About Holly

Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

My free 3-day writing mini-workshop and Think Sideways
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I have to close registration to my flagship writing course, How To Think Sideways, for about a year, because we’re building a new site, and I need to make sure all the subscriptions are wrapped up before we move everyone’s accounts.

So I’ve decided to wrap up HTTS on the current site with a bang. I’m offering:

  • a three-day FREE writing mini-workshop in advance of How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers one-week relaunch (IN PROGRESS NOW,
  • 25 great prizes for the first 25 folks who buy when the course goes live,
  • and a great class experience for the folks who go through the course this time. We should have a big, active class.

If you would like to do the free workshop, you still have time. Sign up here:

Think Sideways Class: Free Workshop

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The REVISED new LONGVIEW covers, and how to run a solvent self-pub business
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Book covers…GOOD book covers, anyway—are a big flying pain in the ass on a good day, and they are so very much easier to get wrong than right. And blithe comments about hiring a professional cover designer don’t help.

A BIG DIGRESSION ON THE FINANCIAL END OF SELF-PUBLISHING, AND HOW YOU STAY SOLVENT

The Longview stories are, right now, low-margin.

I am using them to give people an inexpensive route into my Settled Space universe. With that in mind, I’m looking at experimenting with pricing again, which means they’re probably going to become LOWER margin for me.

Someday, if the series develops a large enough readership that copies of the whole series are selling regularly, I may be able to hire a professional to do cover art for them, but here’s the deal on self-pubbing. You need to be able to make your investment back on each project within a set time period.

For me, that time period is two months. I need for every single thing I do to pay me as much as I’ve invested in it, including time, two months after it debuts.

My time is my biggest expense, because creating writing courses pays much better than writing fiction. I have to look at every fiction project I do, look at every nonfiction project I could do in the same amount of time, figure out whether I’ll still be able to meet my budget every month if I do fiction rather than nonfiction, and plan accordingly.

And I have the same hard expenses most people have: housing, automotive, insurance, food, etc. Plus I have independent contractors I pay monthly to help me with various aspects of my business. All of that comes out of my budget before any money comes to me.I can offset some of the cost of these stories onto the HTWAS course, but not very much of it, because I invest time into creating the HTWAS course, too.

The HTWAS course, though, is buying me the time to write Longview stories in between HTWAS modules.

And I cannot do basket accounting. Basket accounting is when you count all the money coming as one lump, and ignore how much individual projects earn. If you basket account, you can throw your heart and soul into something that is not earning its own way, and wake up to discover one day that the projects that were paying your bills have fallen off because you have not added more like them, while you have been tossing your time and work into a money-sucking black hole that has a minimal readership.

My earn-through number is two months rather than the one month for these books because I built HTWAS with planned time for writing them, and I am using them as part of the course. They are teaching me and I am teaching them. So with the Longview series, I have a tiny but real buffer.

I can pay bills and make payroll if I can get my investment of time and cost out of each book within two months.

But that means that I cannot be frivolous with expenses. I have a budget of about fifteen bucks to spend on each cover. Which means I MUST do them myself.

I paid off the software I do part of the covers with years ago, I buy stock art for the images, and, and paid off the new software that does the fonts and a couple other neat tweaks with the first course I used it on. Everything I buy, everything I do, has to pay its own way, and has to do it quickly. Stories can sit in your backlist earning you money for as long as you choose…but they have to pay back your expenses quickly, because you have to get back the money you invest in each project so you can invest it in your next project.

Your next cover, your next writing time, your next editing.If you cannot invest your last project’s earning into your next project when you’re ready to do it, you’re running your business in the red, and you won’t last long. Running in the black—making sure every project pays its own way—is the secret to being able to afford to write full time. It’s not much of a secret—but this is how you do it.

End of Digression

So the last covers were close. I had the background right. I had the concept of the font and overall look somewhere in the ballpark.

These, though, are significant tweaks.

These are PROBABLY final, but I’m going to have to run them past Matt, who first came up with the retitling fix yesterday, and then looked today at what I came up with yesterday, shook his head, and said, “Not yet.” He came up with the layout concept for these, but he and I work opposite shifts (I’m up days, he’s up nights) and I just finished these, so I’ll run these by him when he’s up and if he has any strong objections, I’ll probably do another set of tweaks.

Episode 1: The Prisoner

Tales from The Longview Episode 1: The Prisoner

Tales from The Longview
Episode 1: The Prisoner

Episode 2: The Courtesan

Tales from The Longview Episode 2: The Courtesan

Tales from The Longview
Episode 2: The Courtesan

Episode 3: The Philosopher

Tales from The Longview Episode 3: The Philosopher

Tales from The Longview
Episode 3: The Philosopher

 

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The New Covers for Tales from The Longview… I listened.
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I read every comment, made notes, came up with alternate concepts, and here are the three final results.

WITH new titles, too.

Tales from The Longview: Episode 1: The Prisoner

Tales from The Longview: Episode 1: The Prisoner


 

Tales from The Longview: Episode 2: The Courtesan

Tales from The Longview: Episode 2: The Courtesan


 

Tales from The Longview: Episode 3: The Philosopher

Tales from The Longview: Episode 3: The Philosopher

So…does this fix the many problems?

