Archive | February, 2015

Spring Cleaning

24 Feb

003Happy Tuesday once again, the last week of February and I don’t know about you, but that’s great news to me.  When February is gone I can officially think about spring, and spring means longer days, and a brighter shade of gray here in western Washington…all great reasons to celebrate.

I think I’m finally done with my third novel.  I think!  I mean, I could tinker with it for another twelve months, but I’m happy with it now and I’m pleased with the main character, so I think I’m officially done with it.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to hire someone to do the final edit for me, so I’ll have to rely on some friends to help in that regard.  Between four or five of us we should be able to catch most of the grammatical errors.

And then it will be time to start sending out query letters to agents, and since that process will take months, it could easily be 2016 before I know if this book was accepted by anyone out there.

Meanwhile, I’ll start in on the sequel to this book because, well, that’s what writers do…we write.  The working title of this next novel will be “The Shadows Have Eyes.”  Stay tuned.

So how’s it going with you?  What’s happening in your writing world?  I’m going to be busy spring-cleaning my writing world.  I need to toss out those things that are unnecessary and distracting.  I need to deep-six things that are not productive.  By April I want to be a lean, mean, writing machine, and that leads us to the quote of the day.


Organizing ahead of time makes the work more enjoyable. Chefs cut up the onions and have the ingredients lined up ahead of time and have them ready to go. When everything is organized you can clean as you go and it makes everything so much easier and fun.

Anne Burrell
Can you see where I’m headed yet?


I’m not new to this writing game, but comparatively speaking I’m really still a fledgling writer.  There is much for me to learn and I’m eager to learn it, but one thing I don’t need to learn because it is part of my DNA is organization.  I need to be organized.  I really can’t accomplish much in a state of chaos, so periodically I need to toss out the unnecessary and embrace the necessary.  In the world of frugal living it’s called “needs vs wants,” and the same principle holds true for me in writing.

It is so easy to get distracted when working from home.  Self-employment means having no boss to keep you on task and yes, that’s very cool, but it also is a pitfall that is just waiting for a misstep.  You know I’m speaking the truth if you are self-employed.  The phone rings, there is a knock on the door, a new video you just have to see on Youtube, and pretty soon four hours are gone and you’ve accomplished nothing.

Because of that, I need to toss out those distractions from time to time….those little things that drain me of time, effort and emotions.  If I don’t do that then I will become a crazy man who produces very little.


Take a look at your production to date.  Are you where you want to be?  Are you being held back by something?  Is there time being wasted on things that are unproductive?  If so, it’s time to spring-clean your life and get your writing back on track.


Any flash fiction fans out there?  Here’s a flash fiction contest. Only seven bucks per submission, and submissions are accepted until March 29thCheck it out here.


What does your platform look like today compared to what it looked like a year ago?  If you say the same then you simply aren’t working hard enough at your craft and yes, that is called tough love.


On to self-serving promotion.  Let me share a review for “Resurrecting Tobias” that I recently received.

“Even after closing this stunning book, I remain within it’s pages. I don’t want to leave. One thought repeats in my mind. “You MUST read this novel.” Few words can adequately describe this masterful work. You must experience it’s depth, and the authenticity of human frailties, the explosive power of pure love and loyalty and the miracle of Forgiveness. Tobias Alexander King will taunt you to follow him, love him, hate him, hold your breath and ultimately admire and applaud him. You will not rest until this story’s end overwhelms every fiber of your being. Even then, like me, you will want to remain.” Paula Jamison

You can order your copy of “Resurrecting Tobias” from Amazon by following this link.



It’s been a blast and now it’s time to continue with my spring cleaning. Have a wonderful week of writing and I’ll catch you next week, same time, same station.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Understand the Process

17 Feb

003And a very happy February whatever to you.  Whatever, I say, because I’m not sure when I’ll finish and post this blog.  I’m knee-deep in final edits of my latest novel, and it is taking me longer than I suspected, and that means I need to adjust other things….and that means this blog will get done when it gets done.

Why are the edits taking so long?  Because the book just isn’t right yet…it’s that simple.  I’m still not satisfied with the main character, and since he’s carrying the load, so to speak, I think it would be nice if I helped him by clearly defining him.  So the battle continues, but it’s a battle of love.  The book will be finished when the book is finished and not a moment before.  For me, it’s all about trusting the process.


