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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Twenty

Updated on November 10, 2014

Welcome Back to the Show That Never Ends

A bit grandiose, for sure, but as long as you keep asking the questions, then this series will continue.

I’m having fun with this. I don’t know what I expected when I started this series, but the response has been beyond whatever my expectations were. So keep those questions coming and I’ll do my best to at least give you my honest opinion.

You can add your questions to the comment section below, or send me an email at holland1145@yaho.com. Either way will work for me.

So let’s get started with an interesting question from Bradmaster.

Where magic happens!
Where magic happens! | Source

Incorrect Grammar

From Bradmaster: “My question is off topic for this hub, and it may have been previously asked and answered.

I like to use Punctuation, and Capitalization for effect in my writing.

This means, I over Punctuate, and Capitalize against the standard rules of Grammar.

My thought on writing is Communication and Conveying Ideas, and Viewpoints.

What is your expert opinion on my unorthodox writing style?”

This is a first, and it’s an exceptional question. In fact, it’s something I asked myself while writing my last novel, and it was a discussion my editor and I had.

I do believe that the rules of grammar and punctuation can be suspended for effect, and I think it can have a great impact when done….over a short period of time. That’s just my opinion, remember, and I’m sure there will be those who disagree with me.

The problem with butchering grammar for too long is that it confuses most readers, and threatens to be tedious.

When I was writing my last novel, Resurrecting Tobias, I used incorrect grammar for the coffee shop readings my character gave, but the rest of the novel had correct grammar. I think it was effective to do it that way, but I was still concerned that my readers would have a hard time wading through the run-on sentences.

So, to summarize, a little bit of wrong can be right. A whole lot of wrong can be wrong.

How’s that for confusing?

Get it? Blossom????
Get it? Blossom???? | Source

Go Forth and Blossom

What I’m about to share with you isn’t a question, but it does relate to questions I’ve had in the past. This is a success story, and it happened because this writer went out into her community and marketed her talents.

From OldRoses: A year ago, I would have said that you were crazy to say freelancers should go around town and ask for work because last year I was a struggling garden writer with a so-so website. This past January, I received an email from my Master Gardener group looking for speakers for workshops. I volunteered to speak on my specialty (herbs) and was so successful that I changed my career to Garden Writer and Speaker. Now I ask people for paying speaking gigs and get them. When I speak, I do a handout with information relative to my talk and my contact info and website address (my website is improved and monetized) and on my website, I provide a contact link so readers can schedule me for a talk for their garden club or other group. Traffic is up on my website but, as you point out , the most crucial part of my success has been talking to people and ASKING for jobs. Excellent hub. I'm voting it up and sharing it.”

Isn’t that fantastic? Imagine what is waiting for you out there, if you are just willing to step forth and sell your skills.

I understand! I am not a social creature by nature. I prefer hanging with close friends and family, and I avoid trips into the real world. Even though I have owned businesses and worked retail for years, I do not enjoy interacting with customers in a business environment. I’d rather sit down over coffee and talk about life. I do not want to sit down and talk about my writing abilities and try to sell them.

But there are times when what Bill wants does not match what Bill needs to do.

If the business is out there, and it is not pounding on my door, then I need to go out and mingle with the customers.

Pretty simple truth, ‘eh?

A topic sentence is part of the foundation of a well-crafted paragaph
A topic sentence is part of the foundation of a well-crafted paragaph | Source

Topic Sentence

Again, from Bradmaster: What is the extent and scope of the topic sentence today?

For those of you unfamiliar with topic sentences, I’m going to borrow a definition from our friends at Wikipedia, since their definition is as good as any:

The topic sentence is a prescriptive grammatical term to describe the sentence in an expository paragraph which summarizes the main idea of that paragraph. It is usually the first sentence in a paragraph.

As an old teacher, and a product of the Catholic school system, where good grammar ran a close second to God in importance, I am quite familiar with topic sentences. The interesting part of Bradmaster’s question is the last word….today.

I assume that, in academic circles, topic sentences are still taught and encouraged, but we don’t see them very often in creative writing…if at all. In reflective writing, in essays, and in commentary pieces, there is another option to the topic sentence, and that is the bridge sentence. In other words, if you end a paragraph with a lead-in sentence that transitions the reader to the next paragraph, then the topic sentence is not really necessary.

