About Holly

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

19,068 Words of BASHTYK…Getting close to the finish.

The Guardian of Freedom

The Guardian of Freedom

Tomorrow I have to get serious about ripping out the six remaining scene Sentences in the story, and melting them down into, at most, three scene Sentences that hit all the essentials, and give me the big, powerful finish that I want.

And that leave me with the jumping-off point for the next story, which still has no title, nor even a hint of a possibility of a title.

But today, I got an even 1300 words (I confess to stopping on the round number on purpose—but I did finish my sentence :D ).

Today folks were debating freedom—what it is, and who gets it.

I got the intent of what I wanted in the story in the two scenes I worked on today…but I could tell as I was writing the scenes, especially the second one, that these are the ones that are going to need some heavy revision.

Still, the story went the right way, my characters did the right things, and I left myself with a solid foundation for the revision. Some days, that’s good enough.

Now I need to get Help Desk stuff done, and then test the software Dan is building for me.



Bashtyk Nokyd doubts the “truth”: And words—now have 17,669

Almost... Almost... Dammit...ALMOST...


Hit 17,669 words today. Since I’m pushing for 20,000 to 22,000 words, that’s pretty good. (I may run long, but it isn’t going to be Suzee Delight long.

Melie has proven the value of her skills again,

Shay has convincingly demonstrated that she has the worst boss in Settled Space,

Bashtyk Nokyd is planning the overthrow of the Pact Worlds—or at least the freeing of their slaves—with my heroic pirate of a lawyer to help him…

Tikka has discovered something deeply disturbing in her new job as a GenDaring employee in the City of Furies branch…



I have my new villain—who is an old villain returned. It took me the full weekend to think through the relationships, the issues, and connections to other parts of the story, and the WHY of this (because if you don’t know why, faggeddaboudit).


The really big thing is still coming, and it ties this all in with Cadence Drake and The Wishbone Conspiracy.

There hits a point in every story where my stomach turns wacky on me: where I have butterflies and jitters and a faint, persistent queasiness that comes from knowing what this CAN be if I can pull it off—and having to finish the thing to see if I CAN pull it off.

And I’m there.

Because of deadlines, though, this should be about the shortest case of butterflies and quease I’ve had in a while. :D

Onward.  Hope to have this finished in first draft by the end of the week, to my editor over the weekend, and to my copyeditor next week.

Once it’s live, HTWAS officially goes into Module Three (price bump) and I get back to doing Ugly Workshop stuff, Ugly Baby Stuff, and ReadersMeetWriters stuff.

But for now, it’s just me and the words. And I love this!





If you kill your villain halfway through the story…

The identity of the NEW villain?

The identity of the NEW villain?

Today was a bit of a catch-up day for writing. I got 871 words, which does not do a ton for my writing schedule.

But two days ago, in a moment of sheer inspiration, right in the middle of Bashtyk Nokyd Takes the Longview, I killed a whole lotta people, and dead among them was the pretty-well-developed hidden villain I’d been planning to kill at the end of the episode.

It was a cool damn scene, and I’m still totally revved about it.


If you kill your main villain for the episode halfway through the story, you have a problem. So today I spent most of my writing time digging through Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and Warpaint. I found my villain—and now I’m building some backstory to tie this into the LONGVIEW series, so that I don’t derail the series itself.

I have to keep this on track, because this series has to lead directly into Cadence Drake 3: The Wishbone Conspiracy.

Tomorrow I’ll probably be doing a lot of doodling on paper. The only thing I have ever found that lets me think as well as a pen and paper is a Minecraft map.

Go figure.

So once I get this figured out, I know what Lesson 2 in Module 3 of HTWAS is going to cover. :D


Melie, Shay, treachery, and mystery: 2048 words

2015-01-22_13.34.11 copyCrazy back pain this morning—sometimes the damn twisted spine is just unbearable, and I had to do a lot of stretching this morning to even get mobile. So it was after 7 AM before I got my first words.

But once I got rolling, they flew. I had to pull out the Minecraft map to see if a couple of things I needed to have characters do could be done, and discovered that, with a bit of tinkering, they could.

2015-01-22_13.33.35 copyEnded up doing a bit of reconfiguring back of the bridge, (because if you don’t update your map as you make changes, you break it.)

But the real gem of my interaction today was between Melie and Shay, figuring out how they’re going to handle their hell of a mess while sitting right in the middle of it.

2015-01-22_13.32.52 copyAgain, got two things I hadn’t anticipated—one a change in how they see each other, and one Shay’s very neat way of getting information of Melie.

Bit of a problem with rain in space today...

