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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 288

Updated on December 23, 2019

Not a Word From HP

For those of you who were wondering, my recent suggestion on the forum that HP should hire me as a Community Goodwill Manager was completely ignored by the HP management team. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

You can lead a horse to water, but if they decide to poop in that water, there’s not much you can do about it, you know? LOL

Thanks to all of you who supported my idea. I really do care about HP. I love this community. You are all my extended family, and I want this writing gig to be an enjoyable one for all of you. Evidently HP does not share my thoughts. If that’s a harsh assessment, so be it.

Let’s get to the mail on this 23rd Day of December, 2019.

The Mail Room
The Mail Room

Subheadings and Hp Micro-Managing

From Linda: “Bill, I don't know if this is a question for the mailbag or just a rant that I need to get off of my chest. How important are subheadings on HP articles? The fine folks at Delishably (the food niche site on Hub Pages) have decided to do a complete housecleaning, updating every hub so that they are standardized. I can understand the need to use the same format throughout, and I don't have a problem with moving commas or updating a double hyphen to an em-dash. But you know my style. I don't just toss a recipe out there. I tell a story and messing with the headings on each segment changes the presentation. I'm not happy. I know I can probably go in and change them back, but I don't want to irritate an uppity editor. Without us (the writers) there would be no Hub Pages, but they wield the power.”

Linda, you just opened up a rather large can of worms. The quick answer to your question is this: you are correct on both counts! Now for the long, unpleasant answer.

For informational articles like the ones you write, subheadings are very important. They provide a break in the text and they provide sign posts for readers as they move through your articles. From your standpoint, flow is important, and you are absolutely justified when complaining that HP ruins the flow when they mess with your subheadings.

Now let’s look at it from HP’s point of view. HP is all about Google and SEO (search engine optimization). Subheadings are very important to the Google gods, but they must be subheadings which attract views based on keywords. Without the proper keywords, viewership will fall. That is why HP will alter your subheadings. Their market analysis tells them that changing your subheadings will attract more views, and so they change them to include keywords. It’s really that simple, and what they do has value with regards to views and SEO.

You aren’t going to win this battle. As long as you choose to write for HP, they will choose to change parts of your articles to increase views. Sorry, but that’s just the way this SEO game is played, and you being right doesn’t matter much.

Do you see Striker in the crowd?
Do you see Striker in the crowd?

Watching Characters Act out Our Scenes

From Zulma: “Bradley Cooper, good choice. What about Striker? In my head, he always shows up as Lee Marvin or James Coburn. Since neither are available, who would you choose? It should be someone who comes across as stone-cold yet caring.

“That reminds me. I've been meaning to ask if when you’re writing, do you see your characters acting out the scenes as you write or do you wait until your editing to see how it plays out?”

The first part of Zulma’s question has to do with my “Shadow” novels. We were playing a “what if” game, trying to decide which actor would be best to play my Striker character, a stone-cold killer. The jury is still out on that one. I’m having a hard time coming up with a current actor who has that menacing depth.

As for your second question, Zulma, I do see my characters in the scenes as I write them. I put them in a situation and then ask myself “what would Striker do . . . and then I get out of the way and let Striker do his thing. It’s like watching my own private movie screening. My job is to accurately report what my characters are doing.

Does that make sense to anyone besides me? LOL

Actually, Zulma and I have had other discussions about this Striker and Eli and LIz are so real to me, and not just any actors will do. Talk about a lively imagination! I can see Striker, standing in the corner, cleaning his Desert Eagle, checking escape routes, and categorizing all of you as “friend” or “foe.”

Be afraid! Be very afraid!

Mailbag Consistency

From Ann: “The mailbag goes on and is always up-to-date, informative and helpful. How do you manage to keep coming up with such great answers? I bow to your perseverance, loyalty and commitment, standards that are hard to maintain - but you do it in spades, bill.”

Ann, thank you! I think the Mailbag has been successful for a number of reasons. I think it’s like a safe clubhouse where members can come to share, to help each other, and to do it in a supportive manner. Unlike many of the HP forums, this is a safe place. We do not attack here; we simply help. That is what I set out to do with the Mailbag, to simply provide a place where we could all learn and help each other.

As for my “great answers,” that’s just me “shooting from the hip” and hoping I hit the target. I always want people to know that what I say is just my opinion based on my experience. I do not try to portray myself as an expert. I’m just a writer, like all of you, sharing what I know. If I’m wrong I know one of you will correct me and lay out the facts for us all.