When writing a piece that contains several related but different points, either a topic sentence or a bridge sentence are necessary. Without one or the other, the writer faces the very real possibility of confusing and losing the reader.

Free Blogging Sites

From Rhonda: Now, for a new question that most probably know the answer to. Since blogging seems to be the way to go, do you have a free blogging site you recommend? Word Press seems rather complicated from what I have heard. I checked out Weebly and love the look but found you can only have five clickable pages within the free site. I don't think that would work. I'm looking for a free site that I could load about 200 how to upcycle articles. Got any recommendations?

Well, Rhonda, I can only speak from experience on this one, and my experience is limited. When I first started blogging I used Blogger, and I found it easy to navigate. I have since moved to WordPress, and that, too, is easy for me. Keep in mind, if it is easy for me then it will be super-easy for you, because I know next to nothing about downloading stuff on a site.

I did a quick search and I see there are tons to choose from, but those two are the only ones I have used. You mentioned being able to download two-hundred articles, and I have done that on my Wordpress sites and had no problems.

I have no doubt that those who read this question will mention other sites in their comments below.

UNIQUENESS

From Agusfanani: Do we consider it uniqueness after we know it gets positive responses from readers ?

This question is in response to an article I did last week about finding our uniqueness, and I think Agusfanani speaks for many writers. How do you know when your writing or your writing voice is unique?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? I don’t think we can be the judges of our own work. Way too subjective and skewed, if you ask me, so I would agree with Agusfanani. When others tell us that we are unique then I guess we have arrived…..but….I think recognizing a unique niche is something we can do when judging our own work. If I were to write a series of books about a ten-year old genius who solves crimes, that would definitely be considered unique by practically everyone who is a reader.

It Looks like I’ll Be Back Next Week Thanks to All of You

Twenty installments in the bank, and that’s about nineteen more than I was expecting to do in this series. I am blown away by the response to this series, and I am thankful. As long as you have questions then I’ll have answers, and that means I’ll see you next Monday, same time, same station. Until then, have a great week of writing.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks again for the broad spectrum of topics. There are so many things that we, as individuals, have not even thought about yet.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jim, I do believe I was reading the Hardy Boys before they were cool. LOL Thank you for the kind words. I'm very happy all of you are enjoying this series.

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      James Bowden 3 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Bill;

      Thank you for sharing this twentieth mailbag installment. Found it useful and just as interesting. I do not think I've been so excited to read a series such as you created here on hubpages. Since I've read the old familiar sleuth stories of the Hardy Boys, LoL. Way back in my grade school days! Thanks once again for yet another great read!!

      Jim

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I'm positive I make a lot of grammatical errors....I've forgotten quite a bit over the years, so it's a matter of learning old rules all over again for me. :) Happy weekend my friend.

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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I'm late in opening the mail but it is all fresh and good news for me. I know I make a mistake once in a while concerning grammar. It is also very liberating to write without rules once in awhile. Thanks for the updates and advice.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok, although it is now Wednesday and I have no questions for next week. LOL

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      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Glad to know that this is the show that never ends!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith. No one is as surprised as I am about this series. I'm loving the interaction.

      blessings on this chilly Tuesday

      bill

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      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Bill, the questions seem to be getting better and better, and you are always poised to provide solid answers. I especially love the "Go Forth and Blossom" section, coupled with your lovely photo. Now, that is the perfect example! Well done. Blessings always

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's good to have you back, Suzie, my Irish friend...thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Social, and I love that you are always here. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, you've paid your dues and deserve some lazy times. Enjoy them, buddy, and thank you.

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      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Another well chosen selection of Questions. Always enjoy reading this niche of yours Bill as always something new learnt or important lessons forgotten but resurrected. I know I have missed a few mailbags but good to be back!

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      social thoughts 3 years ago from New Jersey

      These are always good reads! I love these topics and I love reading what you have to say about them!

