Characters We Remember

10 Mar

So Bev and I were watching our latest sinful pleasure last night, Poldark, and we got into conversation about what makes a show a great show.

Certainly the writing plays a big part in it.  Without great scripts I’m afraid any movie or tv series is not long for this world.

And the other thing we mentioned is the fact that we have to become invested in the characters.  If I can’t relate to the characters in some way, I lose interest very quickly.  I was reminded of the show Madmen, which aired for seven seasons a few years back.  I don’t think there was a single character in that show I would like as a real human being, but I found them all fascinating and so I watched that show religiously.

I try to remember that when I write a short story or a novel.  My characters don’t necessarily have to be believable, but they do have to be interesting and captivating.  Their personalities must demand your attention or I have not done my job as a writer.  In my Shadow series, the main characters are not people you would want over for a cup of tea, but damn I’d love to meet Striker.  LOL

Just something to think about!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Bestseller Within You

25 Feb

“Inside each man is a bestselling novel.”

Have you heard that saying before?  I paraphrased it, I’m sure, and I don’t know who is credited with originally saying it, but that has stuck in my mind for years.

Is it true?  I think in the broadest sense yes, it is a true statement.  I’ve written before that we are all extraordinarily ordinary.  There is a great story in each of us for sure, and that story, in the hands of a master storyteller, could be a bestselling novel.

Please note that last phrase, “in the hands of a master storyteller.”  I think it’s important!

I see sunshine and beautiful colors

Anyone can tell a story.  We have all done it.  Hell, anyone can write a book.  You just string about seventy-thousand words together in some organized fashion and you have a book.

But not everyone can write a book people would actually enjoy reading, and therein lies the rub!

Writing a good book, an enjoyable book, a desirable book, requires skill in story structure.  It requires a knowledge of pacing and foreshadowing and voice and setting and dialogue.  It requires vision and the ability to make that vision a cohesive piece of writing spanning multiple chapters.

I have heard it said before that there are no new ideas about books or songs. The major themes have been done, redone, and done ad nauseum for decades.  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl meet obstacles, boy and girl live happily ever after.  Or protagonist meets a major challenge and somehow finds a way to overcome that challenge, blah, blah, and more blah, and that’s the simple point:  a skilled writer can take an overused story concept and somehow, through skill and creativity, make it so interesting that it seems brand new.

Can that ability be taught?  To a certain extent, yes!  I can take an average writer and make them a good writer.  I might even elevate them to the “very good” level simply by working with them on the basics of writing a book.  Can they elevate to “master?”  That, I’m afraid, depends upon their inherent talent.

Give me a shout out if you want some coaching.  Email me at holland1145@yahoo.com and let’s make that idea inside of you a coherent, interesting novel.  I look forward to the challenge.  I will work closely with you, for one month, for only fifty bucks.  I promise you that kind of deal only comes along once in a lifetime.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Bouncing Around My Brain

11 Feb

RANDOMNESS

I was watching a documentary on Netflix the other day, The Pharmacist, a powerful tale of one man who wanted answers about the shooting death of his son during an apparent drug buy in New Orleans.  At one point the audio captures the anguished ramblings of mother and father as they come to grips with the death of their beloved son, and I have to tell you, you would have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by that one scene.  I was in tears as I listened to the raw pain in their voices.

As a writer, that audio was an inspiration for me.  As a writer, it is my job, through the written word, to capture that kind of angst.

It is a formidable challenge for sure!  I fail as often, if not more, than I succeed, but the times I do succeed are a high unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I imagine it is the same for a song writer or an artist or anyone else dabbling in the Arts.

I was listening to the beautiful song “Vincent” by Don McLean.  The same reaction, tears, and absolute admiration, silent applause for a song writer hitting a home run with one mighty swing of his pen.

The painting by Munch, The Scream, is one more example.  It is impossible for me to see that painting without feeling the helplessness inherent in that painting . . . and some of the photographs by Dorothea Lange of people trying to survive during The Great Depression . . . there is one photo of a woman feeding her baby, the woman showing on her face the absolute gravity of the situation she is in . . . it is brilliant!

THE POINT

I guess the point is this:  The Arts are vitally important.  They provide a window for us all to see the Human Experience, and as a writer I am very proud to be a part of that effort, and I hope you are as well.  You may never be famous, but what you do is important!

Keep on keeping on!

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

You can find my memoir, “And the Blind Shall See,” on Amazon, and if you are in need of a writing coach, email me at holland1145@yahoo.com.  $50 for one month of individual instruction . . . you will not find a better price.