Commitment? I’m just giving back to the HP community. If all of you hadn’t embraced me over the years, I would have packed up my laptop and disappeared long ago. I have all of you to thank for whatever I have accomplished these past eight years.

MEMOIRS

From Pete:”I know you’re just finishing up your memoir, and I, for one, am looking forward to the publication. What would you say is the hardest part of writing a memoir?”

Thanks for your kind words, Pete. Don’t look forward to the memoir too much. I’m really just a boring guy living a boring life in boring Olympia, Washington. LOL

To answer your question, to me the hardest part is to be truthful and allow all of you to see all of my warts. A memoir, if done truthfully, does not allow for a hiding place for the author. When you read my memoir, you may end up not liking me as a person, and I have to be willing to take that risk . . . it is that vulnerability which frightens me the most.

Crossing my fingers . . .

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays

I sure as hell want to be politically correct. It’s always a concern of mine. NOT! I wish you all a happy holiday season. Merry Christmas to those of you who do the Christmas thing, and Happy Life to those who don’t. For all of you, I send you blessings and love, and if that’s not politically correct then nothing is.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy New Year, Devika,and thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for the laugh, Sis! I can definitely assure you that I am not cooking, nor will I ever. You'll find me out in the garden talking to the dogs. They understand me much better than people do. :)

      Hugs and love for 2020 and beyond!

      bill

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Happy Holidays! Glad you are keeping up with the Mailbags.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      2 months ago from UpstateWestern,New York

      I'll see you, Bev & your crew at our annual New Year Dinner, Bro! But as a preview to our festivities.....Let me wish you all the very happiest, healthiest and most successful year of all in 2020! You're definitely a "Goodwill Ambassador," friend, teacher, sage and over-all great guy! I know of no one who would argue with that!

      My one wish at this point is pretty simple. For our dinner.......PLEASE ASSURE ME THAT YOU'RE NOT COOKING!! Love you Bro! Sis

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Merry Christmas, Ann! Modest, yes, but I know you mean it so I thank you very much.

      The hustle of Christmas is behind us. We have Bev's brother staying with us for a couple days, a bit of disruption, that one, but it's still nice to see him and visit. Today, though, I have work to do on my memoir, so I had best get busy.

      Have a brilliant weekend, and blessings always to you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks always Venkatachari M! May your holidays be filled with laughter and love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! We had the same weather here, and it was very welcomed. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you RoadMonkey! I surprised myself by being diplomatic. lol Merry Christmas to you!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 months ago from SW England

      Thanks for the answer, bill. I think that your obvious willingness to help us all and your friendly approach goes a long way to explain the outstanding success of this mailbag. Positive, helpful, friendly, honest and often wise. I know you're modest, but all of that is true.

      Great mailbag this week. I hate it when HP mess about with our articles - trouble is, they often make glaring errors! I wonder if anyone proof-reads them...

      Hope Christmas Day was a joyous, peaceful one with your family. We chilled out, it was glorious weather and we had a wind-free walk by the sea - what more could I want?

      I'm not ashamed to say Happy Christmas to anyone - whether or not they believe in it - it should be a time full of love and goodwill, as should the rest of the year!

      Enjoy family time and may the rest of this year be kind to you, leading into a wonderful 2020 for you and your family.

      Ann

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Cool, Bill. I hope nobody will feel hurt if you simply say Merry Christmas. That's enough to send blessings.

      A good many questions this time also. I enjoyed the answers and questions as well. Your reply on subheadings is intelligent, Even HP should take it into consideration.

      Happy Holidays and best wishes to you and your family.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's interesting to read about the characters in your novels. I hope you and your family are having a great Christmas, Bill. We had a sunny Christmas Day, which was nice because we've had a lot of rain lately. I hope the sun reached you as well.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      2 months ago

      That was a great answer on subheadings, encouraging, yet showing HP's point of view. Very diplomatic.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always my pleasure, Kari! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, what a great way to spend part of Christmas morning, hanging with my Spring Valley brother. Thanks for your spiritual gifts. I reckon this has been a bountiful Christmas for this pilgrim.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Flourish. True, the absolutely worst that can happen is NO,and that ain't so bad.

