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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Twenty-Two

Updated on November 24, 2014

I’m Baaaaaaack!

I’m sorry, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to borrow a line from “The Shining.”

Welcome back to The Writer’s Mailbag. You ask, I answer, and hopefully we all gain something from the experience.

My goodness, I’ve been doing this series for five months now. Who would have guessed it would go on this long? Certainly not me, which goes to show how little I know about this business. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I don’t want you thinking I’m less-than-brilliant. Oops, too late for that as well.

I think we better just start in on the questions before I make a bigger fool of myself.

Using Short Stories for a Higher Purpose

From Jo: “I've been looking at some of my short stories and started thinking about the possibility of working some of them into a story I'm attempting to write. Could merging existing stories into a completely new one be a recipe for disaster, or do you think there's a chance that this may actually work? Alternatively, I could write a few more short stories and publish them as stand alone stories for outlets such as Kindle.”

Well, Jo, I know for a fact it would work and not be a disaster, because I did it in my latest novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.” In fact, the idea for that novel came from similar thinking.

About a year ago, my wife was lamenting the fact that many of my social commentary articles languish on the internet, and she was wondering if there was any way to work them into a book. A novel was born. I pictured a writer who reads his works in coffee shops, and then built a story around him.

So yes, it can be done and done effectively.

As for the second part of your question, I can also see using those “stand alone” stories as novellas on Kindle and selling them for ninety-nine cents each, but I think this is a riskier option just because I have less faith in mini-ebooks.

Releasing a Series of Books

From Reynold Jay: “I decided to go back and read more of your Mailbag Hubs. If you have answered such a question, send me to the proper HUB. Here is my question. I will eventually have 8 children's/adult series to release. If I end up on Amazon without a big publisher, what comes to mind for releasing the series? I'm getting opinions on this from other pros and I hope I can figure out the best approach. In all there will be 40 books involved as there will be full color, sketch editions, parchment editions and color books. Each book will have 3 editions for 4-8, 9-12 and 12- adult age level. This is an ambitious project that involves a staff of artists working 2 years to do the art. Any thoughts?

I'm wondering about the timing of the release of the books. I would bet there may be a business model or study that would indicate the manner of releasing the books. All at once? Several to start and then the others a month apart etc. Maybe your readers have suggestions too. Let's consider the books 1-8 and assume the collector's books would be released at the same ( or nearly) time as the matching book. In other words All versions of book one might be released at same time. I suspect that the proper model for timing the release may very well make a major difference in the volume of sales. There is much more to it, of course, but this is really the driving question.”

Wow! Talk about an ambitious project! This one makes my almost-finished novel look a little weak by comparison.

I answered this question a couple days ago in the comment section of that article, and then I thought about it a few days….and today my answer is the same. I would release the first edition of all three age groups, then a couple months down the road, the second edition to all three age groups, then several months later the third edition in all three. Why? I have no idea. It just makes sense to me to do it that way.

Publishing Options For Novellas

From Brian: I have started work on revising a novel. It was about 51,000 words long. I am taking out unnecessary details that are a drag on the forward movement of the story. I expect to reduce it from short novel length (which few publishers want) to novella length (which fewer publishers want). Aside from self-publishing platforms, such as ebooks, do you know of markets for novellas, that is, markets that pay either a royalty or a flat sum and that require the quality imprimatur of an editor? I know about Narrative Magazine. Do you know of other markets for novellas and short novels? Or should I resign myself to self-publishing an ebook? Or?

Well, Brian is right about one thing: the market for novellas is a small one, but it does exist. Check out these options:

  • Alaska Quarterly Review
  • A Public Space
  • Big Fiction Magazine
  • Carpe Articulum Novella Contest
  • The Collagist
  • Drue Heinz Literature Prize
  • Fallbetter
  • Gettysburg Review
  • Glimmer Train
  • McSweeney’s
  • Miami University Press Novella Contest
  • Narrative
  • Novella Project
  • Paris Review
  • Ploughshares Solos
  • Qualtro Books
  • Seattle Review
  • Southern Humanities Review
  • Texas Review.

Some of those are contests; some are anthologies. Having said all that, I would expand your novella into a novel for the best chance of being published by an established publishing firm.

Marketing Tips

From Sandra: Perhaps you've answered the question already but perhaps for a future question some tips for marketing ideas that work as opposed to those that are a waste of time.

This is a tough question only because what works for one writer may not necessarily work for others. I can say social media, but I know writers who get nothing out of social media.

