The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 250
Update on My New Novel
I’m getting closer, I promise. There might be a one-week delay on the publishing date, but we’re close so please be patient with me. I was just about to download the book, or upload, whatever, and my muse spoke to me and suggested a last-second addition. I make it a general policy never to argue with my muse, so blame her for the delay. I use the same logic regarding my wife Bev. I never argue with her decisions. That way, if those decisions turn out wrong, I’m not to blame. LOL It’s perfect!
Still, the publishing date will be within two weeks. There are some serious surprises in this installment, and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.
Meanwhile, let’s tackle some questions for this week.
Covers for Books
From Lori: “Bill, you have some amazing covers for your books. Who designs them. I am trying to figure out a cover for my book and it's not going too well. Do you have any advice or tips?”
Well thank you, Lori! The cover for my first book, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” was designed by a former student of mine here in Olympia. The second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias,” was done by an HP friend, Alexandra Lucas. All other covers for all other novels and novellas were designed by Mike Friedman, a friend on HP. You can find him by following this link:
I think he does great work. As for what it costs, I’m going to let Mike negotiate with you on that matter.
From Pamela: “I seldom read any blogs, but list your blogs at the end of the mailbag, and I and probably others will take a look.”
Thank you for the request, Pamela! Here you go!
I rarely promote myself. It’s just not my style. When I publish this latest novel, I will mention it once or twice on social media and that will be that. Why? Because I just want to write. I write for the enjoyment of writing. If others enjoy what I do, fantastic! If they don’t enjoy it, or don’t even read it, that’s fine too. I’m just a writer doing what he loves doing.
I chased after the dollar for a number of years. I’ve had years of six-figure incomes. I’ve been homeless. What I quickly learned is that money will never affect inner-happiness, so I really don’t care if I sell ten-thousand books or ten.
Anyway, Pamela, thanks for asking about my two blogs.
Re-Charging My Writing Batteries
From Eric: “Bill what activity charges your writing battery the most, generally. Mine fluctuates. Today it is gardening, yesterday a great hike and almost every day my boy. Don't even mention check out lines.”
About the same for me, Eric. I love being outdoors, whether it’s a walk with my dog Maggie, or a hike around a lake, just being out in nature gets my endorphins percolating, and that, in turn, makes Bill a happy and productive man.
From Mary: “Bill I nearly choked on my coffee when you said you were lazy; then I realized you were referring to researching. I still don't know if that's true though. If you are writing about a place, is it just a compilation of many towns rolled into one? Do you have some 'go to people' if you have questions about weapons, cars, or other essentials in a story?”
Sorry about choking on your coffee, Mary. I’ll try to choose my words better next time.
No, I’m not lazy. My dad accused me of being lazy once, when I was twelve and had forgotten to mow the lawn as he had instructed, so I’ve spent the better part of the last six decades proving him wrong. LOL
I do, however, follow a very simple guideline when I’m writing a novel: I only write about locations I’ve actually seen in person. The only exception to that rule happened in “Resurrecting Tobias” when I wrote about a military experience in Vietnam. For that I watched several documentaries on the Vietnam War to gain inspiration.
I do not have a go-to person for information. Information about weapons is pretty easy to come by online. The specs for a Glock 17 are readily available, and take about one minute to gather, so I don’t consider that to be excessive time spent on research.
For the most part, though, probably 90% of what I write is about stuff I have experienced firsthand.
I wrote about a “hanging tree” in New Iberia, Louisiana, in one book. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I wrote about a murder in Vermont, once, and that murder happened while I lived there back in 1980. I’ve lived seventy years, visited thirty-five states, held countless jobs, played multiple sports, loved wondrous women, and suffered far-too many losses.
I don’t need to do much research.
Monetize a Blog
From Linda: I’m paraphrasing Linda’s question because I forgot to save it . . .Linda wants to monetize her blog and doesn’t know how to do it.
My answer: I don’t either. That’s part of that computer tech stuff I’m lost on. But if any of you can help Linda with a quick answer, or point her in the right direction for information, it would be appreciated. Heidi? Janine?
From Dream On: “You keep writing and I am sure we will keep enjoying all the wonderful,inspirational reading.Thank you for answering my question. I am curious where you get each title of your books ?If you could explain?I love the writer but I crave more the inspiration that moves the writer. His hidden thoughts that only a few get to know. It doesn't hurt to ask. I have a few of my own ideas. Maybe it's a secret that only your wife knows. Then again you could of had a vision while asleep one night. When you were writing your latest book your title changed three times. Curious minds want to know. I could be just guessing and way off. Maybe one of your family members gave you a suggestion? Congratulations! Wishing you a world of happiness and success.”
Dream On, I wish I had a definitive answer for you but, for me, it is all so random. I truly allow my muse to decide upon a title. I always start with a “working title” but that title changes as the story unfolds. Eventually the title just comes to me. This is in no way a conscious process. I do not sit down with the express purpose of deciding upon a title. It just comes to me while I’m writing the book, and I let that title percolate in my brain for awhile until I’m satisfied with it. I must say, my muse has never let me down yet, so there’s no reason to change at this point.
I don’t know how other writers do the title thing. I’ve never really talked to other writers about it. It’s an instinctive process for me, just like the entire writing process.
Bev and I were talking the other night about my first novel. She will occasionally bring it up, how much she wishes some Hollywood producer would buy the book rights to that novel and make a movie based on it….random musings!
I was thinking about that this morning. There is a fine line, for writers, between almost complete anonymity and fame. There is so much randomness which goes into becoming well-known in the Arts. Just the right person must read your book, or hear your music, or see your art, at just the right time. The Universe must perfectly align in order for a writer to become “known.”
That in no way reflects on the talent of the writer. I can name five poets on HP who are every bit as good, in my opinion, as some of the “Greats” in literature. There are some short story writers on HP who are just as talented as Hemingway.
For Hemingway, the Universe aligned. For my friends on HP, it has not.
That’s just the way it goes, but it in no way reflects negatively on their talent . . . or your talent.
We write because we love to write. Everything else related to this undertaking is, for the most part, out of our control.
I’m reminded of lyrics to a song called “The Guitar Man” by Bread:
“Then the lights begin to flicker and the sound is getting dim
The voice begins to falter and the crowds are getting thin
But he never seems to notice he's just got to find
Another place to play,
Fade Away. Got to Play.
Fade Away. Got to Play.”
Enjoy your calling, as I will enjoy mine. Fame…fortune….none of it matters compared to the perfection of the craft. Take care of what you can control . . . your talents and skill . . . and bask in the light of self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction.
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”