      Merry Christmas to you, my friend!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 months ago from Ohio

      Merry Christmas, Bill! Thank you for taking the time each week to write "The Writers Mailbag". It is so nice to have this safe place!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Bill it is with great pleasure that I thank for your gifts throughout the year. I am blessed. I don't like physical gifts much. But I love spiritual ones and you are danged fine at that. I do reckon you might not see your blessings in writing to me as spiritual. The love of the love of writing is a blessed gift, thanks buddy.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      It’s one thing to be an independent writer affiliated with a site and quite another to be an employee. However, if that’s where your heart lies, hit them up with an email outlining what you can bring to the table. The worst that could happen is they could say no.

      Hope your holidays are extra special! Merry Christmas!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      They are on display for all to see, Sha. :)

      A very Merry Christmas to you and your son. Thank you for your friendship.

      love,

      bill

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Merry Christmas, Bill!

      Don't be afraid to show your scars. They provided the path to where you are now and who you've become. You're kind, gentle, caring, well-respected and loved. And you can thank your warts for that!

      Lots of Love,

      Sha

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, I know you are knee-deep in Christmas activities, so enjoy yourself greatly. You are right on with your description of Striker. The search will go on until you and I find the perfect actor for the part.

      Merry Christmas dear friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate it, Nithya! Merry Christmas, my friend, and thank you always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, good suggestion for Striker, but possibly a bit too old. He has the right degree of menace, though....your aim is true in that regard.

      Wishing you a delightful and Merry Christmas, my friend, from cloudy and cool Olympia. Thank you for everything.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Alyssa! I hope your Christmas is magical and filled with love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate your kindness, Dora! Merry Christmas to you. May all of your days be filled with blessings and love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the kind words, McKenna! Maybe the New Year will bring a surprise from HP. I wish I could say I am hopeful. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nell! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I have not seen that movie, Denise, but now you have me thinking I should watch it today. Thanks for the suggestion. Blessings and Happy Holidays to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Melissa! You have always been here and I appreciate it greatly. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 months ago from United Kingdom

      I like the idea of Javier Bardem and Billy Bob Thornton. They can do menace quite well. However, as I've said before, the actor needs to convey Striker's subtle vulnerability. It's there right from the beginning if you can pick up on the subtle clues. Once again, Bill, well-written character.

      I probably won't be back till after Christmas, so let me take this opportunity to wish you the merriest of festive seasons.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      It is sad that HP did not follow up on your suggestion. You would have excelled as a Community Goodwill Manager. Looking forward to another year of Writer's Mailbag: Installment. Wishing you and Bev a Merry Christmas.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 months ago from Beautiful South

      Bill, about Linda's question regarding subheads and SEOs, I can see how they could mess up a good food article, especially one that includes recipes. I know I could if I did an editor's tinkle with them. But as an editor who became proficient in APA style about 12 years ago, I see their editors making errors in alleged APA style subheads, so until they learn what they're doing, they don't need to be so persnickety about it.

      Who should play Striker? How about Billy Bob Thornton. He can be so heartless, so good! And you, politically correct, yeah, just like I am. We'll be PC until Hell freezes over, won't we? LOL

      Hey, you and Bev have the Merriest Christmas ever! We're going to have a 65 degree Christmas and I doubt that the air is heavy enough for reindeer to fly in the South. Santa may have to ask Elon Musk for a push. Bye for now!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      2 months ago from Ohio

      Yet another fabulous edition of the mailbag. Thank you for all that you do. I truly appreciate it. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday week. :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, thanks for your love, endurance and good will as demonstrated in your caring, meaningful answers to the mailbag questions. A blessed Christmas to you and your household and may the year ahead be prosperous especially in your literary efforts.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 months ago

      I'm sad that HP didn't respond to your suggestion of becoming its Goodwill Manager. It's such a great idea and would benefit so many. I used to learn so much on the forum from Marissa, who had so much knowledge and was so generous sharing it. When she left, it became a wasteland. I look to the Mailbag to learn about writing and feel a sense of community. I'm still hopeful that HP will contact you in the new year. Happy holidays to you, Bev, your family, and your dogs!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 months ago from England

      Hiya Bill, yes it does make sense to me too! I 'watch' the action in my books then just write it down!

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill, have you seen the movie "The Man Who Created Christmas" or something like that, about Charles Dickens writing The Christmas Carol? They were very inventive in putting the writer in a room with all the characters "just to see what they would say and write it down". When you said that's how you work, I wondered if you had seen the movie. It is timely this time of year. I thought at first it was a bit far fetched but after reading your comment, I wonder if that is the way all truly great writers work. Have a merry one.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      2 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! And an early Merry Christmas! Can't believe that we are almost starting a new decade...and the mail bag marches on. Thanks for always delivering and for always sharing your advice and wisdom. I look forward to reading many more!

