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Sweet Melancholy and Syncronicity

25 Apr

Yes, I recently changed the format of this blog. It was not your imagination if you noticed.

The thing is, I’m a storyteller.  There is no sense fighting it, or acting like I’m something else. I love the rich tradition of storytellers over our history as a species, and I enjoy being a part of that tradition. So I’m switching this blog more towards storytelling and the lessons to be learned from those stories.

I hope you don’t mind too much.

TODAY’S STORY

I played baseball in high school and college.  Loved the sport. Still do.  My dad started me on that path, playing catch with me when I was very young, hitting balls to me, great father and son moments that will forever be in my memory.

About the time I turned eleven I declared I was going to be the greatest pitcher in history.  I would be drafted out of college, go on to be Rookie of the Year in the Major Leagues, then MVP, Cy Young, and on to the Hall of Fame.  Simple as that!

I worked hard that first year, throwing fastballs at a cement wall, working on my control, and I was seriously pumped to get my career started in that first game.

I got lit up!  The harder I tried to throw, the harder those batters would hit the ball. My God, it was like a track meet around the bases.  Mercifully, after three innings, the coach came out and took me out of the game. Thank God!

As you might suspect I was heartbroken.  My dreams of a baseball career were shattered at the age of eleven.  I figured maybe some other sport would be better, something not quite as hard as baseball . . . and then my dad sat me down.

“I stink, Dad!  The harder I threw, the harder they hit it.”

“No doubt about it, buddy,” he said.  “You stunk up the field today.  Now I suppose you’re going to quit, right?”

This wasn’t like my dad.  No way he’s that calm about his son wanting to quit something.  I was confused.

“What am I supposed to do, dad?  You saw me out there.  Everything I threw they hit.  If I can’t throw hard enough to get it by them, how am I supposed to win a game?”

He ruffled my hair.

“Bill, you need to pitch smarter, not harder.”

He then went out and taught me how to throw a knuckleball and a curve.

And I made it all the way to my junior year in college before my shoulder finally said enough and I was medically incapable of pitching again.

DAD’S LESSON

That lesson has stayed with me all these years…learn to throw smarter, not harder…and a larger lesson…don’t give up….find a way….if you want it bad enough, work your ass off for it.

I miss my dad!  He died just about the same time my shoulder died.  There is great synchronicity in that fact.  And sweet melancholy, of course.  J

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

How Very Lucky I Am

18 Apr

REFLECTIONS

When I was eighteen, the summer before my freshman year in college, I got a great job at a fruit & produce warehouse.  The job paid $10 per hour and, please note, this was in 1966…that was great money back then and, in fact, it was more money than my dad was making at his job.

Anyway, my job consisted of unloading boxcars of produce, loading trucks, bagging potatoes for grocery stores, putting orders together . . . it was hard, physical work, but I was in good shape and like I said, the money was superb.

I came home from work one hot summer day and I was complaining because I was asked, at work, to sort through a particularly nasty load of potatoes and sort out the rotten ones.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a rotten potato before, especially one that has sat in a hot boxcar for a few days, but trust me when I tell you the smell will gag you.  So I was not a happy boy when I sat down at dinner and commenced to complain to my parents.

That complaining went over about as well as farting in church.

My dad, who left high school his sophomore year to ride the rails looking for work during the Great Depression, was not impressed with my complaining.  In fact, he hit the roof!  He informed me, in rather colorful language, that I was getting paid damned good money, money many people would gladly take, and it was honest work and I should shut up and do what was asked of me, and I should do it well, the best I could, and I’m sure he went on telling me that people were dying of starvation around the world, and single mothers worked three jobs to feed their kids, and, well, you get the point.  It was not a pleasant meal!

But the lesson was learned!

It’s been fifty years since I had that lesson force-fed to me over dinner, and I haven’t forgotten it.  I do my jobs without complaining.  Every job is important.  I am grateful for the jobs I have. Thank you, Dad!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” Jack Canfield
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Here’s the thing:  comparatively speaking, in a world with over seven billion people, there is but a handful of people who can do what we do, and do it well.  I am lucky to be a writer.  I make a living doing something I love doing.  I make a living out of creating stories which entertain people.  I am paid money to touch the hearts and souls of people.

That is an important job and I never want to consider it anything less.

What I do is incredibly important, and what you do is important, and we really need to be thankful and do the best damned job we can.

End of sermon!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Limitations: Real or Manufactured?

11 Apr

When I was five years old, way back in 1953, my parents purchased a home after renting for the first eight years of marriage, and we moved to 4022 North 18th in Tacoma, Washington.  As a way of lessening the trauma of a major move, my parents bought me a new puppy.

