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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 213

Updated on July 23, 2018

My Muse Is Demanding More Time

She is such a demanding wench! Continually nagging me, insisting I write creatively, not letting my subconscious rest for even a day . . . sigh!

So I write. A couple reflective pieces . . . a couple blog posts . . . inching my way back to my unfinished novel.

I’m in a comfortable groove now with all of my activities, and a groove means those activities are done faster, and faster means saving time, which means more time for writing . . . that is a long, convoluted way of saying I see the day fast-approaching when I can return to my first love, writing novels. Let’s hope that efficiency continues.

And what about you? How is your proficiency coming along? Are you accomplishing all you want to accomplish, or is there a novel or non-fiction still burning a hole in your psyche?

I hope you are finding the time! Best wishes to you as this week unfolds.

And now on to the Mailbag!

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

More on Hp and Photos

From Zulma: “I was pleasantly surprised to see my question in your mailbag. I guess I'm not the only one who wonders about this. Does the photo minimum of three include the profile picture? I ask because my last hub only had two pictures but according to my profile, it's featured.”

Your comment, Zulma, caught me by surprise because I did not think the profile picture counted towards the three. In fact I know I’ve had it rejected when I’ve tried to count it as one of the three photos. So either you got lucky or the rules have changed. I truly don’t know. I just play it safe now and include three photos plus the profile pic.

If anyone else knows about this, please share. I pay practically no attention to HP rules and guidelines, so if they changed them I would be totally unaware.

Three original photos is a win on HP
Three original photos is a win on HP | Source

Negative Comments

From Shaloo: “How do you handle negative reviews or unfair reviews? Looking forward to your answer in the forthcoming mailbag :)”

Shaloo, believe me, every fiber of my being demands that I go into attack mode when I get a negative or unfair review or comment. It’s just the way I’m wired. Having said that, I have done a pretty good job of being consistent in this matter; I simply thank the people for their comment and opinion and leave it at that. Nothing will be gained from me engaging, nothing at all other than feeding my ego and stoking the fire in my antagonist.

I did engage a couple months ago. A troll on someone else’s site decided to attack me for a comment I made on that site. It wasn’t even an inflammatory comment. I simply thanked the author of the article for their opinion, and said I find all points of view interesting. That was enough for Mr. Troll, who attacked me for being non-committal.

I don’t even know who this clown is, but evidently he knows me and is not fond of me at all. Anyway, I called him on it and of course he had a lengthy rebuttal, and it would have gone on for quite awhile if I hadn’t disengaged.

My bottom line is this: no one can hurt me with words as much as I have hurt myself in the past with my actions, so I say “Take your best shot at me and I’ll remain standing strong.” The trolls of the internet world will eventually slink back into oblivion from whence they came.

And I will not leave a negative review on Amazon. Won’t do it! It is too difficult to write a novel or full-length non-fiction. At the very least the author deserves praise for accomplishing that feat. So I’ll always leave some sort of positive remark about a book. For me there are two types of reviews I will leave, a non-committal, slightly bland review which basically says nice job in completing a novel, and a glowing review which is saved for those I really, really enjoyed . . . but never a negative review.

That’s just me, of course. I’m not trying to convince any of you to do differently.

Negative comments stink!
Negative comments stink! | Source

Changing Titles

From Rodric: “Another great read! I have some problems with deciding on titles for my articles. I have gone back and changed my titles on occasion to get them featured. What do you think about changing old titles? I hear a small voice reminding me that somewhere you have written on this before.”

It’s an interesting question, Rodric.

Changing titles in mid-stream is a bit dangerous in the Google game. If one changes titles they really need to also change the URL. It is the URL that goes out into Cyber World. If that isn’t changed nothing is changed. Now maybe HP does that automatically when we change titles, but I don’t think they do, and therein lies the confusion about this topic.

Once you publish an article online, that URL is set in stone. It takes some special programming to actually change the URL and retain the same article, special programming I do not know how to do…so hopefully HP is doing that.

I see nothing wrong with changing titles; sometimes it is definitely advantageous. My only concern is in doing it correctly to appease the Google gods.

Anyone else know anything about this? I would really like to know.

Hit the Restart Button

From Ann: “Question: If you could start your writing career all over again what would you do differently?”

Oh man, Ann, where to begin? I did so many things wrong when I first declared to the world that I was a writer. Did any of those mistakes hurt me? Most likely yes, they did, but there are no mulligans in this business. We just soldier on and keep moving forward.