Bit of a problem with rain in space today…

Good damn writing day, and at this pace, would put me just a few days out of finishing the story, except that I look like I’m running long again.

I think I see a way to take out some of the planned scenes though, and maybe scoot them into the next episode, so that I can keep this tight and get it done and get started back on HTWAS, Module Three.


1970 words on Bashtyk, and a whole lotta dead folk

Scary Monster's EyeYeah.

That went well.

Have been up since six AM today, writing, undoing, rethinking, pushing, and my net gain was one chapter.

Good chapter.

It ended with the line that made my blood run cold (and not because it broke the entire storyline in this episode for this story’s second main character).

Just because it was the dead opposite of what I’d planned, of what I’d been writing toward, of my anticipated midpoint twist. It twisted my twist, and made it better.

And I had no clue it was coming until the killer walked up to my MC.

The line?

After a moment it said, “And you’re the new captain.”

I cannot WAIT to get to work tomorrow morning.

Today, though? I gotta finish 1099s.


Doing a Hard Push on Bashtyk Nokyd—Words: Passed 11,387

Bashtyk-Nokyd-Take-OneI started writing at about 5 AM today, and have made it to over eleven thousand words total.

Hit a while there where it wasn’t work. Where the story flowed for me, and people did the things they did, and surprised me.

My folks are in an interesting spot. Melie is in trouble, Shay is down for the count, the entire crew is getting ready to jump blind—twice—to coordinates none of them can validate.

And someone is trying to kill them.

Writing-wise, THIS is how you define a pretty good day.


Sex, Gender, Deviation, and Science: What Is Normal…and the Path to Proving It




This discussion refers back to The Ten Normal Genders and the Seven Variations (link opens in new tab), and assumes that you have read it.

If you haven’t, it’s long, but I’ve done my best to keep it clear and organized, and you’ll understand the reason for THIS post much more clearly if you’ve read that one.

If you haven’t and are short on time, here’s the short summary: I posit that there are ten normal genders in the human species, that these genders (and their seven add-ons) are a part of our being a generalist species, and that all ten of them AND the seven add-ons are absolutely critical to the long-term survival of our species.

I am now going to present the argument that it will be worth the time and effort of all the folks who are members of genders currently located on unpopular parts of the gender slider to stop fucking around “reclaiming words” and having Gay Pride marches, and get involved in funding the science to prove that all the points on the slider are normal and necessary, and that the people who inhabit these points don’t NEED to be reclaimed or fixed.

INDIVIDUAL rights belong to all individuals and trump all other rights (because if the individual has no rights, then there are no rights)—and nowhere in the word individual is there an exception that makes it okay for rights or lives to be suspended, destroyed or denied because of normal and species-necessary variations in gender that are present from birth.

Legitimacy and acceptance do not come from protests or from trying to make pejorative words like “queer” and “dyke” okay.


Legitimacy and acceptance come from doing really good science, and from proving that:

  • Gender orientation is present from birth.
  • Genders are not a single “correct” binary (all one kind of straight male and all one kind of straight female) with broken deviations: they are instead a fluid continuum that operates like a slider, with infinite individual variations that can be classified into a double handful of larger groups, and more and more finely into smaller subgroups.
  • Gender variations, like other advantageous genetic recombinations, are necessary to the survival of our species.
  • Gender is not political. Gender is scientific.
  • Gender is not religious. Gender is scientific.
  • Gender is not changeable, or “fixable.” Gender is correct for the individual from the instant of birth, and does not need to be fixed.
  • Gender is not perversion. The perversions:
    1. Pedophilia
    2. Rape
    3. Bestiality

    …can be proven to be different from gender because where gender variables introduce a long list of benefits to the species (discussed in Ten Normal Genders), perversions are invariably harmful and destructive, both on an individual and a species-wide level.

The world has changed, and the opportunity for individuals to pursue big science (rather than having big science co-opted by corporations pursuing vast profits, or universities pursuing the political or profit agendas of their funders) has come of age.


So here’s my idea.

Find legitimate, qualified scientists interested in finding out the truth about gender variations who understand that for the science to hold up, the politics on ALL sides of the table have to be set aside.

Funding for science is getting cut to hell everywhere: I guarantee there are some good biologists and geneticists and other researchers who are out of work now, and who would be interested in working on this project as a series of studies.

For this to stand, there can be no foregone correct conclusions—there can be the hypothesis (and I’ve offered my seven-point hypothesis above, but people with more and deeper science than I have can create a better one), but the hypothesis has to be tested and PROVEN, point by point.

