A Shadow of William D. Holland

Welcome to my Wednesday! The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving 2020 is gone. Christmas 2020 will be gone soon. As you approach December 25, don’t forget the reason for the season – Jesus Christ.

I have something special for you this week. Author William D. Holland has just published his new book, Shadows Across the Pond, and I had the opportunity to pick his brain about his writing process. Thank you, Mr. Holland, for sharing your thoughts with us. For the rest of you, be sure to get the book!

Author William D. Holland

I’m looking forward to this interview with author William D. Holland. I first came across his writings years ago in the writing community of hubpages.com. He has written many informative articles along with his ever-popular Mailbag series of questions and answers. He has published several novels as well, and he has just released his latest book, Shadows Across the Pond. It is indeed my pleasure and privilege to spend some time with him and learn about his writings, goals, and purposes. Won’t you join us?

WFK: Bill, let’s start at the beginning. When did you catch the writing bug, and when did you know it would never leave?

WDH:  My earliest memories of a writing passion are as a teen. I had an English teacher in high school who said I had some talent. That encouragement meant a great deal to this introvert. I guess it started then. I began writing short stories for my own pleasure, and entertained thoughts of following that passion into college.  That, however, did not materialize.  Life got in the way my junior year at Seattle University when my dad suddenly died and my mother needed me to support her, so I followed a business path.

WFK: When you first began your writing career, did you ever imagine you would be doing what you’re doing now – several novels and the Shadows series? What about the Mailbag? The way that grew – was that a surprise to you? Can you tell us a little about that?

WDH:  I didn’t really get started, in earnest, until I retired at 62. I was looking for a way to make a supplemental income but at the same time do something which I enjoyed. My wife suggested I write for a site called HubPages.

Like anything else I do, I dove into the deep end of that pool with gusto. I wrote an article each day. I became a constant face on HubPages. I realized I loved being a member of a community like that, and within six months I was fairly well-known on that site.  Am I surprised by the growth of the Mailbag, or by any success I’ve had since starting? I’m still surprised anyone reads anything I write, so yes, I’m surprised . . . and very grateful.

WFK: How about the Shadows series? You just published book six. I have trouble completing one book with one set of characters. How do you manage to come up with six? What was the inspiration behind the series?

WDH: The inspiration was from my childhood. The infamous Ted Bundy, serial killer, was our paperboy in Tacoma, Washington.  Once his deeds become public, I was fascinated by the fact that Evil could appear so normal. There was no way to look at Bundy, back then, and suspect there was anything evil about him.

So he was the inspiration for the series. The entire series is a battle of Good vs Evil, and I love writing that series and developing the characters.  I found, after the first in the series, the rest were easy to write, and most of the credit for that goes to the characters. I find them fascinating, and I enjoy developing them.

WFK: How can we get it?

WDH:  All of my books are available on Amazon under the pen name William D. Holland, but the latest in the series can be found by following this link.

WFK: What’s your secret to staying disciplined? It seems that most writers struggle with a regular schedule. With life happening all around us, how do you manage to stay focused on your goals?

WDH: Well, I think it’s considerably easier for me since I’m semi-retired. I have more “spare time” than a lot of writers I know.  Having said that, though, it also should be noted that I am a disciplined person. I’ve been this way my entire life. I’m a planner, a schedule-follower, and probably about 75% anal in the way I approach any day. I’m most comfortable when I have a schedule to follow, and almost every week day is scheduled by the hour.  I’m sure your readers are laughing right now, but it’s the way I rock and roll, and it works for me, so there you go.

WFK: Most authors I know, including myself, hate to market. What are your thoughts on beating the marketing blues?

WDH:  I wish I had some.  Laughingly, one of my college degrees is in marketing, but I hate it when it’s marketing for myself. Consequently, I really don’t do any. I write my books, I publish them, I tell my followers about the new book, and then I move on to the next.  I just can’t find it in me to toot my own horn.  People can read my books, or not read my books, it makes no difference to me. The joy, for me, is in the writing.

WFK: I could be wrong, but it seems to me writers write because they have something to say. It’s not just for entertainment. What’s really behind your writing? What really is the driving force behind what you do?

WDH:  What a great question!  I guess, if I strip away all of the protective layers, my writing is a way for a shy little kid to be noticed by the big, scary world. It’s my way of shouting to the world that I exist.  It’s my way of establishing some sort of legacy, some way for the future world to know that I had value as a human being.  I will never be famous, but it would be nice if I was remembered.

WFK: You’re also a successful writing coach. Can you tell us a little about that side of your work, and for anyone who is interested, how can they hire you?

