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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Fifty-Four

Updated on July 6, 2015

Happy July to You All

We’re going through a heat wave right now in my little corner of the world. I know, I know, 95 seems balmy to some of you, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is hot for us in usually mild Olympia, Washington. Like my dad used to say at the family get-together at Christmas….”it’s all relatives.” Get it?

Enough corny, stupid puns. Let’s move on to installment fifty-four of this series. This is an interactive series where you ask and I answer. Maybe someday we’ll switch around and you can answer my questions, but for now, this is the format we’re stuck with.

Let’s begin with a question about screenplays.

Welcome to the Mailbag
Welcome to the Mailbag | Source

SCREENPLAYS

From Faith: “I do hope the questions keep rolling in. Have you ever considered writing a screenplay? I attempted to several years ago, and it was fun, but there sure are a lot of rules to follow as far as proper format. Do you think it is a difficult task for most writers to transition from writing a novel to writing a screenplay?”

Faith, this really is a terrific question. I just wish I had a terrific answer for you.

Have I ever considered writing a screenplay? Sure, but I’ve also considered being President of the United States, so take that with a grain of salt.

Do I think it is a difficult task to transition from writing a novel to writing a screenplay? My gut response is it probably depends on the writer. I do know a couple novelists who have made the transition, but they said it was difficult. Honestly, my hunch is it would be easier to just start out writing screenplays without infecting yourself with the novel bug. That way you don’t have to get rid of bad habits before you start writing. J

Can you tell from my answer that I don’t have a clue? Writing a screenplay seems like a formidable undertaking to me. I have my hands full just learning how to write a novel.

Social Media

From Janet: “I'm new to blogging, and in exploring, I ran across your blog. I am a first time author. My book was just released in June. I was told by my publisher to use the internet as a means of getting my book publicized. How does one do this when she is not that computer-literate or internet saavy? Can you offer any suggestions?”

Janet, thanks for the visit and the question. The answer would take an entire article. I would start on Facebook, but make a new Facebook page either as you the author or a page just for your book…and then send it to all your friends. The other obvious sites are Twitter, Pinterest and Google+…..my goodness, what else? If you don’t have your own website you might consider that as well. I’m sure we’ll have more suggestions in the comment section. Good luck!

Family and friends understand that writing is my job
Family and friends understand that writing is my job | Source

Scheduling Time

From Brian: “Question: How do you time your writing time? What is included in your 10 hours per day of writing? Do you use a timer? Do you turn it off for meal breaks, snack breaks, bathroom breaks, spouse interrupts, nap attacks, writing-related bookkeeping, doing office clerical tasks, or for any time that you are not writing for more than a minute or two?”

Wow, Brian!

Leave it to you to toss out a question that leaves me staring off into space.

When you put it that way I guess I don’t “write” ten hours each day. But I’m darned close to it.

I write from seven a.m. to five p.m. on a perfect day, but during the summer there are no perfect days. Our urban farm keeps me busy and distracted. Our birds and other critters could care less about my writing career. They need food and they need water, and prepositional phrases do not enter their world.

On a perfect day I don’t need a timer. I shut down to eat at the same time daily. That’s about my only distraction unless there is an emergency on the farm. Friends know not to call during my work day. Same with family. Since Bev works about the same schedule away from home, I really have few distractions.

In other words, I have the best of all worlds here in my little writing studio. Having said that, we are getting a goat soon, and I suspect the goat will have something to say about my schedule.

The Muse Again

From Harris: “What do you do when your muse refuses to speak to you? I’ll have days when she just does not show up. What should I do then?”

Well, Harris, I’ve never had it happen, but if it did, I think I’d just walk away and wait for her return. I don’t think I could write without inspiration. The closest I’ve come to that happening is on individual articles. I’ll start an article but then it dries up, and I just leave it alone until something comes to me…but leaving it alone simply means I move to another project. I only have about twenty projects going on at a time, so usually my muse is waiting for me at another project site with a look on her face that says “what took you so long?”

Don't say you are in love....describe what love feels like.
Don't say you are in love....describe what love feels like. | Source

EMOTIONS

From Bobbi: “How do you portray emotions when you write? I’ve read some of your works and I’ve had tears in my eyes, but I don’t understand how you do that. It’s obviously not enough to say “the sight made him sad,” but I don’t know how to go beyond that. Can you help me?”

Doctor Bill to the rescue!

If you only remember one thing for the rest of your writing career, remember this: we all share the same senses, and most of us, maybe 99%, have shared similar experiences. A writer needs to not only remember that but embrace it. How would you feel if faced with a situation? What does fear feel like to you? What do happiness or shock or surprise or confusion feel like to you?