I am a big believer in the old-fashioned approach of face-to-face marketing. Book signings, book readings, getting to know book store owners, pressing the flesh and letting the reading public know you as a real human being….and then allowing word-of-mouth to be your best advertisement. I just went to a book-reading group meeting last night. I didn’t sell a darned thing, but I planted some seeds.

Can we compare these three writers?
Can we compare these three writers? | Source

Comparing Authors

From Bradmaster: A question just popped into my mind.

How would you compare Edgar Allan Poe, with Stephen Kings, and let’s throw in Machievelli.

It is interesting to me because all three of them are out of the box, and they all know the dark side of humans. In that respect King might be different because his focus is not on the people.

Feel free to disregard this question. It won't hurt my feelings at all.

No, Brad, I won’t disregard your question. I wouldn’t think of it.

For me, this is an impossible question. I guess you could say they all dabble in the Dark Side, but they are also very different writers in style. Since I didn’t know any of them personally, there isn’t much I can do in that area of discussion. It would be fascinating to sit in a room with all three of them and find out if they wrote about the dark side because that was their nature, or they just wrote about it because they enjoyed writing about it. My latest novel is definitely dark, but that doesn’t mean I’m dark. I just wanted to try something that felt gloomy and threatening.

I don’t know how many of you have read anything by John Fowles, but he wrote a book called “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”, a period piece that was definitely not dark, but then the book before that was “The Collector,” and that was most definitely darkness in words.

Anyway, I’m rambling and no, I can’t compare the three writers. J

Thanks for joining me
Thanks for joining me | Source

And That Brings Us to the End

Really great questions this week, and really adequate answers from yours truly.

I hope you enjoyed this installment. The questions are still coming in, so I’ll see you next Monday, same time, same place.

Until then, write like your tail feathers are on fire, and have a great week.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • profile image

      missirupp 2 years ago

      Always helpful, Thanks billbuc

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Happy Monday Mailbag!

      It takes a very smart and skillful talent to turn Monday into a day of celebration!!

      You have them both, you awesome devil, you.

      I may have to play Pharrell Williams' HAPPY song.

      The sun is shining, the temp is around 80* with a light breeze

      coming in off the Gulf. I am sending you a whole truckload of

      blue skies and warm Florida sunshine.

      Have a great week!!

      DJ.

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

      Thank you missirupp...it's always nice having you stop by. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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

      DJ, that's the nicest gift anyone has given me since summer ended. Thank you my kind friend. I feel warmer already. :)

      Happy Monday to you, DJ!

      bill

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Another great installment and glad you are back in action here today! Happy Monday now, Bill!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I can't believe it's been five months since you began this series. My, where does the time go?

      These were great questions from some pretty deep thinkers. Your answers are very helpful, Bill.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thank you very, very much for your right-on, helpful answer to my question.

      I was intrigued that you built your Tobias novel around Internet posts. I had thought you were posting novel excerpts during its creation to build up curiosity about it.

      The question about comparing three disparate writers reminds me of a TV show of long ago in which each episode was three famous and brilliant persons from different eras meeting and conversing somehow -- in heaven, I guess.

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

      Happy Monday, Janine. Busy week ahead and I'm grateful you spent part of it with me. Thank you!

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

      Brian, I don't remember the name of that show, but I do remember it. :) I'm glad you found my answer helpful. Thank you my friend.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Wow, five months. That's a testimony to the value of your series. I could certainly benefit from another five months at least.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Bill, those questions just keep coming in I see and they are always interesting. I haven't written a hub for a week or so as I have been kept too busy updating and improving 13 hubs which were suddenly "de-featured' due to lack of engagement. Funny thing was that some of them had comments within the last few days and the stats showed no views. Anyway I managed to get them all back featured and my hub score suddenly rose by 5 points as well without having written any new hubs. I know scores etc aren't really important but I do like to try to keep my hubs featured....as my own measuring stick of their worth. Anyway I'm waffling on..another good hub here and I look forward to the next. maybe I'll even surprise you with a question.

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

      Well thank you Iris, and good morning to you. I love your name...just thought I'd mention that. :) Thank you and have a superb week.

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

      John, you are more diligent than I am. When my hubs go unfeatured I just put them in a novel. LOL I'm too lazy to fix them.

      Have a great week, my friend, and thank you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha Bill, maybe I should do something similar. Most are poetry so I should just publish them in an anthology. Thanks for the idea....next time...cheers. You have a great week too.

