The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Eighty-Two
Happy January 18th to All of You
Did you notice the days are getting longer? I no longer tuck the chickens to bed in their coop at four in the afternoon…now it’s five, and for whatever reason, that makes me happier. We live under a lot of cloudy skies here in western Washington, so any added daylight is much-appreciated.
And all of the questions this week are much-appreciated as well. Let’s get to them, shall we?
Follow a pro on a blogging adventure
- Confessions of a Mommyaholic - 30 Something Mom Tells It Like It Is
30 Something Mom Tells It Like It Is
From Rasma: “I've stepped into the New Year with great ambition. First of all I am delighted that I am getting more followers for my blogs. Having said that a Wordpress blog about cats started enjoying my animals are wonderful blog and I began reblogging some of their posts. Now they have invited me to be a guest blogger with their site and I accepted. The problem? I have no idea how to be a guest blogger and what kind of things about cats I can come up with to write about lol and I should say help with your most thoughtful advice. Thank you Bill.”
Well, Rasma, congratulations on the additional followers to your blog and the guest-blogger gig. What to write about? Usually the blogger will give some guidelines when they ask you to guest-blog. If not, you just go with the general topic and write about anything you want to write about. I always ask for a desired word total and a general topic. Once I have that information I do what comes naturally….I write!
Good luck and have fun!
My book on writing
From Ann: “Do you change your characters sometimes or do they change themselves? Can you give us an example please? I find that characters sometimes take me down a totally different path and some refuse to be as I want them to be - so I ditch them and listen to alternatives. That's the muse again I suppose. I know you've had a similar question before but it's the concrete example that I'm interested in.”
Ann, you always have interesting questions. So it’s concrete you want, eh?
I just finished my second novel in the “Shadows” series. One of the main characters is Liz, a former cop who is also Eli Baker’s lover. She has grown considerably in the two novels. She started out a “by the book” cop with a strict sense of duty and honor, but about halfway through the first novel she changed. Part of that change was my doing and part was hers. She became deeper, for lack of a better word. She showed her vengeful side with regards to her kid sister’s rape and murder, and eventually she became every bit as much of a vigilante as the main character, Eli Baker. It was like peeling off layers of an onion with Liz…eventually we found out what was really beneath that “by the book” exterior.
I hope that helps. One other character I’ll mention, this one from another novel of mine, “Resurrecting Tobias.” Pete began as a trusty sidekick with little confidence…..he morphed into the most reliable of the characters and really the strongest of them all. Again, Pete demanded that I change him about halfway through the book.
I hope that answered your question, my friend.
From Sally: “I often see on my twitter feed, promoters looking for writers and I have wonder if you have thought about going this route - or do you use twitter to promote your books?”
Sally, I’m about the last person to ask about Twitter. I have an account and I tweet my articles on that site, but that’s about it. I really know very little about it and haven’t taken the time to learn about it. I’m sure there are advantages to doing what you mention, but I get good results from other social media, and quite frankly I just don’t have the time to take on another project. Sorry I don’t know more. #twitterignorant
My latest novel
From Blond: “Do you write reviews as a method of ensuring quality, especially with books. I know there are many 'paid for reviews' but it is really the only measure of quality when a publisher is no longer involved.”
Blond, I totally agree with you. Without constructive reviews there really is no longer a measure of quality with regards to a book. And yes, I do write reviews for books I read and I try to be supportive but still truthful. I just wrote a review about a book on quail I just read. Now I have to tell you, I thought the book was trash, but I didn’t say that in the review. I was honest without being mean. I really can’t be mean to another writer because I know how hard it is to be a writer….but I will find the words to tell that writer there is work to be done and improvements to be made.
Am I Good Enough
From Eric: “Which brings me to my question. Anxiety over publication is normal. I get that. But that does not change the nagging worry over "Is it good enough?" Now I know you have no rational fear of such things but I would bet even you get that feeling. How do you overcome it?”
Eric, I follow Nike’s ad slogan…..I just do it!
I was raised to never back down. My dad drilled into me to always move forward, no matter the consequences and no matter how much I dreaded it. Just between you and me, I don’t think I’m good enough. I feel that way every single time I publish a book, and many times when I publish an article. I don’t think I’ll ever be the writer I want to be and there are days I don’t think I’ll ever be the writer I should be.
But I just do it, because not doing it is a sure-fire way of failing, and I refuse to give up. I can’t say what it will take for you to get over that hump. I am not silly enough to think what works for me will work for you, not when we’re talking about a psychological roadblock. We are all different, and it’s not enough for me to say “just do it.”
But you asked and that’s my answer.
And my last bit of response is this: is it good enough for what?
Think about that for awhile.
From Kailey: “The grammar question made me smile. Just tonight, my coworker was talking about how his teacher wants his class to do more grammar work. He's a senior in high school. I agree that some of the grammar rules are meant to be broken, but considering how most teens write, these days, I think high school teachers should be more focused on the basics. Don't you?”
My quick answer, Kailey, is yes.
As you know, I was a teacher for eighteen years, but it’s been nine years since I taught in high school and honestly, I don’t have a clue what high school teachers are teaching now in Language Arts. I don’t know how much time they spend on basic grammar rules. I think they should definitely be more focused on basic grammar judging from what I’ve seen from my young friends. I think most teachers need to concentrate on the basics no matter the subject, and I’m hoping with the changes in education and the sacking of “No Child Left Behind” we will see positive changes soon.
Formatting on Createspace
From Jo: “When you take a book you have labored over for years, and you try to set it up via create space. Why does it seem to not look right? I am still holding a grudge with Amazon. So, this isn't an option. I so wish you would think about being a source for writers to have they're e-book's published, or created with! Awesome reading....blessings~”
Thank you Jo, but there is no way I’m going to get into the publishing business. Far too many headaches for this boy to even consider.
As for the CreateSpace problem, it’s all in the formatting from Word to CreateSpace. There is an excellent book available called “A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and other Online Booksellers” and it is the best step-by-step guide to formatting on CreateSpace I have read. I use it every time I self-publish and you really should think about buying it. I was having the same problems you were having until I bought that book.
Thanks to You All
As they say in the movie business, that’s a wrap! Thanks for all the great questions this week, and thanks to all of you who show up every week to follow along. You are all greatly appreciated.
I just self-published my second novel in the “Shadows” series, so it’s time to start working on the next novel. I may not be good enough, but that’s not going to stop me from trying my hardest. Maybe one day in the near future I’ll be able to grab that brass ring.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”