No, it is not enough to say “the sight made him sad.” What does sad feel like? Is it a crushing weight that threatens to take your very breath away? Does it feel like losing your best friend? Does it feel like the descent of darkness, blotting out inner light? Does it feel like you are suffocating from the weight of passed memories?

To me, this part of writing is what being an actor must feel like. Actors become famous for their ability to tap into emotions and transfer those emotions to their audience. I think writers….great writers….have the ability to do the same thing.

Two Different Voices

From Julie: “I hope this makes sense. Is it okay to switch between first and third person when writing a novel? I’m new to the novel writing thing, and I don’t want to mess things up by being too fancy.”

Julie, you made perfect sense and you aren’t being too fancy. Thousands of writers do exactly that. Most of the story is told in first person, through the eyes of the main character, but occasionally a chapter will be written in third person as they tell us what is happening elsewhere in the story. This is a common technique so feel free to use it.

There’s the Bell

And that bell signals the end of the main event. I hope you enjoyed the questions and answers this week. Hey, if you don’t like the questions, you can always ask some of your own.

I’m going to return to my seat under the shade tree. I’ll sip on a smoothie for awhile and then do some more writing. I think the muse is calling to me, so must go. Ta Ta for now. Have a tremendous week of creativity and thank you for spending some time with me.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lawrence. I've never tried a screenplay and I've never been tempted. I know my writing limitations. :)

      I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Thank you!

      bill

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I've got to admit, I've been tempted to try a screenplay at times, but just trying to put a hub together is a big enough challenge at times, especially when the writing is going in the wrong direction!

      Really enjoyed this hub.

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, Mona, thank you so much for doing that. I am honored that you will be reading Tobias. I hope you enjoy it greatly.

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Ah Mr. Bill, you are such a wonderful source of comfort to me. I appreciate how you share the ways you spend your days, your hours writing and the hours on your Urban Farm. It makes me feel less guilty about my own writing habits. I will be getting some dollars in my paypal account next week, and now that I have a kindle app, I plan to downloa Resurrecting Tobias. Fun!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Deb. What I know you can have...knowledge is free and should be shared. Right?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Serenity! The goat are pure pleasure but then I do love animals, so I'd probably say that about any animal we adopted. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Au fait...it was purely by accident. This was going to be a one or two time thing and then be done with it. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You're never lacking for some mind of writing topic, which makes my knowledge base so much stronger. I can't thank you enough for bringing up so many issues.

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 2 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Very interesting and entertaining series, this! I look forward to hearing about the goat... :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      You've made yourself a great niche, Bill, and you set a great example for anyone wondering how it's done. May the Force stay with you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks again, Ann, and Happy Weekend to you.

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you so much, bill, looking forward to it.

      Have a great Friday!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wiccan, thank you....now maybe I am disciplined, or maybe I'm just full of b.s. LOL For whatever reason, writing comes easy to me. There will be days when an article just won't come together....I have one sitting on the burner right now....but that doesn't happen often, and I don't have an explanation for it. :)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 years ago

      Bill, I really admire your discipline for writing. I write every day but I never know how it's going to go-- sometimes I'm out of the gate in the morning with the sun, full of inspiration, and sometimes I find that 5 o'clock deadline looming to submit to my clients as I struggle to come up with the words. Sometimes I'll write in dribs and drabs all day, up & down, and every paragraph is a concerted effort, and sometimes I can't tear myself away from the keyboard as I burn the midnight (and 1 am, and 2 am, and 3 am, etc.) oil. Forget social media and networking, I go through highs and lows with that too... sometimes that's even harder for me to keep up with than my writing schedule.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Mary, welcome back and thank you. I'll have your answer on Monday....LOL...I'm laughing at the Ma & Pa Kettle reference. Who would have thunk it?

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Great installment as always. I do love the way you answer the questions. Now I have one you may or may not want to use. I'm looking into self-publishing my children's book and I'm floored by the amount of royalties. For example, a book that sells for $8.99 nets the author $1.56. Is that right? Guess you have to sell a lot of books!

      Do you remember Ma & Pa Kettle? Sounds like you're headed that way. The goats are too cute.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I think grandkids would kill me off. LOL I'm sure you're more fit than I am.

      Thanks for the question....I'll have an answer on Monday. And congrats on winning the contest. I'll get my book in the mail this weekend if all goes according to plan.

      Have a superb Thursday!

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Well, another entertaining and informative mailbag, fuelled of course by brilliant questions.

      I've often wondered about the 1st/3rd person thing so that was useful for me. Superb answers here and you had me laughing.