She was a Toy/Rat Terrier, all-black with a white chest, and I named her Pixie.

Pixie was a small dog, full of energy, and I was thrilled to have her.  The plan was  for Pixie to stay in our backyard, a yard surrounded by four-foot high fencing.  It was a decent-sized yard, certainly with enough room for a small dog to frolic in.

But Pixie had a different idea.

One day I went out to feed Pixie and she wasn’t in the backyard.  I must have spent a good five minutes confirming the obvious, that my small dog had somehow escaped, and then I yelled for my mother, tears in my eyes, and she and I went around to the front yard and there was Pixie, contentedly chewing on a stick of wood under the willow tree, apparently without a care in the world.

Mom scooped up the dog, took her around to the back, and locked the gate.  She and I both went inside and watched Pixie.  It didn’t take long for the mystery to be solved.

Our backyard and the neighbor’s backyard were separated by a stone wall, and our fence butted up against that stone wall.  Pixie took a run at that corner, leapt up on that stone wall, pushed off it at an angle, and vaulted off the top of our fence to the other side.

It was pretty impressive for a miniature dog.

From that day on, we just left the gate open, and Pixie had free run of the front and backyards.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” James Cook
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

There are certain things I simply cannot do in my sixty-eighth year.  I can no longer throw a fastball ninety-miles-per-hour like I did as a teen.  I can no longer run like the wind nor can I climb mountains with reckless abandon.

But I can still write, and I can find time to write, and I can definitely find time to practice my craft and become a better writer.  I have no excuses with regards to writing.

How about you?

HAVE A GREAT DAY…

Unless, of course, you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

The Fickleness of the Muse

4 Apr

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I raise quail.

We recently had a new hatch in the incubators, 120 of the little darlings popping out of their eggs over the span of three days.

Quail incubate for about seventeen days.  Some will be born at Day Sixteen; most on Day Seventeen; and then there are the stragglers on Day Eighteen.

I love the anticipation of the new hatches.  I’ll stand for fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes sometimes, on Day Sixteen, waiting to see a little beak punch through the shell.  Funny thing, though, it never happens when I’m watching.  I’ll stand there and stand there, watching, waiting, and invariably the moment I walk away and start doing something else, I’ll hear the little peep telling me I once again missed an arrival.

Ideas for writing happen the same way for me.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When inspiration does not come, I go for a walk, go to the movie, talk to a friend, let go… The muse is bound to return again, especially if I turn my back!” Judy Collins
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Like my baby quail, my muse shows up when she is damned good and ready, and trying to force her appearance is a fool’s task.  Luckily, I have more than enough things to do, like farming and making coloring books, so I don’t have to stare at the keyboard waiting for an idea to appear. I just go live life and wait for inspiration.

It usually comes quickly!

UPDATE ON COLORING BOOKS

My “Urban Farming Coloring Book” has officially outsold my last two novels, and it did so in a mere three weeks.

I’m not going to allow myself negative thoughts about my serious writing. I’m just going to be grateful for the sales and move forward.

But I do find it amusing, for whatever reason.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

You’ve got things to do and I’ve got things to do, so let’s go do them. Thanks for the visit. I hope you found something of interest.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Afraid To Take the Plunge

28 Mar

 

One of my favorite places when I was growing up was Surprise Lake.  It was located about ten miles from our home, and maybe three or four times each summer our family would drive to the lake, bring along a picnic lunch, and make a day of swimming and lazing in the sun.

From the beach there was a horseshoe-shaped dock, and maybe thirty feet from the dock there was a very large wooden float. Rising above that float was a wooden tower, and on that tower were three diving boards, one at ten feet in height, one at twenty-five feet, and one at fifty.

I was ten-years old when I first jumped off the ten-footer.  I was twelve-years old when I stepped off the twenty-five footer, but that fifty-foot board scared the hell out of me. When I was fifteen I climbed up to the top diving board.  My knees literally shook when I walked out on that diving board and looked down at the water.  I couldn’t do it.  Fear had paralyzed me. Eventually I sheepishly walked back to the ladder, climbed down, and joined my parents on the beach.

It’s too high, Dad,” I said as I sat down next to him.

“It’s pretty damned high, that’s for sure,” he said.  “There’s no shame in not jumping, son.  No shame at all.  But the thing is, that fear you were feeling, that doesn’t go away unless you face it.  There’s no way to talk yourself out of fear.  It’s not something you sit down and have a rational discussion with.  Something I learned about fear, over the years, is it will stay with you forever unless you laugh in its face and kick it in the balls. Plain and simple, Bill.”

