Archive | January, 2015

Writing is a Personal Connection

27 Jan

003Happy January 27th to you all!  How was your weekend?

Bev left me for a girls’ weekend in Seaside, Oregon, so it was just me, two dogs, one devil cat, ten quail, six chickens and two rabbits.  Just one big happy family, right?  Bev had a great time despite the wet weather, and I had a productive weekend catching up on some writing projects and some past episodes of NCIS, one of the few television shows I will watch regularly.  I also ate a bit too much, but oh well.

Let’s see, what else happened this weekend?  I repaired a few things on the various animal shelters in the backyard.  I built the foundation for the new chicken coop we will be needing next month, and I priced a few things at Home Depot so I have an idea how much the rabbit cages I’m planning on building will cost.  I even managed to lift weights and go for a few walks over the weekend, so I’m feeling quite virtuous.

Why am I telling you this mundane stuff?

Read and learn!


Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.

Paul J. Meyer



A writer approached me the other day and asked me how I have managed to have such a large following.  First of all, my following, compared to say, James Patterson, is miniscule, so calling my following “large” is a bit of a stretch.  Still, to this woman, who was just starting out and had five followers, I imagine it did appear like I had a large following.

I’ll tell you what I told her.  For me, the human connection is what it is all about.  When I first started out I was determined to establish a bond…a connection…with my readers and with my peers.  I believe very strongly about this.  In a society that seems to be growing more apart daily, I think the human connection is crucial.  Anyone who runs a business who does not understand this basic truth will fail in their business.

And I believe it is that connection that has allowed me to have so many followers.  People know me as a real person.  There is no pretense with me.  My words tell you who I am.  If you met me face-to-face tomorrow you would come away from that meeting thinking “he was exactly how I imagined.”  So I’m not just another writer or writer wannabe.  I’m a real human being, and if you allow me to be, I’m your friend.  And sink or swim, that’s how I will always approach my peers and reading public.


Open up!  Make like a flower and spread those pedals so others can see the beauty inside.


If I do not already follow your blog, please leave me a link of that blog in the comment section.  I want to follow you and get to know you…so please, do that for me.


There are still some of you who have not taken me up on my offer to do a guest post here on this blog.  It will be good exposure for you and another step on your ladder of fame. J  The only stipulation is that it has to be about writing.


I have a little emergency with the quail to take care of, so I’ll cut this short.  Sorry about that, but my little critters need me.  Have a wonderful week of writing and remember…reach out and touch someone.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



The Advantages of Diversification

20 Jan

003Welcome back this third week of January.  How’s the weather where you are?  We are having one of the mildest winters on record here in Olympia, Washington, basking in fifty-degree temps and wondering when hell will break loose.  Maybe it won’t this winter.  Maybe it’s just being sneaky and will hit us when we least expect it.  The trick is to be prepared for anything.

And that will be our topic today….preparation for the unknown.

On a personal note, I am done with the second edit of my novel “Shadows Kill,” and I’m now ready for beta readers if any of you are interested.  Sadly I can’t afford to pay you to do this, but you will receive my undying loyalty.  If you are interested, let me know, but I need it read within a week or so.

Now let’s move on to preparation.


Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

How can we ever go wrong reading the words of Confucius?


If you are a freelance writer, and by that I mean you write for money, then we need to chat.  Let me tell you a story about my family during the Great Depression.

My dad spoke often about those bleak days.  He told me his parents took any odd job they could find to put food on the table. He told me about raising chickens and selling the eggs. He told me about riding the boxcars to different cities in search of odd jobs.  Every day was a new “experience” as every member of the family chipped in and made money any possible way.

Being a freelancer is a bit like those days.  Diversification is the key. I’ve been singing this song for a couple years now, and some of you have heard the notes.  You can’t put all your proverbial eggs in one basket.  Being a freelancer means writing articles for magazines, writing blogs for companies, making passive income on sites like HP, writing newspaper articles, and on and on we go.  When one source of income dries up you always have another to fall back on.


Branch out.  If you are in this for the money, then you need to expand your efforts so that your source of income doesn’t dry up and blow in the winds like the great Dust Bowl of the 30s.


