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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 219

Updated on September 3, 2018

I Love This Time of Year

I know the calendar says it is still summer, but Mother Nature is definitely hinting at fall. The mornings are crisper now. I tuck the chickens into bed much earlier at night now. Evenings are comfortable as opposed to the stifling of two weeks ago. I wake up at six and it is more dark than light.

And my tummy suddenly has a craving for chili, a sure sign that summer is coming to an end.

And then it will be the holidays, and the snow, and always the rains, and then 2019 will be upon us.

Such is life!

I still find it all fascinating, after all these years. I still eagerly anticipate the changes which are approaching. I wonder what challenges I’ll face. I wonder about the victories which haven’t happened yet, and the defeats, and how will I handle it all.

But that is for tomorrow. Today we have a Mailbag to read.

Let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt!

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

Niche Blogging?

From Shaloo: “Valuable advice about blogging...Many bloggers including me are not much into promotion and this is indeed one big mistake. I have two blogs. One is specifically about astrology but the other one is where I post articles, poems, sketches and whatever catches my fancy. This year I have been reading a lot and most of my blog posts have been about books. Do you think I should focus on a particular niche rather than writing about so many different topics?”

Shaloo, I think you should write about whatever it is that interests you.

Having said that, there are two trains of thought regarding blogging, and they have to do with your purpose for blogging. Is your purpose to make money from your blog? If so then I think narrowing your focus is a good thing, which means seeking a particular niche . . . like your astrology blog.

If, however, your purpose is to simply blog as an outlet for your writing urges, then I say write about whatever moves you at the moment. If you have no concerns about making money or growing your audience, I say toss caution to the wind and just write. And who knows, that caution-less blog may become quite popular by accident. I’m sure if Will Rogers were alive today, and he had a weekly blog, it would be hard to say it was a niche blog, since he would probably just write about life and living . . . but I also suspect it would be quite popular because of his insights.

So do what makes you happy and fulfills your goals.

I have a niche blog about farming
I have a niche blog about farming | Source

Editing Software

From Melissa: “Recently, I bought a writing "bundle" which included several ebooks, webinars, etc but the main reason I purchased was because it included a year's subscription to prowritingaid. I was just curious if you had any familiarity with this software or others like it? I know this doesn't replace a human editor, but it certainly could help polish your work a bit before letting someone else get their hands on it! :)”

Well, Melissa, first of all, it’s good to get a question from you. It’s not so good that I actually had to do some research to answer your question, LOL, but I forgive you.

I had never heard of ProWritingAid until you mentioned it, so off I went in search of reviews and summaries. It turns out it is highly-respected editing software. Unlike some “spellcheck” software, ProWritingAid concentrates more on structure and style, and as such the designers of that software suggest you don’t use it until you have finished at least one draft of your short story or manuscrhpt.

The reviews I read are highly favorable. The designers of the software even mention that the writer should always have the final word in editing, and that ProWritingAid is only meant to be an aid. Writers must have enough confidence in their writing style to reject editing suggestions at times, and I liked that they said that.

All in all I found this to be a very useful piece of writing hardware, even though I’ve never used it. It’s pretty unusual for a product to be universally-liked and really, the only negative reviews I could find about this editing tool were reviews you can expect to find about any product . . . cost, confusion over downloading, blah, blah, and more blah, none of which I found to be valid.

Melissa, I think you’ve got a winner there!

Mailbag Videos

From Mary: “I have a question for you. I know that you do videos, have you thought of turning this mailbag into a series of short videos?”

Good God, Mary, how much free time do you think I have? LOL

Of course I’ve thought about it, but the reality is I barely have time to finish my outdoor projects before the fall rains arrive, and I have a novel to finish, and farmers market responsibilities to take care of, and on and on we go, where he’ll stop nobody knows.

I would love to do more videos. I would love to have a weekly podcast. I just don’t know what to sacrifice in order to do it all.

But thank you for the suggestion. Rest assured, it is on my to-do list.

It's Me!!!

Createspace Moves to Kdp

From Heidi: “BTW, did you see that Createspace is moving over to KDP? Got an alert from one of my self pub author pals. Here's the skinny on that:

“I'm not seeing any alerts on my CS account like my friend did, probably because I have all my books already on KDP. My friend only sells his print books on Amazon via CS and sells the eBook on his own. So I think that's why he got the alert. Might be something you want to throw into one of the upcoming Mailbags. I'm doing some more research on the issue and will probably dedicate one of my next podcasts to it. So stay tuned.”

I did get an alert on it, Heidi, and promptly went to my CreateSpace account and made the necessary changes in preparation. This is one of those things that fall under the category “Not Enough Time” to really learn about it and its ramifications. Chances are I won’t be doing much research on it at all because I am now taking a rather “hands-off” approach to my ebooks and printed book sales channels. In other words, my marketing efforts have fallen by the wayside because I’m just being pulled in too many directions right now. Instead of doing any research on what this all means, I’m going to wait until you write an article about it. I trust that you will do a bang-up job of researching it.

Audio Books

From Francis: “Do you know anything about converting your book to an audio book?”

Francis, I understand the process, but I’ve never done it and wouldn’t feel right giving advice on it. I do, however, know a writer on HP who is an expert in this sort of stuff. Say hello to Heidi. Check out here latest article on this topic. It is well-worth a stop-by at her site.

And More Me!

A Teaser

I’m getting very close (four more weeks) to returning to my latest novel which I started a year ago. Here is the prologue of that novel (The Magician’s Shadow) to help stimulate your desires.

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.”

He sang as he continued with his work. He considered it vitally important that a person enjoy his or her work. How boring it must be, he thought, factory workers who do the same thing, day in, day out, week after month after year, mind-numbing work, spirit-breaking work, and at the end of their fifty years they receive a plaque, a series of handshakes, and the heart attack follows shortly.

That would not be his fate, for greatness does not fade into oblivion.

It began, for him, shortly after his tenth birthday. A dream had come to him, and in that dream he was The Magician, not a magician as in a description of his craft, but The Magician, the greatest ever, a man of such incredible talent as to defy all laws of nature, to defy all logic, a man who could not be described by mere labels such as “illusionist, enchanter, or conjurer,” for how does one describe the impossible?

He stood on the shoreline and looked at his latest work of art. It was perfect in every way. The young girl was exquisitely staged. The authorities would come to the scene in a matter of hours. They would look for evidence. They would hold countless meetings where they would share theories. They would hold press conferences and assure the public that the case would be solved soon, but to themselves they would admit that they were stymied, completely in the dark, for how could such a thing have happened? And how could it happen three times?

They would call in other experts, and more theories would be postulated, and more meetings held, but still no answers would arrive, (for the impossible has no explanation), and then their greatest fears would be realized, fears of being helpless.

It was all perfect in every way, but he expected nothing less of himself.

He was, after all, The Magician!

The seasons change but the Mailbag remains the same
The seasons change but the Mailbag remains the same | Source

And That Is All for Another Week

And so the time has come, to raise the roof and have some fun . . . throw away the work to be done . . . let the music play on and on and on…..

I’m paraphrasing Lionel Richie, but the sentiment remains . . . it’s time to shut down for another week and go do whatever else we all do when we aren’t involved with writing.

I wish you all a brilliant week of being human.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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