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

      Cheers, John! Remember, I didn't say my way was right...I just said I was being lazy. LOL

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Great writing again, Bill. Nice list of publishers for novellas you provided here. I'm going to take a look. Thanks.

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

      Thank you Buildreps...I hope it helps you.

    • profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago

      wow has it been that long... anyhow im glad it continues.... this mailbag is helpful to me personally... just so u know.. thank you

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I do believe you have a book here! Up, useful, interesting and awesome.

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

      Thank you, Frank. Time flies when we're having fun. :) I'm so glad you are enjoying this series.

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

      God, breakfastpop, another book????? I need more time, my friend. :) Thanks for the suggestion and support.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

      Sorry, had to add my Shining quote in....

      Thanks for all the great advice and Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      You're a joy to know and to read. Thank you.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Every installment is beneficial. The answers you give always give us more to think about!

      As to comparing Poe with Stephen King, I'd like to jump in on that one since I love them both. While King's life is interesting, except for his car accident, his life is normal. However, at age 11 he did witness a friend being killed by a train. King says his actual inspiration came from watching his uncle dowsing.

      Poe on the other hand started out as an orphan after his father abandoned him and his mother then his mother died a few months later. He married his 13 year old cousin who died from tuberculosis two years after he published "The Raven". He died at age 40 and the speculation to his death ranges from cholera to syphilis. So, my thinking is Poe was darker because his life was darker. King just knows how to make it dark! Just my opinion.

      As to this wonderful installment, I've voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      As always, I enjoyed reading the answers to some great questions.

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

      Melissa, I haven't seen that movie in a long time. I think I need to correct that this week. :) Always good to see you, Melissa. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thank you Dora. I can say the same thing about you. Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

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

      Thanks for that, Mary. It's interesting that people always seem to think that King is this dark character who is somewhat spooky, and I've found him, in videos, to be very engaging and likable.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Marlene. I'm really enjoying this series.

      Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image

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

      Another super duper helpful and interesting installment. This series reminds me of the Everready bunny!

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

      LOL, Eric, it just keeps going and going and going.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend, and thank you.

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      Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

      I don't know why I read this Kindred. I haven't read any of the others and the only excuse I have is that I don't know why. Now I guess I need to go back and take a look because there is nothing in this one that applies to me, the little gal in the east who still can't bring herself to call herself a writer. I cannot imagine living long enough to write a book. lol

      So, I'm going to read some of the others in this series and see if there is something appropriate for a novice who just likes to write. Incoming Hugs!

    • profile image

      Smilealot 2 years ago

      This is a very informative series Bill, keep up the good work my friend

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, more interesting questions, and as always, very useful answers. I think you're right about merging the short stories into one. I just need to get my imagination into gear and start knitting. :) I can't believe six months have gone by so quickly. Keep up the good work, I agree wholeheartedly with the person who commented that you should publish these hubs as a book, maybe when you're not so busy. Take care now, my best as always.

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

      Kindred, if you love to write then it's all good. In the end, a writer must satisfy their own inner voice.....anything else is a bonus.

      Thank you for stopping by, for whatever the reason. You are always welcome.

      hugs,

      bill

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

      Thank you smilealot...I will do that, and welcome back!

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

      Ahh, Jo, I'm glad you liked the answer to your question. Now, if you could possibly tell me how to find more time, I'll be a very happy writer. :) Thank you my friend.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting and useful as always. Thank's for all you do to help others....

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Another great installment Bill. Keep them coming. I hope you're taking Thanksgiving off from work. :)

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

      You are very welcome, Ruby! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

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

      I am indeed, Bill, and I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, five months of stuffed mailbags! The questions are getting more and more interesting and you are still providing sound advice based on your personal experience. You cannot go wrong there!

      Another useful installment here.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours ...and we all have so much to be thankful for right here in this community of writers, who are also friends. What a blessing!

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Glad you can keep this going Bill - there are many of us that faithfully wait for your answers to many of our questions. Thank you for offering your time and attention. Even though you mention there is a small market for Novella writers it seems like there are at least a handful which I am sure is appealing to many. Great job once again!! Have a fabulous week.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The questions are very interesting in this edition of your mailbag. Thanks for sharing the questions and your answers. This is a useful hub with some great food for thought.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      I liked your answer to the comparison bit. All great answers naturally, but I just particularly liked the prudence in your answer on that one. All great men in different ways. Peace Bro.

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

      Thank you Faith! I'm as surprised as anyone about the length of this series. I am enjoying it greatly.

