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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 247

Updated on March 11, 2019

Must Be the Season of the Witch

If any of you remembers that song, chances are good you are about my age . . . Donovan sang it back in the 60’s. Now the reason I mention that is because I was watching it snow outside, and I started humming that old song by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and in that song it mentions seasons, and that word vaulted me over to Donovan, and . . .

That’s how my mind works! That’s a glimpse into my creative process. My mind bounces around among random thoughts until it finds something to stick to, and an article or book is born. Where do those random thoughts come from? You name it! Music, television, the news, walking with my dog, working with the chickens, it is a non-stop barrage of randomness, and from that randomness comes my muse with her funky ideas.

Anyway, it must be the season of the witch because it’s snowing, in Olympia, on March 8th. Just shoot me now and put me out of my weather misery.

Let’s do the mail!

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


From Pamela: “You and Bev sound a bit like my husband and I. I can multi-task fairly easily and keep on target. My husband focuses intently on any project and he always seems to succeed in whatever he tackles. I know it is best to leave him alone in those circumstances. I wonder if men and woman are different as to multi-tasking? What do you think Bill?”

I truly don’t know, Pamela. That’s that left brain/right brain stuff that I know very little about. The thing that’s weird is that when I was younger, as a teacher, I multi-tasked each and every day. It’s just been the last ten years or so that I’ve become a one-task kind of guy. I’m sure that has something to do with my “advanced” age, don’t you?

Interesting question, Pamela! The BBC recently posted a story about a new study by British psychologists, and the results of that study suggest that women are better at multi-tasking; a follow-up study is now planned to determine why that is.

And that’s all I know about that subject!

Work Environment

From Liz: “I have read your comments on climate change with interest. The choice of words can be crucial. I am guessing that your orderly mind translates also to an orderly workspace. Would that be right? Sometimes it takes two to write a song, one to do the lyrics and another to compose the music to go with it. Sad to hear of the loss of a hubber.”

Liz, you are right on about the orderly workspace . . . at least for me! I know where everything is in my office, and I know if something has been moved. I have always been that way. There’s a story which has been told and re-told many times about me living in a college dorm with my best friend Frank. You could tell which bed was his and which was mine because his half of the room looked like a bomb had exploded, while my half looked like a page out of Better Housekeeping. LOL True story, and it is true today. Bev is a whirlwind of activity. She picks up stuff and drops it in another room. I always return stuff before I do anything else. Some might call me anal, and they wouldn’t be too far from the truth. LOL

Look at that work desk? Is that anal or what?
Look at that work desk? Is that anal or what?

Cheap Editors

From Bruce: “Hey, Bill, I just finished my first draft of my first novel. Do you know where I can find someone to edit it for very little money? I’m laughing as I write that but hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

Bruce, I say this without a hint of sarcasm . . . good luck!

Here’s the thing about editing: it is a pain in the butt to do, a tedious job which always has rocky moments rife with conflict. To do the job properly it takes a long, long time to accomplish, and quite frankly that long time costs big bucks. Editing a full-length novel will take weeks of work, and it will cost hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, and quite frankly I think that amount of money is justified.

So, you want a cheap editor? Good luck! Your best bet is to find yourself some beta readers who will read it for free and give you suggestions. It won’t be a full-edit, but it will at least eliminate some of the more obvious mistakes.

And here’s an idea you rarely hear about, but one I know does happen on occasion. You might approach a local teacher at a junior college in your area, see if you can’t wrangle a deal with that teacher to have “editing” your novel as part of their curriculum. I actually know of that happening a few times with friends of mine. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

The cheapest editor I know
The cheapest editor I know

Season of the Witch

“When I look out my window

many sights to see
and when I look in my window
so many different people to be
that it's strange
so strange”

I have no clue what those lyrics mean, but I love that song. Go ahead and listen if you get a chance. Okay, it’s Donovan, so it’s expected to be strange but still, it’s kind of a catchy tune. Just think of all the short stories you could write based on that title alone.

Have a great week! Despite all the vitriol in the news and on social media, do your part by spreading the message of love. I have to believe it will help us all if you do.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Dream On, I love how you rock n roll! I want the same things. Riches do not interest me. Peace of mind does. As for your question, it has arrived, and I'll be all over it next week. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mel! Bev and I are going on ten, so obviously our differences are not affecting us negatively. :)

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      4 weeks ago

      With Spring only days away. I am so excited and can't wait. When it was the middle of the winter I hoped for a really big snowstorm and wished we got snowed in. Then I could dive headfirst into the latest mailbag and read all the lovely comments. There are so many good things and I never walk away dissatisfied. In a world where people seek constant pleasure. People always wanting more. The latest, the biggest and the best. I just want to find a quiet corner and take a ten- minute rest. There have been times where I nodded off while reading one of your mailbags. I didn't notice but I was in the middle of commenting and fell asleep. My hand hit the keys with so many different letters it was a really big surprise. As always wonderful to read. If I had a question to ask and I wanted to send it overnight mail would it get just before the deadline of the next mailbag or would it go in the dead letter pile? Here goes... When you read someone's book how do you know if they really wrote it or if they had a ghost writer write for them? Some people say they can tell by the writers previous work from their style and the language they use. Happy writing.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 weeks ago from San Diego California

