The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 146 - Owlcation - Education
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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 146

Did You Have a Chocolate Egg?

Hey, word association with this boy, you say Easter, I say chocolate! Simple mind, folks!

Of course, you could say just about any word and I’d say chocolate, so I’m not sure there is any significance to this rambling at all.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend whether you believe (in chocolate) or not. A new week is upon us and that means THE MAIL has arrived.

If you’re ready then so am I!

Welcome to the Mail Room!

Welcome to the Mail Room!

Dumbing Down?

From Mel: “This might not have much to do with writing, but on the subject of formality in language, lately I have noticed the tendency of radio news broadcasts to use the word "guy," instead of "individual," "suspect," or "perpetrator." For instance - the police caught the "guy" on the second floor with a loaded gun. It is not being used in isolated instances, but regularly and I think deliberately. Is this part of the dumbing down process of American Culture? I am prone to use slang and idiom in my informal writing but it rankles me to hear it in professional news broadcasts. I guess I am just an old fart.”

Mel, I’m going to say this in all seriousness: I’m not sure if it is the “dumbing down” of America or the weakened requirements expected of journalists and broadcasters. I don’t think the training of these broadcast people is as stringent as it once was, and I’m being very serious about that. But I also think broadcast stations must report to the constituents they are stuck with, and I do think there has been a general dumbing down in this country. I doubt it was by design but I do believe it has happened. We have lowered our standards and, as an old teacher, that pisses me off.

Let me give you a personal example. I took my “Urban Farming Coloring Book” to a local nursery and asked the owner if she would like to carry my product. Now mind you I know this woman, have known her for three years, and have done some freelance writing work for her. You know what she said to me? She said her biggest fear was that the text in the coloring book was too advanced for kids.

Stupid is as stupid does!

There was no dumbing down in the classrooms I taught

There was no dumbing down in the classrooms I taught

Inspiration Overload

From Rasma: “When you have an overload of inspiration how can you keep looking at what you have written positively and be your own critic to decide what you will finally post? Hope your week is inspirational Bill.”

Shoot, Rasma, I don’t have much choice, and neither do most writers I know. It costs money to hire an editor, and I don’t have that kind of money . . . so I pretty much have to be my own critic.

All is not lost, though: I know my writing better than anyone alive, and I’m hard on myself on the best of days. If my writing does not “pass muster” I will not publish it, and believe me, “passing my muster” is tough. I expect perfection from myself, so if I publish something I must be feeling pretty good about it.

Hell, my friend, I’m always feeling an overload of inspiration. That’s nothing new for most of us. We do what we can and then move on to the next project.

FREELANCE ADVICE

From Venkatachari M: “Regarding freelancing, most of them want daily submissions which I could not meet at all with my other daily routine of responsibilities. Whenever I quote that I can submit only 3 articles in a whole week, they keep silent. Do you have any advice?”

The sad truth about content sites is this, Venkatachari M: the playing field isn’t level and most freelancers will get the short end of the proverbial straw. There is a glut of freelance writers out there, and that means if you won’t do as the companies want, it is no problem to find two-hundred other writers who will provide.

My suggestion is to skip the middle man, and that middle man is the content mill. Go find freelance jobs on your own and don’t use sites like Textbroker. It might be harder to secure a job, but you’ll make more money doing it that way, and you’ll work as often as you want to work.

Good luck!

Two for the Price of One

From Zulma: “With regard to being an actor, I do the same thing, Bill. Which got me to thinking: How accurate can we be when we are not our characters? For example, if you're acting as a serial killer, how can we manage this when we didn't have the same upbringing or possess the same brain chemistry as a killer. Also, how much of ourselves are bringing to the character?”

Only a writer could ask those two questions, and great questions they are, Zulma!

Well, my friend, I know a little something about serial killers, so I’ll use them as examples in my answer.

No, I’m not a serial killer (big sigh of relief), but I have done extensive research on them. I’ve been fascinated by them since I learned that our paperboy when I was growing up was Ted Bundy. I’ve read books on him, read countless articles, and watched films about him, and the one overriding impression I came away with is that serial killers do not feel emotions like the rest of us do. They are totally detached from their actions and their victims. Dismembering a body is no different to them than stepping on an ant. The other thing I took from all that research is that many of them appear to be normal. They are consummate actors, playing the part of a normal citizen. Their lives are scripted. They watch normal people and parrot what they see, which makes them very, very hard to detect.

