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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 235

Updated on December 17, 2018

Two More Weeks of 2018

That just doesn’t seem right, does it?

This concept of time is an interesting one to me. I’m fully aware that time doesn’t actually fly, so no worries about my sanity (yet), but how is it possible that 2018 is already over and done? Perhaps it is the fact that I am so busy, and never seem to have enough time, that makes time move by faster? The less you have of something you desire, the more you want of it, that sort of thing?

Just random thoughts to ponder. This is a short Mailbag, so settle down for a brief visit. Thanks for spending part of your busy Monday with me. You are appreciated!

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room!

More on Criticism

From Bill: “Hi Bill. The criticism question is a tricky one as you point out. Why is it that we seek constructive criticism of our work, yet it hurts our feelings when we receive it? Is it that we are really expecting a glowing critique, and what we seek is to have our ego massaged. And, when we don’t get it we are disappointed and upset. I don’t know the answer, which is why for what I write the only critique I request is from my wife.”

Bill, I have no clue. It almost defies logic to say that all writers are sensitive to criticism. Perhaps all human beings are sensitive to criticism. Maybe it’s just as simple as that: the human species wants to feel accepted, and criticism, perhaps, is seen as rejection? I’m just spit-balling here, so work with me. I’m as “guilty” of this reaction as anyone. I don’t like to be criticized about anything…not too fond of being critiqued about anything…perhaps that is why I shy away from people in general, and rarely share any of my work with anyone in any face-to-face aspect of my life? Maybe human beings in general just have fragile egos, and it is not just writers and poets.

Again, I really don’t have a clue, but I suspect I’m closer to being correct than I am to being incorrect.

Even family will criticize!
Even family will criticize!

Cost of a Childrens’ Book

From Gloria: “How much does it cost to publish a.children's book presenting my own illustrations with color? The pages would be 25 in count not including authors and illustrators autobiograhies with front and back covers.”

Gloria, this is one of those questions which could be converted into an article all by itself. There is a ton of information which needs to be covered in order to do justice in the answer.

If you are doing the illustrations, if you are doing the editing, and if you are using a company like CreateSpace, each book will cost you in the neighborhood of $8 for a hard cover. Give or take. There is so much that goes into the pricing of a book of this type. Contrast that with the price of my novels, 250 pages in length, no illustrations, around $3.50 each.

If you go the vanity press route, the price is higher usually. One word of warning: if you go with vanity press, do not get locked in on the recommended page size of 8x8. That will cost you more. Smaller is better when printing a children’s book with regards to price.

The self-publishing business is constantly changing to meet demand, so chances are the information I just gave you will be outdated before you read this, but that’s the best I can do for you on this topic.

That Almost Seems Like Cheating

Only two questions? Does that even qualify as a Mailbag?

Since this is my gig I say yes, it does qualify, so there you go. It’s my ball so we play my game. Lol

Thanks for stopping by. If you have a question for the Mailbag you can put it in the comment section below, or you can email it to me at I will even change your name if you want to be anonymous.

How about I leave you with an excerpt from my new novel, The Magician’s Shadow, which might be completed in January or February, 2019? I hope you like it. I changed one offensive word to “friggin” so no one is offended by this excerpt.

The sun sets on another Mailbag!
The sun sets on another Mailbag!

The Magician’s Shadow

We never saw Striker’s explosive buddies. Two days came, and went, with no indication that anything out-of-the-ordinary was happening in our little corner of the world. I even walked by Bitron’s house a couple times, curiosity more than anything else, and saw nothing, no black-clad commandoes, no Black Hawk helicopters, absolutely nothing to make me think the home wouldn’t be standing for many years to come. I did see, on each walk-by, mothers walking with baby strollers, young women jogging, and children playing in neighboring yards. It’s estimated that debris from the explosion of one pound of C4 can travel five miles depending, of course, on the weight of the debris. Doing time in the Army will leave a person with endless pieces of useless information like that. On my last walk by the house, I found myself estimating how far a baby stroller would travel once Striker’s friends hit the button. I was actually doing the computations based on a fifteen-pound stroller when I regained a sliver of sanity, turned sharply, and left the future battlefield.

My best estimate had been two-hundred-and-fifteen feet.

I was listening to some current events talk show awhile back, and on it were two guys debating the current estimate about PTSD. The government guy was using estimates which said PTSD can be as high as thirty percent in the military, while this other guy from Rand Corporation said the figure was closer to seventy percent. I personally believe the seventy percent figure is low, most definitely among soldiers who have seen combat. There is no way, and I mean zero frigging chance, of taking a relatively well-adjusted human being, running him through combat training, teaching him various methods of killing, shipping him to a combat zone where the pretend scenarios are suddenly real frigging real, having him watch buddies dismembered, having him sleep with one eye open, assaulting his ear drums with constant explosions . . . there is no way that happens and that soldier comes out of it “normal.” Talking heads like to say that modern man is one evolutionary step removed from his violent ancestors, but I don’t buy it. For centuries, now, we have been civilized. With each passing day we are further removed from violence as a way of life, so life in the military goes against evolutionary patterns. I’m not saying the military isn’t necessary, because it is. I’m simply saying don’t pretend there isn’t a price to be paid for those who put in their time wearing cammies. PTSD is that price, and my insistence on computing the distance a baby stroller would fly in an explosion is just one small example of that truth. A soldier’s mind is wired differently, and it will never go back to its pre-military wiring pattern.

Striker and I, cops like Lyle, Liz, Robie, and Putnam, we’ve seen too much shit that altered us forever. What’s your clearest memory of when you were nineteen? A new car? Playing football in school? A blow-job in the backseat of a Chevy? Mine is seeing Private First Class Enrique Montez stepping on a roadside mine, on the outskirts of some nameless desert village, and watching him disintegrate in a red mist.

PTSD is real!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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