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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 262

Updated on June 24, 2019

Cutting My Own Path

“Hey, did you know you started a sentence with the word “and?”

That’s what someone said to me the other day after I had shared a chapter of my upcoming memoir with them. My answer to them was this: “Yep, and I just might do it again.”

Sister Mary Elizabeth from St. Patrick’s School, circa 1955, is probably rolling in her grave right now, so strict she was about proper grammar. Mr. Jahner from Bellarmine Prep is probably dancing a jig with the angels because he’s the one who taught me that grammatical rules are more suggestions than rules.

There is a not-so-subtle message in here for all of you. Outstanding writing is not outstanding because grammatical rules were followed. Outstanding writing is so much more than Chicago guidelines. The ability to connect is always present in outstanding writing. The ability to tell a relatable story, to delve into the human connection, and to find commonalities, all are present in outstanding writing.

And a piece of the author’s soul is apparent in outstanding writing.

There, I did it again, and I’m proud of it!

Let’s see what the mail has for us today.

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!


From Mary: “While I was away, I read the book, "Write, Publish, Repeat", which I recall you mentioning before.

“In that book, the authors discuss their collaboration on books. I found it very interesting. Unlike the James Patterson method, where he gives the co-author the idea and oversees it. The authors, Johnny B Truant, and Sean Platt, each seem to play larger roles in the entire process. My question is, how would a person go about finding a co-author, especially one who has a compatible work ethic?”

What a great question, Mary! And what a great book that is. I highly recommend that read for anyone interested in self-publishing.

How to find a co-author?

Date them for awhile before you take the vows of marriage.

Seriously, you need to go through the courting period and determine if you are both a good “fit” in the arrangement you are proposing. Interview as many as is necessary, because this is an important decision.

But you asked how to find one, and my best suggestion is to either post on the HP forum, or go online and simply do a Google search for “how to find co-authors.” There are quite a few online “writer bulletin boards” where you can post an ad asking for a co-author.

Follow your own path as a writer
Follow your own path as a writer


From Eric: “Which reminds me what kind of "Amazon" or whatever ad things do you engage in here. Are you all signed up on all of them? Is that the dough maker here? (not Linda's dough :-)”

Lordy, Eric, I know next to nothing about this stuff. I know I’m signed up for Google Adsense. Is there anything else we could be signed up for on HP? Help!!! Anyone know the answer to this one?

Making Money on Hp

From B: “What’s the secret to making money on HP? You’ve been around a few years. You must know what HP is looking for, so help me out, please.”

Boy oh boy, B, did you ever turn to the wrong HP veteran with this question. LOL

No, seriously, I know how to make money on HP. I just don’t do it.

First of all, you have to follow the HP guidelines for a well-crafted article. The title needs to be attention-getting. You need to use several different capsules i.e. photos, videos, polls,etc. The length needs to be of the suggested length. Your grammar must be good.

And then there is the Holy Grail many seek . . .to go viral! Going viral is a bit like catching lightning in a Mason jar, but it does happen occasionally. Find a unique way to present information people truly care about. How-to articles do well on HP. Travel articles, cooking articles, parenting articles, DIY articles…those are the types of articles which stand the best chance of going viral.

I could go on and on, but you get the main picture here. It is my experience that the people who do the best on HP are those who pick a field and stick with it, like DIY articles or Going Green articles. My suggestion: choose an area of expertise and then find a unique way to present your expertise . . . and don’t forget to write a good article while you are at it.

And for God’s sake, do as I say and not as I do. I’ve been doing this for what, seven years now, and I don’t make enough to pay for my monthly mocha bill. Of course, I don’t follow any of the guidelines, so that might have something to do with it. LOL Good luck!

Write about things which inspire you
Write about things which inspire you

How to Attract Followers on Hp

From Pauline: “What’s your secret? You have a lot of followers, and judging from the Hubbie awards you have won, you are real popular. I’m a newbie and so far only three people are following me. What should I do?”

Pauline, you have a couple things going on in this question, two of which are not necessarily connected.

Having a lot of followers does not necessarily mean popularity. Attracting followers is just a matter of tossing out honey and waiting for the Pooh bears to show up. You can sit down right now, spend a half hour following 100 HP writers, and probably 50% of them will follow you back. Heck, knock yourself out and follow 200. By the time lunch comes around you’ll have 100 followers. Pretty cool, right?

But you also mentioned popularity and the fact that I have won a few awards here on HP, and the reason for that is a bit more complicated and time-consuming. I believe I have a following on HP because 1) I genuinely care about the writers in this community and 2) because I write thought-provoking articles which people can relate to. I’m like the Will Rogers of HubPages, that kindly old gent who waxes poetically about life, about real stuff we all face as we struggle through our days. I’m not trying to sell anything to anybody. I’m not trying to teach you the best way to mow a lawn or bake brownies. I’m an expert at nothing. I’m just a relatable guy who wants everyone to have a good life.