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      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      another great hub..featuring the mailbag series.. I find myself being lazy at times..but im trying to break out of it and correct the errors in my writing ways.. another top notch delivery....:)

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eddy. Blessings and love always.

      billy

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I'm so excited about that book of yours. Carry on my friend and make us proud.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora. I'm so glad that others are enjoying this series. Many blessings to you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, I'll be around when you think of a question. In the meantime, thanks for being here.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE! You are so loyal and I appreciate it.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you travmaj...positive vibes is what this was meant to be.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, we all have those days. Stay confident and anytime you need a boost, drop me a line.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill, and I wish you a wonderful week as well.

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      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another great lesson and thank you so very much Billy. Voted up and shared. Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

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      carol stanley 3 years ago from Arizona

      Well Bill what did you expect..Iam expecting an Ebook from you. So much good information. I did find out that in order to just write an ebook KDP is the way to go. CreateSpace is good for print. I want to test run my book first. So I am back on board reading all that you have shared. Jumping around from thing to me has always been my personality. You are so will to share so much and the world appreciates.

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      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I especially love the summary to your first question and the inspiration that is shared in the second. They're all good. Thanks a bunch.

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Happy Number 20 Bill. I am enjoying this series and learning as I go...still can't think of any questions to ask you though, but I'm sure I will.

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great writing from you. thank you for sharing such useful hubs.

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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Installment twenty, wow, such continuing good advice to ponder and hopefully use. Good to hear OldRoses has had such success in the gardening field. Love the positive vibes this promotes.

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      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Good Monday to you Bill. Thank you for sharing OldRoses success, I sometimes wonder on days when I lack confidence. Great advice yet again. Have a great week :)

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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Another great installment Bill. Keep them coming and have a great week.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Iris. I'm glad you liked it.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I love the way you stated that...earn the right to get it. Perfectly stated my friend. Thank you!

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      Cristen Iris 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I really liked the success story too. That's a nice addition.

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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I participated in an Author's Book Fair, this weekend, in a nearby community. From the discussions there, if I were looking for paying work, locally, I'm pretty sure just saying a word or two would have led to some pretty good prospects. Your points on this are well taken; If you want it, you need to ask for it, and go earn the right to get it. Thanks for another great mailbag!! ;-)

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Sheila! Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sally!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Monday to you, Maria, and as always, thank you for your support and friendship.

      love,

      bill

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      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      I've been looking for a new blog site myself. Thanks for the info.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy, it is on the top of my hubpages profile page - webpage -

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very exciting news, Sally, and if I helped you are very welcome. Give me your blog address so I can go take a look, please.

      bill

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      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Very interesting...I always learn a little something when I stop by this series...hope it stays around for a good long while...just like the writer!!

      Have a great Monday...Love, Maria

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Short and sweet is fine by me, Sha. Thank you and Happy Monday to you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. I learn right along with all of you.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, you are very welcome, and thanks for those questions. I, too, believe many people skim hubs...so we have to find some way to make them interested during that skimming. Good point.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Billy,

      I found this one particularly interesting and I am delighted to say that I discovered my own uniqueness today and posted my first blog on my own Wet Felting website - I would say that you have been instrumental in encouraging me to get there. Still early steps but I am getting there.

      Thank you Billy - for helping me spread my wings so that I can now fly.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, LOL not as serious as they look my friend. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thanks for mentioning Wix...I knew my readers would have helpful suggestions.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, I saw that about your weather. We are also getting our first cold snap of the winter. I guess it's time to put away the shorts and sandals. :) Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it some thought.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, thanks for sharing your experience with us. I'm glad you are finding these helpful. I guess I'll keep writing them. :)

      blessings to you and yours

      bill

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Great questions and insights this week, Bill. Gotta keep this short and sweet since I'm reading/commenting from my phone.

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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      As always, this is a useful hub. The questions and answers are especially interesting in this edition of your series. The Writer's Mailbag provides a great education for writers!

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      bradmaster from orange county ca 3 years ago

      billybuc

      Thanks for the detailed answers to my questions.

      My question about grammar was inspired by the use of shortcuts found in cell phone messaging, and Twitter.

      Additionally, I believe many people skim long hubs, and other written materials, so Capitalization can be used to register key words and phrases without much effort on their part.