The next summer I took the plunge from that fifty-footer.  I spent an entire year worrying about that jump and talking myself into taking it.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” Eleanor Roosevelt
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY

I can’t even begin to count the number of people I’ve known over the course of my lifetime who were afraid to try something new.  I saw it as a teacher and I see it today as a writer, and usually the fear is of failure.  What if I fail? What will people think of me? What will I think of myself?  What will happen if I take the risk and fall flat on my face?

I know this to be true, and I’m going to toss it out for you to consider: I’m sixty-eight years old, and my time on this planet is dwindling down.  I don’t have time for fear, and I don’t have time to waste being paralyzed by fear.  The worst that can happen, by trying, is nowhere near the worst that can happen by not trying.

Thus speaketh the old man!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY

Meet my new friend Dale…here is her website/blog, A Dalectable Life….I like her style and her outlook on life, and I’m pretty sure you will too.

SECOND SHOUTOUT OF THE DAY

Another friend of mine, Sydney Spence, just recently published a coloring book for young kids…

Hippo Henry and Friends….you can find it on Amazon by following this link.  It’s for a good cause, proceeds going to her local school, and community programs for kids, for much-needed supplies.  Sydney also has a website where all of her other books are listed and you can find that here.

AND THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

Most of you who follow this are writers, so let me ask this of you: what are you afraid of doing? What is fear holding you back from?

Kick fear in the balls!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

It’s Lonely Without Love

21 Mar

My dad died when I was twenty.

No single event in my life has had as much impact, on me, as that did.

January 9, 1969, three days before his fiftieth birthday, he died of a massive heart attack on a cold, cold night in Tacoma, Washington.

I was home from college for the weekend.  He and I were watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  He said he wasn’t feeling well, got up to go to the bathroom, and dropped dead.  I called 911, held him, and he died.

End of story!

Except it really isn’t the end of the story.

I was adopted at nine months.  I’ve never known my biological parents. I have no idea who they are. All I know is Dale LeRoy Holland, three years removed from serving in World War 2, and Evelyn Josephine O’Dowd, recently annulled from a previous marriage, hooked up in 1948 and decided to adopt a blind kid.

It turned out pretty damned good for all of us.

Now I mention all that because people keep asking me where my work ethic comes from, and they state, in wonder, that I’m able to achieve so much (they don’t add ‘in my advanced age’).  But the reason is in that grave, in Tacoma, Washington, with the grave marker that says “Dale LeRoy Holland.”

I am my father’s son, with or without the biological similarities.

I was told, as a child, that working hard is something to be proud of. I was told that limitations are for people with a very narrow view of life.  I was told that the time we have on this planet is precious and shouldn’t be wasted.  And I was told to find something I loved to do and then become the best I can be at it.

It’s been almost fifty years now since that cold January night, but my dad still lives on, in me, and I’m his proud son.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I think the whole world is dying to hear someone say, ‘I love you.’ I think that if I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world, then I think I’ve done my job in a world that’s getting colder and colder by the day.” Lionel Richie
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I love you!

Take that to the bank and deposit it.

I love each and every one of you!

FINAL THOUGHT

Do you love to write?

Is writing a passion for you?

Then what are you waiting for? Write like your tail feathers are on fire.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Riding the Rails for Success

14 Mar

I’ve mentioned this before, here and in some of my articles, so hang with me while I tell it again.

My dad dropped out of high school as a sophomore during the Great Depression.  He packed a bag and jumped the first freight train he could find in Iowa, and for the two years he rode the rails in search of spare jobs.  He would do whatever was offered, make a few bucks, and send that money back to his parents to help them pay the farm bills.

I want to stop and let that sink in for a moment. I think we all live a reasonably comfortable life.  Oh sure, it would be nice to have some extra money, but by and large most who are reading this have the comforts of home and have food in the pantry.  I doubt seriously if any out there reading this are so desperate that they need to pack a bag, jump on a freight train, and leave home for two years in search of money to pay bills.

I find it amazing that he did that, and he certainly wasn’t alone on his travels.

Anyway, this was the man who was my father, and you better believe he taught his son lessons about self-reliance and determination . . . lessons that have stayed with me now for sixty-eight years.

My dad would not tolerate excuses, and he wouldn’t tolerate failure.  In his opinion, failure came when you gave up, and giving up was not an option…thus, failure did not happen!  End of story!

There’s a point to this story . . . I promise!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

REFLECTION OF THE DAY

So here’s the thing:  I refuse to give up on my writing journey.  I am determined to be a successful novelist. I may not be another John Steinbeck, but I do believe I can be a financially-successful writer.  I just have to find the winning path.

