Archive | September, 2016

An Interview with Poet Christy Birmingham

27 Sep


I told you I was going to try and post one blog per week and by golly, so far I’m doing it.  Coincidentally, I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but I’m determined to get this blog out once a week and, well, here I am again, invading your privacy and demanding attention, like that obnoxious little kid at school who wouldn’t leave you alone, him in 2nd grade, you in 5th, and all you want to do is play soccer with your friends, but the little kid keeps tugging on your pants, demanding you play with him….sheez…leave me alone, kid, you scream, but it does no good and here he is again….

I think we better move on to a quote so I can catch my breath….and after the quote, we have a new interview with one of my favorite online friends and a dandy poet, Christy Birmingham.


“In skating there’s always another jump or another spin variation or another thing to learn, and that’s what I liked about it.” Gracie Gold

Never be afraid to try new things as a writer, not only in your writing, but also in your marketing.  Who knows, right?


I know, I know, I’m no poet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t toss around a few things I hear about.

How many of you poets have heard of Dodoitsu?  Well I hadn’t heard of it at all, but now I know what it is, and I’m passing it along.

Dodoitsu is a Japanese poetic form where the focus is on syllables instead of rhyme or meter.  Dodoitsu is a four-line poem which has seven syllables in each of the first three lines, and five syllables in the final line.  Traditionally, the Dodoitsu focuses on work or love, and it usually has a humorous twist to it.

Try it!  You just might like it.  Just don’t expect me to do so.


For those of you uninspired by the current choices of writing sites, stop on by HitRecord and see what’s happening there.  I have a couple projects there, tossing out the chum, so to speak, and so far I love their set-up.

The site is promoted and was started by actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I love the structure of it.  It is a collaborative site where you can download some work of yours and then others jump onto the project and can add to it…..and if that project attracts backers or editors or publishers, then you share in the rewards.

Take a look at it. I think you’ll find it interesting and unlike any other writing site you’ve belonged to.

Are there monthly payouts there? No, but the possibility of a big payout, if a project is purchased, is enough to make me want to stay there….plus, and I can’t emphasize this enough…it is added exposure for your talents, and that is always a good thing.

I really like this new site and I give them FIVE STARS!!!!!


And now I’m pleased to share an interview with you, this one with a very talented poet, Christy Birmingham.

Christy and I are HP veterans, but I like to think we are so much more. Christy hails from one of the prettiest cities in North America, Victoria, British Columbia.  What I can tell you about Christy can be summed up very quickly:  she not only has gobs of talent, but she is also one of the nicest human beings you will ever meet online.  I strongly encourage you to “friend” Christy and get to know her.  She will, in the end, make you feel better about life.

And now, here I give you, Christy Birmingham!

Hi Bill,


Thank you for patiently waiting while I wrote the answers 🙂


It is wonderful to think I will be part of your interview series!



1)      What is your main motivation for writing?  Put another way, what do you hope to accomplish with your writing?


My motivation to write comes from  my love of words. It’s as simple as that. Words fascinate me; I love the look and sound of them, and, even more than that, I adore how they convey emotions in readers.


Whether I am writing an article for a company or a poem for myself, I enjoy how the writing process evolves from my thoughts to the written result and how the finished work can influence a reader. I take immense pride in what I craft and use these creations to motivate me in the next project.



2)      What are your thoughts regarding the marketing of your writing? christy-2


Ah, marketing. I have read countless articles on strategies for authors to use to sell their books. For my two books, I have stuck to a fairly straightforward strategy.

I share what the books are about and put that message in front of eyes that I think will appreciate it. I mean, not everyone will want to read my poetry, so I’m not going to market my books to everyone on Earth. Instead, I’m going to reach out to people who have told me they like my writing or who seem open to poetry.


Let me put it another way: why market a steak to a vegetarian? It would be a waste of energy and other resources, honestly. The same is true of marketing poetry to a person who has no interest in even looking at my promotional post about the book online.


Note from Bill:  I love that line, “why market a steak to a vegetarian.”  Great line, Christy!



3)      What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?


I would tell this newcomer to treat writing as a business. It has many fun points but ultimately if you want to succeed at being a full-time writer, you have to treat it like a job. Work set hours, if you can, and be prepared for deadlines. If you want to take an afternoon off, so be it, but then you have to make up the time at some other point in the week, just like with an office job.


