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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #317

Updated on July 13, 2020

Did You Know?

So I was on Facebook the other day, and I came across a post, from a casual friend, which said that bat poop has been shown to cure cancer.

I swear, I’m not making this up.

The source of this claim was some blog written by a guy in Wyoming. A guy’s blog!!! There was no scientific information backing up the claim. There were no quotes from doctors. There was no date. Just this guy and his theory, and that was enough for my casual friend to share it and actually give credence to it.

For the love of God, people, do your homework!!!!

I’m not speaking to any of you because I know you are infinitely smarter than my casual friend, but that kind of nonsense scares the hell out of me. Those people vote! Those people are given driver’s licenses and gun permits.

Okay, enough of that rant. Let’s hope the mail brings us back to reality.

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Native Speakers and Novels

From Mary: “What hampers me, at times, is my lack of spontaneity that a native speaker who grew up in the culture would have for the English language. I will have difficulty with dialogues and building characters. Do you think I can overcome this or just forget about writing novels?”

I think, Mary, that you can overcome it, but it will take time and effort.

This is a serious problem for those who do not speak English naturally. You would have to immerse yourself in the English language, or spend hours upon hours upon hours watching English-speaking television shows, or spend the same amount of hours reading novels written by English-speaking authors, or actually take a course in English.

And it will still take years to accomplish!

I would never tell someone to forget about writing novels, but I will tell you that this problem will require some work to correct. English is a terribly-challenging language. In many ways the rules of English are illogical, and then toss in the fact that many English-speaking people do not speak according to the nonsensical rules, or speak in different dialects, or toss in idioms which make no sense at all.

It’s a mess! Thank the gods I was born in the U.S. so I could have a head start in learning the language – and I still make errors!

Not even those born speaking English speak it correctly most days.
Not even those born speaking English speak it correctly most days.

Dog Days of Summer

From Peggy: “Wow! 56 degrees! I wish we could combine your low temps with our high ones and meet in the middle. Our upper 90 temps with "feel-like" ones of 100+ are the "dog days" of summer down here. I wonder whoever made up that saying? I love dogs, and in this meaning, it has a less than desirable meaning.”

I actually know the meaning behind that phrase, Peggy. I looked it up about a year ago out of curiosity. The “dog days” are so named because the hottest time of the year, in ancient times, came about the time the Dog Star Sirius was prominent in the sky. Thus, they equated the prominence of the Dog Star with hot days.

I’ve always loved that explanation and thus, that phrase is one of my favorites, as is “three dog night,” or the phrase “we’re in the doldrums,” which we’ll talk about some other time.

Dog days of summer!
Dog days of summer!

Characters Taking Over

From Mary: “Thanks for sharing that video featuring Stephen King. Towards the end of it he says he follows the characters instead of the plot. Have your characters 'taken over' and guided your stories in a way you didn't anticipate at the beginning?”

Mary, most definitely, and I love that you enjoyed the Stephen King video. That man knows his writing.

I think people believe I’m joking sometimes when I say I have no idea where my novels are going when I start them. I truly do not. No clue! My first chapter is the impetus for the entire novel, using my approach. After that the characters take over. I put them in that scene, in that situation, and then I allow them to guide the novel because of their particular personalities. I’m working on the sixth Shadow novel, and my characters have not let me down yet, so I’m going to assume they are people I can count on.

Did I anticipate where they take me? I never anticipate that. I have not one idea how a novel will end when I start it. I’m working on the novel as we speak, and I’m 50,000 words into it, and just this week I realized how I was going to finish it. One of my main characters walked into a scene, said something to the other characters, and the ending came into my mind like magic.

And I love it when that happens, one of those WHOA moments which leave me feeling pretty darned cool.

By the way, I never suggest that other writers follow my approach. There are many who need an outline and need a very clear roadmap from Chapter One to Chapter Forty, and that’s fine for them. It’s just not how my brain works. I am organized chaos and proud of it.

Talking to Writers

From Floyd: “Do you enjoy talking to other writers more than to people who don’t write? Do you find you have a certain bond with them which is irresistible and refreshing? I know I do with some writers in a community writing class I took.”

Floyd, truthfully, I don’t know any writers here in Olympia, so I really can’t answer that. My interaction with writers is all online. I do know I enjoy “talking” to writers online. They understand what I’m talking about and how I feel like none of my non-writing friends do.