REVIEW

A review about my memoir which touched me deeply:

“I have been blessed to know Bill since 2003. I was blessed to meet some of his family, including his Mother, and he was there for me when my Mother passed away. His story is brutally honest. This is not fiction….just the story of a man’s life thus far. If your life is perfect, this may not be a story for you, but read it anyway. If you’ve hit a bump or two over the years, or are going thru some bumps now, by all means, you need to read this book. You are welcome to my copy, I’ll get another. We all go thru similar stuff, and it is truly a blessing to read how others navigate this journey. Truly from his heart, which I believe is the only way Billybuc would have it…..Peace and love, my brother. Thank you for being “you”.”

The book is called “And the Blind Shall See,” and if you purchase it, I thank you, and I hope you find something in it which speaks to you.

Have a great week!

Bill

 

What Do You See?

4 Feb

What do you see?

Look at the photo!  What do you see?

The tranquility of a Fall day, Mother Earth resting before the tumult of Winter, long shadows of early afternoon, the sun trying in vain to provide heat to this mountain valley, the river calm and peaceful, the distant mountains free of the snowy mantel which will be upon them soon.  A colorful palate, at least four shades of green, five of blue, the sunshine playing tricks on the eye’s mind, first you see it, then you don’t, nature’s magic show on display daily, no admittance cost.

What else?  Look closely!

Dying pines in the forefront, losing the battle against shallow soil, relentless winds, and a drier than normal summer.  Looking north/northeast, the shadows relinquishing that bit of information, the valley oddly empty of wildlife, an oddity for this area, known for wildlife and man coming together in a NO-FIRE ZONE, designated a protected area to infinity and beyond, and thank the gods for that designation.

What you don’t see

A dam-free river, one of the few remaining in the contiguous United States, looking much the same as it did in the early 1800’s when mountain men swarmed the area in search of beaver, the photo could be from that era or it could be from present-day, time standing still for generations to marvel at.

Flowing north, northeast, finally meeting up with the Mighty Mo, this is a river rooted deeply in the American story, known to the French who once trapped here as the Roche Jaune, the surrounding area known as Colter’s Hell, geysers and hot pools appearing mystical to early visitors.

The reveal

The Majestic Yellowstone River, flowing through Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, one of the truly beautiful, unspoiled spots in the United States, free to all visitors, a gift from our ancestors, a gift to our children, may we always see the wisdom in conservation and preservation.

What’s the point?

Inspiration is all around us, for all of us who love to write.

A fun experience

I recently sat down for a video chat with my friend Shell Vera, a Fireside Chat about my writing process and about life.  You can see that video by following this link.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for spending some time with me.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

An Excerpt From The Future

28 Jan

 

From my latest endeavor, “Shadows Across the Pond,” which might be done by this summer, cross my fingers and hope . . .

Sarah and I made our way down to Capitol Lake and did the circuit twice.  Mothers and strollers, lovers and business acquaintances, dog-walkers and shuffling retirees kept us company as we found our rhythm.  She’s a good running partner, comfortable with not talking, at peace in her own mind.  I suspect she uses running as therapy, like I do, pushing memories of sexual abuse aside, allowing good vibes to enter, endorphins working their magic on her bruised and battered psyche.  I found her on a similar run, six months earlier, being beaten by her pimp.  I offered her a way out of the nightmare she was trapped in.  She reluctantly took that offer, learned to trust Liz and I, and soon became part of our family.  Her pimp did not survive that encounter, a sad statistic in a sad business.

Her auburn hair hung damp on her shoulders as we slowed to a walk at the end of five miles.  She was two weeks shy of twenty-one, but she had seen two full lifetimes of ugliness in that short span of time.  Her parents had died when she was fifteen. The foster system dropped her into the lap of depravity.  She ran away from that and entered a life of hooking at sixteen.  I found her, offered her a hand up, and she is now an irreplaceable member of our family.

It’s one thing to read about depravity in a police report.  In that form it is antiseptic and white-washed.  It is quite another to actually see the dark shroud of depravity fall over a victim and forever stain them.  Sarah survived her brush with the chimera.  There are thousands who do not.  The billion dollar business of trafficking thrives because of supply and demand, and ethics be damned in a society which likes to believe it is advanced.  Your next-door neighbor Sam, your boys’ Little League coach, may very well be paying one-hundred per month on adult porn films starring twelve-year old girls snatched from the streets of Topeka and held against their will with veins flowing GHB.  Your pastor may very well visit the House of the Rising Sun after his sermons, and his bed partners aren’t old enough to have a driver’s license.  This shit is happening and it is happening in your little corner of the world despite your denials.

