Wanna buy a wall? Last look at a mural I painted in 1977-1978

Holly Lisle: Beaver Local High School Mural

Holly Lisle: Beaver Local High School Mural — Click for big image

So my friend Jean lets me know that Beaver Local High School in Lisbon, Ohio—the high school I went to from 1976-1979, when I graduated—is about to be demolished.

And that at least one of the murals I painted in one of the classrooms there still exists, though not for much longer. She sent me a picture of the mural, which I’ve added above.

Back then, I talked her into helping me paint it during a study hall we shared. It was a big damn wall, and I was very persuasive, because painting on cinder-block was hard work.

The picture is my depiction of the Canterbury Tales. I was astonished at how much I loved Chaucer (especially the dirty stories) that I read the stories in both English and Middle English (with a LOT of help from the translation notes) that year.

My teacher, Jim Rose, asked me if I’d design and paint a mural for the wall. The picture above is what I did.

I don’t remember who all the characters are anymore, but I do remember that the four characters on the bottom row are the Miller, the Reeve, the Friar, and the Wife of Bath (my signature is on her sleeve).

Next row up, I don’t remember the dude on the left with the lute, but the woman on the right is the Prioress.

I also remember the Knight. The rest are now blanks, though if I re-read the book, I’d get them back.

The school is auctioning off everything. http://baerauctions.com/upcoming-auction/beaver-local-school-auction/

In theory at least, someone could take this awesome one-ton piece of kid art home.

Which is where the title of this post comes from. Do I think anyone will buy it? Of course not.

But it made a fun post title, and it gave me an excuse to show you something I did when I was a kid.

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Marketing Your Fiction Live Chat, Tuesday June 9, 1pm ET

Click to Register

Click to Register

I’m trying to get ahead of this chat—I spent a couple hours working on the handouts this morning.

Marketing fiction is something that has not been done with repeatable results before, and this is something my HTTS folks know I and a handful of volunteers are experimenting with, with the end of being able to do regular successful fiction launches without big budgets or commercial backing. We are NOT going to get into launching, because that’s still in testing. I don’t have a system yet.

However, we will be discussing:

  • Writing versus Marketing
  • Indie Publishing vs. Commercial Publishing
  • Insider Look at Commercial Publishing
    • When to Go to War to Save Your Book
  • Contests and Competitions

So FIRST, here’s the sign-up link for this chat.

SECOND, mailing links did not go out from WebinarJam to the folks who were supposed to receive them last thim.

So a lot of folks who signed up originally, and who were supposed to be mailed automatically missed the live chat.

If you are already signed up for the chats (and if you use the link above and try to sign up, it’ll tell you whether you’re on the list already) and

if you MISSED the last live chat reminder emails, go here.

I’m going to send a notice to the HTTS Bootcamp members the day before the chat, and then one a couple hours before the chat. If you’re already on the list, or if you put yourself on the list now, you’ll get those reminders. These chats are something I’m doing for HTTS Bootcamp members. Most of the stuff I do isn’t open to the general public, but this is.

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The HTTS Q&A Live Chat Replays link

Workshop Orange Speech Bubble Isolated On WhiteI’ve now set the replays for the live chats up so that you can view them and get the downloads without having to login.

I’ll add each one after any special offers I do in the live chats have expired (so that I don’t end up with dead coupons on permanent pages).

Here’s the link:


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LAST CALL — Free live writing chat today, with a little writing workshop thrown in

Workshop Orange Speech Bubble Isolated On White

I’ve set up today’s writing chat so I should be able to answer some live questions along with the ones asked previously.


Today’s topics are:

  • Story Planning (Plotting)
  • Character Development
  • Writing from Different Points of View
  • What About Genre
  • Writer Myths AND Writing Myths
  • Revision and Editing (Are NOT Synonyms)

And I have downloadable notes sheets and the worksheets for you, set up for the little “Quick Story Plot” workshop we’ll do in the middle of this.

The worksheets are printable, but if you don’t have a printer handy, you can do the workshop with just a notebook or loose-leaf paper and a pen.

No pencils. Pencils let you erase, and erasing breaks your discussion with your muse (subconscious mind).