I was watching Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” or whatever the name of that series is, and he was talking with Steve Martin and they both said when they are at a party they instantly gravitate towards the other comedians in the group, that among other comedians they feel most comfortable. I get it! The only thing I have which resembles that is being around other introverts. I am most comfortable around introverts. Extroverts talk too much and talk too loudly. LOL In fact, I can “sense” another introvert when I enter a crowded room. We must give off a scent or something, because I will scan a room, find an introvert, and move in for a quiet conversation. It’s downright weird how that happens.

Anyway, I wish I knew some writers in Olympia. I could meet them for coffee once a week, and we could talk writing, and that sounds fun to me.

That’s It for This Week

Another short one, but that’s okay. We all have things to do, right?

If you do have a question for the Mailbag, you can include it in the comments below, or email me at I’ll include it the following week.

Have a great week! Stay safe and healthy. Do all things with love. And if you’re ever in Olympia, for God’s sake contact me so we can meet for some coffee.

And beware of what you read online. It’s a weird world online, down the rabbit hole we go; Facebook should come with a warning to wear helmets before logging on.

Just sayin’

And one more sentence to make sure I hit the magic 1250 in word count. There, that should do nicely! Sending you all happy thoughts!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, Bev seems quite serious about it, but we shall see. A hummingbird is quite serious about the flower it is at, but it leaves that flower rather quickly.

      But there is always hope!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      11 months ago from United Kingdom

      'Salem's Lot is about vampires infecting a small town. These are proper vampires. They're not nice and they don't sparkle. lol

      Travelling by camper? That sounds so cool. I could quite happily spend the rest of my life just travelling the UK, enjoying nature, visiting places from history and trying the local cuisine. Ahhh...bliss. I'm going to talk to my husband about it tonight.

      Enjoy your day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I know I've read "The Shining." I don't think I've read the other two, Zulma.

      Taking a break from online? What a concept. I was talking to Bev the other day about that. She retires in two more years, and then we might buy a camper and travel, which would mean quite a bit less online activity, and I think I'll be fine with that.

      Anyway, I hope you are well. Catch you down the road.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      11 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi, Bill. Sorry for the late reply. I took a break from the internet for a bit and I'm not gonna lie I didn't miss it a bit. Not that I don't enjoy our little chats but sometimes you just gotta walk away, you know.

      Let's see. I've read Christine, Fire Starter, The Shining, It, Dead Zone, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, Carrie, Misery, Doctor Sleep (I don't recommend it), Pet Cemetary, The Green Mile, Cujo, Sleeping Beauties, Dreamcatcher, Night Shift and Tommyknockers.

      I'd say my favourites are The Shining, 'Salem's Lot and Sleeping Beauties. I've read the first two several times and will probably read Sleeping Beauties again at some point. I only finished it a couple of months ago so probably not for another couple of years at least. It's a pretty long book but I enjoyed the ideas greatly.

      Have a fantastic day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, you made me laugh. Yes, the alphabet book makes perfect sense for you. :) As for your sister, that kind of person drives me crazy. I would be outside while she told the story.

      Blessings always


    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      12 months ago from Fresno CA

      You always make me smile with these. Even though I can't imagine letting a character drive my book or gravitating toward writers in a crowded room, you seem to touch a creative thread that always resonates with me. I do know what you mean about gravitating toward introverts though. I grew up with an extrovert sister. She is the life of every party and everyone wants to be sure to invite her to events. She is always "on," it's exhausting. For those who grew up with her, we know the real Sherry. She is always looking for another funny story to tell at others' expense. I think if I hear the "broken arm story" one more time I'll scream. But the audience seems to enjoy how she tells it. I just smile and nod. It's about me and sister number 3, of course. I would rather go to a peaceful corner and share a quiet conversation with someone of substance rather than someone who is always "on." As for characters driving a story, that scares me. I have to have a book planned out from A to Z before I begin... you can tell I'm writing an alphabet book, can't you?



    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great question, Chris! What you don't say is how important this discovery is to the story. If it is vital then I think you really need to describe it well. If not, skim it and be done with it. But I'll talk more about this on Monday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Devika! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, I love your conclusion about writing. If it ain't fun, why do it? Indeed!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I think there is, Dora, but I'm going to do a little research before I say definitively. :) Thank you and Happy Weekend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Let's see, I read Firestarter, Misery, The Shining, and The Outsider. I think I enjoyed The Outsider most of all.