And that’s what I wish for you here on HP: a good life, one filled with love. Thanks for the question!

Inspirational Quotes

From Shannon: “Ok....So since the last one wasn't for the mailbag, this one definitely can be. What do you feel is the most influential quote ever written by you? It can be anything from a sentence to an entire passage?”

What an interesting question, Shannon. I was wracking my brain for awhile on this one, but then it dawned on me that one theme is intertwined in almost everything I write . . . so I went back through the archives and found this passage from “I Touch, You Touch, We Touch:”

“And when you finally do touch me; when you finally cast off the pretenses and allow yourself to be vulnerable, then two shall be one. And we will go from there and touch others, and hundreds, and thousands, and millions will understand the orgasmic joy of touch, of unity, of….


Back to Cutting My Path

That’s all I have time for this week, so I’ll bid you adieu. Thanks for the questions and thanks for being here.

I will leave you with a little Leonard Cohen on this Monday morning . . . just proof positive that good writing is good writing no matter the genre.

“Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah”

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      There is a ton to learn, Lawrence, but there are huge benefits in learning as much as possible, as you know. Best wishes!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Little late, but I got here. Thoroughly enjoyed the read. I hear what you're saying about the marketing, I'm trying to learn some at the moment and while I'm enjoying it, man there's so much to learn!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I thank you for that, Loyal! I appreciate the comment.

    • LoyalFrienemy profile image

      Nishika Chhabra 

      2 years ago from India

      An interesting one again. I simply enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy to hear that, Li-Jen!Thank you very much.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      2 years ago

      Hey Bill, I learn a lot in one sitting just by reading your article. The English language is fun. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, if it's good enough for the Bible, it's good enough for me. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dear Kind Lady! Thank you for being a ray of sunshine in this life. You are never late for this party.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      And anyway, the Bible starts sentences with and. But don't take my word for it. Google on "And it came to pass" Bible. Also on "And the lord said".

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dear Relatable Guy who wants everyone to have a good life, you do a great job of enhancing our writing lives. We learn from you every week. You're talented, hard-working, unselfish and inspiring. Late for this week's party, but I still had to come.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, Nell! Thank you my friend.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 years ago

      I just want to say that the picture of the path where you cannot see where you are going is an apt representation for anyone who ventures out into a creative field.

      Of course, beginning with 'and' is quite popular in poetry If I may quote Don Mclean:

      "And I love you so

      That people ask me how

      How I've lived till now

      I tell them I don't know".

      This was a great read.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Hallelujah! that was great as always Bill! lol! Your advice does filter through my brain and comes in very handy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, those were tough years for this boy. I clearly remember being slapped by the principal in the 8th grade, and how the other kids thought that was so damned funny. Well I've outlived them all, so who's laughing now? LOL

      Hugs coming your way, my rebellious sibling.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you always Chitrangada Sharan! I hope this finds you well and happy.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Noted, Liz, you rebel! Isn't it fun to do that? And I think about it whenever I do it, and I smile. :)

      Have a brilliant weekend, my friend.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      2 years ago from Carson City

      Bro... How does a person make you love them more than they already do? Answer: They skillfully reconfirm something you've always believed but were afraid to embrace completely!!

      Oh Baby, you done it!! The "And" & "But" for beginning a sentence thing!! I've done it, I do it and always will. BUT must admit, each time I feel that tiny twinge and in my mind appears the face of Sister Mary Mean, ripping the pencil from my hand and making big ole scratch marks on my "meticulous" writing! Arghhhhh! (AND THAT by the way, is how you get to hate someone more than you had already!)

      Tell me, just how many decades will it take to burst out from those demon voices in our heads, that as we know today were voices that mostly lied to us for the sheer pleasure of having control? AND this I say relates to so much more than English Class!

      Today, BRO! We're Free!! Hallelujah! I'm happy. Love, Sis

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very kind, Mary. Thank you so much.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Loved your opening paragraph. Sometimes, breaking the rules, of grammar or otherwise is so tempting. I love to begin my sentences with, And.

      Enjoyed going through the valuable mailbag, with advice and suggestions for everyone. Sound advice to Pauline, who has joined recently.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

      I look forward to your weekly mailbag and it never disappoints. You make an interesting point about grammar. It was drilled into us, but maybe occasionally breaking the rules allows for freer expression and something a little more eye-catching.

      The art of earning on Hub Pages is beyond me. I signed up to everything going, but make a pittance. So I take heart from what you say. I am in good company.