If you’re already signed up, check your email for the link that will take you to the live page.

If you haven’t signed up yet, HERE’S THE LINK: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/4436/e963ecd928

I hope I’ll see you there.

By the way, if you can’t make the live version, sign up to get the link to the replay—where you’ll still be able to download the worksheets and do the workshop, and get the answers to questions folks ask.

You just won’t be able to ask questions.

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Content for the 5 Free Live Writing Chats

I now have the 5 Free Live Writing Chats set up in my calendar, and have each chat broken out according to content.

This way, if you have specific questions, you can plan accordingly.

You can use this link to join the chat series at any time. (Link opens in new tab)

You’ll receive notifications for the live chats, and I’m pretty sure you’ll receive notifications for the replays if you’ve missed anything. (BRAND NEW SOFTWARE, I’m still learning it, so we have the potential for a certain amount of…ah…excitement.)

If I run out of time before I’ve covered questions from the material, any topic I miss will drop into Webinar 6.


WEBINAR #2: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015, 1 PM ET

  • Story Planning (Plotting)
  • Character Development
  • Writing from Different Points of View
  • What About Genre
  • Writer Myths AND Writing Myths
  • Revision and Editing (Are NOT Synonyms)

WEBINAR #3: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, 1 PM ET


  • Building A Backlist
  • Existing Backlist
  • Indie Publishing
  • Beta Readers
  • Editors
  • ISBNs
  • Copyright
  • Pricing

WEBINAR #4: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015, 1 PM ET


  • Marketing
  • Indie vs. Commercial Publishing
  • Commercial Publishing
  • –When to Go to War to Save Your Book
  • Contests and Competitions

WEBINAR #5: Tuesday, July 7th, 2015, 1 PM ET

  • Your Writing As PRODUCTS:
  • Novels,
  • Short Stories,
  • Series and Ring Cycles,
  • and Everything Else
  • THE JOB: The Work Itself, and How to Get It Done

WEBINAR #6: Tuesday, August 4th, 2015, 1 PM ET

  • The Questions I Ran Out Of Time For,
  • and Bull Session If Time Remains




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YES on one-step writer websites, YES to 5 free HTTS Live Chats, now scheduled

Zen Balancing Rocks o a Deck, New ZealandI’ve finally caught my breath on one of the wilder February/March combos I’ve been through.

So now it’s time for me to catch up on a couple of things that have been left hanging.

Writers’ One-Step Website Software. THAT’s a big YES.

First, Dan’s and my question about whether anyone besides me wanted a one-step writer website was a resounding YES.

So here’s the deal:

If you get on the BETA list and let us know what you want, take a few questionnaires that will let us figure out what needs to be designed and built first, later, and not at all, and/or participate in the beta testing, and when we have the various parts of this ready to go live, you’ll have the opportunity to get early-adopter discounts.

Some of these will be time-limited, some will be limited by number, some will be both, so you’ll need to act fast—but you’ll have plenty of notice beforehand.

Join the beta team here

(opens in new tab)

Only if you don’t get the sign-up box on the above link, try THIS link (also opens in new tab).

The Promised 5 Free Live Writing Chats from the HTTS Launch Are Now Set Up

I’ll be doing one a month until they’re done. Dates and times are:

  • Tue, 7 Apr, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET
  • Tue, 5 May, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET
  • Tue, 9 Jun, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET
  • Tue, 7 Jul, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET
  • Tue, 4 Aug, 2015 – 1:00 PM ET

To sign up to attend the 5 chats, go here.

Link opens in new tab.

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Unmissable real-life voyages to the bottom of the sea

Trieste II-DSV-1 Deep Submergence Vehicle

Tom Vetter and two fellow explorers fit in the tiny windowed sphere between the bathyscaphe’s front legs. Everything else was for controlling buoyancy.

My personal experiences with oceans have been in getting really bad sunburns at the beach a couple of times when I was a kid, and flying over the smaller one twice.

But starting from the age of seven, when, on a beach in North Carolina I picked up and examined a dead baby shark, a horseshoe crab, and a sand dollar that had been dragged in with a fisherman’s net, I have been fascinated by what’s in there. What’s underneath all that water.