So I’ve tried to use that knowledge when writing.

As for your second question, I think it is unavoidable that a part of us will appear in our characters . . . at least it seems to me to be unavoidable, and I don’t feel that is a bad thing. It is our own personal stamp on our books, part of our “voice,” part of our uniqueness. It’s all a jumbled mess when trying to dissect it all, and I’m not real good at that kind of introspection, but my feeling is that yes, we bring at least a portion of who we are into the creation of our characters.

This guy is not a serial killer, but he does think like one....scary stuff!

This guy is not a serial killer, but he does think like one....scary stuff!

Sweating the Small Stuff

Also from Zulma: “Since you mention it, just how do you do your revisions? Do you take it one chapter and a time and keep notes? How do you keep track of minutiae such as weather, dates, and minor characters who cross paths with the major players? Yes, I'm the sort of geek who sweats the small stuff. :)”

Congratulations, Zulma, you just hit my weak spot! Bullseye, my friend!

I’m horrible at this and it is all my fault. All I would have to do is make a timeline as I write the first draft, but I get into the writing so deeply that I invariably forget about the timeline. Since I am currently working on my sixth novel, I think it’s safe to assume I’m a slow-learner. Thank the gods I’m smart enough to do three or four drafts of every novel, so by the end of the whole process, I’ve pretty much cleaned up the minutiae. The hard part is jumping back and forth trying to find out what the weather was like that morning, or who said what earlier on, or where did they visit when they found the clue. I’m constantly jumping around trying to find a particular piece of dialogue so I can confirm something else. It is about the worst possible way to organize a novel and I’ve now done it five times and working on six.

I never claimed to be smart!

SUPER QUESTIONS THIS WEEK

But that’s no surprise . . . I find my followers to be insightful and scary smart!

I hope you found something in the Mailbag that made your visit worthwhile. Have a great week of writing, and living, and I’ll see you all next Monday.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 23, 2017:

I totally agree, Sha. Heck, it's hard to remember little details even if you don't take a break in the middle of the writing, so your suggestion is right on and I know, from personal experience, that it is helpful. Thank you!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 23, 2017:

Excellent questions this week, Bill! When I was working on The Gifts of Faith (which I've yet to finish), I wrote down characteristics of each character, where they're from, what their quirks are, favorite foods, expressions, etc. I know this will be very helpful to me when I finally get back to it. It's easy to forget details when time goes by between creative spells, but the reader catches them (inconsistencies) immediately. And that's never a good thing. It diminishes the writer's value big time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 15, 2017:

And today I did, Clive! #150 hot off the presses.

Thanks my friend!

Clive Williams from Jamaica on May 14, 2017:

Mailbag 146. You will reach quite a milestone at 150

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 14, 2017:

Interesting stuff from you as well, Lawrence. I love that stuff about LeCarre and Burton/Guiness. Thanks for sharing that.

Lawrence Hebb on May 13, 2017:

Bill

This was really great here, some of the questions really had me thinking.

I'm reading the book 'The Pigeon Tunnel' at the moment, it's probably the first book I've ever read that when I put it down I wanted to start reading it again right away!

It's John Lecarre writing about different episodes in his life and writing career.

What struck me was he writes about two actors whom he worked with when they were making movies of his books, and the way they approached their craft.

Richard Burton and Sir Alec Guiness, both were 'Method actors' but both had different ways of 'becoming the character'

Great stuff here, and a great way to get writers thinking about how they can explore their characters.

Keep it up 'bro'

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 28, 2017:

Thank you very much, Debangee! I appreciate it. Have a wonderful weekend!

DEBANGEE MANDAL from India on April 27, 2017:

Another lovely mailbag..with chocolates! Wonderful writing..a very informative hub. Keep sharing and have a good day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 27, 2017:

Thank you so much, Dora. I love that is a fixture on your reading list. Blessings to you always.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 26, 2017:

Late, but the mailbag is a fixture on my reading list. Thanks again for your continuing inspiration to the rest of us. Continue reading, editing, and writing is what I gather from this one.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 24, 2017:

That's the beauty of them, Jo! They are timeless! Thank you!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 24, 2017:

Another informative article. I count on your Monday morning mailbags even if I'm a week late reading them.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 23, 2017:

Oddly, Martie, I understand that. I'm on the fourth novel in a series, same characters, and there are times I feel that way. For whatever reason, though, that feeling goes away and I like them again. :)

Thank you my friend!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on April 22, 2017:

The word "guy" definitely doesn't belong in a professional news broadcasts, is also my humble opinion.