      You and Frank, Felix and Oscar. With me it is just the opposite. My wife is obsessively neat, and I'm the slob. I think writers can be either one and you can tell by their work, but it doesn't mean one is better, it just means that each appeals to a different audience. As for marriage, Yin and Yang make for long running relationships. I'm going on 29 years. Great stuff Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Chitrangada Sharan. You are never late to the Mail Room!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice to read another edition of the Monday mailbag, though a bit late. Good questions and useful responses from you.

      Thanks for sharing your expertise with the writers. Have a wonderful day!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for always being here, MizB. Yes to the thaw...the first temps in the 60's for 2019 are upon us,and it is heavenly. Might hit 70 on Monday....color me happy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Welcome home, Mary! I hope that course helps you organize those thoughts into a workable solution for you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      For free, Liz....good for you! I've done a couple for free, so I know it is tough work of love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, about editing, I will say this: if I were to have an editor, it would be you, but no way can I afford you.

      Spring is here...we will send it to you shortly, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, thank you so much for reading my book. I am honored,my friend, truly honored And any cleanliness worshiper is a friend of mine. ;)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I used to be quite good at it, but no longer. I like your take on it...not an effective method.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting thoughts, Rajan...thank you for sharing your thoughts on multi-tasking

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, I certainly hope that weather of yours calms down soon. Enough is enough, right?

      Happy work week,and thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      And love to you, Sean, and gratitude always!


    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      5 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      Late again this week, I am, but I guess better late than never. I prefer neatness but I get so wrapped up in my projects that before I know it, I'm piled high and deep. I think it comes from years of work under such pressure that we didn't have time to keep our desks clean as we worked. Now, my Larry thinks the proper place for anything is the last place he used it. I'm not that bad, thank goodness.

      Are you thawed out yet, Bill? We are having some warm weather here, but with the mild weather comes thunderstorms and dodging tornadoes. Stay warm, my friend.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      Am glad am home now and be able to follow the hubbers I enjoy. Now that I'm retired, I just give myself all the space to enjoy life and my family and friends. I, too, am beset by random thoughts so now I have enrolled in a course to be able to manage my mind better because unlike you, my muse does not kick in to put sense into thoughts. Thanks for another interesting mailbag.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      5 weeks ago from Ohio

      Snacks? Sign me up! haha! Season of The Witch happens to be the title of one of my favorite books. :) I'm the same with random thoughts... that's usually where my inspiration comes from! Another informative mailbag. I love your tip about scouting the local colleges for potential editing. What a brilliant idea! Have a great week!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 weeks ago from UK

      Once again I have enjoying your apt and entertaining article. I have to say that my office must be the exact opposite of your workspace! My room mate many years ago at uni was the tidier one, as is my husband now.

      On the subject of editing I had to laugh. I am currently part way through editing a book for free for a family member. I have set myself a tight schedule and it's hard going! Hopefully I will meet my deadline.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      5 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Belated Mailbag Monday (a.k.a., Tuesday)!

      Re: Cheap Editors. Editing ain't cheap. Ask my clients. :) Actually, I'm on the lower end of the pricing spectrum since I work with self published authors. But you guessed correctly that it can be hundreds to thousands.

      Re: Multitasking and Order. I cannot work in chaos. Ever. Multitasking is a stretch for me, too, because I find it exhausting.

      Anyway, spring is starting to show itself occasionally here in the frozen Midwest. Have a great early spring week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      So far so good, Mary, thank you! Good luck finishing a task today. I know you can do it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Bill! One it is, and I'll try to be satisfied with it. Enjoy Spring,my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Verlie, Donovan and I thank you for the lovely reference and wishes. I hope love crosses your path today and always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I like your idea, Linda! I think I'll do exactly that this afternoon, if I can find the garden underneath the winter debris. lol

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      5 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Hi, Bill, your muse is always amazing! You create stories out of nothing, literally! I am presently reading your book, Resurrecting Tobias. What a thrilling Epilogue! It was touching to my heart. I may take one month to complete the book as I devote only 45 minutes per day reading books after taking my lunch.

      The multi-tasking talent is some times unavoidable. Just like receiving a phone call while cooking food or watching an interesting TV serial. My food is prepared while watching serials from 7 pm to 8:30 pm.