WDH:  Anyone interested in a little coaching help can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com.  I work cheap. It’s the teacher in me. I love helping people. I give suggestions, toss a little aid to someone struggling with the writing process, and I try to give them the tools which will help them to succeed.  It’s pretty painless. I am encouraging every step of the way.

WFK: Well sir, that’s about all we have time for. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you get back to the keyboard? And how can we contact you?

WDH:  The best way to contact me is via email, which I’ve given you. I have this weird quirk, I hate talking on the phone, always have, but I’m very good about returning emails.

Any final message?  If you are a writer, write first and foremost for yourself.  The passion has to be there, enough passion to sustain you even when no one else is supporting you. Writing should be about passion. It shouldn’t be about making a living or pleasing other people. Creatives create! That’s what we do, and the reward is in the creating.

WFK: Thanks Bill, for giving us your time today. Thank you also for touching your readers in a very special way. I wish you success, health, and happiness as we continue the journey. 

WDH:  Thank you, my friend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time of the year is very busy for a pastor/writer. There is so much to do to prepare for the holidays. So I simply say, Happy Thanksgiving to you all. God has blessed me by allowing our paths to cross and I don’t take it for granted. That’s just another way of saying I’m thankful for you. Enjoy the holiday!

Picture This

It’s that time again! Time to kick around some writing ideas as the clock continues to tick nonstop. I hope you had a great week, as did I, but with the holidays not far away, things are getting busy. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so tell me, what are you most thankful for this year? It’s been a hard year, a unique year, but dig deep. There is as bunch of good there, too.

Black

Finally, the rough draft of The Marisol Deception is finished. Now, the fun begins – editing, rewriting, formatting, all the stuff that needs to be done before publication. Give me a couple of months. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready. While I’m finishing up the details of Marisol, I’m also working on my next project, Black. You can read Part One of the rough draft here.

Dwell on the above picture for a moment or two. What kind of emotion does it create for you? Think about the detail. Notice the man, the tree, the light, the weeds, the total darkness of the edges. Then ask yourself some questions. Who could the man be? Who might be hiding in the tree – and why? Where is the light coming from? What deadly creature might be crawling in the weeds? What lies beyond the total darkness?

Now, how do you get the emotion from your brain to keyboard? I think the best way to do that is to envelope yourself in the scene. YOU become the person. How would YOU react to the light in the darkness? What would YOUR reaction be in the black of night, sensing someone was watching you, but you couldn’t see them? Are they in the tree? Are they in the weeds? How would YOU handle the situation? YOU hear a noise in the bushes. What do YOU do?

I’ll leave you with the questions to answer, and I’ll see you next week. Write on!

WFK

What’s Holding You Back???

I can hardly believe it! Central Pennsylvania is experiencing a late Indian Summer, as they call it. The middle of November rarely affords us temperatures in the mid-70s. Color is still on the trees that are usually bare by now. But I’ll take it. On another topic, yesterday (November 10, 2020) was the 45th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The fated iron ore carrier sunk 535 feet beneath the waters of Lake Superior near Whitefish Bay. They lost all 29 crew members.

Moving on to happier things, let’s look at some things to avoid when writing, things that may interfere or slow you down.

1. Realize there is no definitive playbook you need to follow. Another way of looking at it is to do what works for you. No two writers are the same. No two methods work the same for different writers. Keep the general rules in mind, but never be bound by them.

2. Don’t get bogged down with “to outline or not to outline”. I’ve written books using detailed outlines, and others I’ve written without. Let your “feel” be your guide. You may or may not need to use an outline. Allow the story to determine how you will handle it.

3. Keep your creativity flowing. When it’s time to market your book, continue to work on ideas for your next project. You may need to work on your pitch, your book cover, or several other post-writing endeavors, but keep the new ideas coming. Rest. Reward yourself with some time off – but not too long. Creativity dies quickly.

4. Be open to criticism – especially if you ask for it. Every agent, publisher, or beta reader will have a different opinion and criticism of your work. Don’t plan on pleasing everybody because it will never -and I mean never- will happen. Take what you can. Improve on the areas you need to improve and let the rest go.

5. Don’t lower your guard with the basics. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the story is. The twist might be the greatest ever, but if the grammar stinks and the punctuation is terrible, it just won’t fly. Spellcheckers aren’t that difficult to use and take very little time. Grammarly or ProWritingAid can be a tremendous help, and there are free versions. There’s no excuse for sloppy writing. (So my question is this – Is spellcheckers” one word, two words, or hyphenated?)

Okay, chew on that awhile and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

WFK

Post-election Thoughts

Welcome to another Wednesday! Please forgive me. This post isn’t about writing. It’s about responsibility. Well, maybe that is part of writing. Let me explain.