      Happy Weekend, Zulma! How about you? Do you have a favorite?

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      12 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Bill, you would find me in a heartbeat in a crowded room. Thanks for these insights. Also, I appreciated the video on dialogue. Here is a question. I was recently writing a suspense story that took place in our current time. One character discovered a scientific process that was unimaginable. How fully should I describe this process which is actually impossible. It is a sci fi element within a suspense story.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Bill your work is fantastic! Informative true and always a lesson to be learned.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      12 months ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      The drawback with the cyber age is that the Internet seems to validate otherwise cockeyed theories. Seeing it online makes it real in the minds of most people.

      Enough of that bats**t. Like you, when I start writing a novel I don't know where it's going, because that ruins the fun. If my fun is ruined, there is no point keeping it going.

      Great work.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, do you know whether there's any correlation between introverts and writers? Is someone likely to write more because he talks less? Thinking of you, and I couldn't resist.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      Although I know what it's supposed to mean, I often wonder if the origin of 'Hump Day' was off-colour. I suppose I could Google it but I'm not really that fussed about it. lol

      Which Stephen King books have your read, Bill. Just curious.

      Have a great day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We can only hope, Mary, because I hate to think of how many of them vote and affect our country with their vote. :( Have a great week!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I spend less and less time on Facebook. It's not good for my blood pressure.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are a funny man today, Manatita...without salt indeed. Yes, Mary Norton, and she is a very good technical writer. It's dialogue that is giving her trouble, but I have faith she will persevere.

      Blessings always, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Greg! You bring up some great points. I looked up three dog night a long, long time ago, out of curiosity for the band's name. It was hard to find out before the internet, but I managed to find it. :)

      Have a great Wednesday, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Always my pleasure, William, and thank you for finding the time to loyally follow the Mail.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm with you, Zulma. I think I've only read three of his novels, but the characters were dandies for sure. He does know his craft, no doubt about it.

      Happy Hump Day, Zulma! I've always found that phrase to be a bit off-color. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Chitrangada Sharan. I am a bit surprised by how gullible people are, those who believe everything they see online. My goodness, what ever happened to people doing research? Or maybe they are just too lazy to do so.

      Anyway, happy week to you as well.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, you are on time and I'm two days late. Sigh! Too much work for customers is my excuse.

      Talking about writing to non-writers is a lesson in futility and aggravation for me, one I would prefer to skip. It's just not worth the effort for me.

      Happy Hump Day my friend. I hope the temps lower for your dogs soon.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Meg! I can say, in all honesty, that I am in awe of anyone who can write a story in another language. It just seems so daunting to me. I applaud Mary's efforts and I'm sure she will make it eventually.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Great points, Alan! I have no doubt a non-English speaking person can learn English. It's a tough task, but I know it can be done, and you mentioned a great example in Beata. Thanks for that. I hope all is well with you. Stay safe!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      12 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for answering my question about who guides your stories.

      Regarding Facebook and unverified information. When I see something that is just nonsense, I check online, then I report it as false news.

      Lately I have seen people asking for the source. Perhaps by doing this, the person (if in fact it is a person and not a bot), will get the message and not post such rubbish.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It was very interesting to hear that your characters guide your novels. Thanks for yet another enjoyable edition of the mailbag, Bill.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      12 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Bat poop, now, you see why I don't do Facebook that often, and BTW there's a lot of hate on that site. I enjoyed reading about how you come up with your stories for the books you write.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, I think you do quite well with the English language. Much better than I would do speaking in one of your native dialects.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lora, just shoot me if I'm ever in 109 temps. I would literally melt on the spot. Stay safe, stay cool, and be happy, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I love that idea, Mike! Brilliant, actually! And you will always be my cover man, no bidding allowed.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good luck with those monsoons, Rajan! Keep them there, please.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Alyssa, that would make a parent proud for sure. I have to look that word up. lol As for the Lincoln quote, I love it. You had me laughing out loud that time.

      Take care and, just for you, I'll explain the doldrums on Monday.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Peggy, at the very least, doctors should spend more time in caves, don't you think? lol Thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear it, Mary! Is the Pope Catholic goes right along with "do bears shit in the woods?" lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I would find you, Bill. As Facebook scares the hell out of me.