I think it’s amazing that the majority of our planet is still a mystery, never seen by anyone, still full of things waiting to be discovered, still alien.

It’s another world with a different atmosphere, different physics, different dangers…

So when I discovered that a fellow writer—one of my students—had actually been all the way down to the bottom of the ocean—had piloted a deep submergence vessel along the abyssal floor, had developed techniques for exploring the ocean that are still in use today, and much more, I was fascinated.

trieste-II-divingIt is my honor and privilege to introduce you to my friend, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Vetter, US Navy (retired).

He is a genuine hero living an amazing life—and the dangerous, fascinating, hair-raising, and crazy things he has done so far, both in the line of duty and on his own, rival the stuff Jules Verne imagined.

Tom was a submariner and one of just a handful of men on the planet to become a hydronaut, an explorer in the other US Space program—traveling to deadly Inner Space, with atmospheric pressures that can crush steel flat in instants, to explore the sea floor, investigate what was down there, make new discoveries, and return to tell the tales.

And he tells them well.

His newest book is 30,000 Leagues Undersea: True Tales of A Submariner and Deep Submergence Pilot, and if you love adventure stories, alien worlds that really exist—complete with aliens, cool technology, and people who are willing to walk the razor’s edge of survival to push human knowledge to new heights—and how they came to be the people who can do these things—you’re going to love it.

Tom has done three readings from his adventures. To hear the first one today…

Start Here


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Follow-up on my resignation from SFWA, with statement from SFWA’s president

Government GrantsWhere this comes from: A new SFWA member happy to have qualified—who is also one of my writing students—contacted me privately to present misrepresentations of what I said here that were being presented in SFWA’s private forums.

  • I will post MY first reply,
  • the reply from SFWA President Steven Gould,
  • and my definitive response:


The potential for SFWA to use taxpayer money to fund grants is my ONLY objection, but a big enough objection that I resigned and that I will recommend to any students who ask me that they not join.


1) The SFWA Emergency Fund doesn’t give grants. It makes loans that must be repaid.

2) The funds for those loans are donated by organization members.

As I noted in my open letter, I think private donations are fantastic when given voluntarily by individuals to whom the service [for which] they’re donating matters. I have done a lot of individual donating in my lifetime to things that matter to me, and will continue to do so.

You are welcome to quote this in its entirety on your blog.


SFWA President Steven Gould’s response (linkback):

One of SFWA’s motivations for becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation is, indeed, to be able to give outright grants for medical and legal aid rather than make loans. Another benefit is that now the donations we receive are fully tax-deductible for the donor. There are other non-monetary reasons. Under Massachusetts corporate regs, we could not hold officer elections via electronic/digital/online ballots, nor could we hold a general business meeting in another country (say if the WorldCon was in Canada.)

We do make grants for many purposes. We support AboutSF, the educational outreach program at the University of Kansas’ Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and we’ve given a grant to the LaunchPad Astronomy Workshop for Writers. We also give a grant to the University of Northern Illinois for their Special Collections, though this is because they are SFWA’s official archive, so in a way we’re paying for services. We are implementing a program to provide technology grants to aid members whose ability to write has been impacted by a major hardware/software disaster and can’t afford to replace, repair, or upgrade their system.

A large amount of the organization’s income come from payments received from the Author’s Coalition of America, which distributes foreign non-title specific royalty payments for American works photocopied abroad. This is the closest thing we receive to “public grant money” and it is private fees paid by individuals outside of the United States.

We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.


First, I applaud SFWA’s desire to give grants rather than loans to people suffering from medical emergencies. Continuing its practice of having members volunteer to fund those grants is probably the intent—but the repayment of the loans kept the fund fluid so more loans could be offered.

Under the new system, the well will run dry promptly, requiring more donations from a membership ever less eager to give, and alternate sources will need to be found—and the government is ever willing to fund grants so long as the grants are spent regularly and in a timely fashion, and not kept in storage to maintain a self-funded system.

Second, as I said right at the beginning of my original statement, I know SFWA had many GOOD reasons for wanting to move the corporation to California.

Third, however, Sun Tzu says to prepare not for what the enemy might do, but for what he CAN do.

