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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!

RESOLUTIONS

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 holland1145@yahoo.com. 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.

Bill

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is my pleasure, Dora! Thank you always!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate your perseverance,Liz. That happens quite often on HP for whatever reason.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 months ago from The Caribbean

      "Concentrate on writing the very best article you can write." I've always gotten that message from you. I continue to work at it. Thanks!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 months ago from UK

      Sorry, Bill. I commented, or thought I commented on this, but modern technology has got the better of me again. So here goes 2nd time around:

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Chitrangada Sharan, you are never late for the Mailbag.Thank you for finding the time to visit and Happy New Year to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi Bill!

      Wish you a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

      I am sorry for being late for this mailbag.

      Referring to the question—No, I didn’t make any New Year resolution, this time. One day, at a time and I would try to make the most of it, that’s a promise, I made to myself.

      Thanks for sharing other useful questions and answers.

      Have a wonderful day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nithya! I will do my best. Happy New Year to you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That was one of my goals early on, Li-Jen, to show myself through my writings. Thank you for that affirmation, and Happy New Year to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachar Mi! Best wishes as you and your family prepare for your big move into a smaller home. No matter where you go, let love be your constant companion.

      Happy New Year my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Kari! I hope 2020 is the best year you have experienced.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 months ago from Dubai

      It is difficult to get any writing done in the holidays so it is best to relax and enjoy it. I hope you are able to publish with your busy schedule.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      6 months ago

      Happy New Year, Bill! I like that if I read aloud and close my eyes, I can know that it's YOU. It's nice to get a Bill opinion and advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      6 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      There is so much based here on personal issues here, in this mailbag, that I liked very much. It portrays our own human issues in anybody's life.

      Disruptions will always be there- whether holidays, health issues, or even other causes. So, we get on going with those things at the same time maintaining some control over things. That's the way of life.

      I never make New Year resolutions. I plan for that day, or a week, or for a particular project as and when it comes.

      Regarding changes coming, we too are planning to shift house- move into a smaller portion at low price- so as to save some money for my son who is spending so much on rent and other day-to-day requirements on us two people. But, he himself never cares for money. It's me that wants to lessen his burden.

      Wishing you, your family, and all my friends here a very Happy New Year 2020. Blessings.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      6 months ago from Ohio

      I like your attitude towards disruption. It saves a ton of happiness.

      I did not realize there were apps to give you keywords. I know there are apps and apps do all sort of things, but I often forget to think app when I am searching for help.

      That part time job sounds like a lot of fun. I love kids, they are so unpredictable. Good luck on your goal for 2020. Happy New Years, I hope you find beauty and happiness in 2020.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Growth, Sha! I aim for growth. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I fall short, but I'm always working on it. As for staying busy, it's more a product of staying sober. Me and idle time do not mix well.

      Happy New Year my friend, and love always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda and Happy New Year to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks a bunch, MizB! 3,000 sq ft barn had me laughing. I'm not much of a hoarder. About 90% of what I own is useless junk, and most of it are duplicates. :) I just have to kick it in gear and get started.

      Happy New Year my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lori, we all could use affirmation like that from time to time. Best wishes to you and Happy New Year!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, you have so much going on! While most boomers look forward to when they can retire, you look for part time work. I guess I can understand that if one is prone to boredom or has no hobbies (which certainly isn't you). Anyway, you never cease to amaze me with your ever-churning mind!

      Great mailbag this week. I was actually surprised by the keywords question. Regardless, you gave an easy-to-understand explanation.

      Happy New Year to you, Bev, critters and family, Bill. BTW, it's nice to hear the holidays no longer seem disruptive to you. I know way back when, you worked through the holidays. Nice to see you enjoying yourself!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We'll see, Linda! I'm not convinced I'm going to do it yet. I'm not getting the information I requested. We shall see, my friend.

      Happy New Year filled with love!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh my Meg, now you have me terrified. LOL Thanks for the laugh, although I'm sure your sister wasn't laughing at the time.

      Happy New Year, Meg!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky, I love that...and ME! That is priceless and I can just imagine the pride in hi voice as he said it. Thanks for making my day with that story. Happy New Year my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Clive! Happy New Year to you as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It has been my pleasure, Devika. Thank you and Happy New Year to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's a lofty goal, Ruby, but a lovely dream. Thank you for everything and Happy New Year to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Peggy! Happy New Year to you as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      All solid advice Mr. Happy. I always enjoy your viewpoint and, in this case, I tend to actually agree with it. LOL Happy New Year and blessings to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Denise, and Happy New Year to you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Verlie! I think I'm dragging my feet because I really don't want to work. lol Happy New Year to you!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      6 months ago from United Kingdom

      'drive kids around and maintain my sanity' Make a choice, Bill, you can't have it both ways. lol

      Still knee-deep in holiday chaos with New Year's and a birthday still to go, so a fly-by to wish you the bestest New Year's ever.

      Catch you later.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Good luck with your new job, Bill. I hope you enjoy it and that you manage to fit your writing into your new schedule.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      6 months ago from Beautiful South

      I really enjoyed the Mailbag today, Bill. Thanks for the details about SEOs/ I knew basically what they were, but you supplied missing details. I think I may be able to better use them now.

      Good luck on your new job. I doubt that I'd last an hour. You must have nerves of steel. A tiny house, huh? My son and DIL live in one while they are building their underground house in Texas. I don't think it will be much bigger, LOL. They had to downsize so much. When Larry said we could live in a much smaller house, I told him that sure we could, it we had a 3,000 sq. ft. barn. He's the one with the "priceless" junk, not me.