Enter The Urban Farming Coloring Book!

I just finished my first coloring book, and I had tons of fun making it, and now I hope that sucker outsells all of my novels combined.

Why?

Because guerilla marketing is all about getting your name out into the world any way possible, for the least amount of money, and I aim to do just that with the coloring book.  This summer I’ll sell my coloring books at farmers markets, where we also sell our quail eggs, and on the back flap of the coloring book is a reference to my novels.  I’ll also have point-of-sale materials to hand out at the markets, and people will get to know me as an author and not just a producer of coloring books.

It all ties together!

It is all about William D. Holland, Author!

It is all about my goal!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

What’s holding you back from your goal?  Maybe it’s time for you to step out of the box and try something outrageous.

Just sayin’

THE SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY

Since marketing is the theme of the day, I’m going to give a shout out to a marketing genius….Heidi Thorne…and you can find her on Facebook by following this link.  Heidi shares her information in a practical manner that is easy to understand and oh, so helpful. I hope you’ll check her out.

MORE NEXT WEEK

So much to do, so little time.

Until next week, best wishes and love always.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

I Am the Walrus

28 Feb

003Let’s start this off with some lyrics by The Beatles:

“I am he
As you are he
As you are me
And we are all together”

That first stanza of “The Walrus” always reminds me of my job as a novelist.

Let me explain . . . but first, a quote . . .

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When you are having fun and creating something you love, it shows in the product. So when a woman is sifting through a rack of clothes, somehow that piece of clothing that you had so much fun designing speaks to her; she responds to it and buys it. I believe you can actually transfer that energy to material things as you’re creating them.” Tom Ford
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

When I’m writing a novel, and I create a main character, it is my job, as the author, to transfer all of my energy into the creation of that character.  I must become that character. I must understand how he thinks, how he would react to certain situations, and what his motivations are.  I think this is vital for good writing to occur.  A good writer has the ability to make characters seem real to the readers, and I think this is done because the author has become those characters.

TIP OF THE DAY

So, how do you do this?

I know my character, but how do I slip into his persona so easily before writing?

I give myself time.

When I’m getting ready to resume writing in my novel, I take a break from writing, usually for an hour or so, and I use that time to reflect on my main character.  I review what he has done in the past.  I review his background, and then I read back to earlier chapters and I accustom myself with his habits.  Only after I have done that do I allow myself to continue writing as that character.

Give it a try.  Hopefully you’ll find that tip useful.

GETTING HELP

Listen, I’m a former teacher, so obviously I’m all for research and doing one’s homework . . . but . . .

I was just looking at the latest offerings from Writer’s Digest, all the books on writing that they are selling, and I got dizzy looking at the vast array of books on writing.

My first thought, after looking at the forty-two books they were hawking, was “how would anyone ever have the time to write if all they did was read those books?”

There comes a time when you have to put the homework away and actually write.

It’s not that frightening, really!

Start with this basic fact:  we are all storytellers.  We all come from a family of storytellers, and we all have rich history of storytelling.  Storytelling is a basic means of communication among civilizations.  It is one of the most common ways of advancing culture, and it is a natural for most of us.

So why worry? Do what you’ve been doing forever.  Little kids tell stories.  Parents tell stories.  We all share stories of our pasts.

So take that natural ability and use it to write a story.  It’s in you; you just have to release it and give yourself permission to do so.

The world needs storytellers.

Join us!

A POLITICAL OBSERVATION

This is a first.  I’ve never made a political statement on this blog . . . until now.

Word has it the current administration wants to cut back budgets for the Arts and Humanities.  I’m not shocked by this but I am saddened.  As a former teacher I’ve seen this before.  Every school I ever worked for had budget concerns, and one of the first programs to be cut when it came time for budget cuts was always the Arts Department.

Save Science, save math, but cut the Arts!

What a bunch of bullshit!

Excuse my language.

I’m afraid I have grown accustomed to seeing this happen on a school level, but nationwide?

It is inexcusable!

We need the Arts!

I would hope you agree, and I would hope you’ll do whatever you can to speak out against the rape of our culture.

COLORING BOOKS

I’m done with two of my coloring books and I think I’ll stop there. They turned out pretty good…one very good…and now I can sell them at the farmers market this spring and summer, as well as some local stores.  We shall see how it goes.

THANKS FOR JOINING ME

See you next week, hopefully!  You are all appreciated!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

What Would You Do If I Sang Out Of Tune……

22 Feb

003“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”

Yes, I’m motivated by a song again.