By the time I have done the fourth of at least five drafts of a novel, I am totally fed up with the characters and the events, and that is why I have a couple of unpublished novels in my archives.

Thanks, Bill, for another pleasant and inspiring post!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 20, 2017:

That's fascinating, Mel! I know of her, of course, but didn't know what she was like as a person. That response of hers shows class.

Ridgeway was unique, by the way, because he just stopped killing for over a decade....that is remarkable for a serial killer.

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on April 19, 2017:

Thanks for including me in this mailbag, Bill. On the subject of Ted Bundy, I once sent a letter to Ann Rule, a great crime writer who was a co-worker of Ted's at one time. I asked her a few questions and pointed out a few inaccuracies in a book she wrote about the Green River killer, another of your Pac Northwest hall of fame. She graciously responded to me with a very detailed email, accepting my criticisms and giving honest explanations for perceived flaws in her book, and I have been an even bigger fan of hers since.

Great mailbag, as always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

Really, Ann, you pay for the BBC? I had no idea....sheez, what is this world coming to? They do have superb dramas, for sure, better than anything we have in the States.

Alrighty, it is time for this boy to go feed some critters. Take care, my friend.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

Funny how that works for sure, Nell. LOL People would be surprised how many real life people I've killed in my stories. LOL

Nell Rose from England on April 19, 2017:

Great advice Bill, I did think about that myself i.e. being a killer in the book or story, I have only done a couple of stories like that in the past but I just put myself into the position of being in front of some I hate! LOL! funny how that works!

Ann Carr from SW England on April 19, 2017:

The Good Old BBC, eh? Trouble is, we have to pay for it still! They say the licence is for receiving but it all goes to the BBC, contributing to their fantastic dramas etc. I still don't think we should pay such huge amounts for it though. Having said that, I don't pay now anyway because my poor old man is old enough to get a free licence! There are some compensations!

Ann :D

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

Thanks, Irish, and a belated Happy Easter! Sadly I'm out of chocolate. I need to rectify that soon, don't you think? :)

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on April 19, 2017:

Easter definitely means chocolate in this house my friend! Always good to receive mail on your latest hub, post or blog and these mailbag hubs certainly taken off and rightly so a marvelous idea so keep them coming!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

I failed the word association theory you presented, Brian! LOL

Great stories about teaching. I totally agree. Kids will rise to the level you present. I have always believed that and always will.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

It is an odd occurrence, Ann, one I didn't think I would see in my lifetime. It frightens me when the BBC goes the way of sloppy grammar. Is there no hope for this civilization?

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

Oh Ann, now I just have to throw up my hands. How do I beat that ending? LOL

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2017:

Thanks for that reflection, Rasma! We can always learn as writers, and always improve.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 19, 2017:

Thank you Bill. Now I know I am on the right track. Just recently when faced with the poetry challenge went over my poetry to see what I could rewrite and you know what? I realized that much of the poetry I first posted online only one or two pieces were raved about and when I looked at them as a whole I realized that before I posted at that time I had a long way to go to achieve what I have now. Hope you and Bev has a sunny and relaxing Easter.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 19, 2017:

Oh I nearly forgot! Have a whine-less whizz of a Wednesday, with no woe but full of wit (yes, I said 'W'it!).

Ann :)

Ann Carr from SW England on April 19, 2017:

I so agree on the standard of media presenters - the BBC hasn't yet got to the stage of 'guys' but the delivery (lots of 'um's & 'er's) and the grammar is becoming more and more shoddy. It's one of my pet hates but then it would be wouldn't it?!

Great mailbag as always. Getting slowly back to 'normal' - whatever that is - but writing is on the back burner still, unfortunately.

Ann

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 18, 2017:

Let's test your chococate word association theory:

"Holy ...!"

"I don't give...!"

"Go to...!"

2 anecdotes about what children can read:

In the fall of 1966, I was a substitute teacher for months of a 7th grade class in a school in Chicago near the Cabrini-Green housing project. Every kid in the class had a 4th grade reading level. They could read their readers, written at a 4th grade level, passably but could not read their other textbooks, such as history and social studies, written at a 7th grade level. But when I brought books relevant to the kids' lives and interests, including history, fiction, poetry, and more--most written for adults--and gave the class free time to browse the books, suddenly the students (enthused, helping each other) could read--until the teacher in the next classroom came over and told me to shut them up.

