The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Nine
Happy August to You All
The summer is waning!
Those are sad words to many. To others, like me, they are simply words which mark another passage, one of many in my lifetime. I love the fall, so this passage does not bother me. I love my maturity, so that passage, into my elder years, does not bother me. I have many opportunities still awaiting me, so these passages allow me to reach those new destinations and experiences.
In other words, BRING IT ON!
I didn’t think I’d be able to finish this because my wife has been in the hospital all week and, well, things have been a bit hectic. But she’s on the mend, kind of, and I found some time (I think she wanted me out of her room for a little bit), so here we are. It will be a short one but I hope you find it worthwhile.
Let’s do this!
The Comma After But
From Buildreps: “You helped me out here on the usage of "and". Thanks for that because I was a little confused. I also noticed that you use a comma before "but". I noticed that many writers don't do that. The rules seem to be somewhat fuzzy. Maybe you can keep that as a question when you're somewhat short on questions?”
I have an answer for you but it comes with a qualifier. Read on to hopefully understand.
When a conjunction (and, or, but) separates two independent clauses, the comma is necessary before the conjunction. Independent clauses are also known as “stand alone clauses” because they are basically short “sentences” which meet all of the requirements of a sentence.
Example: He was a powerful Marine, but he was also a very weak, helpless, and ineffective husband. There are basically two sentences in that one sentence….”he was a powerful Marine” and “he was a weak, helpless, and ineffective husband.” Two independent clauses, thus the need for the comma before the conjunction “but.”
The only time this rule can be ignored is when the two independent clauses are very, very short. This is strictly for style purposes. Example: “He was a powerful Marine but he was also a weak husband.”
Are you confused yet?
PHOTO PROGRAMS FOR EBOOKS
From MizB: “I’ll ask a question you can answer in the next week's mailbag if you wish. I’ve suggested to the author of the ebook I’m editing that we use an ebook publishing program, and he likes the idea. The book is formatted for the hard copy that he’s already published, and I don’t think it is satisfactory for the ebook, especially because it contains a lot of old photos. In the publication process, a couple of them that contain two or three persons got stretched, and we have people with extra long heads. So, what program would you suggest that would do justice to old black and white photos? Thanks in advance, and I'll be eagerly awaiting your expertise.”
Leave it to my friend MizB to ask a question requiring some serious research. Thanks a lot, friend!!!!! LOL
I’ve got two for you to try and they are both strong in their ability to do justice to photos. They are KeeBook Creator and ReaderWork Standard. I’ve read good reviews about both of them, and I actually know a writer who has used KeeBook Creator and raves about it.
I have used neither so this is all word of mouth and the best I can do for you.
Two from Rasma
From Rasma: “Does it really help for a writer to have a vivid imagination? Growing up as an only child I developed quite an imagination. When I write about something fictitious or real as I write I can picture everything I write about as if it were in front of me. In fact one of my all time favorite topics is the paranormal and there are times I even scare myself. This brings me to one last question - when you write do you place yourself in the setting you are writing about?”
Any writer of fiction understands those two questions, Rasma, and I’m sure quite a few of them are nodding their heads right now. I’ll even go this far: I can’t imagine writing fiction without a vivid imagination. How does one do that? For me, writing is a way of finally releasing all of those crazy scenarios I’ve concocted in my head over decades.
I once had a mentor tell me (because of my alcoholism) that the most dangerous real estate in the world is the six inches between my ears. LOL I will also say that the most productive real estate for a writer of fiction is that same six inches. I can walk down the street and look at normal, everyday scenes, and five stories will come to me while I walk two blocks. It is craziness and I love every minute of it.
As for your second question, the answer is most definitely YES! When my character Billy the Kid walks into an abandoned warehouse, I close my eyes and walk in there with him. Talk about vivid imaginations….I image the smell of piss and rat feces….I imagine the broken glass and syringes under my shoes…..the sounds of rats scurrying into the shadows…the sinister nature of those shadows…..and there are times I’ll actually shudder while imagining it all.
In other words, I’m there, baby, I’m there, and I have been there, so I’m drawing from some experience as well, and I could write an entire article about experiencing life and letting those experiences fuel your writing, but, well, maybe another time.
Again with the Competition
From Mary: “You wrote last week that you don’t consider other writers to be your competition, and that sounds very altruistic but seriously, it doesn’t make sense to me. It seems that every book written which I don’t write is direct competition for the expendable income of readers. There are only so many dollars being spent on books, and the more books written, the more choices, and the more choices the less my chances are. So, do you want to reconsider your opinion about competition?”
Next question, please!
Let me try to make this as clear as I possibly can. I consider other writers to be my brothers and sisters, and I wish them all well. If people don’t believe that I have no control over that.
And do you know what else I have no control over? The marketplace! I can’t control how many books are written and I can’t control how good those books are. I can’t control the disposable income of the millions of readers out there and I can’t control their tastes. The only thing I can control in this business is the quality of my writing and how I market my writing.
So my only jobs, then, are to be the best writer I can possibly be and to then be the best marketer I can possibly be.
Period, end of discussion, let’s move on!
I was raised to not make excuses, and it seems to me that once I go down that particular alley of “it’s hard to sell my books because of all the competition out there,” I’ve opened the gates to giving up, and I don’t have an ounce of “give up” in me.
My latest Billy the Kid Chronicle
More Next Week
If you like thrillers then you might like my latest in the Billy the Kid Chronicles, this one titled “Breathing Fire on a Cold Winter’s Day,” available through Amazon.
Thanks for the visit and I’ll see you all next week.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”