      Most of my writing relates to technical descriptions about computer development systems. For that writing, I also try to use color as well as capitalization.

      Perhaps one day, I might try to incorporate this technique into a fiction novel, an HTML web version for the initial test.

      Thanks

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      Buildreps 3 years ago from Europe

      Great writing again, Bill. You know I like to read it always. By the way, these dumbbells look quite serious :)

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      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I knew it was Monday when I opened my email. More good stuff as usual, Bill. For Rhonda - although i haven't published through it, Wix seems to have some good stuff for free blogs with multiple pages. Just a thought!

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      Melissa Propp 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Bill, I really enjoyed your latest installment. I especially liked hearing the success story, which makes me think if people are sharing their successes with you, maybe you could do a spin-off series? Or just add the success stories into this series?

      Hope you are staying warm. We are in the middle of our very first Snowmaggedon 2014 (we might get up to 14 inches). Our winter has just officially started with a bang!

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, another brilliant read. For the question about free websites, I agree with you. Blogger is simple and easy to use as is Wordpress. I tried a few Godaddy's sites, but while these can be relatively cheap, by the time you purchase all the various add-ons it can get expensive and I've found them not so easy to use. Another week have gone by so soon. I hope all is well with you. My best as always.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, great line at the end of your remark, and I totally agree. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's my pleasure, breakfastpop...thank you for being here.

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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I find that breaking away from the conventions of standard punctuation and capitalization are sometimes liberating and can aid in expression, although it's important to know the difference when one is just being lazy.

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      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      I haven't herd the term "topic sentence " since elementary school! I agree with you, sometimes it is okay to suspend the rules of grammar. Knowing when to do it is key. Thanks again, billy. Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mari, you never disappoint with your comments. Way too funny my friend. Thank you for the laugh this morning.

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      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      I TOO overCOmpensATE when i WR it e............ #@$%%($*(@#)$ Thanks, Bill!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Indeed, Ruby, a story about life. :) Working on it as we speak.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Graham, for a little guidance and direction. I listen to people I respect. :)

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, considering the fact that you spend so much time blogging, your opinion is invaluable. Thank you for sharing it my friend.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm hoping you're right, Randi. Thanks and Happy Monday to you.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm glad you are still helping writers through this series. the above comment, " The type I used to write. " sounds like my kind of story, maybe a story about life? Cheers..

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      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Great news Bill.

      Graham.

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      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      As always great tips from you, Bill and will say from the experience I have had with Blogger, Wordpress and weekly, my own personal favorite is Wordpress, because so much can truly be done with it. That said, I know the self-hosted version isn't cheap, but the sky here again is truly the limit, so when asked I can't help but give my two cents on my personal thoughts. There really is no right or wrong, just what works best I suppose for those using these blogging platforms.

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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Wow! Lots of good questions and answers this week! I would say, Bill, that this could go on for a very long while! Nice! Have a great week!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks, Graham! You have been on my mind of late. A suggestion you made last week has me working on a new article...a flash from the past....the type I used to write. Stay tuned, and thank you for the suggestion.

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      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bill. Another tip top hub from you. I especially liked the addition of the two words' and speaker' from the gardener. Another world opened up from then.

      Graham.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, that only makes me proud to know a luddite! :) Thank you for being here on this chilly Monday. I hope your week is filled with pleasant surprises.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Susan, I was taught by nuns, and they took grammar quite seriously...and I am grateful for that, even though I hated it as a child. :) Thanks for the visit and Happy Monday to you.

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      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      You've certainly hit on a good series here, bill! Twenty already and still going full tilt. Great.

      I find that I learn lots of technical stuff from these hubs; things I should try but haven't had the nerve to follow through. I'm too much of a luddite probably. Nevertheless, I have notes to guide me through when I need them, thanks to you.

      Hope this week is good to you, bill :))

      Ann

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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Good questions! The topic sentence discussion was interesting. Indeed, writing styles have changed in recent years and we don't see topic sentences used the way we were required to use them in school. The old, formal definition of the paragraph, however, still helps keep me organized when I write and for that I thank my junior high English teacher.