 

Where does the darkness come from, Bill, I asked myself in a moment of self-reflection, but I had no answer other than the fact that I am an observer of life.  Everyone is shocked by the Jeffrey Eptstein story and the Harvey Weinstein story and the Bill Cosby story, but are they really shocked?  Can you really say that it all surprises you?  Child porn has been around for hundreds of years.  People have made fortunes filming snuff films, for God’s sake.  The human species has a dark side, end of story. Always has and always will!  You can’t pretend the Boogie Man away.  You can’t hide under the covers in a gated community and hope the ugliness disappears.

And so I write about it, in hopes of raising awareness about it, in hopes of somehow bringing about change for the better. It should never be acceptable for children to be exploited.  Never!

So sayeth one writer in Olympia, Washington!

COACHING

I’ve still got two spots open for coaching.  I make this statement with complete confidence: I can make you a better writer!  Drop me an email at holland1145@yahoo.com and let’s get started.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

A Self-Serving Post

21 Jan

A word or two about writing my memoir . . .

It’s a strange undertaking, writing a memoir.

Strange in that I am an ordinary human being.  I am not a sports star.  I am not a movie star.  I am not some famous politician or scientist or humanitarian.

I’m just a guy, a blip on the radar screen of the human race, one of approximately 100 billion who have lived on this planet.  If you passed me on the street, chances are I wouldn’t even register on your “give a shit” meter.  I am plain at best, certainly not handsome, and I have no distinguishing visual characteristics.  I have “shit brown eyes and hair,” I’m average in height and I’m average in weight.

I am boringly ordinary, and yet family and friends encouraged me to write a memoir because they believe my story to be extraordinary.

And in a way they are correct . . . my story is extraordinary . . . as is your story!  I believe we are all extraordinarily ordinary and I believe all of our stories should be recorded.

I am extraordinarily ordinary, just like the rest of you seven billion plus, and it’s about time ordinary had its time in the sun, don’t you think?  Ordinary is, after all, the quintessential default setting for us humans.  Ordinary is the raising of families and high school proms.  Ordinary is jobs and careers, passions and moments of confused indirection.  Ordinary is PTA meetings and bowling leagues, gardening and Little League Baseball.  Ordinary is a single mother of two toddlers, working two jobs to provide a quality life for her offspring.

I was raised by an extraordinary family, and I don’t want their story to die with me.  You see, I’m one of the few Hollands left on this planet, and I believe my family name deserves its place among the historical volumes.  We did some good, we Hollands, and good should always be remembered.

Pushing my ambivalence aside, I decided my memoir should be about love, since I believe love is the single most important thing in life . . . and so my memoir is a story of love, a self-help, feel-good, unashamed celebration of one man’s conquest over adversity, and the discovery that I am a product of love and a keeper of the torch of love.

If you are interested, you can pick up the book at Amazon by following this link.

And the Kindle edition.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE COMPUTER

I know this might sound ridiculous, but I swear it’s true. I was heading to the office and this thought jumped into my brain . . .hey, Bill, you once wrote a writing guide.  It has been so long since I published it (2015) that I had forgotten all about it.  “The Ultimate Writing Guide” touches upon all facets of writing.  It is fifty-four chapters about all things related to writing, and you can find it on Amazon by following this handy dandy link.

Have an extraordinary day in your extraordinary life!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Listen Carefully

14 Jan

The flu bug hit Bev shortly after Thanksgiving and it is still “bugging” her.  She’s slowly on the mend but she was one miserable human being for awhile there.  I thought I was coming down with it the other day. I started feeling achy but then I went to bed, woke up, and felt fine.

False alarm!  I boast all the time about my ridiculous good health. Thank the gods I didn’t have to eat crow and tell you about getting sick.

“Eat crow” . . . I wonder where that phrase came from?

My dad used to say “that guy’s dumber than a doornail.”  Really?  A doornail?  Who thought that one up?  Is a doornail really stupid?  Are there even nails in a door? I’ve never seen them.

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE

Go have a cup of coffee at some Starbucks and listen to the conversations.  It’s pretty fascinating, really.  We all use the same language basically, we all use pretty much the same  words, and yet each of us speaks in a unique way.

Remember that when you are writing dialogue.  It’s amazing how many writers ignore this basic fact,  and all of their characters sound the same.