Also, set breaks for yourself just like you would for a 9-5 job. Yes, I call them my “breaks”; I take them in periods of 15 minutes (coffee breaks) and one hour (lunch break) each workday. I used to try to work nonstop at the start of this career and got burned out. Now I make myself take breaks and return to the computer mentally refreshed. In the end, surprisingly, I am more effective when I take breaks than when I do not do so. I assume most people are this way too.



4)      How do you juggle your personal life with your life as a writer?


This question has long plagued me, and there are still weeks when I struggle with maintaining balance. I recognize that social time is necessary, which I never used to understand. I often worked long days and then watched an hour of TV before going to bed. Now I understand it is important to have friends and maintain connections with my parents. By taking social time, I find I am happier overall than when I work endlessly (even with those 15-minute and 1-hour breaks I mentioned earlier).


I also make sure I exercise regularly as a way to lower my stress and feel better about my body. For one of my 15-minute breaks today, for example, I went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. I’m not talking about a hardcore fitness regime. Instead, I urge writers to stay healthy and be active, especially given that much of our work is done while sitting down at a computer.


Thank you, Bill, for having me over for a visit today! It was great to take stock of my journey as well as to remind myself about keeping balance in my days. I welcome further opportunities to connect with writers and readers via my blog Poetic Parfait, as well as on Twitter. My latest book is Versions of the Self, a collection of poems that reveal the world as a series of selves, including the singular “I” and romantic connections. Let’s keep cheering on one another!






I have never shied away from the truth.  Several times in the past I have mentioned that there is good news and bad news in the revolution of ebooks. The good news is now anyone can write and publish a book.  The bad news is now anyone can write and publish a book.  LOL  I am being brutally honest when I tell you there are a lot of really bad indie books out there….bordering on junky….and because of that proliferation, many readers are gun shy about buying a book from an indie writer.


Having said all that, take me at my word, Christy is a good one.  Her new book is excellent…her poetry is beautiful…and I would never hesitate to recommend it for purchase if you are at all inclined towards reading poetry.


Thank you so much, Christy, for doing this for me…for all of us….you are a quality human being and that, my friend, is my highest praise.




Keep in mind Christy’s advice.  Treat writing like a job, and remember those breaks during the day…..the world needs great writers, so set your sights higher than you once did, and soar!!!!!!!  And if you’ve got nothing better to do, stop by the Mailbag for questions and answers about writing.




“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



An Interview with Writer Janine Huldie

20 Sep


I hope you enjoyed my interview with John Hansen last week because I’ve got another one for you today, from one of my favorite writers, a freelance writer and web designer…..Janine Huldie.  Janine and I have known each other now for, oh, three or four years.  It was a chance meeting on the site HubPages.   I don’t remember the specifics of our first meeting, but I know what followed, a friendship based on mutual loyalty and the commonalities we share.

Janine was once a teacher, as was I.  She is now the mother of two beautiful daughters, and she owns her own freelance writing business as well as web design business.  Many things have changed since our first meeting, but one thing that has not changed is our mutual respect for each other.

You can find Janine on her very successful blog “Confessions of a Mommyaholic,” or on her equally successful web design website J9 Design.

But before we interview Janine, consider this…..


“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer


I saw that quote and immediately thought of Janine.  I saw that quote and immediately thought of myself.

As teachers, Janine and I knew what happiness was.  We totally enjoyed our time with our students, and there was many a day when we would have gladly done it for no pay at all….and now we are freelance writers, and we know a similar happiness, and that happiness has led us both to success….and ain’t that just too cool for words?


Go to book readings. Go to book signings.  Even if you don’t know the writer, go and support them.  We need to support one another, even if we don’t know the other writer, we really do know them, if you get my drift.  Karma will return to you….I promise!


1) What is your main motivation for writing?  Put another way, what do you hope to accomplish with your writing?


“I write simply, because I can. See writing for me is almost like breathing and like second nature to me.  That said it is a way to express myself and always has been.  Whether it is in response to something that happened to me or my family or for even something sponsored for payment, I just can’t help but feel the need or want to share my story in the written form for others to read, relate and maybe even learn something new along the way.”


2) What are your thoughts regarding the marketing of your writing?  What has worked well for you? What new avenues of marketing are you considering?