Sometimes we make the process more complicated than we need to. We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how long it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination.

Joseph B. Wirthlin
True words, Joseph, and I thank you for them.


I don’t know how many times I’ve had this conversation with new writers.  Heck, for that matter, I’ve had the same chat with students and employees.  There is a process that must be respected in any undertaking.  You simply can’t rush the process.  Learning takes time, my friends, and anyone who thinks they are going to master a task or craft quickly is a fool.

Quite frankly I’m amazed by some online writers who think they are going to go online and start making money immediately, or fiction writers who think they will whip out a book in a few months and make thousands of dollars.  It might happen once in a blue moon, but we’re talking once out of seven billion people.


The tip if five words long:  get a grip on reality.

Okay, I’ll add to that.  You have to pay your dues.  You have to learn your craft.   You have to learn about marketing and social media.  It is all part of the package of becoming a successful writer.

Get a grip on reality.


Sorry to cut this short but I’ve got things to do.  I wish you all a successful day.  I wish you all a successful week.  I wish you all…success.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Stop Making Excuses

10 Feb

003Here we are, February 10th already, and here in Olympia it looks the same as it did in October, and November, December and January.  Temps approaching sixty, hardly dipping into the forties at night…very strange weather.

I’ve heard from several of my beta readers and now I’m working on Shadows Kill once again.  I am blessed to have friends who do not hesitate to tell me like it is, and their suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.  I’ll make some changes that they suggested….others I won’t.   Deciding which changes to make and which to ignore is, in the final analysis, a job only the author can do.  It’s somewhat of a crap shoot, really.  There is a lot of guesswork that goes into writing a novel.  A writer needs to distance himself from the book and see it logically and without emotion, and that is not an easy thing to do with a work of fiction that has consumed six months of the writer’s life.

So we trudge on!

I’m also working on the first draft of the query letter I’ll be sending to agents and publishers.  As I mentioned before, Shadows Kill will not be self-published until all effort has been made to sell it to a traditional publisher.  Maybe a year from now, when defeat is obvious, I’ll self-publish it, but until then, I’m going to hound the agents and publishers and see if I can’t get them to love my book and pay money for it.

So, that’s my update.  Now let’s move on to more important matters.


There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.

William James
I don’t think there is any doubt how William James feels about indecision.  LOL


I don’t know how many writers I have heard from who suffer from indecision, but it is quite a few.  Usually the indecision is tied closely with self-doubt.  They don’t believe in themselves strongly enough, and that leads to a paralysis of analysis.  Is this chapter right? Is this story strong enough? What if people don’t like my writing?  And on and on they go, and while they are wallowing in a deep lake of self-doubt, nothing gets published.

If you are a writer, at some point you simply have to trust in your ability.  The worst thing that can happen…the absolute worst…is that people won’t like what you have written, but that simply means you need to work on your craft.


Quit making excuses!  If you have an unfinished novel sitting around gathering dust, don’t you think it’s about time you dust it off and let it see the light of day?  If you have been delaying writing a short story because of a crisis of self-doubt, it really is time for you to get over yourself and publish the damn thing.

That’s called tough love and I’m full of it.


Harper Lee!  Need I say more?  Fifty-five years after the release of her masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird, she has a new novel coming out in July.  I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited I just might wet myself. J


I really do enjoy introducing new writers to all of you. I think it is crucial that we give our support to the new writers out there. I would hate to see an exceptional writer give up before the miracle happens.  Please reach out and give some support to this young lady I recently discovered.  Her name is Christy Maria and I would love it if you gave her some support as she begins her journey.


Thanks to Cristen for passing this along.  The Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards is taking submissions from now through April 15thYou can find it by following this link.  First prize is $8000 and of course, the notoriety that goes along with it.  Check it out!


If you would like to read my last novel, Resurrecting Tobias, you can find it on Amazon by following this link.  It currently sells for $4.99 Kindle and $11.66 for paperback.


Have a superb week of writing.  Remember to take time for yourself this week.  Go for a walk, enjoy a mocha, watch a thoroughly decadent movie…..but enjoy life, whatever you do.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Perfection is a Myth We Should Aim For

5 Feb

003Two blogs in one week.  What in the world is going on in my life to allow me so much free time?