A barista I know uses the word “like” all the time, as in “it’s like, I don’t know, really cold outside,” while another one uses the phrase “you know” at the end of almost every sentence.

Go out and listen!  You know I’m correct!

SNOW ON THE WAY?

Supposedly we might get snow the second week of January.  It’s kind of a big deal in Western Washington.  It sure doesn’t happen often, although last February we were buried under eighteen inches of the white stuff.  Anyway, snow is inspiring for me. I love to take walks in the snow and just stand still and listen to the silence while it snows.

“Listen to the silence” . . . the sounds of silence . . . totally illogical but a great image.  That’s what writers do. We transform the mundane into the spectacular and beautiful.

THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT CHALLENGE

Think of a unique phrase, never before heard or written.  You can do it.  You have over twenty-thousand words to play with.  Let’s see what you come up with, shall we?

My dad was also fond of saying “he was busier than a one-armed paperhanger with crabs.” Now there’s a lovely image.  I really would love to meet the guy who thought of that witty phrase. I’ll bet he was an interesting dude.

WRITING COACH

Only one taker so far on my offer…I can make you a better writer…$50 for a month of unlimited instruction…you can’t beat that with a stick…see, there’s another one of those charming colloquialisms.

THE MEMOIR

Finally, the memoir….end of this week….I promise.

Someone asked me why I wrote a memoir.

It’s simple: I don’t want my life story, and the Holland family story, to be forgotten. I think our story…my story…your story…is important.

Have a brilliant week!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

If It’s Broke, Fix It!

31 Dec

More naps these days

MEMOIR UPDATE

A slight delay.  My buddy, who does all of my book covers, Mike Friedman on HubPages, will have the cover done around January 10th, give or take, so the end of January is my target date for the book’s release. Thank you for being patient.

WHY A WRITING COACH?

A writing coach is someone who understands the struggles that accompany a writer, and they are someone who can help you to overcome the challenges you face.  A good writing coach will not pull any punches. They will be honest with you in their appraisals, and they will be encouraging every step of the way.

DO YOU NEED A WRITING COACH?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you consistently missing your goals?
  • Do you need help with grammar, spelling, sentence structure or story formation?
  • Do you need help in developing a stronger writing voice?
  • Are your characters or plots weak?
  • Could you benefit from constructive feedback?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then a writing coach just might be the answer.

WHAT I WILL DO FOR YOU

Here are a few of the things I can do for you as your writing coach:

  • Help you to identify your writing goals
  • Keep you focused on those goals and projects
  • Help you to overcome whatever challenges you face
  • Improve your writing through helpful suggestions.
  • Give you an honest critique of your writing
  • Help you to tighten your writing and make it lean and mean.
  • Help you to find your voice

Yes, you can afford me.  $50 per month, unlimited contacts each month, no minimum.  Seriously, you can’t find a better deal.  For fifty dollars, in one month, we can iron out the kinks in your writing and open up possibilities you didn’t even know were available to you.

It comes down to this: how important is your writing to you, and do you have the disposable income?

I’m only taking on six students per month, so let me know soon if you want a cheerleader in your corner.

Happy New Year!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

My Problem, My Life, and Much More

17 Dec

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all of you who passed on kind words and love following the death of my best friend.  I am fine, truly, sad but fine.  I had time to prepare for this. I was able to visit Frank and say goodbye in person.  So today I am filled with sweet melancholy, and I am celebrating a beautiful friendship of fifty-seven years. What a gift he was for me!

What a gift you all are.  It is still amazing to me that I have caring, loving friends from around the world, friends I have met, many I have not met, all connected to me through writing, but also connected to me through our common humanness.  Quite remarkable!

WRITING COACH

I will be announcing a January special for my writing coach services.  If you have ever wanted your own, private, one-on-one writing coach, a great opportunity is heading your way. Stay tuned!

MY PROBLEM

Do you want to know what my problem is?

Well, one of my problems . . .

There is too much I want to do, and I fear not enough time to do it all.

I really, really want to start a podcast.

I really, really want to finish my memoir, then write another Shadow book, then write a retro 60’s book, then re-write the 12/59 Shuttle, then write the sequel to that novel, then . . .

And I have another blog I want to start, and then there’s this whole social-consciousness thing, where I feel I should get out in society and make a difference for some cause.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it all, and frustrated to the max.

Welcome to my life!

In truth, this is nothing new for me. I’ve always felt like I don’t do enough, that I fall short of my potential, and that I should be arrested for wasting time.  I’ve always had an aversion to just sitting and doing nothing during the day.  I’m like a shark. I must keep moving in order to survive and yes, you can toss in my addictive, compulsive tendencies and, well, that’s where I find myself today as Christmas rapidly approaches.

