Pocket Full of Words: Holly Lisle’s Blog


UPCOMING deletion of 16,000+ writers accounts from my new site

Read instructions below,
then begin rescuing your account HERE

 DEADLINE March 1, 2016, 11:59 PM ET


This is a long post. I apologize.

But I’m looking at the reality of having to delete more than 16,000 writers’ accounts containing more than 100,000 individual writing courses—and I want to give the folks who bought these courses the best chance possible to rescue what they bought.

IMPORTANT: I will not be checking or answering email on this, because there is absolutely nothing I can do via email to help you fix your account.

This policy change will affect the following folks:

Any site member of HTTS / Holly’s Writing Classes who has not logged into his or her account in more than one year (LOCKOUT) or two years (DELETION)

Account Deletion DOES NOT APPLY to anyone already using the new Holly’s Writing Classes site.

If you are never going to want to use the classes you purchased again, you don’t have to do anything.

If you have never purchased anything, you don’t have to do anything.

If you are affected by this and you want to keep your classes, please follow the STEP-BY-STEP instructions toward the bottom, and if you need to, create a HELP DESK ticket.



Policy change: To keep account active and maintain permanent access to purchases and other products, student must log into the classroom once a year.

During that login, student needs to update any out-of-date information.


ACCOUNT LOCKDOWN: All writer accounts not updated since March 1st, 2015

(Email address on account will be deleted. Starting March 2nd, 2016, student will have to provide Full Name as on account plus receipt for each class to get account reinstated.)

ACCOUNT DELETION: All writer accounts not updated since March 1st, 2014

(On March 2nd, 2016, complete account including all products deleted. No reinstatement possible.)

SITES FROM WHICH PURCHASES WERE MADE and purchases that will be affected:

  • All of MY products from the old HollyShop at shop.hollylisle.com
  • The HTTS CLASS from the 2008 and up How To Think Sideways single-class site
  • THE HTRYN CLASS from the 2009 and up How To Revise Your Novel single-class site
  • ALL ebooks, workshops, and classes from the recently closed HowToThinkSideways.com site


Here’s WHY this is happening

Last November, I discovered I had a database problem when I sent out login information to people who had purchased writing ebooks, fiction ebooks, or writing classes from me over the years.

When I did this, I got hit with a whole lot of angry people calling me a spammer.

That caused me some problems I’m still dealing with today, and I’m going to make sure it CANNOT happen again.

My policy since I first put my classes on the internet has been to give the folks who bought my work unlimited access to what they purchased, as well as the in-version UPGRADES to what they purchased.


And I’m still going to do that. Furthermore, EVERYONE gets a grace period to fix your account.

Even if you haven’t logged into your account since 2007, until March 1st, 2016, if you have EVER purchased anything from me from the following locations, I am saving your account:

  • The HollyShop (shop.hollylisle.com)
  • How To Think Sideways Version 1 through current
  • How to Revise Your Novel Version 1 through current
  • All the plot clinics and short classes
  • All the workshops
  • All the Big Classes
  • All the challenges

However, it turns out that about 14,000 of my member accounts have not been used by their owners in more than two years, and another 2000+ have not been used in the last year.

Some of these accounts have not been used since folks purchased How To Think Sideways back in 2008, or Character Clinic back in 2007.

Which means email addresses are out of date, and I am sitting on a database full of junk that I cannot safely send something as simple as a lesson reminder to my active students.

My first priority is to make sure my active students can participate in the classes. I need to be able to let them have working class reminders and account notices.


So here is my solution.

Once the grace period has passed, I am going to delete all accounts that have not been used in more than two years, and lock all accounts that have not been used in more than one year.



If you’ve purchased a bunch of courses and keep telling yourself, I really need to start using those—but you haven’t logged into the old site in more than a year and you have not yet logged into the new site, you need to act NOW.

You have until the 1st of MARCH to find your account on the new site, log in, and update your address and correct your full name.

If you need to update your account to keep from losing it, here are your steps:

STEP ONE: Go to the Holly’s Writing Classes login page:


STEP TWO: Use the “ForgottenYour Password?” link right below the login boxes to check each email address you have ever used for one of my sites, including PayPal email addresses.

List any other email addresses that belong to you that are attached to accounts.


WHY? Because I will only check the accounts you find, and I will only credit you with the classes I find in the accounts YOU find.