In his Introduction to his THE ACTS OF KING AUTHOR AND HIS NOBLE NIGHTS, John Steinbeck says that when he was a boy he loved reading Thomas Malory's LE MORTE D'ARTHUR, first published in 1485, though there were many obsolete words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

Bill, you are very welcome and sorry, but it is too late. Chocolate does not last long around this office.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

I don't switch hats on the same day, Audrey, for the exact reason you mentioned. Each day of the week is designated for a particular type of writing. Otherwise I'd be a crazy person. :)

Audrey Howitt from California on April 18, 2017:

Excellent advice as always Bill--freelancing is so difficult to balance with my creative writing--my freelancing is always legal blogs--and after that I just have no fun stuff left in my tank--how you do switch hats between the two?

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on April 18, 2017:

You never let me down, my friend! More good stuff to think about, learn, and grow from. Some great questions with some great answers. Thank you, Mr. Holland. If it's not too late, could you send some chocolate?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

It really is, Zulma. I know when I stopped to create the coloring books, my writing was much better when I returned. Maybe there's a lesson there.

As for why do we do this to ourselves, I have no clue! :)

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on April 18, 2017:

I see, Bill. Actually, I do the same thing when I revise. I am forever backtracking to see if the details match up. It tends to lead to more revision though. Sometimes, entire rewrites. Tell me again, why do we do this to ourselves? lol

I can relate to Rasma's question. This is probably why it's important to put the story aside for awhile so you can see it with fresh eyes. It's surprising how much better you can make it when you take a break.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

Venkatachari M, thank you for the question and I'm happy you found the answer satisfactory. Have a superb week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

And a great lesson it was, Alan, and I thank you. I'm guilty of passive verbs, but it's something I'm aware of and keep fighting because you are absolutely correct.

English is a beautiful language my friend. It's nice to hear it so richly appreciated.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

Thank you as always, Heidi! I refuse to be a part of the dumbing down of this country. There seems to already be more than enough people willing to continue it.

Happy late Easter and the chocolate keeps flowing through my veins, thank you very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

Thank you Linda! I'll be over to your site shortly.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

I totally agree, Becky, but thank you for that confirmation and support. I never dumbed down when teaching and I don't plan on doing it now. Thank you!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on April 18, 2017:

Bill, please do not dumb down your coloring book. My daughter was sounding out words like 'transmission' and 'transformer' when she was in pre-school. If she can do that with just a little encouragement, what could we do with a lot of encouragement. I have never spoken down to my children and they have amazing vocabularies. My daughter has won spelling bees and was reading 12th grade level books when she was in 4th grade. Expect more from them and they will come through for you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 17, 2017:

I agree, Bill. The questions are super this week! It's great to read the questions and the answers.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 17, 2017:

Happy Easter (a.k.a. Chocolate Bunny Binge) Monday!

Re: Dumb. Well, I just say it's a sign of the "Idiocracy" apocalypse. If you don't mind crude humor, this Mike Judge comedy is a frightening glimpse of the far, dumb future. When you see the news reports in the movie, you'll see what I mean.

Re: Inspiration Overload. Indeed, I also have about a half dozen half-finished blog posts on my iPad right now. One will bubble to the surface as the one that needs to be next. I just need to be patient with myself and the process.

Hope you'll recover from your Easter chocolate stupor enough to have a busy and successful week!

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on April 17, 2017:

Bill, my bugbear is passive verbs. The over-use of these has reached chronic proportions. I keep them to a minimum because they slow down the narrative. Which is better: 1. "I am thinking of going down to the shops/stores to buy some paint for decorating...", or, 2. "I think I'll go down to the shops/stores to buy some paint to decorate..."?

I'd choose 2 for the flow. One part of this dumbing-down business is lazy scriptwriters and journalists/hacks who can't be bothered to think what it does for the readership. It drags the English language down.

In the case of (Hollywood) scriptwriters I think it's partly that they think in a foreign language and use English words to set down their 'take' on the 'lingua franca'. We have hacks here who are lazy, or they think their readers are lazy and can't be bothered to do their own thinking. (That's where passive verbs come into their own, to describe a mental process).

I find I re-write articles in my head as I read them. Maybe that's negative of me, but it keeps me on my toes and keeps my own narrative 'alive'.