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HTWAS Lesson, Longview Minecraft Map Update, More
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Longview V-2_0 Minecraft Cover Art-FLAT Got 3300+ words on HTWAS Module 3, Lesson 2 yesterday.

This lesson, titled Breaking Things Mid-Story and Mid-Series, covers GOOD breaks—places where your Muse kicks in with an absolutely awesome idea that requires a lot of fixing in the current episode, but that DOES NOT BREAK YOUR SERIES.

Being able to tell the difference between this kind of break and the “My Muse hates me” type of break from the previous lesson is a critical skill. I’m having a lot of fun with the lesson, by the way—it’s much more enjoyable showing writers how to clean up the mess from a great break than it is to cover the same ground for a nasty one.

The Longview Minecraft Map Update

As you may guess from the cover art above, the Longview spaceship map, VERSION 2.0, debuts today. You can pick it up for free in the Reader’s Room.

Login: https://howtothinksideways.com/login/

Then go here: Tales From The Longview Series Intro | Longview Bonus Downloads

If you don’t have one, you can create a free account.

 

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Bashtyk Nokyd—Possible Cover Art. Your input?
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Click to see the big version

Click to see the big version

I like this cover better than either of the previous ones I’ve done for the Longview series, and am considering doing the other two over again to match this style and formatting. What do you think?

Previous two covers are below for comparison.

Death Circus Cover-ebook-FLAT-200x300

The Selling of Suzee Delight: Tales from the Longview Episode 2

The Selling of Suzee Delight: Tales from the Longview Episode 2

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Type-In DONE on Bashtyk Nokyd
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Bashtyk-Nokyd-Take-OneRight up to the last minute, the story kept punching me—I kept finding better ways to do things. I got an absolutely unanticipated but just-right ending to the episode.

And added damn near 10,000 words in the process.

But I’m done, I love it, the printer is humming merrily away, and I’m going to hand off my manuscript to my editor tomorrow.

This means next week, I write Lesson 2 of HTWAS. And next Friday, we resume class.

God, I’m fried. I’m going to sleep as much of this weekend as I can manage.

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Cadence Drake in Real Life: Now legal, soon possible. I win! :D
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Hunting the Corrigan's Blood

Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood

The main character of my current novel series, Cadence Drake, was a genetically engineered child. One mother, three fathers, and some slicing and dicing of her chromosomes to give her the exact characteristics her mother wanted for her:

From my mother I have my coffee-with-a- touch-of-cream skin and full lips and straight teeth. From one of my fathers I have high, sharp cheekbones and slanting almond-shaped eyes with a pronounced epicanthic fold, though the eyes themselves are a vivid and startling blue, the gift of another father. My hair is straight and the color of amber, my nose is long and thin. My body is long and angular. I look like what I am—an outdated fashion statement.

From Hunting The Corrigan’s Blood: Cadence Drake #1

 

And it just became legal in England to do this exact sort of genetic engineering in order to prevent lethal genetic disease being passed from mother to child.

I think this is a fantastic development, something that will improve the lives of future generations of human beings, and something that has tremendous potential for giving people a chance at longer and better lives.

However, I also think it’s cool as hell that I built the main character of my current main series on science that just went Real World.

The novel is also available here:

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The Grueling Revision Of Penitence and Disbelief
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He Who Punishes HubrisWhere revision is concerned, making the assumption that you have the process of knocking out an upcoming revision well in hand before you start in is an act of hubris that will be punished by the Manuscript God.

This I know, for I have walked through the Valley of What-The-FUCK-Was-I-Thinking many and many a time before, and have had my ass handed to me by simple black ink on white paper more times than I can count.

Knowing this, I like to think I have learned something from my previous revisions.

.

.

.

But, you see, THIS revision was going to be a piece of cake. 22,000-word story, knew what I was writing when I was writing it, I’d knock the whole thing out on Friday, do the type-in on Saturday, give myself a well-deserved day off on Sunday, and be back in here bright-eyed and perky today.

Hubris.

Ouch.

So I am now clawing my way out of a three-day ordeal that left me battered, bloodied, and unrested, to face type-in today with much more to type in than I had anticipated, with both the addition of a shitload of new words to the story, and a significant addition of plot that I’m going to have to track back-brain as I work to keep out the stupid, and one item that I FORGOT to deal with in the write-in and that I must now remember to address during the type-in.

Odds are high that I will not be finished with this today.

Nothing else happens in my universe until this is done.

I have a ton of other things that MUST happen soon, but this must happen first.

Watch this space. Once this manuscript is done, a bunch of things are going to start rolling out very quickly.

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2,357 words today, and BASHTYK NOKYD is done.
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Longview Oil Painting Talyn StyleThe first draft of Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview is now finished. It runs 21,790 words, and I am damned pleased with the way my ending came together.

Melie spots something important, Shay loses something even more important, and the monster get an excuse to come out of the box.

So I have tomorrow to do a write-in revision, and maybe type that in, and then get the story to my editor over the weekend. Next week, it’ll go to the copyeditor, and then back to me.

But while it’s out of my hands, I’ll do the next lesson on HTWAS Module Three, and do my best to have that in the classroom next Friday.

Which means the How To Write A Series class will be starting back to work next week. Which means next FRIDAY, the price goes up again, in recognition of the development of the third module. If you want the course, you have until next Friday to get it at the current price.

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