What would I do differently? I would take it slower and do more research. I’ve always been a bit impetuous, the Charge of the Light Brigade kind of guy. Had I done a bit more research I could have avoided some earlier mistakes. I would have also forced myself to attend a few writer conferences, just to rub shoulders with some actual writers and get out into the real world a bit more.

But I did none of those things and it all turned out fine. In my freelance writing business I actually got pretty lucky. Within six months I had two customers who have remained with me for five, six years now, and one of them led to another customer who has really boosted my income, so I really didn’t go through a struggling period with my freelancing. Within one year I was paying all of my bills from the freelance career, and that is ridiculously fast in this business where many freelancers struggle.

Have I achieved fame and fortune with my novels? Far from it, but I am proud of my novels and I believe they are good writing, and the ones to come will be even better, and they are all part of a legacy I can be proud of, so there you have it!

Thanks to All

Great questions, my friends . . . thank you!

I write the Mailbag on Fridays, and Fridays are my days when no freelancing is allowed, so I will put this Mailbag to bed and start in on a creative piece, a warm-up to my return to novel-writing.

Wish me luck! Let’s hope the muse still remembers how to do her job.

As a favor for a friend, Heidi Thorne, I am including this link to a survey she has published for freelance and independent writers. Please help her out and take part in the survey. Thank you!

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

      That is a good approach, Alyssa! Fretting over random rules can drive a person nutso. :)

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      2 years ago from Ohio

      Another wonderful mailbag filled with great advice. I didn't know about the three picture "rule," but I will definitely keep that in mind. It's been my experience to have editors from the same niche site, who want different things in terms of layout, cover picture, etc. All of that can get confusing if I sit and dwell on it too long. I tend to just do what I think is right and if HP wants changes, they let me know. haha!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Rinita! Blessings to you always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Flourish! Like you,many times I don't even know what the HP messages mean. I am so out of touch with this site and their managerial decisions. I'm just a writer after all.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      3 years ago

      Another helpful mailbag. I like how you explained about how to deal with negative comments. I hope your muse continues to nudge you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      With the changes and rules and guidelines ... big sigh. I got an email yesterday that Google had changed its rules and therefore HP was going to start implementing a surcharge for maps. The editor indicated that it was ".7 on every dollar" but I don't know if that means 70 cents, .7 cent (less than one cent on every dollar). I'm trying to get clarification on the new policy and have asked when they plan to communicate this throughout the HP community. Obviously, it affects more than just me. He was very nice and offered to remove all my maps for me, but I do agree with you about the rules and all the jump-through hoops. While it's great to be adaptable, at some point, you just have to say screw it and do what suits you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, thank you! I'll keep it going as long as I'm able to string words together in a meaningful fashion.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Michael my friend. I just can't waste my valuable time on earth dealing with vindictive comments and people. I would rather surround myself with love.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

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

      I believe every writer has at some point got a comment that is meant to elicit some sort of a retaliatory comment. I prefer to either ignore it or just say "you're welcome to your viewpoint" and it works almost every time.

      Bill, this mailbag is a learning experience, I hope you keep it going. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Michael Milec 

      3 years ago

      In "Negative Comments" portion one can find a condense wisdom of your handling the "un welcomely negatives." Congratulation. You have articulated some very useful phrases , added to my vocabulary words of polite refutation. (What a wisdom not wasting time with an unscrupulous.)

      Peace my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Chitrangaa Sharan. Your point about changing HP rules is valid. I certainly don't even try to keep track of them all.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M! It seems to be a little known fact about changing titles while the URL remains the long as the URL stays the same, changing titles does no good whatsoever.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! My muse sends her best regards to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, it must be widely known for me to know it, because I pay practically no attention to HP guideline. lol I agree with your thoughts on trolls. Ignore them, o not engage,and live to fight another day.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great questions and equally wonderful answers!

      Regarding HP rules—They have changed them so many times, it’s difficult to keep track.

      As always, I enjoyed reading the mailbag and the suggestions.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mary! That question has never been asked before, so I'm looking forward to answering it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Bill! I noticed the URL title not changing a long time ago, but I didn't know enough about it then to realize what it meant. Glad this helped you, my friend. Happy Tuesday to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes, Zulma, send me an email. I'm curious how you pulled that off without the HP police coming down on you.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill.

