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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 255

Updated on May 9, 2019

It Finally Happened

I have finally reached the point where I have taken on too much, and the quality of my work is now taking a direct hit. Change is in the wind.

For those of you unaware, besides writing for HP I also have a freelance writing business. I currently spend about twenty-five hours per week writing content for customers. I also am a part-time chicken farmer, and I spend about fifteen hours a week taking care of chickens. Toss in ten hours per week working on farmers market business, and then the usual chores and errands and, well, I’m spread a bit too thin. So I need to make a decision pretty soon and cut back on something.

Change is in the wind, as it is for all of us.

Let’s find out what our questions are for this week, shall we?

The Mail Room
The Mail Room

Novel in Past Tense Third Person

From Venkatachari M: “Recently, I have got one question. Is it okay to write the entire novel in the past tense as a third person? I mean that if I am telling the story of a person who is no more to the readers. I may include very few dialogues here and there as conversations between the main character and the other ones.”

Is it okay, Venkatachari M? As far as I’m concerned it is totally all right. If that approach works for you, and for the novel, I believe it is then the right approach.

Listen, you will read many, many articles about “how to write a novel” and “proper technique in writing novels,” but they are all a fair amount of hogwash. What they reflect is that writer’s viewpoint on how to write a novel, but they do not reflect all opinions and viewpoints. A novel is a very personal undertaking, and it should reflect your style at that moment….your novel, your style!

Yes, there are many grammatical rules which I believe are sacred, but not even those grammatical rules are untouchable in the writing of a novel.

Go forth, my friend, and write in any tense or person you choose.

Choose the style that works best for you
Choose the style that works best for you

Inspiration or Mirroring

From Mary: “You have said often that your favorite writer was Harper Lee. I even think you mentioned that your next book will be in honor of Lee, a novel more in her style than anything else you have ever written. What do you mean by that? Aren’t you afraid you will be copying her style and not writing in your own style?”

Great question, Mary, and I can see where the confusion might come from. I admire Harper Lee so much for her simple story technique. She did not go overboard with her embellishments when writing. She was not in love with adverbs. She believed that a compelling story trumps adjectives. She was, in my opinion, a master storyteller, and I would like to try and write a story so compelling that “tricks of the trade” are not needed to tell that story.

Would you like to see how I started that new novel? The introduction is below for your enjoyment...but HP won't let me publish it....sorry about that.

The setting for my new childhood home
The setting for my new childhood home

Uploading Cover

From Mike and Melissa: “I’m paraphrasing their remarks here….”any progress in uploading the book cover for Kindle ebook of “The Magician’s Shadow?”

No progress at all, Mike and Melissa, and I’m starting to feel frustrated. I’m not sure what the problem is, but Kindle will not accept my JPG image of the cover. Everything else is ready to go. The ebook could be published by tonight if I could get over this hurdle.

Damn it!

Stay tuned!

Actually, I could publish it without a cover, right? It’s only an ebook, and people buying it don’t really care if it has a cover or not, right? Maybe I’ll do that.

Time to Go

Not many questions this week, but it goes like that from time to time on the Mailbag. Next week there will probably be too many. The fact that this series has continued for 255 consecutive weeks is remarkable, and far exceeds my expectations; thank you all for the support.

Have a great week!

Change is in the wind!

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad this was helpful, Devika. Thank you for stopping by.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      21 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting about writing in the past tense (novel) I am glad to have stopped by and now know what bothered me for a long time. I did not do much. Thank you for this mailbag.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lawrence. Truth be told I just gave up on the title for the ebook. It's not going to affect sales anyway,and I have other things to do.

      Blessings always

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I know that kind of change all too well.

      Regarding the issue you had with the cover, (I hope its resolved by the way.) I noticed when I uploaded Scorpion's Vengeance that whiletheprocess was more streamlined there were quite a few things CreateSpace could handle that KDP won't have a bar of!

      I used to create a pdf file and upload that, but KDP says "No" it has to be a word doc, also they won't allow change to the cover on Sting of the Scorpion which I tried to do recently.

      Hope you've got it sorted by now.



    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      24 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry about that, Miz B, but thanks for your persistence. I can easily blame this one on a senior moment. In fact, I rather love that excuse. Most people expect a 70 yr old to have these lapses, so I pull this excuse out constantly. lol

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, I finally made it back to read this mailbag. I wondered what kind of blunder our illustrious writer-teacher could possibly have made. Now I know. Something similar happened to me about seven years ago. I did an article about a TV cat and the TV station loved it so much they published it on their website. I was accused of stealing my own article, photos and all, and had to prove I was the original writer. I looked for your no. 255 every day until no. 256 came out and I read your explanation. Better late than never, I guess. I'm just glad it's here.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm very happy it helped you, Venkatachari M. Write on, my friend,in whatever person you choose.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, it's always good to hear from you. As for the Mailbag no, I have no intention of quitting it. I did quit the farmers market to give me more time to write. :) Priorities, my friend, and writing will always be a priority for me.

      As for writers' block, just keep living life. Your muse just needs a rest. It happens to all of us.

      Wishing you a tremendously truculent Tuesday (only word I could think of) lol


    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      I was unable to get to this mailbag last week. I tried 2, 3 times on the notification link and couldn't find it. So, after 3days, I left it and thought of going through it when you publish the next mailbag.

      Thank you for clearing my doubt about writing a novel in the past tense. The video shared by you above is also very informative for the 3rd person writers.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      I have not been receiving notifications by email recently, so have missed a couple of mailbags; apologies. They are my weekly addiction!

      I get the impression that you might be finishing the mailbag but I hope not. However, something has to give, as you say, and it's what makes things more comfortable and easier for you that's the important thing. A change is as good as a rest, they say. I suppose it is and it's often refreshing. There's no reason you can't return to a good idea, now is there? Never say never; well, aren't I full of clichés today?!

      I've hit a patch of writer's block (something that hasn't happened to me before) even though I thought I'd have plenty of hubs springing from my February trip to Oz. Too many distractions or tangents and I guess that's part of the problem; too much to do!

      May you have a turbulent-free Tuesday, with plenty of time and lots of tea (or coffee)!

      Hope the cover works out eventually!


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deep breath taken, Linda, and steps taken to correct matters. All is well in my world, my friend, and I thank you.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I missed this one and didn't know it had actually seen the light of day until I began to read #256. The comments are WAY down but I'll bet that most of your followers, like me, will jump over here.

      What happened to you happened to me about 6 months ago. I feel your pain (and frustration). Take a deep breath my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nithya! I just published it without a cover...problem solved.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      I hope you are able to upload the cover and publish your book soon. 255 consecutive weeks is awesome and looking forward to many more.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Changes are good, Verlie. It's all good. Thanks for hanging in there and commenting. Hot weather the next couple days here. Stay cool, my friend!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Hey Bill, good to see the mailbag came through! I see you've been 'snipped'. That's got to be frustrating. And the kindle hold up too, I hope you got it sorted out... And, changes are good. right? Have a great weekend Bill. The weather is awesome!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! I'm surprised you found this after HP released it. Thanks for finding the time to support me. Have a great weekend!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      2 years ago from New York, New York

      Aw, Bill, I get it completely and I added YouTube to my workload this year, as well as promoting for a Disney Travel agent. So, busy, busy here, as well. Even last week, I was MIA as I was in Disney World directly promoting for Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary. But still, I had to stop in this Monday on re-entry to somewhat of a reality for me to say hi and wish you a wonderful week ahead now. :)


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