And when we find these legitimate, qualified scientists, we set up some form of crowdfunding—whether on Kickstarter or elsewhere, and WE—the people who give a shit about the rights of the individual, and who want to see every human being given the opportunity to say, This is who I am, and have both the words to say it without having to dance around pejoratives, and have the proof to back it up—WE pay for the science.

WE pay for the pursuit of knowledge, we pay for the objective research that will prove the truth that human beings are individual and different—and that every single one of us on this planet is different from birth. And that this is normal, and necessary, and good.

We do this so that every one of us on every point of the slider can stand together and, with proof in hand, together say—not just for ourselves but for the people we loved who suffered persecution for who they were, who suffered the criminalization of their inborn and normal desires to love other consenting adult human beings and to be loved in return; who died never having had the chance to live in a world that saw them not as dykes or fags or freaks, but as healthy fellow human beings, “We are human, we are individual, we are different, and we are normal.”

I welcome your comments.

On this post, please understand that the BLOG RULES (which open in a new tab) will be enforced.


Back to Bashtyk: The power of play

Longview Oil Painting Talyn StyleSo. I woke up at 2AM today, because there was story stuff in my head. And I wrote for four hours and got over 1000 really good words on Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview.

But let me drop back on this for a minute.

In spite of the work list I revealed on January 1st, last weekend, I sat on the couch all day Saturday and all day Sunday, and did nothing but play Minecraft.

More specifically, I finally built the owner’s quarters in the Longview, which included ripping out ALL the previous owner’s quarters section, because THINGS CHANGED. I got Shay’s place built. I discovered a bunch of hidden areas in the ship, and ripped out some previous access pathways to private areas to build new and better ones.

A screenshot of the secret that gave me today’s writing. (Click for bigger image)


A screenshot of the secret that features in a candy-bar scene I’m going to love to write. (Click for bigger image)


So there’ll be a new update on the Longview Minecraft map pretty soon.

And I also built some of my map of the City of Furies. It’s enormous, and right now it’s primarily land covered with cows, sheep, horses, and the occasional bunny. But I have the basic outlines laid out now, some of the gold wall built, a couple of the roads, and a GOOD start on the Pinnacle.

I played, dammit, which left me feeling happy, healthy, and rested for the first time in ages, even though I was, and still am, still coughing a lot.

So. Back to 2AM today, and the head full of story.

The story crawled out of a little secret I’d stuck into the bottom hold of the Longview a couple days earlier, and damn if it didn’t solve a bunch of previous problems, add a bit of Special Evil, and set me up for an even cooler bit of business about midway through this episode.

You must not EVER discount the power of play. It’s what lets your brain unhook from whatever stressed-out crap you’re looping on, and jumps you right over obstacles to cool solutions. It lets you understand how things connect. It brings sweet secrets out of the deep dark corners of your mind and drops them in your lap where you can touch them and turn them over and discover how you can use them.

It is beautiful stuff, is play.


Building my life and work in 2015: Books, sites, and more

Building my life and work in 2015

Building my life and work in 2015

I have a BIG LIST.

It’s all the stuff I know I have to get done, all the stuff I want to get done, and the things I would love to do if I can figure out how to pull them off: It’s a combination of research and development, creation, completion, and presentation that summarizes what I know I want to accomplish right now.

It is subject to change—and mostly it changes by me adding a helluva lot of new stuff onto it, and removing very, very little.

I have a lot of people waiting for various things—from specific books to certain classes to particular website features—who are puzzled at how long it can take me to get to the thing they’re waiting on.

So I’m going to show you the whole WORK picture from where I’m standing.

This is my BIG LIST.


  • Take the replacement site for HowToThinkSideways.com live in 2015. #1 PRIORITY.
    Currently building working prototype out of existing elements, almost ready to hand off to Dan Allen, my developer, for adaptation, development, refinement, stabilization, optimization, and a fair amount of original programming.
  • Reskin, optimize, and improve navigation for HollyLisle.com. Probably will end up as a 2016 project.
  • Maintain this blog, and add new content regularly.
  • Get Stage One of ReadersMeetWriters.com live in 2015, using a variation of the stock platform Dan is building for me for HTTS’s replacement.At the moment, with a mere 58 people voting, the core elements for Stage One are going to be:
    • Teambuilding with my matchmaking software,
    • Reasearch, writing, and pre-revision assistance,
    • Member-exchanged editing

This comes from the following break-out list:

Here is my (CERTAINLY INCOMPLETE) overview list of potential services for writers we can offer in ReadersMeetWriters.com:

  • BULLETIN BOARD for requesting help from experts in specific fields or areas of expertise (like being male, or being female)