“As for marketing and advertising, I will say that I haven’t found a simple way or formula that has worked. Social sharing is the biggest and greatest used form of marketing and advertising in this day and age.  While I do love socially sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest, nothing has truly made me famous by any means.  But still, if I have had any success by the numbers, I would say Facebook has brought me a bit, as well as even being published in syndication on the likes of Huffington Post. But for all that both those avenues have afforded me in the past, I am not one to be able to deal with the so-called internet trolls or negativity.  So, I would much rather fly under the radar than deal with that kind of negative exposure.”


3) What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?


“Understand that writing is a way of life and while you may enjoy it at times, you may also loathe it all the same.  Writing can definitely be a love/hate relationship. But to persevere, you will need to understand that there will be great days and then there will be equally not so great even bordering on just plain awful.  If you can keep this one thing in mind, it will help you to keep on writing no matter what.”



4) If you could start all over again in writing, what one thing would you do differently?


“I am not sure I would do anything differently per say, because I feel like all that I have done so far as a writer has gotten me to this point.  See life, in general, is all about learning from whether it be from what you have done right or your mistakes, as well.  Yes, I have accomplished a great deal in the time I have been writing, but so too have I made my fair share of mistakes.  But still, as Frank Sinatra once crooned, “I did it my way” and wouldn’t have it any other way.”


5) How do you juggle your personal life with your life as a writer?


“In the early days of writing, I struggled with the balancing act of writer, mother, wife and more.  Hell, there are still times I do have my moments, but if I have learned anything over the course of my writing tenure it has been to walk away from it when I need and want to enjoy my family life and more.  See I am much more apt now to close down for the weekend, evenings and more to be much more present for my family than when I did first begin my journey as a writer.  Because, writing will always be here, but my family life to me is #1 and the most important part of my life.  Also, I am lucky that my family does support my goals and overall lifestyle as a writer.  But I want to make sure for all they do support me for that I am there not just physically, but mentally, as well when they need me the most.”




Wow! I can tell you without hesitation that Janine was speaking directly to me with her answers.  What a great interview.  And what an honest interview.  The part about loathing writing, at times, is so very true, and her realization that it is necessary, at times, to simply walk away and remember what is most important in life…..


Janine, thank you!  I think we all learned something valuable from this great interview.




I promised to tell you the good and the bad about the writing site Niume, so here goes.


I’ve been sharing there for two weeks now and overall I really like the site.  I haven’t had the time to interact with other writers there, but I have posted four articles and done well so far.  I have found the other writers there to be friendly and supportive.


Are there some drawbacks about the site?  Yes, but in my mind they are minor.  Posting is easy, as is editing after you post, but it takes awhile to figure out how to do both.  The same is true of posting pictures, but you can’t post captions on the pictures or if you can, I have yet to figure that out.


They have a wide array of social media “buttons” for sharing your posts, far more than HubPages has, so those of you really into social media will find that very helpful


And, oddly, there seems to be a glitch in their search engine.  I’ve had three people say they couldn’t find me on that site when they searched my name, and yet they could find me when searching the title of my posts….so that’s not terribly handy and hopefully it will be rectified shortly.


Overall I like it there!  I give them a “B” grade so far.




I’m not being bold or egotistical when I say that.  You need me. I need you.  Writing in today’s world…and trying to make money writing in today’s world….is like pushing a thousand-pound boulder uphill with one arm….it’s that tough and it’s getting tougher.


I follow five writing blogs as of this writing.  I probably should follow at least five more.  I never know when I’m going to pick up a pearl of wisdom from one of my writer friends, and hopefully I offer similar pearls of wisdom for them to use.


If you get nothing more out of this blog post than this statement it will have been worth reading:  we need each other!




NIUME offers a free blogging guide, so I’ll just pass it along to you now. Follow this link if you want to download it.




And next week I should have another interview for you. Stay tuned for another great glimpse into the mind and lifestyle of a writer.


Until then, thanks so much for stopping by.  And if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for that reader in your family, feel free to buy one of my books on Amazon, or you can check them out on this website under the link on the homepage….and if not mine (insert a smile here) then buy a book from another indie writer.


Bill   #greatestunknownauthor


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



An Interview With Author John Hansen

13 Sep

003Hooray!  I have an interview to share with you this week.

But first…..


“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

Cesar Chavez


I’m big on community.  If you know me then you know that’s true.  I believe in a sharing of prosperity, and I believe in a sharing of ideas.  Writers who believe they can make it on their own, without the support of other writers, are, in my opinion, delusional.