      BTW, I appreciate winning the Leonardo challenge; it's a shame it was only me and John but I'm chuffed to bits!

      A question regarding hubpages: What do you think about telling the writer which way you vote on a hub? I always vote but I don't always say how I voted or even if I voted at all. To me, it's not necessary and the only time I mention it is if I feel it's relevant to the hub or if it's touched me in some outstanding way. What do you think?

      I hope the questions just keep on coming because then so will your mailbag.

      Happy Wednesday to you, though it's just into Thursday here! Up late at my daughter's house after an exhausting day with 2 grandsons at an adventure park; I found out today that I'm definitely not fit enough!

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, you are right on once again. I laughed when I saw that question....laughed until I cried because it is true...the writer still does a majority of the work. Thanks for supporting that fact.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Love the question from the author whose book just came out. She says her publisher told her to use the Internet to publicize her book. Note that the publisher says to use "the Internet." OMG, what does that even mean? Social media? Blogging? PR sites? That's like saying if you're sick, you need medicine.

      Total proof that publishers may do little to help authors promote their books! Writers, if you're thinking that a traditional publisher will do it all for you in terms of promoting and marketing your book, you are in for a rude awakening.

      Happy Belated Mailbag Monday! Hope you're having a great week!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank! I love your comment....the old teacher in me never dies.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I have a friend who does comics as well. I marvel at his work; he marvels at mine. We all have a talent if we can only find it. :) Thank you and Happy Wednesday to you.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      the screenplay reply and the emotions were good .. not just standard run of the mill answers.. but a grabbing by the hand and sitting them down so all the attention is just on their questions even though many eyes pry.. keep up the good work my mail buddy...:)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      The screenplay question was an especially good one. There are so many ways to exploit one's talent as a writer. Much earlier in my life I had encouragement from a professor to pursue literary criticism and/or speech writing as a career, but I took another route. I have a friend who is successful in comic book writing of all things.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thanks Bill. That was mighty nice of you to say. If I ever see my dad again I'll let him know what you said. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kim. I have not read that book but I will make a note to do so. As for the tasteless posts on Facebook, I really have had to cut off many "friends" of late. The vitriol and insanity needed to be weeded out.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, thank you! The heat finally broke yesterday and it was manageable. Now if it will only stay that way. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, you are very welcome and good luck answering that next question. :)

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Bill,

      I like your Dad's sense of humor. No doubt some of it rubbed off on you! Thanks for another collection of great answers. I'm reading a book on reading, writing, and revision, but I don't really need to. I just check in on Mondays to read the Mailbag. Thanks again for the information.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      As always fun and informative. I especially like your idea of having a separate facebook page. I had not thought of that, and I believe it would be a great option since I have of lately become rather burned out on some of the posts that were in such poor taste and inconsideration regarding the tragedy in Charleston, I weeded out quite a few FB "friends." I do hope if you and Bev have not read "Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver, you get the chance to do so. Stay cool my friend and let there always be the muse you need when you need it/him/her. Smiles. Kim

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      In my opinion this is the best bunch of questions yet, Bill. Hope you are managing to keep cool..(it's mid Winter here).

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Bill, for your reply to my question. My next question, what keeps me from emulating you, is to myself. Am I willing to distinguish my reasons for my excuses?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you crack me up. I love these goats. I feel a goat article coming on soon. :) Blessings, my friend, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I have noticed that, as a matter of fact. Thank you for your kind words. If I've played a part in it then fantastic.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, my hand-writing is so bad now there is no way I can do that....I wish I could because I'm a traditionalist at heart. :) Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill! They already are worth their weight in gold with the entertainment value.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Have you noticed, Bill, that as this series of yours has progressed, the questions your readers pose are more sophisticated and focused? In my mind, that's a testament to you, my friend.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Bless you, dear Bill, your mailbag is full with more great questions, and then there's that "terrific" one up there : ) ...That is a good observation you have there, and I am in agreement about starting from scratch on the screenplay as opposed to attempting to write one from a novel. I know it has been done but, as you state, it is a formidable task.

      Oh, those little goats are adorable! Hey, if you ever do get writer's block, maybe you can head butt with the older goats ...

      Blessings always

    • melissae1963 profile image

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      You have given us quite a bit of information here. I do use a timer otherwise, I will not stay focused. I believe that I write about six hours per day. I write all drafts out by hand. Do you?

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Another great week for the Mailbag. It was great to see the pictures of your goats on FB. The babies are so darn cute. Best of luck with them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, you are one wild and crazy woman!!!! LOL I happen to love peanut butter, so if that muse doesn't work out, send her my way.

      Keep on keeping on, my friend!

      Bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Dora! Your writing is improving leaps and bounds, so something is working. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Larry. I appreciate it, and Happy 4th to you as well.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I just hope that I use up all the inspiration I get from this series. Thanks.

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      "Muse News"

      Found a new muse. She said she would work for peanuts; literally, peanuts. I keep dry roasted peanuts. So, I have been typing my little fingers to the bone. Then, the muse found my peanut butter. Besides

      making a very sticky mess it is so difficult to understand what she is saying. I was typing what I was hearing and when I looked up, it looked like this: e wa stnd'in ba tha brn wen ta guin xpoded.

      I looked over and she had her hand down the peanut butter jar to her elbow.

      She's in time out, right now, and I'm trying to figure out what the hell I have just typed!

      Happy Monday! You enjoy that little goat kid. We will expect pictures

      of the little guy.

      DJ.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Happy belated 4th Bill. Another great set of Q and A.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Certainly a challenge for me, Bill, one I don't choose to take. :) Thanks my friend and I'll be by your blog shortly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Sha! I consider screenplays so difficult I won't even attempt them. LOL

      Not only getting a goat...we have three now...a momma and her two babies. We fenced off the garden so no sweat. There's always room for more, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Melissa! The momma is named Payote...the two babies are awaiting our imaginative names. :) Stay tuned and thanks for being here.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Another great week of Q & As. Harris, just taking a walk usually helps, as well! Screenplays fascinated me, as well. But, oh, boy, what a challenge!! Thanks, again! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Great questions this week. I admire people who write screenplays. The closest I ever got was writing thirty second commercials. You have to lay out the scene, determine who says what (if you have characters rather than a narrator/voice over talent, and make sure you stay within the allotted time frame. I would think writing a screenplay is rather difficult.

      So, you're getting a goat, huh? I know you've been talking about it for a while. How will you keep it from eating your crops?

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! I really enjoyed all the question/answers this week, but I especially appreciate the answer to the approach of using two voices. I was hoping this would be considered acceptable...

      What are you going to name your goat?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, they were chasing the chickens about an hour ago. I swear, that's the hardest I've laughed in a long, long time. I'll write an article about them eventually and include pics.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, you are one funny man. I'd pay to watch your show any old day. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deborah! I appreciate it very much.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OH! Baby goats?! I can't believe this. Although I'm an authentic "Country gal" I had my first up-close experience with baby goats just this past week-end! There was an adorable petting zoo at my grand daughter's BD party!

      Bill...I know what fun you're having. They were so damned precious, I wanted to sneak one into my car! They were with their Mom & Dad though. I figure if their Mama is anything like me, she'd bite my hand off!!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What up with that screenplay problem? I have been writing, directing, producing and starring in my own play for years. Sure people avoid it like the plague but they say it is a hell of a show.

      Another wonderful installment for us struggling writers. I had no idea I didn't know so much!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Another great installment. Thanks for the tips. Again.

      Namaste

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds great, Marlene! Looking forward to it.

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      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Oh, I'm so excited to visit your beautiful state... and you! I will be there from July 12 to the 19th. I don't do any heavy planning when I vacation, so I'll call you when I get there and we can talk date, time, and place then. Washington, here I come!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Marlene, I think you need to write a Hub about screenplay writing. I know I'd be interested in it.

      When are you coming up? I don't remember the date but I know it's in July.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that, Sis. Thank you! I've had to shelve my plans for the day. The baby goats we got this weekend are way too entertaining. :)

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Such wonderful questions and answers this week. I can especially identify with the question about screenplays. Novel writing is rewarding, yet far more difficult for me. I enjoy the structure that screen writing offers. I know exactly how many pages to write, exactly where the beats and plot points go, etc. There's still room for creativity, so long as I follow the structure.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bro...Always helpful, always great. Education is my favorite thing. Your installments are a really important part of my "writer's week!"

      Muchas Gracias! Love, Sis.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, what a great question. I'll answer it for you on Monday. Thank you sir!

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      I watched the video of Elizabeth Gilbert, which is really awesome. Then I have a question for you, Bill. Do you also think that your inspirational being is controlled by a distant spirit, like Elizabeth Gilbert believes? Thanks:)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Pop. Thanks for stopping by this early July morning.

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      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I appreciate your advice about the first person third person thing. I may need to read this a few times to get it straght in my mind. Thanks, billy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine. I finally just tossed my hands in the air and said WHATEVER!!!! I can only do so much, and priorities changed, so there you have it.

      Happy Monday my friend.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Aw, Bill as always such great advice and once again like you though with the summer I am definitely being in more directions than normal and trying to do what I can and when I can, too. Wishing you a wonderful, summer week ahead now!!