      And, you know, I am also a cleanliness worshiper. I keep things perfectly where it should be kept so that I can access it even in utter darkness.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 weeks ago from USA

      I try not to multi-task, as multi-tasking means doing multiple tasks suboptimally. Not an effective method generally. I'm glad there are some people who enjoy it.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I believe most women are born multitaskers while most men aren't, and, yes, I also believe aging is related to the reduced ability to multitask. Educative and interesting mailbag, as always, Bill.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      5 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! We got the snow yesterday also...but warming up hopefully from now till spring! :)

      That is interesting about the multi-tasking vs "singular tasking". It seems the work environment even seems to reflect that. Everyone that I know of who is a multi-tasker (myself included) have work spaces that look like chaotic messes to the untrained eye...but I know where everything is. And in reverse, those that like to concentrate on singular tasks seem to have very tidy work areas.

      Hope you have a great and productive week!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      5 weeks ago from Brazil

      I need to stop trying to multi-task and knuckle down and complete the task I start.

      Your advice about cheap editors is very good, I never thought of letting a class loose on a book. What a great idea.

      I hope you're having a great start to the week up there.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. We have finally turned the corner with the weather here. About time. Multi-tasking is something I used to be good at, but not so much now. If I try to multi-task now many things get left unfinished. I have resolved myself to trying to deal with one task at a time and doing it well. Have a great week.

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      5 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

      Love is, my brother, the "place" your "random" thoughts come from! Your whole work is singing it to me!

      Love is the place where our Muses live!


    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      5 weeks ago from Canada

      Morning Bill, having lost an hour overnight I am multitasking this warmish rainy Monday morning as I spring ahead, not complaining. Wishing you mellow yellow, sunshine superman days, now that the best season of the year is finally here.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, my Dad used to say you get what you pay for. What type of product will a cheap editor deliver? You and I seem to have the same type of spouses--I'm the 5 pieces of paper on my desk person, and Bill can't even find his desk LOL. Yet, I'm certain that he gets more done in a day than I do (go figure).

      But enough about writing for now. Let's grab the garden tools and get ready for Spring.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, batten down the hatches, my friend, and ride it out safely. Mild here, finally, after a winter to remember.

      Have a fantastic week my talented friend.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, I will gladly give it back. It is finally gone now...Spring is rapidly approaching and the sun is out. Praise the gods!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      We try to give it all to you here in the Mailbag, Peg! lol A little something for everyone.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Always a pleasure, Eric! Have a fantastic day of life, buddy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Shannon, that sounds about right to me...out of my budget for sure. I paid for it once; never again for this poor boy.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Dora, and best wishes on that deadline.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela. No snow here...just as quickly as things turned bad, so too they are turning good...60's by this weekend. I can hardly wait!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I knew you knew, Janine, and nice reference to the Vandellas at the end! lol They say 60's for us this coming weekend. Sounds like swimming weather. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You are indeed, Mike, and a job well-done. Happy Monday to you, my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 weeks ago from SW England

      That's a good idea about asking teachers to use editing as a project at school. It would bring up all sorts of grammatical and spelling questions, as well as style, pace......!

      We've had awful winds lately, peeling off roof felt from flats across the road and wrecking fence panels. Thank goodness, our house is fairly robust; a couple of fence panels we can cope with.

      Always enjoy the mailbag, bill!


    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 weeks ago

      I just figured it out. You got all my snow!!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 weeks ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Musing on the weather while consulting your Muse seems like multi-tasking to me. I'm a put-it-back-in-its-place kind of person, too. I drive the hubby crazy with the OCD stuff but he's learned to let me be me. Mmm. Frank Sinatra philosophy to go along with Donovan today.

      Stay warm. Summer's coming.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      This one is what I would call fascinating. I can relate to all of it. Thank you.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 weeks ago from Texas

      I don't know exactly what those song lyrics mean, but I suppose seasons come and go. . .and I do understand the process of your random thought train leading to inspiration.

      Regarding editiors, I've found that on average they tend to charge about two cents a word. For me, that generally averages around $200 per chapter. It definitely goes up into the thousands. Illustrations for children's books are quite expensive, too!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Have a great week, Bill. Working hard on meeting my deadline. Always something in the mailbag to benefit me. Thanks!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      Quite some years ago I wrote an artivle "Right Brain/Left Brain" and even update it a couple years ago, but I don't think I touched on multi-tasking. LOL Thanks for answering my question and telling me about the new study.

      I didn't know it was so expensive to get a book edited.

      By the way, I remember the songs. Hope you have a better week without snow.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 weeks ago from New York, New York

      I knew exactly which two songs and artists you were referring to here today and made me smile as my mother taught me well with the music of the 60s and 70s. That said, today the sun is finally out and we are supposed to reach 50 degrees! Must be a heatwave as Martha and the Vandellas once sang :) Happy Monday, Bill!!

    • mckbirdbks profile image


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

      Listening to Donovan, wondering about cheap editing, environment, and work space, I must be multi-tasking. Happy Monday.


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