      I was interested in your comments about followers. Hub Pages is a community. I noted early on the advice to get involved and follow others.

      And I wish you a good week, breaking grammatical rules as I do so.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like the Will Rogers comparison. You truly are and we love to have someone here that does that on HP. I think that if I stick it out here, it’s because of writers like you who week after week remind me of what is great about humanity.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Shannon! My main problem with your question was the time it took me to go through all my articles to find a suitable phrase. lol I found some articles I had forgotten all about, so thanks for that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love that statement, Nithya! That's a great line!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I work with the Google gods each day, and I still haven't figured them out. Sigh! Time is running out for me to get it together. :) Happy Tuesday, buddy!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Linda! Happy thinking!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I do love your take on things. We must be from the same no-nonsense school of thought. Just tell it like it is. If the listener/reader doesn't like it, they can always go somewhere else for advice. :) Happy Tuesday to you, my friend, and thank you always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rodric, welcome back from your hiatus, and congrats on that second manuscript. A job well done, my friend. And I think you are wise to stay away from politics. That is a snake pit!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not many is my guess, Flourish. There are quite a few old-timers like me who just don't give a hoot about numbers.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! Your voice of experience is always appreciated.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alyssa, and Happy Tuesday to you. That is a once-in-a-lifetime song, and I wish I had composed it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shaloo, I think you are doing things perfectly correct. Keep on doing what you love to do, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It sure, is, William. Some day when I have nothing better to do, I'm going to go through my "follow" list and delete a couple hundred. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good questions, Venkatachari M...haven't had those before. I'll have answers for you on Monday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No, Venkatachri M, the question is starting the sentence with a conjunction, which is considered bad form in the English language. Thanks for the question so I could clarify that.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good luck with the house turmoil, Pamela. Thank you for finding the time to drop by.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I could say the same thing to you, Linda, about your cooking articles, and I will. :) Thank you my friend.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 years ago from Texas

      I'm here at last!. . . Acutally, I was here yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to leave a comment yesterday. When I was younger, I used to never start a sentence with but or and. BUT now, I don't care so much. LOL. Seriously, sometimes it makes sense to do it that way for emphasis or to avoid the run-on sentences.

      Thanks for answering my question! I know it threw you for a little loop, especially since I tossed it at you out of the blue. LOL.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      HubPages is a great place to be when you are not thinking about money. It is a wonderful experience to interact with a great community of writers.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. I really don't give too much thought to the number of followers here on HP. As others have stated, members come and go, and it really comes down to just a handful that stay active followers. Regarding making money here, your answer was excellent. No one is getting rich writing for HP, at best I think it can be a nice income supplement. Of course the Google Gods seems to control this, and that I'll never figure out.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The quote that you've shared is very interesting. It certainly is thought provoking! I will be thinking about it for some time.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, I had to laugh at your starting a sentence with “and”. Not only do I start sentences with “And”, I also start them with “But. But I see no difference to starting a sentence with “But” than I do with “However.” In my legal editing days, we quite frequently started sentences with “However”. In fact, the code revisor instructed us to change the old fashioned “Provided that” to “However” in all instances. Miss Thelma, my advance composition professor, is probably turning over in her grave at my breaking all these grammar rules, but that’s what makes writing more interesting.

      One rule I break, and I guess I’m asking if you do, too, was the rule that the writer must provide a transition for each paragraph. I think this is just a little too much and not only provides a boring regularity, but can actually track the writer off the given subject.

      But we’re having some relief from the usual summer heat wave. And I hope you are too. However, we are getting some needed rain this week. Have a good rest of the week, my friend.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      And so we start another Monday, and another sentence with the word "and." :) (Ended that with "and," too. Bonus points!)

      Re: Collaborators. What makes this work is that one of the collaborators has to be the marquee celebrity draw. If you're both unknowns, readers aren't interested. Plus, if you're the one proposing the project and you're an unknown in your genre or industry, no one will be anxious to "collab" (that's the hip way to say it these days) with you.

      Re: Amazon, AdSense, and No Cents/Sense. I'm also signed up for AdSense. But I think I was signed up for the Amazon program. Haven't seen any Amazon money in my payouts for years. I don't know what the heck is going on with that. Whatever. Sign up for whatever you can, because something's better than nothing. But it won't be big no matter what. The glory days of AdSense income are history.

      Re: Making Money on HP. Good advice regardless of if you're talking about HP or any other content site, including your own blog. Stick to your knitting (if knitting is your thing) or whatever your expertise is. Those writers that go for what's hot quickly become what's not.

      Re: HP Followers (or Attracting Followers Anywhere). I could not care less how many followers I have on HP or anywhere. These are vanity metrics. What builds followers is dependent on so many factors, it's difficult to influence even a few of them. Plus, there are so many game players with followers (the Instagram follow/unfollow nuts are my personal pet peeve).

