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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 289

Updated on December 30, 2019

Delay on Memoir and Happy New Year

Since people keep asking me when my memoir will be published, I feel it’s necessary to give an update. My good HP buddy, Mike Friedman, creates all of my book covers, and he won’t be able to do the cover for the memoir until January 10th. So be patient with us; the book is completed, it has been formatted, and we are getting closer.

And we are now two days closer to the New Year of 2020. Who would have thunk it? A few years back I didn’t think this was possible. I was on a journey of self-destruction thirteen years ago. I’m sure glad I failed on that journey.

So I wish you all the most Love-Filled New Year possible. Troubles come and go . . . true love remains!

Let’s do the last Mailbag of 2019, shall we?

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!


From Sharon: “Do you make New Year resolutions for your writing projects?”

No, Sharon, I don’t. For me, making resolutions sets myself up for failure. Please note I do not think this is true of everyone . . . just me. I much prefer to lay out goals for me to attain without a deadline on those goals. This approach will not work for everyone, but I am so focused on what I want to do that it is not a problem for me to leave it at that. For instance, by book goals are 1) publish memoir 2) write next installment of my Shadow series 3) continue writing my 60’s reflective/thriller novel. Those three goals will take me through 2020. They are attainable and realistic based on my normal work output.

My one resolution: to be a better human being in 2020
My one resolution: to be a better human being in 2020

Articles Ranking on Google

From Billie: “I’m curious how long it takes for an article we write to show up on Google search. We all want to go viral, right? Is it even possible to make the Google Top Ten with an article we write for HP?”

The answer to your last question, Billie, is yes, it is possible to make it on the Google Top Ten. I did it once with an article about alcoholism. I’ve had friends on HP do it as well. It’s a bit like catching lightning in a bottle, but it can happen if the stars perfectly align.

How long does it take? This might depress you, so be strong. Only 5.7% of all articles written make the Google Top Ten in their genre within one year. The average amount of time for an article to break into the Top Ten is 2.5 years.

Please note that I’m talking about the Top Ten of Google. I know that sounds discouraging, but please consider that your article could rank 50th in a particular genre and still garner tens of thousands of views. There are a whole lot of people out there doing Google searches, so don’t give up hope. If your article is being viewed one-thousand or two-thousand times each month, that’s better than a poke in the butt with a sharp stick, as my dad loved to say.

My advice: quit worrying about making the Top Ten, and concentrate on writing the very best article you can write which has four or five important keywords in it. You may never make the Top Ten, but you’ll still do pretty well on HP.

Holiday Disruption

From Peter: “I find the holidays to be a huge disruption to my writing schedule. What do you do to combat this?”

I don’t fight it, Peter! I set myself up for frustration if I fight the holiday disruptions. Truth be told, the holidays are often non-stop disruptions for a number of days, and I know of no way to avoid all the randomness. I just go with the flow. If I am presented with a couple hours with nothing to do, I will sit down at the computer and kick out a couple thousand words. If I’m not presented with that opportunity, I just watch Netflix and eat junk food.

Footnote: it has taken me a long time to be so casual about the disruptive nature of the holidays. It turns out you actually can teach an old dog new tricks.

Returning back to normal soon
Returning back to normal soon

Why Keywords

From Ricki: “I am old-school. I hear about keywords all the time, but I’m unclear how it all works as far as getting people to read your online content. Can you give me a ten cent explanation of keywords so I have some clue what they are all about?”

Oh my goodness, Ricki, how much time do you have?

I suspect quite a few people reading this have a similar question floating around in their brains. This whole SEO (search engine optimization) thing can be a bit confusing for people who grew up with typewriters. Let me see if I can clarify it all just a bit.

When you go online to learn about something, you type in a word for the search engine to track down for you. For example, if you want to learn about petunias, you might type into the Google search engine the word “petunia,” or you might type in “flowers petunia,” and when you do that Google will spit out the highest “scoring” websites which are related to your search parameters.

Are you with me so far?

The most commonly-searched words on any topic are the keywords for that topic. In the example above, the two keywords for “petunia” would be “flower” and “petunia.” Others might be “annual” or “pretty flowers” or even “brightly colored flowers.”

This becomes important for those who use the internet for their business, and that’s where writers like you, Ricki, come into play. If you write an article about petunias, you are going to want four or five keywords in that article which relate to petunias, keywords which Google considers important for that topic.

Which leads us to this question: how do you know which keywords to use for any topic? There are a number of apps you can use which will spit out keywords on any topic for you. Some online apps are even free, so do your due diligence and go find one of them. “SEO Profiler” is one you might want to check out, but there are quite a few to choose from.

There of course is much more to learn about keywords, but that is the basic information you need regarding them. I hope that helped.

Question for the Mailbag?

If you have a question for the Mailbag, you can either include it in the comment section before, or email it to I promise to get to it as soon as possible.

Changes Coming

If things work out as I suspect they will, I’ll be undergoing some changes soon. I think I’ll be taking on a part-time job (driving a van for a daycare center) which will completely upset my writing schedule and force me to make some major adjustments. The part-time job is necessary as a step towards downsizing and moving into a tiny home. If all goes according to plan, we will be debt-free by the Summer of 2020 and living in a new tiny home. With that as an outcome, I think I can drive kids around and maintain my sanity. It’s only three hours each day. What can happen in three hours, right? LOL

Anyway, the Mailbag will continue. I’ll find a way to publish it weekly because, well, it is a tradition, and some traditions are well-worth perpetuating, don’t you think?

Have a brilliant week ahead, and remember to do all things with love.


2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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