So today I want to share with all of you an interview I recently conducted with John Hansen.  Many of you know him as Jodah on HubPages.  Whatever you may call him, I call him a friend and a damned fine writer.

Let’s see what John has to say.

  • What is your main motivation for writing? Put another way, what do you hope to accomplish with your writing?


  1. A) my main motivation is just to be the best writer I can and for others to enjoy reading what I write. I have no real formal training in literature or writing other than High School English. In fact I am still learning, and my use of grammar etc still needs improvement. I do enjoy trying my hand at different forms of writing and genres. I love poetry but don’t want to corner myself into a niche.


  • What are your thoughts regarding the marketing of your writing? What has worked well for you? What new avenues of marketing are you considering?


  1. A) Until I began writing seriously on HubPages a few years ago I had really only written for myself and family (mainly poetry in birthday cards etc). I guess I wasn’t confident enough in my writing ability to let it be read publicly. My confidence has grown immensely thanks to the kind HubPage community and I decided to advertise my services writing poetry and text for children’s books and editing on Fiverr.

I only made about half a dozen sales and $100 in the first year, but then it seemed to suddenly take off and I now find myself working on at least one gig a day (usually more), making around $400 per month and growing largely due to repeat customers. Whoever said poetry isn’t still popular is mistaken because most of my requests are for rhyming poems.

My latest project is contributing to a book of poetry featuring a selection of poems written by the members of The Creative Exiles website ( It will be a hard copy first and maybe followed by an eBook.

Later we may consider a book of short fiction stories, and I am still considering publishing my own rhyming children’s picture books.


  • What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?


  1. A) The main advice I’d give is to write what makes you feel good. Topics that you have a genuine interest in or causes you feel strongly about. Too many people write for the money first and for the heart second. Whether it be prose or poetry doesn’t matter. If you don’t enjoy what you write, others won’t either. Don’t be discouraged by rejections.. even the greatest writers have received them. Just persist.


  • If you could start all over again in writing, what one thing would you do differently?


  1. A) Starting over again I would take my writing more seriously from a young age and pursue it more vigorously as a career path, possibly journalism, advertising etc. instead of putting it on the back-burner. I was always good at art and wrongly thought that was what I should concentrate on. Now, I’d like to combine the two.


  • How do you juggle your personal life with your life as a writer?


  1. A) This is a very good question, Bill. How do you? No, seriously, I fit my writing in wherever and whenever I can. Random time management is at play. I don’t have a set time to sit down and write but I take a pen and notebook with me wherever I go in case the urge strikes. I scribble notes to develop into something later.

Often I find myself sitting up in bed at 2 or 3am when an idea or my muse decides to prompts me. If I am writing to a deadline as with my Fiverr work, I always seem to fit it in somewhere and deliver it on time. I am not sure how.

I worry that my wife sometimes feels neglected but there is so much else happening that we are doing a lot together even if it isn’t recreational. Babysitting four grandsons for the last 10 days for instance. She is understanding and I think she’s ok.


Thanks for inviting me to do this interview, Bill. It has been a pleasure.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but I guess that is what happens when you interview someone who loves to write.


All the best,

John Hansen




And next week I’m going to have another interview for you, so stay tuned for that. John Hansen has two books of poetry available on  Check them out by following this link.




To answer a question I was asked earlier about the new creative writing site I am trying (NIUME), payment is made when you reach $10 in a month, and you earn one dollar for every 1,000 views.  I honestly don’t know if that’s better than HP or not.  Seems to me it is, but honestly I haven’t done the math.  I do know I’m probably going to continue to take some of my HP creative writing and move it over to NIUME where it is appreciated, and I’ll also do some new creative writing for The Creative Exiles where it is also appreciated.




Thanks, as always, for the visit.  My new Shadow novel is coming along nicely.  I just passed the 35,000 word level.  When I’m done I’ll probably need some beta readers…hint, hint.


Bill   #greatestunknownauthor


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



A Slight Change of Focus

6 Sep


I’m going to make every attempt possible to be a little more consistent with my postings here.  I do believe in consistency, but life has tossed me a few lemons of late, and that’s knocked me off my schedule and stride.

So I’m shooting for once a week from now on. Wish me luck.

I’m also going to attempt to be more helpful as we move forward, toss out some suggestions, see if I can’t help all of you as you travel along your writing path.

So let’s see how it goes!


“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

That quotation hits me right between the eyes.