Well, for whatever reason, I’m just running on all cylinders this week, and I’m ahead of the game, so I’ll take my free time and dazzle you with some more information and thoughts about writing.

I’ve been saying now for three weeks that I’m basically done with my third novel, “Shadows Kill.”  Well, I’m still “basically done.”  That means I’m still tweeking it, still fine-tuning it, and still fiddling around with it.  It’s just not quite right.  It’s just not quite perfect.

Nor will it ever be.

The thing is….this book will never be perfect.  I could be reading it for the next year and still find something to add or subtract from it.

Let’s take a look at a quote and then move on.


Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation.

Nia Peeples
I should find out who Nia Peeples is because I love that quote. J


When I wrote my first novel three years ago, I thought it was perfect.  Today I’d love to re-write it because I see so much that is wrong in cover

When I finished my second novel nine months ago, I thought it was perfect.  Today I’d love to change the format a bit because I know it would work much better.

As I approach the completion of my third novel, I feel it is perfect in every way although I know, from experience, that it is far short of perfect and will need fine-tuning six months from now.

What’s the point?

Perfection is a myth and unattainable by us.  What is attainable, however, is being the best we can be at any given time.

My third novel is infinitely better than my first, but my first was the best I could do when it was written.  In other words, I am growing as a writer.  My craft is improving, and to me, that’s what our goal should be…to constantly improve our craft.


Cut yourself some slack.  Do the best that you can do and then move on.  You can always revisit it again.


Say hello to Sara Riaz on HubPages.  I just discovered this young lady and I have to tell you, I was immediately impressed.  She has a pretty good command of the English language and how it should be used.  If you have a craving for good writing, follow this link.


Moz has an interesting article about keyword research.  If you are into the whole SEO thing, then this article might be helpful to you.  Follow this link to read that article.


The Paterson Fiction Prize is taking submissions right now. It is for novels or collections of short stories published in 2014, and the deadline is April 15th I believe.  They also have a contest for poetry, and there is no submission fee. Check it out here.


I have some serious concerns about the quality of many books being self-published today.  If the goal is to simply publish a book that your family and friends can read, then fantastic.  I guess quality isn’t all that important.  But if your goal is to actually sell the book to the general public, or have an agent or publisher take a look at it, then quality is vital.  There is no rushing the creative process.  Simply calling something a book doesn’t make it worth reading.

Would you like a rather odd analogy?  Back in the old days, Sears came out with their catalog, and it was, honest to God, a big event.  People would sit and thumb through that catalog for weeks. I know this is true because I remember it as a kid.

Do you know what happened to many of those catalogs back in the early 1900s?  They ended up in an outhouse and they were used for wipes.

Be the best writer you can be.  Produce the best work you can produce!

Have a great week!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


A Guest Blog Post by Dr. Bill Smith

3 Feb

003Happy February to you all!

It’s funny how our perception can alter reality at times, or at least distort it enough to make it palatable.  In my mind, once January is over with, so is winter.  My mind immediately switches into gardening mode when February arrives.  I start planning for spring. I start looking at seed catalogs.  I head outside and turn over the soil and continue to put additives in it, and I spend some time preparing my gardening tools for the planting season ahead.  It might still be forty degrees out, but for me, winter is in the rear view mirror.

The days are longer and that means the winter blues are lifting for me.  Listen, I live in Olympia, Washington, and we only have, on average, 85 days of sunshine per year. That means a whole lot of gray for many, many days.  Add to that the darkness of winter, and it is a recipe for some serious winter blues.  So I may be grasping at straws, but I celebrate February for good reason.  Allow me to live in my fantasy world, please.

Today we have a guest blogger.  Allow me to introduce you to William Smith.  Bill is a writer on HP and the author of the Homesplace Series, a wonderful group of historical fiction stories and novels that I thoroughly enjoy.

Without any further introduction, let me say welcome to Bill, and I’ll turn it over to him now.