Oddly, and I say oddly because I adored The Beatles, I loved Joe Cocker’s cover of this song more than the original, but bottom line, I loved this song.

It should be the theme song for writers everywhere.

Where in the world would I be without all of you out there, my peers and my literary brothers/sisters?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” Saint Augustine
Isn’t that a beautiful quote? I’m not terribly religious, but I am spiritual, and that quote speaks deeply to me.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I can’t buy all the books that my writer friends write.  If I were rich you bet I would, but I’m not.  My disposable income is limited at best, and I feel safe in saying I’m sure that is true for most of you.

So I can’t help all of you by buying your books.  The truth is, even if I could, it wouldn’t help your sales that much . . . an increase of what, five bucks? Ten?  No one is going to get rich because I suddenly found the funds to purchase your latest.

But I can do something that might have a greater benefit for you, and that is promote your works.

I try to do this.  I try to mention a different writer with each of these postings, and I try to remember to promote others on Facebook and Twitter (when I’m not doing one of my political rants, that is).

Maybe, by doing that, I can interest two or three other people, and they will buy your books, and then word of mouth will mean more sales, and more sales . . .

Anyway, that’s the hope I have!

AUTHOR OF THE DAY

Allow me to introduce you to Lawrence Hebb, an author and friend from New Zealand.  Lawrence is a quality human being and a pretty fair action/thriller author.  You can check out his work by following this link.

POET OF THE DAY

I’ve said it before but it is worth saying again: one of the finest poets I have read in recent years resides here.  I’m giving a shout out to Audrey.  I strongly suggest you give her a read. Take five minutes, right now, and go read one of her poems. I dare you!

RANDOM IDEAS OF THE DAY

I’ve got some good friends who started out as freelance/indie authors and ended up branching out to do other things, things like YouTube videos, podcasts, blogging, crafting videos, newspaper columns, and the like.  There are a lot of ways to make supplemental income, and the first step towards making that income is to take the first step. LOL  Seems self-evident, doesn’t it, but it’s amazing how many people can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other.

I’m getting close to releasing my first coloring book.  What is an indie writer publishing a coloring book for?  Income of course, but also curiosity, and a desire to try something different . . . so why not?

There are so many things I want to do. I just hope I have time to do them all.

For those of you not interested in reaching your full potential, I understand “The Bachelor” is riveting this season.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Priorities in Writing

14 Feb

003Welcome back!  I am so happy you chose to spend some of your valued time with me.  I know you are all busy, and that makes this visitation all the more special.

Time . . . valued time . . . limited time . . . and what we do with it.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” H. L. Hunt
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“How will I ever get everything done and still write?  I need about ten more hours each day to get everything on my list accomplished, and then I might have time to write my book.”

I’m paraphrasing something that has been said numerous times to me.  The frustration grows as the hours diminish and the results fall short of expectations.  Something has to be done, but what?

There are some activities that cannot be neglected.  We have to take care of ourselves and our families.  That’s a given and really it should be the number one priority for all writers.

After we have taken care of that priority, we then take a look at our list.  What is most important?  If writing the book is most important, more important than writing articles and writing blog entrees and reading books on writing, then put that at the top of your list and devote time to it.  If that means you won’t write an article that week, or you won’t get to your blog, then so be it.  You are only human and you only have a limited number of hours . . . so use those hours wisely, chasing after that which is most important to you.  It’s amusing to watch a dog chase its tail.  It is not nearly as amusing watching a human being do it.

IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION

We are never going to attain it, so give up the quest.

Of course we all want to produce the best possible work, but I’ve got a news flash for you: it will always fall short of perfection, no matter what we do.

The best any writer can hope for, after finishing an article or a book, is to be able to say “that’s the best work I can do at this moment.”

And then we move on!

A REQUEST

A dear writing friend recently asked me if she could guest-blog on this site.  Of course I said yes because, well, she’s a dear friend and I believe we should all do the same.

Some people aren’t getting the message.  I follow a lot of blogs, and very few of them actually have guest bloggers, and very few of them actually promote other writers.  I don’t know why that is, and I’m trying real hard not to pass judgment.  I will simply say I think it is vital that we all support each other in a very tangible way.

What goes around, my friends, comes around.

GOTTA RUN

But before I do, I invite you to pay a visit to another of my talented friends, Sally.  Now I don’t know a thing about arts and crafts, but Sally is the Queen of wet-felting, and I love the detail of her instructions.  If you want to know how to write a craft article, a very specific craft article even a simpleton like me can follow, then check out Sally’s website.

Have a great week and don’t forget to prioritize!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”