As a patriotic American, I took my turn at the polls yesterday. They heard my voice. How about yours? It surprises and saddens me at the same time to know thousands of Americans who could vote, simply didn’t. At the time of this writing, I’m waiting for the race to be called. It’s anybody’s guess who will lead this great nation for the next four years.

And it really doesn’t matter. Of course, I have my preference, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that I exercised my right to vote. As a nation, we have given away far too many of our rights. We can’t afford to lose this one.

The thought has crossed my mind: – do we really elect the president or are the results already decided by something much bigger? Can you say Illuminati? Maybe they choose two candidates. They would be content to have either win. We just get to vote on which one, but either way, they win (maybe that’s a story prompt). Honestly, I think that’s a possibility, but it doesn’t release me from the responsibility of voting.

Maybe the results are decided by Someone much bigger (and they are). The God that owns and rules the universe also rules over the election. Ultimately, the one He chooses will win, but that doesn’t free me from my God-give responsibility, and yes, privilege to vote.

So what about responsibility and writing? You have a responsibility to your reader to write quality material. You have a responsibility to give them uplifting material to read. You have a responsibility to entertain them at a high level. You have the responsibility to educate them with facts. You have the responsibility to leave them better off than before they read you. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice who you are as a writer. If you write with the reader in mind, it will improve your writing tenfold. I promise you, give to others first, and it will return the blessings over and over.

Don’t run from your responsibilities. In the end, they will catch you. Until we meet again – see you next week!

WFK

What’s Prompting You to Write?

I had a wonderful surprise last night. My youngest daughter showed up unexpectedly from Connecticut. She’ll be here for a couple days, so I’m sure we’ll have some time to catch up. The kids grow up and move. I guess that’s what they are supposed to do, but it doesn’t seem too long ago they filled the house with noise and chaos – in a good way. Okay, let’s move on.

“The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder . . .” – Jeff Wayne from War of the Worlds

That pretty much sums up Central Pennsylvania this time of year. The removal of daylight savings times this weekend will even more emphasize the point. Anyway, we need to get to the point on this Wednesday Update. And the point is – writing prompts.

We all know about them and use them from time to time. A typical definition of writing prompt goes something like this. “A writing prompt is a word or two, or a very short phrase that sets your mind off on a journey that inspires your creative energy.” That may be true, but does it have to be a word or two, or a short phrase?

I relate more to visual prompts than to words. Take a look through Google Images, Pixabay, or any of the other online photo galleries. I think you’ll find a wealth of material to get the creative juices flowing. There has been more than one scene I created from a picture, so take advantage of the gift of photography.

But my favorite prompts come from music. Machan’s Tale results from the song, Ghost of a Rose. Cadyrn’s Tale is the result of the tune, Pilgrim, with lyrics by David Byron. The lyrics above from War of the Worlds inspired my story, Forever Autumn – A Short Story (https://letterpile.com/creative-writing/Forever-Autumn-A-Short-Story), and Scarborough Fair – A Short Story developed from the English folk tune by the same name (https://letterpile.com/serializations/Scarborough-Fair-A-Short-Story).

So continue with your writing prompts, but don’t neglect music and art as possibilities. You may find some things that move your story dramatically forward. Hey – that’s it. I’ll see you next week. Have a great one!

WFK

Why Write???

Here´s hoping you´ve had a great week! Mine has been rather peaceful. Peaceful is always good, don´t you think? Have you noticed how some stories seem to write themselves and others are almost painful to write.

The Marisol Deception is one of the painful ones for me. It´s been almost a year since I wrote the first words, and I´m still not done with the first draft. Ever run into that problem? It can be annoying, but yet I know I have to work through it. Give me another year and a computer that works.

So let me ask you. What´s that story that keeps nagging you and keeps you awake at night? Over the next few weeks I want to give you some things to think about before you ever put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard.

Fundamental and foundational to your book is why are you writing it at all? If you don´t know, you can bet your reader won´t either, and they probably will not get past page one.

It´s important to know why you can´t let go of the idea. Why does it drive you? Why is it pushing to get out? Why is it more prominent than other stories that pop into your mind? It´s insisting to be told, but do you know why? If you can put into words, it will show up on every page. Your reader may not be able to point to it, but it will drive them because it drives you with a solid purpose. So often writers write without a clear answer to the question why, and it shows.

So how can you find the why?

Before you write your tale, take time to write out the why. Is there an injustice you want to set right? Is there a hurt or loneliness you want to bring to life? Has something angered you? Do you want to linger on the days of innocence? Why? Why? Why are you writing the story? If you don´t clearly understand why, it will never fly with your audience. Take the time to write a page or two explaining why you are writing. Seeing it in your own handwriting will help to reinforce the idea in your mind.

Also, before you begin to write, you need to know what your goals are. We will look at that next week. For now, dig deep into the why.