You can use this verbatim if you like. It's food for thought: lazy writing encourages lazy thinking and I'm not here to dumb down English. It's a rich language with an extensive vocabulary, don't humble it with 'mental cobwebs!'

Here endeth the lesson.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Thank you very much, Debangee. You are appreciated.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Manatita, my dentist will not be happy but really, why should he complain? It's more money for him. LOL

Peace be with you, brother!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

I don't know, Mike, and I'll be damned if I'm going to dumb down that coloring book. It's just not in me to do that, so thanks for the reinforcement.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Thanks so much, Melissa! What would Monday be without the Mailbag, right? LOL Just another Monday! Glad you are having nice weather...we actually had sun and 65 yesterday. I thought I died and went to Florida.

Melissa Propp from Minnesota on April 17, 2017:

Happy Monday Bill! So glad I was able to take a break and read your mailbag. It always makes my day a little brighter!

Hope you had a great Easter weekend, we had the most beautiful sunny weather! Definitely has me thinking spring!

Take care and have a fantastic rest of the week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Thanks again, Kristen!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Damn, Larry, I wish I was that smart. LOL I mean to keep notes, but half the time I forget to have the notepad with me. I know, inexcusable, but just wait until you're 68!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 17, 2017:

Hi Bill - It is scary for me to think that those pesky words in the coloring book were too tough. If the adults think that, what hope is there for the kids?

Good questions this week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

I love it, Greg! That's a nickname I can get used to, with pride. Thanks buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

MizB, don't even get me started. There are two new reporters on the local station I watch, and I swear, they butcher the language every single time. Drives me crazy. The other day I was yelling at the television, like that would solve the problem. :) Happy Easter my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Yep, Pop, another of my pet peeves. I had quite a list of them when I was teaching.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Damn, Clive, I would have saved you an egg had I known. LOL Happy Easter, buddy!

manatita44 from london on April 17, 2017:

Nice! Another piece of excellent work. Not much to say today but I'm happy to hear that Rasma seems to have so much inspirations. No bad thing.

Take care, Bro. Have a nice Easter dinner with the family and indulge in the chocolates. I'll say I told you to in the heavenly dentistry chair. Lol. Not yet, Bro, not yet.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on April 17, 2017:

no billy....i did not have a chocolate egg, but i did have chocolate! happy easter

breakfastpop on April 17, 2017:

As to the dumbing down of America and the English language, I hate when I hear someone say, "It was so fun."

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 17, 2017:

I certainly found valuable information in your mailbag this week, Bill. I can just picture the chocolate bunny sans ears in your hand. Mel's question is interesting. Our news professionals are certainly losing their professionalism. Something that really irritates this southern gal is for a remote announcer sending it back to the studio with "back to you guys." A simple "back to you" is sufficient.

Another irritant, and I'm sure the interviewee is trying to be respectful, is when the reporter pokes the mike in his face and he says "the gentleman pulled out his gun and started shooting, Pow, pow, pow, pow." No gentleman would instigate a mass shooting and we don't need the mimicry of the gun. Geesh, I need some chocolate! Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

Greg Boudonck on April 17, 2017:

Thanks for this excellent article Bill. I had to take a couple of moments and read your expert advice. Thanks birdman!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on April 17, 2017:

I've been on both sidesaddle the spectrum with inspiration overload and where I can't think of a thing.

When things are going great guns, I keep simple notes for the lean times.

Great read as always:-)

DEBANGEE MANDAL from India on April 17, 2017:

A heavy mailbag with lots of intelligent questions and outstanding, brilliant information. . Enjoyed reading it . Have a good day!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 17, 2017:

Thanks Bill. I look forward on reading more of your hubs.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on April 17, 2017:

Thank you, Bill, for your reply to my problem. As you say, the middlemen are content mills and they do not need quality and other things. They are mostly after the volume and their own earnings.

All the questions asked and your replies also are very informative. Looking forward to next mailbag.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

I don't know either, John, but I fear for western civilization as the decline continues. It makes me value, all the more, the work of good writers like yourself.

Yes indeed, I did get my fill of chocolate.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

I'm laughing at all your example, Mary, and I've heard all of them in real life. You and I are of the same ilk....all those things drive me bonkers.

Happy Monday to you!

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 17, 2017:

Regarding the use of informal language now, I cringed when I hear certain words. Using 'hey' instead of 'hi' or 'hello' drives me crazy! My mother used to follow up with, "hay is for horses".

