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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 256

Updated on May 13, 2019

What the Heck Happened?

Sorry about that! As the kids say, my bad. Last week I added an excerpt from a book I’m working on, forgetting that I had done that once before. HP caught it immediately, called it duplication, and pulled my Mailbag out of circulation. I corrected it and it took five days for it to finally re-appear on the HP feed.

I am claiming it as written and posted, however, so in my mind the streak continues…256 consecutive weeks and counting for the Mailbag. Thank you, all of you, who inquired about the missing bag of mail. It was my goof, pure and simple, just another human being stumbling through life.

We don’t have many questions this week, but what we do have are good ‘uns, so let’s get to it.

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

What’s Happening With the Ebook?

From several readers: “When can we expect you to solve the cover issues and release “The Magician’s Shadow” as an ebook?

You can expect it now. I finally gave up and published the ebook without a cover. That’s not suggested but oh well! I don’t think the people who really want to read it care if there is a digital cover or not, so there you go. It is available if you want to head on over to Amazon Kindle, and thank you for your patience. I hope it is worth the wait for you. My muse is busy with the next Shadow book, but first I have my memoirs to write. Stay tuned! I did take a positive step towards finding more time to write by dropping out of the farmers market. Life is too short, and I now want to spend more time concentrating on my first passion . . . that being writing.

Writing About a Common Topic

From Pat: “Hi! I want to write a series of articles about food, but I’m afraid they will get lost in the avalanche of food articles which come out daily. How do I make mine distinctive? How do I make them stand out in the online crowd?”

The answer to your question, Pat, is in the question. You must make them distinctive. If that means they are written in a distinctive voice, so be it. If that means you attack them from a unique perspective, go for it. Add your own special twist to them. Find a food niche no one else is using. It may take time to do this, but the wait will be worth it. And if you were looking for a specific answer to your question, I’m sorry, but only you can find the answer to your query.

Why is food important to you? What happened in your past to lead you to food? What do you want to tell others about food? What qualifies you to write about food? Answer those questions and perhaps you will find your path.

Good luck!

I write about my views of life through a unique perspective...observations of my dog Maggie.
I write about my views of life through a unique perspective...observations of my dog Maggie.

What the Heck Is “agreement?”

From Kyle: “Someone in my online writing club read one of my short stories and said I had a problem with agreement. Honestly I was too embarrassed to ask what that meant, so I’m asking you.”

Kyle, that’s a first-time question. Congratulations! Agreement usually refers to person. Make sure, if you are writing in third person, you stay in third person throughout the short story or novel. In other words, it is frowned upon to shift from first to second to third person. It gets pretty confusing for the reader.

By the way, I have broken this rule on several occasions, on purpose, and it was effective, but you better have a plan for it if you do it. The safe course is to stay in the same person throughout the story or novel . stay in agreement!

Monetize a Blog Site

From Cheryl: “How do I monetize my blog site with Google Adsense?”

Why don’t you ask a tough question while you’re at it, Cheryl? LOL Seriously, how long do you have for my answer?

There are so many blog sites out there, and I suspect they are each a little different in how they monetize. I use WordPress exclusively, but a WordPress answer won’t help you if you use another blog site. By the way, there are other ways to make money on your blog other than Google Adsense:

  1. Affiliate marketing
  2. Creating courses or services
  3. Consulting for people in your industry
  4. Paid reviews or sponsored posts
  5. banner ads
  6. Writing and selling ebooks

Also note that making money with Adsense is dependent upon the number of views of your blog, so you also need to concentrate on increasing your viewership of your blog.

Writing a memoir is a bit like jumping off a pier hoping the freezing water won't kill you.
Writing a memoir is a bit like jumping off a pier hoping the freezing water won't kill you.

A Sneak Preview

Since the Mailbag is a bit light this week, I’ll share a few of my opening paragraphs from “And the Blind Shall See,” the aforementioned Memoir I’m working on. I hope you like it.

"It’s a strange sensation, writing a memoir, peeling away layers of happiness and pain, laying bare for all to see. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole process, truth be told.

In my mind I’m nobody! I’m a pimple on the ass of creation, one of seven billion such pimples, clinging desperately to that ass until someone comes along with a giant bottle of Neutrogena and wipes me out. I’m ordinary. I’m normal. I have never had the fifteen seconds (or is that minutes) of fame so often mentioned in conversations. I have garnered no national honors. I have spent the better part of seventy years taking two steps forward and one step back, and that’s on the absolute best of days, and who in their right mind wants to read about a man who can’t seem to gain any sort of forward momentum?

Fighting against that ambivalence is this truth: I am extraordinarily ordinary, just like the rest of you seven billion, and it’s about time ordinary had its time in the sun, don’t you think? Ordinary is, after all, the quintessential default setting for us humans. Ordinary is the raising of families and high school proms. Ordinary is jobs and careers, passions and moment of confused indirection. Ordinary is a single mother of two toddlers, working two jobs to provide a quality life for her offspring. Ordinary is a man working hard at a dead-end job to stay one step ahead of his creditors, and ordinary is somehow finding the strength to rise out of bed, clinically depressed, and find a way to function another twenty-four hours. It is all those things and so much more, this ordinary we speak about, for man is incredibly complicated in his simplicity.

I had a mentor tell me once that I can make a typhoon out of a glass of water, and he was correct. He also told me the most dangerous real estate in the world is the six inches of gray matter between our ears, and I believe that to be true as well. I have had to learn, over time, to simplify my life because, left unchecked, I can rain down some serious turmoil onto the landscape. It is not a pretty sight, this man left unchained. Not pretty at all and yet, in many ways, I’m really a very simple person, not complicated at all at my core.

To understand all of that we need to delve deeper, and so this memoir is presented to you. Perhaps, after you read it, you will better see the truth in the words of The Walrus: “I am he and you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

Have a Great Week

You only get one chance to make this week something special, so you better get busy. Thanks for stopping by. Peace and love to you all.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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