      Be safe and happy, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mr. Happy, I do think the education system was better in the 50's and 60's, so I'm lucky in that way. As for greedy corporations, I'm with you 100%. I'm on a current rant about Amazon. That corporation has become much too large and powerful. Besides, I don't like the vibe Jeff Bezos gives off.

      Alrighty, my friend, have a great week and stay safe.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, the front porch is done except for the painting. Feels good sitting out there. I'll take some pics soon. As for the bat poop, it is made into a pill somehow. I really don't want to know how. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, as a general rule, I just stay away from people from West Virginia. lol Just kidding...kind of! As for bat poop...these people frighten me, and I have no doubt who they vote for.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks John! I'm going to have to try a storyboard. I can definitely see the advantages of them. As for bats, they will always be ugly little creatures to me, end of story. lol

    • manatita44 profile image


      12 months ago from london

      Funny for me at times and the Facebook thing is definitely great advice. It is a very crazy place to go without a warriors shield.

      Is that the Mary Norton that use to write great travel articles? I'm confused.

      You're sticking your neck out there with the English Language, as we are suppose to be the mother and you, the daughter. I will say, though, that Dickens, Bronte, Shakespeare and a few more, will have no problems with Whitman, Bradbury and Clemens. We complement each other.

      Writing is an art. My 18-yr old daughter does it better than school teachers and some, whose native tongue is not English, are Pulitzer winners. I know people with PHD in English, who cannot accommodate change. They still hold to the old way, which is like a skillfully prepared meal without salt, seasoning or Love. Naturally they are not good writers. Praise be!

      Ok, Bro. Stay blessed as always and hugs to Bev, family, Maggie and Tobby. Pax Vorbiscum!

    • boxelderred profile image

      greg cain 

      12 months ago from Moscow, Idaho, USA

      It's interesting to think about the power of Facebook, even in the aftermath of all that happened in our 2016 election here in the US. I talked to a guy the other day who told me that people who are asymptomatic cannot transmit the coronavirus.

      "Where did you hear that?"


      Not said: did you corroborate that with any other more authoritative sources? Ugh. So, in doing my own research on the matter I discovered that someone from WHO last month said it was rare for asymptomatic transmission to occur, which then got turned into "never" somewhere else on the internet, of course. WHO has since followed up with clarifying remarks saying there is no definitive answer to this particular question as yet. The scientists are still working on that.

      I think watching The Simpsons might make a non-native speaker go crazy with all the colloquialisms and jest and humor. However, there are more episodes of that show than any other ever made, I think, so it might be something to consider. And beyond that, I also wonder what would be good TV to watch to learn how to communicate conversationally. I say it maybe depends greatly on target demographic. What are you writing about, who are you writing about? Folks in the south speak differently than folks in the north. Texas drawl is different than southern accent from Montgomery. Some folks don't use the word folks, lots of folks find certain words offensive nowadays that didn't used to be considered offensive when I was a kid. And let's face it, I never looked up three dog night until today, when you mentioned it as something other than the name of a band that sang the song Shambala.

      As usual, a great edition of the mailbag, Bill. Thanks for putting this out there for all of us. Be well, and have a good week.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      12 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I never really thought about native speakers before. Good question, and of course, an excellent answer. Thank you for sharing your writing wisdom with us, Mr. Holland.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      12 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill.

      I adore Stephen King. The man can create and develop characters like nobody's business. Despite the plethora of novels he's written, there aren't that many I actually like. The ones I do are because the characters are so well written. The stick in the mind long after the story is finished and the book is shelved.

      Have a great day, Bill.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      12 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi Bill!

      Regarding your opening paragraph, there is so much written and shared by anyone and everyone, not only on the Internet, but via private messaging apps too. People suggest meditation, cures, etc. Then there are political information and sometimes misinformation, opinions, counter opinions, clashes and so on.

      One should be careful about believing anything, which they find on the Internet.

      Useful and interesting questions and answers, as always.

      Thank you so much for sharing and a happy week to you.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      12 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      The word "Dog Days" is interesting, Bill. I was thinking it refers to any bad day, not especially to the hot summer days only. For us, 100 is a normal temperature during summers. But, it becomes more than that during most days of the summer in many regions of our country. But, here in Hyderabad, it is presently within 86 to 90 for a couple of days due to clouds and showers.