Guest Post for Bill Holland blog


“Why I write what I write…”


Bill Holland is a great inspiration to many of us as well as a fine teacher of writing, for which I offer my personal thanks. He often reminds us that each of us is very different in our interests and our output as well as being very similar in the skills and attitudes needed to write successfully… whatever your gauge for success may be.


Today I want to share with you, new readers and long-time readers as well, “why I write what I write.” I write family saga stories. Since they all happen in the past, they also qualify, at least in a general sense, as historical fiction. Virtually all of my stories are based on my twenty plus years of family history and genealogy research and my life experiences – 75 plus years living all over these United States of America. I do/have written non-fiction, as well, but I most enjoy sharing my stories by way of fiction. I hope and assume those of you who choose to read them will enjoy them.


I began with a story of a family set in a place: “Back to the Homeplace” by William Leverne Smith. I used my full names on my novels, all available at… with a name like mine, it was a challenge, let me tell you. Some of my writing also uses “Dr. Bill” – which is a brand, if you will, that I have promoted a bit, mostly since I retired from university teaching… that is what many of my students called me, and it stuck.


That first story was based on a ‘video will’ a ‘matriarch’ of the family wrote to entice her children to return home to their roots, her roots, on the Century Farm (actually more than 150 years) on which she and her children and many of their ancestors had lived. How would you have felt with that ‘enticement’ to be part of a will (involving hundreds of acres of good farm land and substantial cash investments)? The reactions of the children, from around the USA, are at heart of the story of that first novel.


As I was finishing that novel for self-publication in my first year of retirement, my mind kept being drawn to that ’150 years and more’ of family history on that farm and why Mildred (the matriarch) was so intent that the land stay in her family and not be broken up and sold off in pieces. This led to my very detailed research of the place and times of the Homeplace farmland I had created (that creation had actually begun in 1987, the year in which “Back to the Homeplace” is actually set). Here when I say ‘research’ of course, it was a combination of actual research and creation of a set of families who lived the lives I was ‘researching.’ The Civil War was also set in the middle of time time period. Towns in this southern Missouri Ozarks valley were right between the Union and the Confederacy forces, and were mostly totally wiped out by guerrilla fighters, both sides, during the war. So, this became part of the series of short stories that I recently published titled: “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-186).” Three of the Founding short stories had previously been published, in each of three years, in a regional writer’s group Annual Anthology. It is very interesting where writing these stories has taken me, as a writer. Book signings are among the more exciting.


Along the way, I also published “Murder by the Homeplace” (a novella set in 1987, immediately following the first novel), “The Homeplace Revisited” (set in mid-1996 focused on the next generation of the central family), “Christmas at the Homeplace” (set in fall and winter of 1996). “3 Threats to the Homeplace” is set to be published late in 2015 (set in 1999). Collectively, I now promote all of these stories as “The Homeplace Saga” with a home base at my blog: My retirement, genealogy and book blogs are listed in the right sidebar of the homeplace blog.


I discovered HubPages, and Bill Holland (billybuc), in late 2013, and began writing (up to 64 hubs, today) in a new series of short stories I call “Weston Wagons West” ( These are fictional stories that actually share specifics of my personal family history in the USA from the 1600s into the 19th Century using the eyes of a fictional family to tell the stories of my families, as if they were close friends and neighbors. It has been a fun adventure, and I’ve enjoyed the feedback I’ve gotten from readers very much.


At I dabbled a bit with a few stories related to “The Homeplace Saga” stories. As I worked through The Founding stories, I created a new family in Oak Springs, in 1876-77, that has now become a 40-episode (2 volume Ebook) series “The King of Oak Springs” continuing the Homeplace stories through their eyes. When my Squidoo account was merged into HubPages, that created: There I have added a 24-episode ‘murder mystery’ by an ‘author’ who is a character in “The Homeplace Saga” series.


I find that I cannot “not write.” I have stories to tell. I must share them. I have the good fortune (I think that is what it is… don’t burst my bubble, please) to not need to write for money. I write for the sheer love of writing and sharing what I love. These are ‘real people’ to me, and I want you to get to know them as well. That is why ‘I write what I write.’


Dr. Bill 😉




My sincere thanks to Bill for doing the guest blog today.   You can find Bill on HubPages by following this link. I hope you visit him and give this fine writer the support he deserves.


Have a great week of writing, my friend.




“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”