      Happy Thanksgiving my friend, and blessings always

      bill

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

      Michelle, I'm actually of the belief that novellas will grow in popularity. The attention span of readers is shortening, as is the amount of time they will give to reading, so the novella provides a good alternative.

      Anyway, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

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

      Thank you, Alicia. They were great questions this week and even the Answer Man learned something new.

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

      Thank you Manatita, and peace be with you. Have a wonderful week my friend.

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 2 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Thanks for addressing my marketing question. I have a nephew that writes very dark and had been very successful at readings. I have made some contacts with smaller bookstores and will continue that angle. I think practice makes perfect and we writers have to spread our wings before we find the right marketing niche.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      I think it's great you are keeping this series going after all this time. Installment 22 - wow! As for Jo's question about turning short stories into a novel, I have another writer friend who did just that. She had several short stories that featured a clock theme or motif (there's another question for you, Bill: what's the difference between a story's theme and motif?) and compiled them into a novel about a man who ran a clock museum and a young girl he befriended, called The Home for Wayward Clocks. The short stories are woven around the narrative of the main story in a pretty unique way. Anyone who is thinking about turning their short stories into a novel may want to give it a read to see how another author did it. (The book is available on Amazon.)

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

      I agree with you, Sandra. I can make specific recommendations, but in the end it's what works for you that, well, works for you. :) Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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

      Thank you, Deb. That novel is the perfect example of what I was trying to say here. Thanks for that, and the question, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I mentioned that it was just a thought.

      I just finished googling

      compare Stephen King, and Edgar Allan Poe, Machievelli.

      I was surprised to find many references between the first two.

      I will keep trying to understand writing through your installments.

      Thanks

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

      I know, Brad, but I thought it was a fun question. I'll have to google that too. I'm curious what others thought. Thanks my friend.

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      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing more of your insight as a writer, Bill!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Totally agree that F2F (cool way to say face to face) marketing STILL works. So do many other "old school" techniques. Just had that proven to me as I was using a combination of direct mail, followup phone calls and requests for F2F meetings. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

      It is my pleasure, vkwok. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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

      Well, Heidi, I can't tell you F2F, so I'll say it now...Happy Thanksgiving to you, and thank you always. :)

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      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, not sure where I fit in here. Still finding my wings, but I love your Monday mailbag. Thanks for sharing.

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

      Carb, keep those wings flapping. It's the only way to get off the ground. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Wow, it's amazing that those questions just keep on coming. Great series, Bill. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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

      I agree, Flourish. It is amazing, and I'm grateful...so on we go. Happy Thanksgiving my friend, and thank you.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      This is a great mailbag; lots about books and publishing. I've often thought about putting a few similar stories together for a book and I'm working on it, so it's good to know that others are doing the same. You see, I'm just lazy. I wait for others to ask my questions and then just get the answers! :)

      Still having humungous trouble with our net provider, tearing hair out and waiting for idiots to sort out what they should be able to do in a few minutes, so that's why my activity on hubpages is quiet at the moment. I have hubs to publish but daren't do it because it can crash at any minute and I'm using a neighbour's wifi. Why can't people do their jobs and supply what they promise? Signed, Bolshee of Bridgwater :)

      I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend, bill.

      Ann

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, you are too funny, but I agree with you. I have little patience with inefficiency. Seems to me they should know how to provide service at this point in history.

      Lazy? You? I doubt it....let's call it relaxed. :)

      Happy Friday to you my friend, and thank you!

      bill

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      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Very helpful to all writers, you give such detailed answers and very useful guidelines. Voted up!

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

      Thank you so much, Vellur, and Happy Weekend to you.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great series. I really admire your passion for helping writers. I still remembered one of your articles about building confidence as a writer and I am practicing that now. I really don't consider myself as one. I thought I just do this to while my time and have some form of engagement but I have gone much deeper now so I need to read those other series and grow in this.

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

      Aesta, as long as you enjoy writing, then I think that's the most important factor. Thank you for your kind words.

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      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Getting through my mailbag and discovering I had not had my weekly dose of your mailbag ...almost in time for your next weekly mailbag...because I know you're PERSISTENT that way, dear Bill!

      Hoping you and Bev had a lovely Thanksgiving and weekend too.

      'See' you tomorrow - Love ya, Maria

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

      Persistent I am, Maria. Thank you for stopping by dear friend, and have a glorious week.

      love,

      bill

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Writers can always benefit from your helpful hubs.

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

      Thank you DDE. I hope that is so.

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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As always, more great material to think about. Thanks once again.

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

      Thank you Deb. I appreciate you spending part of your Sunday with me.

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