      And so I've come to the end of my comments on another Mailbag. And I wish you a good week!

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      2 years ago from Surprise, Arizona

      Finished my second manuscript and am now back from my hiatus of Hubpages. This article is great. I am thinking about seeking out a co-writer for my next book. I don't know if this last manuscript will get the support from the publishers I want it to, but I am hoping.

      I loved what you said about grammar. I never thought of it being a suggestion of how we should use the English language in writing. It makes sense because my favorite book if full of grammar no-nos.

      Thanks also for your wise advice about sticking to a niche and writing about it. I chose to write about my faith and related topics. It does not make me popular in the least! It does, however, give me a direction from which to approach topics. Politics suits me better, but I want to stay away from that now that I am old enough to see the stupidity in it.

      Great article as usual.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      I wonder how many of the veterans worry about their number of followers. I find that it’s only a loyal core who consistently comment. Many followers fall away from HP quickly but never disappear from our follower count.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Thanks for answering my question today.

      I'm glad to see a full mailbag. Your answer about the followers vs. "loyal" followers is spot on.

      Regarding making money on Hubpages, the niche categories have helped. I was concerned at first but see the benefits of having similarly grouped articles together.

      Have a wonderful week.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      2 years ago from Ohio

      I love that song! Hello Bill, Happy Monday! I appreciate that you don't always follow grammar rules.. makes me feel better because I often don't either. Another excellent mailbag! Have a wonderful week!

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 years ago from India

      Some interesting questions this week... Writing on HP is purely fun because of the wonderful community here. I haven't reached a single payment threshold amount though I have been around for quite sometime. May be I am also not doing things quite right!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi, Bill. I have to admit I don't follow many people on HP or elsewhere, but the ones I do follow, I try to stay in touch with. If I followed 100 people and 50 followed back, I wonder how many were really following. It's easy to click a "follow" button.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      There is one question I would like to ask.

      While writing a novel, how to distinguish between sections within a chapter (putting some dots or lines, etc). I mean which is the appealing way of breaking sections.

      One more doubt is should I mention the chapter numbers or suitable titles to chapters in the novel? How to do it?

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      An interesting mailbag with some new questions.

      Eric's question was amusing. Most of us here get signed in to the Google Adsense and that does the whole magic in collaboration with our HP Program. But, Eric refers to Amazon. I think there's one Amazon earnings program which is not related to Google. Amazon directly provides the ads on your blogs and you get earnings directly from them.

      Regarding starting a sentence with and, is it that you started with a small letter "a" instead of the capital "A" that worried him? I hope that most of us can start a sentence with the word "And" and it is not at all any mistake.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I always enjoy your article, whether it is the mailbag or taking a walk with Maggie. I'm keeping it short today as much is going on at my house right now. Have a good week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, this is why you are the favorite hubber. Reading your mailbag is like sitting down the shade of a tree with an old friend. No agenda, just chatting and enjoying each other's company. Have a great week my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...I will quote you on that, Melissa. Thanks for the laugh. And have a great week!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! I love how you answer all the questions posed to you with direct and honest answers, no hype. And you can quote me on that!

      Have a great and productive week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ain't that the truth, Pop? Digging ditches comes to mind. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Janine, I feel for ya. Good luck getting ready for vacation.I hope it's a great one for your two girls.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      2 years ago

      I believe that HP is the most valuable and fun when earning money is not the goal. If it is, there must be an easier way to do it!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dude, this is a great question, and I can hardly wait to give you my great answers. Thanks, buddy, and I will, for sure, hug a tree today.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      2 years ago from New York, New York

      Happy, Happy Monday to you, Bill. I am off and running trying to get as far ahead with summer vacation looming this Wednesday for the next 6-8 weeks for my girls here. But had to stop in to read you weekly mailbag and again wish you a great week ahead, as always!! :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marlene! Enjoy that coffee and I hope your week is spectacular.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Of course one of my favorite songs. A pure version can be found by a little one Kaylee Rogers. If you like the voice you will love this.

      A little long here, patience please. So we have wild quail nesting in an porch rafter. I have no doubt that they are there because "we" scare away birds by play. "symbiotic" kind of. I want to write about this wonderful experience from the trust to the 3 just learning to walk.

      So here is my question: Transition from awe and splendor to blow by blow, or Blow by blow transition to awe, splendor and love. Or should I mix them up?

      Please take 4 minutes out of your day and hug a tree.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      2 years ago from USA

      Good morning Bill. I'm sitting here with my morning blend of coffee and thoroughly enjoying this edition of the mailbag. Have a beautiful week.


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