      Regarding native speakers and writers, I am also a victim of it staggering for words to express my feelings or thoughts.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      12 months ago

      Hi Bill. Definitely dog days of summer here with temps at 109! Between being the number one state for covid cases and these hot days, it's hard for me not to feel in the doldrums. But, your mailbag was wonderful and it truly inspired me. So you are more of a spontaneous writer! That's cool. Plot seems to develop from your characters. Good to keep this in mind! Thanks for the great videos too.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      12 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill. Sixth novel, hope I can bid on the cover project.

      And a funny thought for Mary's native speaker issue. Perhaps her characters should be second language speakers. Then the writer's second language ability works in her favor. Mark Twain was great with dialect.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      12 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Dog Days here too, Bill, with temperatures in the 100's, and, to say, this is the monsoon season. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writers and writing. Have a great week!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      12 months ago from Chicago Area

      Okay. It's still Monday. I'm in the Mailbag for this particular Monday. I've already been successful this week.

      Re: Native Speakers. I couldn't agree more! I can sniff out a non-native speaker instantly, even if their writing is technically correct. Fiction writers that write dialogue that's not in their native language will have to work extremely hard to get it right. Some may even wish to hire an editor who specializes in localization. Then I'd also suggest hiring beta readers who are native speakers to review it.

      On a related note, I've been seeing some chatter on writing fiction with BIPOC characters. This is another "native speaker" type issue. If you do not have an understanding of people of color, you better be careful as a writer to avoid slipping into stereotypes or wrongly representing others who may be unlike yourself. This issue is going to get more attention in the future.

      Re: Talking to Writers. I'm lucky to have a few--very few!--writer friends locally. But, like you, most of my writer friends are online. And though the social media algorithms do help bring us together, I think we do gravitate to those who understand our work. When I try to talk to my non-writer friends about my work, it's a chore. I end up having to explain myself and just feel awkward. So glad you've brought many of us together in the Mailbag.

      Dog days? Yeah, they're here in Chicago, although today was a bit nicer. The video you included was adorable. Our dogs are just not liking the heat because it's in the 80s by 8am-9am. So there's a whole lot of lounging in the A/C going on.

      Stay cool!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image


      12 months ago from Ohio

      Hahahahaha! Aren't humans just amazing, Bill? I love that old Lincoln quote, "Don't believe everything you read on the internet." Boy was he ahead of his time! ;)

      Thank you for sharing the origin of the dog days of summer. I'm hoping you reveal we're in the doldrums next week. I love that word, doldrums. I've always loved learning and using new words. I have tried to pass that down to my son and it fills me with delight every time he uses a new word or phrase. Just today he used the word, peregrinate, in a title of a level he made in Super Mario Maker 2. I have to admit, I didn't even know what that word meant, but I was oh so proud!

      Anyway, thank you for another wonderful mailbag! I hope you have a fantastic week!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for the education about the Dog Star Sirius and where that saying "the dog days of summer" originated.

      I find it fascinating that your book evolves after you start writing, and the plot fills in with time. Your muse must be on overdrive!

      Bat poop curing! I'll bet that the doctors don't know that. Perhaps they should get their heads out of their medical journals and start reading Facebook. Haha!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well, I had a weekend of learning as my guests in the cottage spoke in idioms, so they had to explain to me the meanings of such questions as, "Is the Pope Catholic? Or, the new trendy words the twenty-something uses that intrigued us, and we enjoyed repeating and making it ours. It was a surprise that our conversations moved towards these expressions. We immensely enjoyed ourselves.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      12 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. If you and I were in a room I think we would probably find one another, I also consider myself an introvert. When I was a kid it was painfully obvious.

      Sometimes I don't know what to make of FB. I guess I take the good with the bad. What some people decide to post for all the world to see boggles my mind. Have a great week.

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      12 months ago

      I know that when one person I knew was writing her thesis, her supervisor said that she could not understand the first chapter at all. When I looked at it, it was nonsense in English. She had written it (in her head) in her own language, then translated it, in her head, into English and just put it down. This is rather like my grandmother, whose first language was Welsh, telling me, in English, to put a cup of water on the fire. I did and she asked me what I was doing. "What you told me". But the literal translation from Welsh was what she said, whereas the equivalent request would have been "put the kettle on the stove to boil". This lady is going to have to learn to think in English, not in her native language and then translate.I don't speak another language fluently but there have been a few times when someone has said something to me in French or Greek and the correct response has just popped out of my mouth, because I had listened to language tapes and absorbed the "native" response. Online courses with a lot of speaking, listening and responding might help.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      12 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      There's no real reason why somebody whose first language isn't English shouldn't write in English... after all, you lot across the Pond do it all the time. Only joking of course. But while English hasn't got a Machiavellian grammar like German or French, there are nuances that come with the language input. There is a whacking great input from Danish (see the 'Danelaw Years' series on my profile) that's spread up the east coast of England to the River Tees and across to Cumbria, around the Lake District. Place names, idioms, dialect words all hark back to Old Norse. You could have fun with that.