ELIZABETH GILBERT

I was watching, for like the 10th time,  a TedTalks program featuring writer Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love,” or I may have those three words in the title mixed up.  Obviously I’ve never read it, but it did spend a ridiculous amount of time on the NY Times Bestseller list in 2006 and 2007.  Anyway, during this TedTalk, Gilbert talks about the fame of that book, and how some people have asked her if she’s worried that the best is now behind her, if at forty she reached the pinnacle and it would all be downhill from there.  Should she keep writing, knowing she will never again reach that kind of success, or should she, like Harper Lee, just quit while she’s on top?

Gilbert’s response was two words:  writers write!

That’s what we do . . . we write!  If there is a passion for writing, it makes no difference whether fame is found, or whether the best is behind you . . . writers write!

Brilliant!

FROM MY UPCOMING MEMOIR, “AND THE BLIND SHALL SEE”

No talent there . . . or is there?

I look back now and I’m blown away.  I beat some rather considerable odds.  Lady Luck has been in the passenger seat of my vehicle for the entire trip.  As I navigated through a blizzard of rather questionable decisions, I still managed to get a couple of them absolutely right at the absolute perfect time, and maybe that wasn’t luck at all.

I’m a big believer in the Butterfly Effect.  You know, a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and two months later a blizzard occurs in Sioux Falls, that sort of thing.  I extend it to cause and effect within an individual as well.  I fart when I’m ten and thirty-two years later I sign divorce papers, that sort of thing, nothing occurs in a vacuum, it is all related and it is all crucial as our life’s mural is painted.  What I did at ten directly affected what I did at twenty, at thirty, at forty, and still today, at seventy-one. It can all be traced, gone over with a magnifying glass, seen for what it was and what it would become, connective tissues holding the host together.

It would be incredible if we could see the entire chess board as we lived our lives, like looking down from a thousand feet, perfect vision from above, able to see what each action will lead to, and what that will lead to, and that . . . but what I’m suggesting would literally require an extra-sense, or an intellect so well-tuned as to represent the equivalent of perfect pitch in music.  The best we can hope for . . . the absolute best . . . is that we are aware and that we eventually understand our role in the greater picture.

Most of us have pretty good hindsight.  It’s our foresight that sucks, but for years I chastised myself for not seeing it all approaching, for not preparing for it, for not being aware, and for not making better choices, when in fact I was just doing what humans do.

 

Have a great week!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Just A Writing Exercise

5 Dec

JUST A WRITING EXERCISE

A cold fog has settled over us this morning, damp, chilly, and unforgiving, the bane of drivers, the bane of anyone who dreams of Florida vacations in the winter, a reminder that I’m just a bit off-center, for I love fog.

I have always loved the fog, like a favorite comforter lovingly sewed by a loving grandmother, it wraps itself around me, shrouds me, and provides nourishment for my muse.

The fog delivers fodder for the imagination.  Colors are muted.  Sight is veiled, the obvious becoming mystical, the safe becoming foreboding, each step during walks more measured, each curve in a path providing doubt where once there was assuredness.  It is a primal thing, this fog, snatching us from our comfort zone and delivering us to the unknown, to the inexperienced, and to the unexpected.  Confidence is scrubbed clean of its luster, replaced by rusty coats of indecision, and thoughts of Freddie Kruger and Michael Myers flash through our minds, uninvited and unwanted.

Scraggly pines tower above us, monoliths from ancient times, or prehistoric monsters, or reminders of twin towers which once stood back east, now stripped of their leaves, stripped of their skin, stripped of their gleaming glass.   Scrub maple six feet in height could be anything, awaiting vivid imaginations or the not-so-vivid practicality, danger lurking, mystery shivering as a breeze picks up, the fog swirling now, dispersing, transporting, confusing, and yet oddly comforting.

THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT FOR NOW

Do you do little exercises like the one above?  What do you do to improve your writing? I’m curious…asking….maybe I can incorporate something you do, learn from you…so if you feel like sharing, please do.

I have so much I want to write. I actually have another blog idea I might do.  I also want to get into podcasting.  And of course the next two novels once I finish my memoirs….sheez, does anyone have some extra time to loan me?

Anyway, thanks for being here. I’m toying with the idea of writing a poem.  Maybe I’ll write the first line today, and then the second line in a month or so.  No need to rush into it, right?  LOL

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”