      Happy New Year to you and Bev and congratulations on becoming debt-free soon. It will give you a whole new lease on life!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      6 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great episode, especially on keywords as people are saying. I've had a few articles make it to top ten, one of which was slotted at two or three. It sure fed this starving ego and validated that some of what I write is of interest to others. However, it doesn't necessarily mean it was well written. But I'll take what can get.

      Happiest of New Years to you and Bev. Good for you for working on debt free living.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I'm sorry if I offended you with my earlier comment. I don't really wish a loss of hearing on you (or anyone), but the noise level of even just a handful of teeny people is enough to send me over the edge. I'm sure if they were my grandkids I'd feel differently, but unfortunately, that isn't going to happen.

      As DreamerMeg said, I envision a whole new set of books, or at least a series of Hub Pages articles coming our way. It's a good thing. You're such a kind old softy, I know the kids will fall in love with you, and you with them.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      6 months ago from Northern Ireland

      What can go wrong driving a van for 3 hours with a bunch of kids? Well, let's just say you might have a whole new series of books to write after you have been doing it for a while! My sister was a teacher and drove a school mini bus on outings. One time, she forgot to remove the fuel line from the gas pump when filling the fuel tank and drove off, dragging the petrol pump behind her!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      6 months ago from Hereford, AZ

      Very valuable information with your questions today. I went as small as I am willing to go now. I live in a 3 bedroom, and I need room for my mom's mahogany china cabinet, my grandmothers dishes and her trunk, and my great-grandmothers trunk. I need the trunks to keep the stuff that I cherish in. I also need the china cabinet, for the same reason. I cannot let go of my heritage

      Kids are fun to drive around. This morning I took my son and grandson to the doctor. My son was getting his 4 year old out of the carseat and while listening, I heard him handing things to his daddy and naming them. "Here is my cup and blanket, and car, and me." He said "ME" with such exuberance, like it was the best part of that list. I thought it was and you could hear his daddies voice change from bored oks, to grinning OK, as he said it. They are so adorable when you actually listen to them.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      6 months ago from Jamaica

      Happy Holidays Billy.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Thank you for sharing so much to writers and for all the up to date information in mailbags. I am glad to have found you here for the detailed writing information and for being a helpful guide.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Here's wishing you the best New Year ever. How about one of the kids on the bus has a story to tell and you write the story and make a million. Come on 2020!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Good luck with your parttime job, Bill, and wishing you a very happy new year ahead. Living debt free is a worthy goal.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Is it even possible to make the Google Top Ten with an article we write for HP?” - I personally do not like Google. I use DuckDuckGo because they do not keep track of your searches. I don't like being tracked. I'm a predator, not a pray lol Anyway, if You search DuckDuckGo for "braiding sweetgrass", or "gathering sweetgrass", my article comes up 6th, or 1st. So, it's possible to get your articles to come up in web searches for sure.

      "concentrate on writing the very best article you can write" - The idea here, or the question to ask better say is: what VALUE does my article, or reaserch paper have to offer to my readers. How does it empower them? Those better be answered well if we are chasing fame/significant readership.

      And moving on the the key words, those just add-on to the idea of "value". Key words should pin-point where the value in the writing is.

      I love tiny homes!! Do share please. What's it look like?

      Alrighty, You have a Happy New Year! And we'll talk next year lol Cheers!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      6 months ago from Fresno CA

      In any respect, being around children will give a number of writing subjects to incorporate into future books and articles. I think your goal sounds exceptional and achievable.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      6 months ago from Canada

      Wow Bill, exciting changes coming up for you guys in 2020! I think 3 hours a day is enough, I do about that, give or take an hour or two here and there, sigh. All the best!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      William, the Mailbag is a priority for me. It will continue.

      Happy New Year to you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita! Best wishes to you, my friend, and Happy New Year!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Bill. Thanks for stopping by, and Happy New Year to you.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      6 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I have no doubt the mailbag will continue. It has to. I just hope the kids don't add extra stress to your life.lol. thanks again for another week of interesting Qs and As. See you next time.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      6 months ago from london

      Well Bro.

      My best wishes with your worthwhile endeavours for 2020 and good health too.

      Informative mailbag. Best wishes

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Great information on keywords, something I need to consider more when writing. Spending 3 hours driving kids every day is sure to brighten your day. A Happy New Year to you and Bev.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It would definitely be fun, Flourish. I'm still not sure I can fit it all in and still do my freelance writing. I have to make a decision pretty soon. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      I love the idea of driving kids around. It’s going to give you lots of ideas for your writing. Talk to them, ask them silly and interesting questions and really listen to their answers. I bet it could even become fodder for a new column.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela! Thankfully it is only two or three children at a time. Not bad at all, even for this old man. Happy New Year to you my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Swalia, and Happy New Year to you as well.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I really appreciate the key word information as I have been very lax in checking them out. I just do research for most article and write the article in a way I hope people will understand.

      I agree the holidays are disruptive, but they are almost over. I will say in a van full of children for 3 hours a lot of noise can happen. I wish you the best and look forward to your memoir. I do not make resolutions either just a few ideas of what I want to accomplish. I wish you a wonderful New Year - 2020!

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      6 months ago from India

      You have a lot to look forward to in 2020. Wish you all the best and a very happy new year!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! A constant, no matter what the year, is your faithful friendship. Thank you for that and Happy New Year to you.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, I love that you are going to be debt-free and good for you!! Whatever changes do occur and bring to your life in 2020, I only hope they are all for the better. I cannot say it enough, but Happy New Year, my dear friend. Wishing you only the best to come in 2020 now!!! :)

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