      There's so much English-speaking migrants across the Atlantic took with them from other regions like Wessex (see Thomas Hardy's books) and East Anglia as well. That can't be learned, it comes with the blood. But what an outsider does have is an outsider's view of our peculiarities. My Ma came from southern Austria (met Dad after WWII when he went north with General Alexander). She picked up the nuances, some dialect words from Grandad, who spoke the northern version of Broad Yorkshire, and she fell head over heels in love with our wit, our idioms. They're nobody's 'property' as such. Anyone can fathom them out with a modicum of common sense.

      Another input was Norman French. The Normans who came here had Danish and Norse ancestors, like William himself. Most of them settled in, with children raised by English nannies and servants, grew their hair longer and eventually became more English than the English. 'William' was originally 'Guillaume' and became Anglicised. As any gardener knows, you can't stop weeds growing. By the same token nature has its way with humans: it all boils down to basics. Mary has already become 'native' by writing her name as 'Mary'. Given impetus, one day she could write like Edgar Allan Poe, M R James or John Masefield.

      When I went to Austria I kept being told "German is a hard language". The French are the same. They like intimidating people with the severity and complexity of their languages. That's why German is limited to three countries, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. French is a bit wider spread, to Africa, Canada and parts of the USA... and Switzerland.

      We should encourage non-English speakers to branch out, pick up 'nuggets' from our language (that's from the French, isn't it?). Eventually, maybe they'll write better than us, like Beata Stasak here on Hub Pages, amidst the Aussies down under.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      12 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Those people vote! Those people are given driver’s licenses and gun permits." - When I am out driving, my main concern is other drives. It's not the road, or the car, or the weather. No, it's other drivers.

      "Do you think I can overcome this or just forget about writing novels?” - Well, as someone who has learned English as the fourth language, I can say that it is possible! Do I not sound like an English speaking person? Haha!!

      "I was born in the U.S. so I could have a head start in learning the language" - That's not an advantage nowadays. Your education system is terrible. Or, maybe it was better in the 50s and 60s and You benefited from that.

      "I think people believe I’m joking sometimes when I say I have no idea where my novels are going when I start them." - That's interesting. I personally need to have a destination to my writing, a point to reach, a mountain-top to climb, something ... some sort of a goal, message, idea.

      "Anyway, I wish I knew some writers in Olympia." - Start a book club. Just an idea.

      And yes, put on that construction helmet before login-on to FB. I left about a decade ago and I never looked back. No FB for me, no Amazon, no Wall-mart, no Disney ... #$%@ 'em all! I do not support greedy bastards with no morals.

      Alrighty, now that we cleared that up, haha!! Sorry, I waste no opportunity to go after billionaires and rotten corporations.

      All the very best!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      12 months ago from Central Florida

      So, tell me, Bill, for the person who posted that bat poop cures cancer, did he say how that works? Do you eat it? Smear it on the cancer cells? Paint your house with it?

      It's amazing what people will believe just because they read something on the Internet!

      Have you finished your front porch project yet?

      Congrats on coming up with the ending for your latest "Shadows" novel. I wonder if your characters will step in and change it on you now that they've heard your aha moment. (You know they're listening, right? LOL)

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      12 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, your opening paragraph is frightening. Not only do they share the road with us and vote but dear God they procreate! And the same can be said for all of those who nod their heads in acceptance of this bat poop.

      As for letting your characters "write" the book, I think it was Jimmy Carter who said the same thing of his book "The Hornets Nest"--I haven't read it, but it's on my to-do list.

      English is probably the most difficult language because we have borrowed so many words from other languages. Add to that the figures of speech, contractions, and local dialects. I have a good friend from West Virginia and I only understand half of what she says.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      12 months ago from Gondwana Land

      Hi Bill, I read an article by another author who also said he has no idea where his novels are going at the start and just tends to let his writing flow. He added though, that as they move along and and more characters and side plots develop, that he then may use what he calls a storyboard just to keep track of things. That sounds like a wise move.