WFK

Getting Away

Welcome to another Wednesday! Autumn is in full swing and the foothills are ablaze with color. The mountains shimmer in beautiful yellows and reds. A Pennsylvania autumn is like no other, and I´m fortunate to wake up to it every morning. The air is crisp and clean – a sign of things to come. It won´t be long until the winter winds will be sweeping through the valley bringing on the need for scarfs, boots, gloves, hats, and . . . well, you get the idea.

The church has been keeping me busy lately. There is always something going on with the family. Occasionally health issues surface. And of course, as has been the case for the past several weeks, I´m working with borrowed equipment, All this has slowed down my writing. Maybe that´s a good thing. There is more to life than writing, but I must admit, I´m getting a little antsy. I miss my community on HubPages. I really need to finish my present project, The Marisol Deception and so many other things. The borrowed computer lacks much of what I need to use. Anything of length would be a waste of time to try to accomplish, so I wait.

In the meantime, I´ve thought about the many authors that isolate themselves to write. Maybe it´s a cabin in the woods or a rental near the water. Maybe it´s a room on the 17th floor of a New York City hotel. Anywhere there is quiet and peace. A place that is tranquil and allows the mind to wander into uncharted territory.

I´ve not done that, but maybe it´s not a bad idea. Still, with my schedule, I doubt it will happen any time soon. But that´s okay. My life is more than full, and I´m quite happy with the way it´s going. This is the only chance I get at this thing called life, so I better make the best of it.

Anyway, I´d love to hear from you. Have you ever locked yourself away to write? How did it work for you? If not, what are your thoughts on writing in isolation? Let me know. I did an internet search on the topic but didn´t find much, so let me know your first-hand thoughts. Okay, enough said. See you next Wednesday. Have a great week!!!

WFK

Just philosophizing

Hope you have had a great week! I certainly did. Celebrating 40 years of marriage (October 18), we made a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the Bible Museum and take in Jonathan Cahn´s The Return Event. What a fantastic day!

We later traveled up north to see giant elk in their natural habitat and lastly visited the Civil War battlefield n Gettysburg, PA. To think that my feet were standing on the blood-soaked ground where brother fought against brother was a strange feeling. I was also saddened to think brother is still fighting against brother. This time, it´s not the North vs. the South but the far left vs. the right. You would think we would learn from the past, but yet it seems we never do.

Well, it´s been over a month since my computer crashed, and I´m still struggling. I´m limited to certain functions on borrowed equipment so I haven´t been able to continue writing The Marisol Deception. you may have noticed I have to skip a space to type an apostrophe. What´s up with that? No pictures or videos either.

Anyway, it got me thinking. Do you remember writing on the old typewriters? I really thought I was something when I got my first electric typewriter. It was so neat! Even though I grew up in the days of typewriters and black and white TVs, I can remember writing by hand. I began to think, there really is no excuse not to write. Then I wondered, do they still teach hand-writing in the schools? It wouldn´t surprise me if they don´t.

Have you noticed, the more conveniences we have, the busier we tend to get – or maybe it´s just me. Maybe returning to the stone age would be best. Just a thought. See you next week.

WFK

My Planned Vacation

A couple weeks ago I shared with you about my unplanned vacation due to not having a computer. Beginning September 25, I´ll actually be on a planned vacation – but I still have to borrow a computer. I haven´t figured out how to post pictures on this machine, so all you get is text. To all you that I follow on HubPages, know I´ll be back to read your wonderful posts as soon as I have a full-time laptop again. I miss all those great reads.

That being said, there will be no weekly update next Wednesday, and I may not be around much to answer any emails or comments. Don´t take it personally. I need to detox.

Okay. So let´s play the What If game. Just some silly thoughts that might help you develop part or all of a story line or you can use them as a writing exercise.

What if . . . COVID-19 was intentionally invented by a mad scientist who already had a vaccine ready to sell to the world? (Who knows? This may not be fiction – lol).

What if . . . an old high school sweetheart made contact with his/her old flame after many years? What if . . . he/she was married to an overly jealous husband/wife?

What if . . . your protagonist was gifted with the ability to see the spirit world around her/him. What kind of danger might she/he be aware of that others are not?

What if . . . a young married couple ready to start a family suddenly finds out one has a terminal disease? What heartaches or victories might they go through?

What if . . . Your protagonist witnesses a murder and is threatened to keep quiet – or else? What kind of moral/ethical dilemmas and danger might that present?

What if . . . your protagonist is captured by your antagonist and is programmed to do the antagonist´s bidding?

What if . . .you shared some of your ¨What ifs¨ in the comments below. I would love to read them.

Well, that takes care of things for this week. See you next time and have a great couple of weeks!

WFK