      Thank you for including my question. And since we're on the subject, I think I figured out why my hub was featured despite having only two proper photos. As I don't want to jinx it, I can send you an email if you're really curious.

      It's good to hear you're getting back in the saddle again. Send my regards to your wonderful muse. :D

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      McKenna, I love your wish for the world...right on! We need much more of that today.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MIzB, it's always a pleasure. Thanks for sharing your soapbox today. Those things drive me crazy as well. It's just lazy writing, and writing should never be lazy. As for weather, for us it is sweltering, and I'm very ready for some clouds, thank you very much!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Shaloo! Thank you for the question and best wishes to you with the next troll.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! I think it is important, if for no other reason than to encourage the writer.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! I'll put ESP on my author bio from now on. lol

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      It is one more interesting mailbag with good questions and great answers.

      Regarding photos, I think any 3 photos can be okay (including your own photo if it suits the subject).

      Changing the Titles is a good point raised here. I think there is no facility here on HP to changes the URLs. You can edit the title but the same URL continues to be shown in the browser.

      The video showing how to change URLs on Blogger platform is very helpful.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There are lots of interesting points to think about in this edition of the Mailbag. As always, I enjoyed reading it. I hope your muse is helpful and that you have a good week.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for another interesting mailbag. Sounds like you are in a comfortable place at the moment with your writing, Bill. I used to engage with trolls but it gets you nowhere, so I usually try to ignore them nowadays and move on. If they get no response it defeats their purpose to upset and annoy. In the forums recently someone asked why one of their hubs wasn't rated well. I suggested that perhaps they should have three photos as per HP guidelines. The person was not very welcoming to my suggestion and other commenters also said they were unaware of that. I thought it was a widely known requirement.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      3 years ago from Brazil

      Interesting questions this week.

      Regarding the photos on HP, I think readers prefer to have photos to break up large blocks of text.

      I have a question for a future mailbag. Do you think that changing a book cover will generate more sales?

      Have a great week.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Very interesting questions this week. Regarding negative comments I have received many. I simply don’t engage in any way, no return comment, no thank you, nothing. Seems to solve the problem and keeps me from getting into a negative back and forth engagement that I simply don’t have the time or patience for.

      The changing titles question is also of interest to me. More than once I have changed a title while the URL has not. I should probably look into this further to see if it’ hurting me but I also wonder if Google somehow recognizes this. I can’t begin to tell you how much time I have spent debating titles, sometimes more time than it took to write the hub.

      Great Mailbag, have a great week.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      3 years ago

      You seem very happy and in your zone, Bill. I'm the same way these days--always excited to get up and start my activities. Summer does that for me.

      I love how you won't write a negative review of a book. I agree. Writing a book is a huge achievement and authors should be celebrated like a runner who completes a marathon. My wish for the world would be for everything to give a second thought (and then a third and fourth) before spreading hate and negativity online--about politics or anything else.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's too funny, Pop....yep, at least three. I can't blame HP for that...Google runs the online business.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mike! I can't remember the last time I worked on that unfinished novel...odd to even write that sentence.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very glad to hear that, David! Welcome back to HP my friend.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      3 years ago

      It's funny, until I read your article I had no idea HP required three photos!

    • mckbirdbks profile image


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

      Hello Bill - Great mailbag. I agree in regards to the negative reviews. Plus, there is no upside in engaging with a troll. Glad to hear you are making your way back to your novel.

    • David Warren profile image

      David Warren 

      3 years ago from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta

      Thank you for both your insight and encouragement. I am going to give my creative muse more of my time, at least half of my writing time hopefully. Returning to HP feels good, a pleasant break from my keyword and content employers.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Heidi! It was my pleasure to include the link. You do so much to help others; reciprocation is due you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I am quite happy with today, despite the oncoming heat. Stay cool, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ms. Dora, I hope the pain subsides soon and you are able to soldier on. Blessings to you always, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kristen! In those instances it will not affect the article at all...I'm glad you mentioned that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eric! It all begins with my father, but more about that in next week's Mailbag.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      3 years ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, that's a beautiful photo of a meandering river. Love it! Interesting comment on your Amazon reviews. I try not to leave a negative comment (negative as per se) on Amazon reviews, but whenever I see a book that the author keeps using "his eyes narrowed," I blow my stack and give my opinion on such unimaginative writing. I frequently state that I rarely give a rating of 5 because I reserve those for authors whose books are truly deserving. I don't give a 5 just because I liked the book. But recently I read a whole series of 12 books in which the author kept using that hated phrase without a good reason every two or three pages. She really did! I explained that I reduced the rating by a full point because the author kept throwing it in for no reason. (I explained that I would have given the book a 4 except I gave it a 3). I know I have a different viewpoint as an editor, and I probably rate writing differently anyway.