I've noticed at banks when they want to use my first name to address me. Another bee in my bonnet, especially if the person is younger than I am.

The ultimate had to be when I was at the American Embassy and on an official email, the used a happy face :).

Have a wonderful week.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 17, 2017:

I hope you got your fill of chocolate this Easter, Bill. A good mailbag as ever. I think the dumbing down is occurring in most western societies at least. Whether it is the fault of the Internet, smart phones etc and text speak becoming the norm, or that journalism is becoming less professional or catering to a certain demographic I am not sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Very nice, Nadine! You have more willpower than I have. I'm afraid I would have eaten one by now.

Thank you for the visit.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Thanks a lot, Ruby! Now you have me drooling! How very cruel of you. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Great reflection about your mother, Denise! How dare Websters do that to her. LOL I wonder what she would think of LOL? Drive her crazy for sure.

Thank you as always, my friend, and blessings today and always.

bill

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on April 17, 2017:

Good morning Bill,

In one of my son's books he made the main character's twins; one bold and heroic, the other rather wimpy and fearful. When I asked him which one he patterned after himself, he said both of them. That tells me a lot about writers. I guess we can't help not only creating dialog in the way we speak but also putting our personality into each character too. It sounds very therapeutic to me. My mother was a stickler for good grammar. She HATED slang with an unchristian hatred. We all knew we could receive a decent backhand across the lips for uttering "ain't" along with a lecture assuring that was not a word if it wasn't in the dictionary.

Then the dictionary went and double-crossed her by including it in the next printing. She still hates hearing us use "ain't." She formed the way I think and edit my own work by her insistence on proper grammar. Great mailbag, my friend. See ya next week.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Thanks for the suggestion, Kristen. I've never heard of Upwork, so hopefully Venkatachari M will see your suggestion.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 17, 2017:

I always enjoy reading all the questions and your answers. Chocolate is my weakness. I've just started making chocolate icing for gluten-free cakes by using bulk Splenda, it's not as thick, more like a pour over the cake, but it's delicious. Thanks again for all you do to help us to be better writers..

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Too funny, Linda! I usually watch KOMO local news, and I see the same thing. Once they go off-script they are in a world of hurt. It's like they can't think for themselves. I really do find it sad, in a hilarious sort of way. LOL

Happy Monday my friend.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 17, 2017:

Good morning Bill, happy day-after, and I hope you still have some chocolate left for today. The question about the dumbing down of news broadcasts (or the talking heads who read the news) really got my attention. I cannot imagine Walter Cronkite saying "guy". AND...last week the co-anchor on Q13 Fox news read a story about the card-reader slots at ATM's being bugged so that your personal information (account number of PIN) could be recorded. All was going well until she went off-script. She ad libbed, warning us to protect our "PIN numbers at the ATM machine." ...I couldn't contain myself!!!

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on April 17, 2017:

Happy Easter Billy! I saw your The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 146 on the homepage, I liked the way you started this post...Did You Have a Chocolate Egg?. Not yet. I have been hidden chocolate eggs around the house for a little visitor, and tonight I will leave a surprise on four dinner plates.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 17, 2017:

Great mailbag of insightful information from you Bill. Sorry I've missed last week. I might have a question to ask you next week, my friend. I highly recommend Upwork to anyone who wants to look for freelance work, like to Venkatachari. I've been there for almost a year this July and have made a lot of money (more than I do here) every week and every month I land a job.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

And I appreciate you always being here, Buildreps. Thank you very much!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

Great idea, Flourish, and I will do that as soon as I have enough data to show them...in the meantime, I'm enjoying the sales. LOL Thanks my friend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 17, 2017:

Hey, Bill, why not answer your potential client's objection about the difficulty of the words you use with numbers -- readability statistics? That could settle it for you (or show you that unfortunately you need to dumb down the language).

Buildreps from Europe on April 17, 2017:

Interesting questions in the mailbag this week, Bill. I enjoyed reading it very much. Thanks, and wish you a great week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2017:

True, Janine! Chocolate should be celebrated daily, and it comes as no surprise that you are wise enough to realize that.

Happy Monday and, as always, thank you!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on April 17, 2017:

Aw, another wonderful Monday mailbag from you, Bill. Like you I think chocolate for Easter and pretty much more often than not. So, on that note couldn't agree with you more. Happy Monday now and have a great week ahead :)

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