      Have a blessed holiday!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, my brother, thank you always. Merry Christmas to you. Sending love your way, along with blessings and love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Liz. I hope you are correct about my warts. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas filled with blessings and love.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

      You explanations to an 'irate, (Linda, I'm teasing you) is quite succinct and full of Light. A beautiful Christmas piece and Happy Christmas to you, my Dear Brother. May a little more inner and outer opulence flow your way and that of your family's way this season and continue into 2020 and beyond. Glory be!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And celebrate we shall, Verlie. Merry Christmas to you. May your holidays be days of wonder.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby, and Merry Christmas to you, my friend.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 months ago from Canada

      Happy life right back at ya Bill. All the best in 2020. And Merry Christmas! Days are getting longer now, lets celebrate that too. It's the first day of Spring. Cheers!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Bill, as I see it, HP has missed an opportunity to connect with us, through you. Needless to say, I don't understand. Merry Christmas my friend.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      I am sorry that HP haven't taken you up on your offer. In my view it's an opportunity missed.

      Thanks for explaining the subheading question. It makes a lot more sense now.

      You make interesting comments about visualising your characters. Each week, you reveal a little more about your writing technique.

      I marvel at your work rate. You turn out a weekly mailbag and often other hubs too as well as your own writing.

      I look forward to your memoirs. What you might view as 'warts' will be viewed otherwise by your readers. In any case, revealing them could well act as an encouragement to the rest of us.

      Happy Christmas Bill.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thank you so much. You are as reliable and steadfast as they come, and I appreciate you. Merry Christmas my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! I don't know if this will be the last Christmas in this house. We just haven't decided which path to take yet.

      Merry Christmas to you and your husband, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, he is bad ass for sure. Good suggestion for Striker.

      Thank you for everything. You are a jewel, and one I have actually met in person, and that is just too cool for words.

      Sending love this Christmas season to you and your family.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, I'm so happy you are a part of the HP family. Thank you for your friendship. May 2020 be our best year yet. Merry Christmas to you,my friend.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Thank you for another year of the Mailbag and for making HP a better place for all of us. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 months ago from Brazil

      Regarding changing the subtitles. I just think it's good business sense. The site has to attract readers, otherwise we will all have to find another place to hang out. I look at it this way, we don't have the hassle of making our own website or blog and then attracting readers.

      I welcome changes to my articles because I think it is in the best interest of the site and my purse.

      Bill will this be your last Christmas in your current home? Wishing you and yours all the best.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill thank you for answering my question (you even gave it a bit of an edit to remove the unintelligible ranting). I'll take a deep breath and an egg nog and relax a bit. My traffic has doubled so I guess I shouldn't get my artsy-fartsy feelings are bent out of shape over a few words.

      I like the suggestions of Coburn or Marvin but since they're not available how about Javier Bardem (watch No Country for Old Men if you have any doubts).

      Your mailbag is always a safe place. We all support one another and have lots of fun. Thanks for the invite each week.

      Merry Christmas to you and your dear family.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I look forward to your mailbag each week as I alwys learn something new and it sometimes sparks a new idea in my imagination.

      As for Hubpages, I love the community of writers also. They are like an extended family of friends. As I write medical articles I find some are suffering and I love to provide useful information, just a nurse behind a computer. I am not always happy with Hubpage decisions and we use to make about twice as much money for the views, but I am still here.

      I hope you and Bev have a wonderful, Merry Christmas!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I know you will, John, and thank you in advance for it. Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shaloo, and the same to you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for another year of The Mailbag, Bill. Merry Christmas to you Bev and the family. I have been trying to race the clock to get my latest Poems From the Porch finished before Xmas. You requested a poem about Mistletoe. There is a faint chance I may get it published tomorrow. I will give it my best shot.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 months ago from India

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that very much, Cynthia. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine, and Merry Christmas to you as well.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      2 months ago from Georgia

      I've gotten a lot of valuable information from the Mailbag and just want to extend a very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      2 months ago from New York, New York

      Just stopping in to wish my favorite mailbag writer, a very Merry Christmas this week!! I will be offline for a bit in the next day or so, but still wanted to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday!! :)

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