I’ll note that I do not consider SFWA the “enemy.”

THE ART OF WAR, though, is applicable to many situations in life beyond war, and it is applicable to organizations that expand their powers and reach over time.

Organizations generally begin with the best of intentions. They generally increase the powers they give themselves for good reasons and with hopeful intent.

However, across the life of an organization, every power the organization gives itself will eventually be used, first in “exceptional” cases, and over time as a matter of course.

An organization that puts itself into position where it CAN tap into Federal funds for the purposes of redistributing them eventually WILL.

It may do so tentatively at first, but exceptions become conventions, and people who have a conscience about using money they didn’t have to earn are replaced by those who happily use promises of giving that unearned money to friends and allies within an organization in exchange for votes.

Campaigns of “FREE Writing Grants for SFWA Members! It’s YOUR Money!!” will remove those with consciences from office and replace them with those who think “free” money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers is just nifty.

Gould states, “We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

And this is the part of that statement that proves I made the right choice in posting my open letter and walking away NOW.

“But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

I DON’T. Organizations follow predictable paths.

Federal income tax was initially a pittance compared to revenue taxes.

SFWA is an organization with an elected government, too.

Gould and others who intend the best will be replaced (and probably must faster than they imagine) by those who want to have power within SFWA, and who see that a new path to power within the organization has just been created by the simple expedient of promising money that isn’t theirs to folks who would like have money they didn’t have to earn, and who are willing to vote to rob Peter to pay themselves.

Again, you are welcome to post my response as long as you post it in full.


ADDED LATER: My response to the angry people screaming in not-posted-and-never-going-to-be comments at me, “How dare you delete my previous comment?!” (So far, these comments have all been to the FIRST post on this subject.) [Link to original Open Letter post]

Here’s how I dare.

Point One: My blog, my rules.

Point Two: My rules are POSTED

…and have been for years. Linked right on this page, and on EVERY FREAKIN’ PAGE OF THE BLOG.

If you don’t want to be deleted, don’t break my rules.

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I’m sick…but I STILL kicked Bashtyk Nokyd’s ass

Bashtyk-Nokyd-Take-OneI couldn’t sleep last night because I couldn’t breathe last night. (Matt was sick for two weeks, the Kid has been sick for one, but is still sick—and now it’s my turn.

So I sat up all night writing.

I got 20 Sentences, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that each Sentence is the condensed outline for one chapter, and that in one long sitting, I completely outlined the second version of Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview.

What is going to survive from the first version?

The first line: As a gesture of rage and protest, I recently bought a pretty girl a fancy dress for her execution.

Having run the first version into the side of a mountain in a horrible train wreck of mythic proportions, I decided to take a different route this time.

But that is still a damn fine first line.

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BASHTYK NOKYD takes a nosedive…

Monster In The ClosetThere comes a point in every series where things go wrong.

No. Let me make that a bit clearer.

There comes a point in every series where things go “monster-jumps-out-of-your-closet-and-bites-your-head-off” wrong.

I have met the monster, and it is Bashtyk Nokyd Takes The Longview.

And here’s the thing. Even after you’re wandering around with your head chomped off, the series must go on.

The Dark Side…

I’m stalled. BAD. I have hit the wall and the wall has hit me—and the wall is in great shape.

Lucky wall.


In How To Write A Series, we were already going to spend Module 3 on Special Case Series Development.

Well, now I know what the first lesson is going to be:

MODULE THREE, Lesson 1: Chaos Theory VS. The Series Plan—Why Chaos ALWAYS Wins, and How to Turn the Tables on the Chaos Beast and Make it Work for You

What’s more, because I have to take apart what I broke anyway, so I can figure out how to get in there and fix it, I’m going to use the broken BASHTYK NOKYD as my demo, and fix it as part of the lesson.

MODULE THREE, Lesson 1 will go live for current HTWAS students ASAP, probably on Friday of this week. New students will get it as soon as they catch up with the rest of the class, which currently takes about a month.

Once I’ve figured out my fix, of course, I have to go back to writing the story. It may not be complete by the time I officially open Module 3 on Tuesday, January 6th. But it will be complete and published by the time the finished story comes into play in class.

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