Yes, you can make money entering writing contests.  Someone has to win, right?  Why not you?  Wag’s Review Winter Writing Contest will be taking submissions in poetry, fiction and essays from now until February 28th.  First price is $1000 and you can find out about it by following this link.


Upstreet Magazine is taking submissions for their mag. I believe they pay fifty bucks if your article or essay is accepted.  Find out about it here.


Things to do and people to see, so I’ll leave you now to do whatever it is you do.  Have a great week.  Thanks for always being here…now get out there and diversity.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



The Value of a Writing Coach

13 Jan

Why is it that weekends go by so quickly?  I don’t ever remember a Wednesday flying by, but Saturdays?  Gone in the blink of an eye!

I spent the weekend fixing our quail enclosure…our aviary…would that be a quailry???  Anyway, making any bird enclosure predator-proof is quite an undertaking, but I think we are done and ready to put the quail back in their outside home.  They’ve had it a bit easy for the past couple months in the garage, warm and safe from the elements and raccoons.   It’s time they get back outside as the gods intended.

Working on projects like that one is a hands-on job, but my mind is always tossing around writing ideas while I cut the wood and fit it into place.  Short story ideas, novel tweaking, new characters, they all visit me while I’m screwing and pounding. (I know that sounded dirty but it’s what I was doing)

The point is that my mind never rests, and I suspect it is true of most writers.  My muse will whisper sweet nothings in my ear at the strangest times, and I have to be receptive and willing to listen.  When she does, I write her ideas down in my ever-present pad, and then refer to them on Monday when my writing week continues.

I’m babbling now, but I’m sure you’ll find a couple worthwhile suggestions in that babbling if you look close enough.


In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.

John Wooden

I was recently contacted by a writer friend of mine who wants to hire me as her writing coach.  She needs some assistance as she prepares to write her first book, and I’m excited to be working with her.

A writing coach?  Yes, a writing coach.  People pay music teachers to help them play instruments, so why not a writing coach to help you as you learn this craft?

Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well, and that’s what a writing coach can do for you.  Let me ask you a question:  are you a good writer?  Most writers can’t answer that question.  We’ve all been told by friends and/or family that our stuff is good, but they are expected to say that.  How about an objective appraisal from an objective coach?  Would that be beneficial?


If you have doubts, or you feel you are stuck at a certain level and don’t know how to elevate your game, give some consideration to hiring a writing coach.  It just might be the best decision you can make.  When people hire me as a coach, they are taking on some tough love.  As a writer my job is to support and encourage.  As a coach, my job is to yank you out of your comfort level and give you the truth whether you want it or not….and you should expect that from any writing coach.


Let’s do something different today. As many of you know, I’m in the final edits of “Shadows Kill,” a psychological thriller that is a bit unsettling but never boring.  I still have time for a few additions, so I thought I would give you a chance to have a character named after you.  All you have to do is correctly answer the following question, and I’ll place your name in my book where it will remain forever.

Here’s the question:  What high school did I attend?  Here’s a clue: I attended high school in Tacoma, Washington.


I recently wrote an article and in that article I mentioned that making a couple hundred bucks a month is not a problem.  I had a reader mention that she disagreed with me and she hasn’t found that to be true for her.

I’m standing by my assertion.  Just writing for content mills can earn you that much, and there are a great many content mills out there.  You’ll be working for peanuts when you do write for a mill, but it’s entirely possible to make ten bucks per article and write twenty articles in a month.  I don’t suggest doing it, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Add to that all the opportunities that await you in your own community, writing blogs for businesses, and all the online and hard copy magazines and newspapers….there are many, many ways to make money in this business.


It’s time for me to wrap this up so I can wrap up a couple more projects outside. Have a great week of writing.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

How to Promote an ebook

8 Jan

003Welcome back to another installment of Artistry with Words.  I’m your host, Bill Holland, and today we’re going to talk about promoting your ebook.

But first…..


Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!

  1. T. Barnum


I was reading the latest newsletter by Hope Clark, self-publishing guru.  If interested you can find her by following this link.

Anyway, in her latest newsletter she talks about how watered down the literary market is today.  Never before has it been so easy to write and publish a book, and never before have the returns on each book been so small.