      Just after that I read another author who worked in a few times in sentences like "her eyes narrowed as she frowned in contemplation at Jakes unwelcome suggestion." Sorry, I just got an unwelcome email on something I'm editing for a client, and it put me on my soapbox today.

      Hope you're weather is great. Our area recovering from some serious storms, and about 9,000 people are still out of power. We have power but our grass is growing fast from the deluge. Hope you are having good weather, my friend.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      3 years ago from India

      Thanks Bill for another interesting mailbag and for answering my question! I loved your take on trolls. I will remember your words and focus on something worthy rather than answering the trolls.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you for a good start to a new week. What struck me most in this mailbag is your take on Amazon reviews. You are right about the authors putting in so much of their time and energy and the least we could do is compliment and encourage them. I have to be more conscious of this and try to give reviews as these are important to them.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, Happy Monday my friend. The next book....maybe for Christmas? Any promise of an earlier publishing date would be unrealistic but hey, at least we are talking about 2018. lol

      Happy Monday Melissa!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      You answered a question without me even asking, Bill. You must add ESP to your list of credentials on your resume. LOL. I like the fact that you encourage others not to leave negative reviews. I see in so many instances where people blast a writer for various reasons and yet, I have to wonder if they have ever accomplished such a monumental task as writing a novel. Bravo for another great mailbag.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's exactly how I feel, Ann, about finding time to write. I have so many things here and at the farm that need my attention, it seems almost selfish of me to sit and write.

      I think we both need to give ourselves permission to do that which we love.

      Wishing, for you, some quiet time with just your muse.


    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! I am so happy to hear you are gearing up to return to your novel writing--can't wait for the next book in your Shadow Series!

      I don't engage much at all on the web, so never had the personal pleasure of being trolled. Sounds like the way you handled it was perfect.

      Have a great and productive week!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      3 years ago from Chicago Area

      G'morning and a BIG, BIG THANK YOU for including a link to my survey in the Mailbag! I'm collecting responses over the next few months and will publish results in January. So stay tuned for that. I'm sure you'll find it interesting (as will I).

      Re: Negative Comments. It takes all kinds to make a world. I just can't get all worked up over this nonsense. I try to look for the kernel of something useful in the negative or challenging comments. And sometimes they make great fodder for articles!

      Hope your week is starting out positive and that you'll keep your efficiency streak rolling. Appreciate your support and friendship! Cheers!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Hitting the reset button. I'd like to think that whatever you or I have written has been a "learning experience" and somehow we have gained from it. What or how you wrote formed the person you are today. Perhaps the "involvement/interference" of a writers group would have moved you in a different direction.

      Be happy for today. A good mailbag my friend. Try to find some shade this week, we're going to need it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      "We just soldier on and keep moving forward.' This is my word for today, for this week after being crippled with pain in my right arm for the past four weeks. Thanks for the encouragement plus all the information I gain from your mailbag. Happy Monday!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great mailbag Bill. I know what you mean by an overactive or overproductive Muse. The only time I had to change my title was for the niches, mainly my poetry collection and some serial hubs. But that was removing one word and adding one or two and changing a punctuation mark.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Another great start to another great day. I loved your take on the criticism. My two best friends of well over 35 years are the most brutal proofers of all and my elder son cuts to the quick. Tre' cool and helpful.

      I wonder how much of my writing is for legacy sake. I will ponder as I watch the clouds roll by under my tree today.

      Could you boil down your work/writing ethic. I know your father's and get it but I have trouble capturing yours.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Interesting answer to my question, bill. It fills in some gaps I'd wondered about, thank you. I guess we all chalk up those little mistakes to experience and that's how we learn and move forward.

      Regarding your comments about time, I find it increasingly difficult to make time for writing, as I feel I should be doing something else especially as this house refurbishment is not yet finished!

      I find I write my best when it's off the cuff and impetuous - as long as I proof read carefully and cut out the initial rubbish!

      May your Monday make everyone smile, including you, bill.



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