      Bats seem to get the blame for being the source of almost every disease known to man, so maybe it is only fair that someone gives bat poop the credit for being a cure for cancer haha. I get where you are coming from though, some people will believe anything, no matter how outrageous without even checking the legitimacy of the source.

      Have a great week.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, just call me Mr. Random from now on. That's just how my brain works. I would never suggest it for someone else, but then maybe it would work for you. Why not give it a try and just write?

      I hope your week is a good one. Thank you as always.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Janine! Social media is a fascinating look into our species, that's for sure. Also a scary look at our species. lol I am amazed how many downright stupid things people believe without doing any research at all.

      Anyway, Happy Monday! Be safe and happy this week.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Pamela! It would be fun to attend a HP get-together, but then I think about all of those people and wonder how much fun that would really be. lol

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good points, Eric, about learning English. Thanks for adding that. I think it would be fun to sit down with a bunch of HP writers. Since I'm an introvert I might not last long, but it would be a fun, short visit. .

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rosina! I hope your week is filled with wonders and feelings of accomplishment.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, you and I would get along quite well. Yes, overwhelming for sure. Three can be a crowd for me, I'm afraid.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      What a great team we all are for sure, Ann!

      Mead? It flows, for sure, but I'll pass on the taste test, thank you very much.

      Blame it on anything you want, my friend. I like your ramblings. May they continues for decades.

      I hope your Monday is flowing nicely. Thanks for the question. The quick answer is no, but I'll give it more thought before next Monday.

      Be well, my friend!


    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      12 months ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! I just find it fascinating that you begin your books without any roadmap or knowing what the end will be...Being the worrier that I am, I would fret the whole way through that I'd never get my "aha" moment! But, since I've never completed a novel, perhaps it would be beneficial to try and just forge forward, even though I don't know the end. I will definitely have to think about that...

      Hope you have a great and productive week!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      12 months ago from New York, New York

      Bill, your intro is why I truly stay off of Facebook more and more these days. Just too much non-truths and so many arguments over nonsense, as well. Honestly, so much happier for steering clear of all of it right about now. That said, it does amaze how many don't think science plays a key into similar stuff your discussed. I mean it is truly mind boggling to me. That said, I couldn't agree with you more to not be so trusting of certain claims such as this one. Thanks for the reminder and hoping you are enjoying your week so far :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      12 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This was a good article, which I found very interesting, My husband is an introvert and I am a bit of extrovert. I like seeing family but I could read a book or do something else with no other people around. So I guess I may notbe much of an extrovert.

      I think I would like to talk to a writer but I don't know any. Have a great week, Bill!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Bill I liked the notion of gravitating toward like vocations. Makes sense. I write along side, writers who think they can write because being in their profession "means that they can". A profession not liked by many. And I gravitate as far away as possible.

      Great advice for proficiency in writing English. A native speaking proofreader is also good. And be careful and pick one English. Aussie and American pretty different.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      12 months ago

      Today's questions and answers were very intriguing and had me hooked. There is something to learn from every mailbag. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      12 months ago from USA

      I love your description of find the introvert in the room. I’m married to an extrovert and it can be overwhelming. We have tempered one another over the last 25 years.

      Your opening paragraph is frighteningly all to common.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      12 months ago from SW England

      There's also, 'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun'! Enough said. I didn't know that about Sirius though, but I do know the origin of 'the doldrums'.

      I don't know any writers personally either, bill. I would like to be able to talk about writing to other like-minded beings as no-one else even refers to my writing, though family and a few friends know that I write online. Hey-ho!

      Characters do take over and I've never been able to figure out an explanation for that. Maybe our minds are just way ahead of us.

      Having said that, a question; 'Do you ever create a character who's supposed to be good but ends up being a real baddy? Or vice versa?'

      I don't mean that the character converted one way or the other; I mean his/her basic character all along.

      Always good to pop into your weekly look at the post, to read your words of wisdom. Also great that others offer suggestions or answers as well - what a great team we all are!

      May your Monday be mild, mellow and flowing with milk and mead (honey spoils the alliteration)! Doesn't sound very tasty actually, does it?! I'm rambling again, seems a common occurrence these days but I'll blame it on Covid like everyone else does...



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