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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #311

Updated on June 1, 2020

How’s It Going for All of You?

Are you all hanging in there? Everyone healthy and happy?

As I’ve mentioned before, I feel like I’m in an alternate universe. There’s all of this hardship swirling around us, but Bev and I are “business as usual” in our little corner of the world. It’s kind of a strange feeling, quite frankly. Our lives have barely been affected and yet we are aware that so many people are having a very tough time of it. Empathy and sympathy are about all I can offer.

Boeing, one of the stalwarts of our local economy, just announced they are laying off 12,000 workers by the end of 2020. That is unheard of in my lifetime here in the Pacific Northwest, and of course that will have the ripple effect and touch so many other parts of the economy.

Meanwhile Amazon is growing faster than Godzilla, which bothers me on a completely different level. I’m not a big fan of Jeff Bezos.

It’s all background for a writer. We are the storytellers of our generation and as such we are naturally touched by it all.

Let’s see what is on your mind this week.

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

HP and Videos

From MizB: “Still pondering yours and Eric's conversation about HP not allowing just dialog. HP is so contradictory anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. They've snipped several videos from my articles. Now I wouldn't worry about that, but it irks me so to have waste spend time hunting videos. One was snipped without a reason, but another said it wasn't relevant to the article. Most of my articles don't have relevant videos, and its a real coccydynia to have to find something to put in to meet that requirement. I guess it would be better to just leave them out. What do you think? Personally, I rarely ever view videos in an article unless it's a how-to and I need more understanding.”

MizB, I think it’s one big online Google game, nothing more, nothing less.

I always include two videos. That seems to please the HP gods. I know some people watch them. I suspect most people don’t. But Google loves videos, so there you go.

As a writer it actually offends me to jump through these hoops. As a marketing student, I understand it completely. I’m torn between two lovers – LOL – who sang that song?

Me in a Novel

From Lora: “I have a question for you, Bill. Would you say there is a character in your novels that is like you in many ways? Do you think that writers subconsciously project themselves in the characters that they write about or aspects of themselves in characters that they write about in their stories? It seems that it would be almost natural to do this. And if so, is this character a protagonist in your novel(s) or do they play a more minor role? Wonderful mailbag this week. Take care.”

Lora, thanks for the question. Yes, I do think writers project certain aspects of themselves in their characters. I don’t know if it’s possible not to do that. As for your first question, the main character in “Resurrecting Tobias,” Tobias King, is me through and through and yes, that was on purpose. Now that I think about it, that seems a bit like ego run riot, doesn’t it? LOL But yes, Toby is Bill and Bill is Toby. Not all of the things Toby did in that novel were actually done by me, but the spirit of Toby lives on inside of me, and he is steered by the spirit of Bill.

But then the core of Bill is also in my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today.”

It appears I love to write about myself. LOL

A part of me is in all of these
A part of me is in all of these


From Adelle: “I think you mentioned once before that you hire out to coach writers. What do you charge for your services?”

Thanks for asking, Adelle! I charge $50 for a month for unlimited writing tutoring. I won’t edit for that money. That’s about my only stipulation. Even I have standards while I’m pimping my services.

Yes, I know, I’ve been told, that’s a ridiculously low price, but I do it to help others, so you’ll just have to accept the fact that I have an altruistic streak and be satisfied with it


From Peter: “When can we expect your next “Shadows” novel? And how about an excerpt to wet our appetites?”

Wow, a fan!!!! How cool is that? “Shadows Across the Pond” will be finished by summer’s end, me thinks, so you can look for it, hopefully, in September. As for the excerpt, I never say no to a real fan, so here you go:

He thought about the first kill he had made for the Agency, the elimination of a British diplomat selling Crown secrets to the Russians. His handler had pulled him aside, the morning the hit was to take place, sat him down in a courtyard surrounded by tulips, the sun casting false warmth.

“The first hit will stay with you forever, Striker. It’s not the same as killing someone in combat, spraying shots five-hundred feet, disassociated, random, no personal connection at all to that. The first hit is personal. In this case you will touch them during the kill. Their blood will spill out upon you. Their eyes will look at yours and lose their light. No, not the same at all, mate!”

But his handler had been wrong. Striker slit the throat, looked into the eyes, felt the warm blood flow onto this arm, heard the gurgle of death, a man drowning in his own blood, felt the spasms, felt life ebb and depart, and then bought a coffee in a shop half-mile down a cobbled street, after discarding his shirt, of course, and never looked back. Resting heartbeat fifty-five before the kill, fifty-four after.

He was not wired like Baker. His friend was visited by the dead. Of that he was sure. Baker was a killer, but a killer with a conscience, dangerous baggage to carry with you, baggage which would one day, most likely, be Baker’s downfall. Striker would die. No avoiding that, he thought, but he wouldn’t die by being reckless, or by losing one second of reaction time because the weight of guilt had slowed him.

Maggie is waiting for a walk
Maggie is waiting for a walk

And on and on We Go

Always forward! Always observing! Always telling our stories for the world to read.

It’s a short one this week, but that’s fine. It just frees us up to write more, and I’ve got two dogs who are always demanding more walks and couldn’t care less about my writing career. If you ever start having ego problems, take them to your dogs. They will teach you about humility very quickly.

Just sayin’

The lockdown is slowly being lifted. Whatever our “new reality” is, we are about to find out. But really, if you think about it, change is happening constantly. We have all faced numerous “new realities,” and we’ve made it, and adjusted, and made it again. Humans are resilient!

So what’s another?

We can handle it!

Bring it on!

Have a great week! Be safe! Be kind to one another! And please, do all things with love.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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