Let’s face it: anyone with a computer can write a book, and anyone with an IQ of 90 or better can publish an ebook.  What we are seeing today is a veritable flood of ebooks, and a subsequent lowering of standards.  In other words, it’s getting harder and harder to find a truly good book.

She advises that we concentrate on the one thing we have within our control:  producing the absolute best writing we are capable of.  That should be a writer’s first priority….quality work.


After that quality work is done, it is then time to publish and promote.  How many good writers have produced excellent work that has died in obscurity?  I would venture to guess tens of thousands.  As P.T. Barnum said, without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!

I’m going to give you three promotion sites. I mentioned one of them last week.  I’ll add two more this week.  All three sites exist to promote ebooks.  Two charge a fee; one is free.  All might prove to be helpful to you if you have published an ebook but don’t know what to do after you have bored your friends and family with your Facebook announcements.


The one I mentioned last week is Bookbub.  You can find their website here.  They are easily the largest of the three with the largest viewership and also the most expensive.

The second is called and you can find them here.  They are less expensive but they also reach a slightly smaller market.

The last one of the three is the newcomer.  Fussy is much smaller, much more selective when choosing authors, and they are free.  You can find them here.

I highly recommend that you check out these three sites if you’ve written an ebook or you are considering writing one.  They just might be the promotional tool you need for success.


This was a slightly different installment but I think a worthwhile one for those of you who have ebooks sitting around collecting dust.  I hope you found it interesting and useful.

Have a great weekend.  Rest up and come back next week primed and ready for greatness.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Where Can You Improve?

6 Jan

003And here we are in the year 2015, and I just have the feeling this is going to be a dynamic year for many of us as writers.  I’ll hold off on any personal predictions about personal lives, but many of you have paid your dues as writers and the good times are right around the corner.  Ride the positive vibes train with me and enjoy the journey.

Still, we need to keep growing, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today….continued growth.


Intelligent, successful, attractive people can be intimidating. They force us to hold a mirror to ourselves; we can be disappointed, jealous or inspired toward personal growth.

Ian K. Smith



I still haven’t found an agent for my novel “Resurrecting Tobias.”  I’ve been sending out query letters for a couple months now, but so far nothing.  I did get a very nice nibble from one recently, but after reading the entire manuscript she decided to pass on it.  However, she sent a note along encouraging me to contact her with my next novel.  She said I have talent and she would be very interested in my next work.

I mention that, not as a pat on my own back, but instead to point out that I still have growing to do.  I’m not there yet.  Do I like “Resurrecting Tobias?”  Most definitely!  Am I proud of it?  Again, most definitely!  Can I do better?  You bet your butt I can, and I will, but only if I continue to grow as a writer.


Sit down this week and pinpoint one area of your writing where you need to improve.  It may be marketing.  It may be introductions.  It may be voice or writing character descriptions or whatever.  I want you to name one thing and then decide how you are going to improve on that.  Draw up a plan for growth.


Writer’s Digest has a short story contest going on now.  Maximum words…..1,500.  First prize….$3,000.  You can read about the submission guidelines here.


Many of you already know Ruby from HP, but if you don’t, take a moment to stop by and support this very loyal and supportive friend of mine.  I promise you that you’ll be glad you did.  You can find Ruby by following this link.


If you want some extra promotion for your ebook, take a look at BookBub.  This site charges a fee to recommend your book to hundreds of thousands of readers.  It is, at the very least, worth taking a look at.  You can find it here.


I’m going to give you a tip, and you would be wise to take it and run with it.  One of the very pleasant surprises of 2014, for me, was meeting Iris Draak.  This is a woman who was born to motivate and coach, and I’ll tell you a secret that will not remain a secret for long:  she is one hell of a writer.

I urge you to follow her blog by following this link.  If you desire to improve as a writer, and you have visions of actually making money at some point in your writing career, then Iris is one person you’ll want to meet and form a working relationship with.

The other person I urge you to follow is Heidi Thorne. She is a marketing guru and if you need answers about “how to get the word out” that you are a writer, then Heidi can be your own personal fountain of knowledge.  You can find Heidi by following this link.


I’ve given you some great resources today, and a homework assignment I hope you complete.  Good luck with it all.  Let’s make 2015 the best year of writing any of us have experienced.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”