I am my own worst enemy.  Always have been.  I am never satisfied with what I do.  I am always convinced I am falling just short of where I should be.  Let me tell you, it’s one hell of a burden, and for a writer, who should exercise patience above all other attributes, not being patient is not a great recipe for success.

Writing is a long-term undertaking.  Overnight success rarely happens in this business, and those who think that rule does not apply to them probably should not be writers.

I have to constantly remind myself of that fact.


Your ultimate goal probably will not, and should not, change, but the way you attain that goal can, and probably should, change.

If your approach is not working then for the love of the gods, try a different approach.  My dad used to say there is no sense in beating a dead horse.  The same philosophy applies to marketing.  If your marketing plan is failing then find a new one.  Never be afraid of trying new marketing approaches.  I recently tried selling my books at farmers markets.  That idea failed miserably when measured by the sales of books, and I probably won’t do it next summer, but that doesn’t mean it failed totally.  It helped to get my name out to the buying public.  It put a face to a name, and allowed me to discuss writing with real-life people.  All of these are good things and should never be minimized.

There are a thousand and one ways to market your writing, so if you’ve only tried five so far, you’ve got a few to go.


Well, not really new, but relatively new, a couple years, but I want you to check it out if you’re interested in making a little online money while doing what you love to do…writing.  It’s called NIUME and it is causing a stir, kind of like HP did six years ago.  I believe the corporate entity is out of the UK, and they advertise themselves as a blogging community.  They are getting well-established, or so the reports go, so it might be worth a look.  Let me know what you think.  I’m intrigued enough to consider it with some of my old Hubs that are gathering dust on HP.

If you are interested, use my personal referral link and I’ll receive money when you sign up.  You have nothing to lose.  It costs nothing to check it out.  You know I’m a staunch member of HubPages, so I must feel pretty good to even mention another site.

What I loved first about this site is the ease with which you sign up for revenue share.  You simply give your PayPal login email address and that’s it. No signing up for Google Adsense, no waiting to qualify with a certain amount of articles….ten seconds and you are in the payment system.

Anyway, check it out.  This is not a recommendation as much as it is a suggestion.


“Outlast the lucky, outwork the lazy.”  Jeff Goins


I’ve mentioned this site before but it bears repeating.  A friend of mine on HubPages, John, known as Jodah on HP, has started a new site specifically for creative writers and poets. That site is called The Creative Exiles.  Check them out if you are tired of the constrictions and restrictions that sites like HP put on you.

This is not a revenue-based site but it is a site where you can rub shoulders with a supportive community of writers, and it is a site where your creative writing will be showcased.

What do you have to lose?


In a perfect world, here’s what I would have happen: I would be left to just writing.  I would then turn my writing over to my own personal publicist.  At the same time I would hire a tech whiz who would handle the setting up of podcasts, videos and other tech gadgets so I didn’t have to sweat blood trying to learn it all.

But it’s not a perfect world, is it?  What we are left with is what we can do by ourselves.B.T.K.C. x5A

In other words, we do what we can.


Yes, I said Christmas!  Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa!

But let’s face it, it’s getting closer, so we might as well acknowledge that fact…and for most of us, Christmas will eventually mean Christmas shopping for those near and dear to us.

Might I suggest a couple ideas for gifts?  How about supporting your writing friends and give one of their books as a gift?  If we truly do belong to a writing community of friends, then let’s truly support those friends by buying their books as gifts for other friends….and the circle goes round and round…sing it with me!  James Patterson has sold enough books.  Let’s spread the wealth a little.

Need some ideas?  How about the following:

“The Carriage Driver” by Mike Friedman

“Versions of the Self” by Christy Birmingham


  • Make personal connections
  • Tell stories
  • Practice and when you are finished, practice again.



I’m busy doing some marketing research.  I’m interested in new ways of getting my name out there without shoving it down my friends’ throats and becoming tiresome to those who have already supported me….so I’m killing the rest of this afternoon scouring the billions of tons of information out there, looking for an idea that resonates with me.

I wish you a fantastic week of writing. Thank you so much for your support and friendship.

In the next few blogs I’ll be interviewing some fellow writers and picking their brains. Stay tuned for that.

And for those who inquired, the latest in the Shadow series is coming along nicely.  I’m at the 1/3rd mark and it is flowing better than I had hoped.  It will be titled “Shadows Over a Hangman’s Noose.”

Bill    #greatestunknownauthor

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”