive week!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, you are correct about the summer taking over, thanks for delivering the mail (bag) on time. Although it's been rainy and cool here for the past week. Mine was a dating question anyway, so just as well...I like your baseball pic! My brothers played, and I remember these (old) uniforms. I think I ironed a few shirts back in the day lol.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      The cheapest mailbag in town (no stamps needed) and it's still the best regardless of word count. Actually, the information you share is priceless, so maybe it's not so cheap after all. Thanks again. Short but sweet but still helpful!

      Oh, and I love that baseball pic!

    • profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago

      Hi Bill. Had to chuckle at your response to the perfect pitch. I'm never satisfied and do the walkaway from the mound then return and then say the heck with it. And I can't hit the side of a barn with a baseball. I envy those who achieve the perfect pitch. Great article.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This may be short this time but very useful to me. Summer is here and there is no way I can find time to write. At least, I am able to follow posts of my favourite writers in-between dock time.

      I just want to respond to Steve about his travels. It would be interesting to get travel articles from the eyes of a military, not a tourist. I am sure it would totally be different.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      ‘Find a new way, to tell a familiar story.’

      Great advice, as sometimes it seems, what I am thinking of writing, has been written, so many times. Especially online content has so many repetitions, on similar subject.

      Enjoyed going through your mailing as always. Thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      By golly jingles I forgot it was Monday. But that old postman delivered the mail. And there I was waiting for my check from Bill.

      I do hope Angela and Steve comment. I want to follow them and get their good stuff.

      Inspiring others is the best juice in life buddy thanks.


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