  • Segment editing (chapters or scenes) crowdsourced
  • Technical editing (research details) crowdsourced or Expert Editor
  • Story development editing (plot help)
  • Clarity editing (making sure each element of the story is understandable)
  • Mechanical editing—grammar, spelling
  • Plot-Hole and Continuity editing
  • Structural editing—chapter placement, pacing, conflict flow from scene to scene
  • Vocabulary localization (Aussie to American, American to Aussie… like that)
  • BULLETIN BOARD (for requesting services not listed)


  • After-first-draft-revision single-reader story crits
  • After-first-draft-revision crowdsourced story crits
  • Post-final-revision single-editor edits
  • Post-final-revision crowdsourced edits
  • Post-edit single-editor copyediting
  • Post-edit crowdsourced copyediting


  • Assistance with Scrivener
  • Assistance with (other platform of your choice)
  • Purchasable Professional Formatting


  • Worldbuilding assistance for technical detail
  • Worldbuilding assistance for finding ways to pull conflict from worlds
  • Help with making maps
  • Purchasable built-to-order world
  • Purchasable built-to-order map


  • How to write objective fiction reviews
  • How to do an objective critique of a piece of fiction
  • How to do an objecive critique of a piece of nonfiction



  • Basic editing skills
  • Basic copyediting skills


TEAM-BUILDING (Match-making software)

  • Writer-Reader compatibility introductions
  • Beta Reader compatibility introductions
  • Crit-partner pairing
  • Brainstorming team pairing
  • Connecting writers with artists who like doing their type of art
  • Connecting writers with book formatters
  • Connecting writers with people with experience doing book launches
  • Connecting writers with editors interested in their sort of fiction
  • Connecting writers with with site builders/designers

(In this instance, fees would be paid by the service providers, not by the writers)

SPLIT-TESTING SERVICE (FREE to PAID, depending on the number and accuracy of results desired)

Split testing is taking 2-to-many variables (like different versions of a book cover) and having people click through the variable they find the most appealing, while recording clicks to see which elements work the best. I have very sophisticated software (Taguchi split-testing software) that can make this a fast, powerful process, if Dan can figure out a way to put a user-friendly front end on it.

  • Cover art
  • Story Sentence (Protagonist vs. Antagonist in Setting with Twist)
  • Story Blurb
  • First paragraph

PROMOTION (Getting people to discover your books)

  • Website crits (crowdsourced)
  • Website crits (professional)
  • Content assistance (crowdsourced)
  • Content assistance (professional)
  • Website building assistance (crowdsourced)
  • Website development and purchase (professional
  • Book launching (crowdsourced)
  • Book launching (professional)


Writers sell their work, readers give OBJECTIVE reviews, writers can offer in-book (intangible, like PDF) bonuses and have them delivered from my site, or tangible bonuses that can be delivered with their own.
Built-in affiliate program to help writers and their TRUE FANS get the word out.
My fee is not 70% but 35% rate for any price from .99 to $1.99, so I at least break even on the .99-books after processing fees. for books from $2.00 and up, my fee is a 25% flat rate. Authors have no top limit for the 75% royalty.

2) COURSES (a sublist of maintaining HowToThinkSideways / HollyLisleOnlineWritingSchool.com)

  • Complete the expansion of How To Write A Series
  • Complete the walkthrough for How To Think Sideways (with The Emerald Sun)
  • Do the walkthrough for How To Revise Your Novel (with TalysMana)
  • Begin monthly live 3-day writing workshops on the new writing school site


  • Work with Ugly Baby, Workshop and Launch
  • Work with The Yarnlings Mastermind


Get the following books copyedited and into print:

  • Midnight Rain
  • Last Girl Dancing
  • I See You
  • Night Echoes
  • Talyn
  • Minerva Wakes


  • Complete Bashtyk Nokyd Takes the Longview
  • Write final three stories in Longview Series.
  • Write Cadence Drake: The Wishbone Conspiracy
  • Complete Talysmana (revision, edit, publish only)
  • Write Moon & Sun: The Emerald Sea
  • Write Cadence Drake: Episodes 4-10.
  • Write additional Moon & Sun if readers support the series.
  • Write Dreaming the Dead
  • Write Redbird
  • Write Black Dog
  • Write The Ghost Romances 1-4
  • Write the Eight Mapped-out Paranormal Suspense stories.

So. That’s the BIG LIST.

Does not include my personal life. Does not include getting sick (which I still am, but I’m getting over it at last), or family emergencies, or kicking back with my husband and seventeen-year-old son. Does not include staying in touch with my two adult kids.

This is just my work list.