I anticipate at least a couple hundred people will want to save their classes.

I’m the only one who will be fixing these outdated accounts, and I’ll be doing it while I’m in a lot of pain following surgery. THEREFORE, YOU have to do the heavy lifting of identifying and gathering up your own accounts.


STEP THREE: Once you have found all your accounts, whitelist the email holly AT hollyswritingclasses DOT com


WHY? Because those spam complaints have decreased the likelihood of you receiving your account access email. If you want to retain access to your classes, you need to make SURE you will get the annual reminder to log into your account.


STEP FOUR: Use the Forgotten Your Password link to send your login information to yourself, and into the one you want to use, and update the email address on it.

If your name is currently entered as just two letters, or a letter and a blank, or numbers, or gibberish, you must correct this, too.


WHY? If somewhere down the line I cannot match the name on your receipt to the name on your account, I will not be able to verify that you are the owner of the classes, and I will delete the account.


If you plan to purchase using PayPal EVER, use your PayPal email address as your login address,


add the email address you want to use to your PayPal account as a PayPal alias, and use that address when purchasing other classes.


WHY? Because using your PayPal email to purchase a class if you are using a different email address for your account will create a new membership.

Fixing this will break your subscription, or will break your existing account, or both.

Fixing the subscription will required re-doing your account and setting you up with new payments.

And solving this avoidable problem will take a couple hours of my time over a period of several days.

I’m going to start charging a fee if I have to correct this

avoidable problem.


STEP FIVE: Set your password to something you’ll remember. Do NOT use an asterisk (*) in your password. It screws up your password and will lock you out of parts of the site.



If you have more than one account, create a support ticket here:


  • Use the RESCUE MY ACCOUNT header at the top of the list.
  • Create the ticket using the email you’ve used for your account.
  • List each OTHER email address connected to an account that  belongs to you, and I will locate your accounts, and move the classes in them to the account you designate as the one you want to keep.


Finally, to prevent dead accounts and dead emails from becoming a problem again in the future, I have changed the member terms of use.

The new clause is below, and on the page linked below that.

I have thought long and hard about how to fix the site so that active members would not have their use of the site hindered by those no longer interested in using their classes.

This was the best solution I could come up with.

It does not cost interested, active members any money, and

It does not cost previous members who no longer wish to use the site any time.


Holly Lisle


Most classes are not available on the new site yet. We’ve started to add them, but each class requires hand-rebuilding, so they are going to be going in very slowly until we get a system going.

ONCE YOU CORRECT YOUR ACCOUNT, your classes will be added as Dan and I complete their setup.


The new clause in the Terms of Use (TOU)


Students retain permanent access to their purchases in the version purchased or with in-version upgrades so long as these courses remain available, with the following single requirement. A minimum of one time per year, students who wish to maintain access to their purchases must log into the site to prove the account is active, and must, if their account information has become outdated, correct that information.

Students will receive a reminder notice before their accounts expire (if they have site emails on). Students who fail to keep their account current will have their email-address/login deleted from the account and will lose login access one month after their accounts expire.

To get an account reinstated after it has been locked, the student must create a ticket at the HELP DESK and in that ticket provide a working email address which will serve as the student’s login name, plus the full name used with the account to validate ownership of the account, and at least one receipt for a class purchased containing both the account name and the account email, proving that the account belongs to the student.

Any account which has not been accessed by the account owner for a period of more that two years, and for which the owner has not responded to the reminder notice will be designated a Dead Account. Each such account will be deleted entirely, and after deletion, all classes purchased through that account will be unrestorable.



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I’ve put the HollysWritingClasses.com T-Shirts back on sale

I’m doing my best to stay calm, and I’m putting together a workshop on developing your writing voice that I hope to be able to offer before I have surgery. Because we’re still doing major site development integrating the forums, classrooms, and account, though, there’s no guarantee that this workshop will be available by then.

However, a lot of people couldn’t buy the T-shirts while I had them up, and requested a way to purchase them—and all of those sales will go directly to covering my insurance deductible. I have “catastrophic only” insurance, and the deductible is LARGE.

The link to the different shirt styles is here:

HollysWritingClasses.com T-Shirts and Sweatshirts

Look at the pictures on that page and click the image of the style you like. It will take you to that item on the Teespring site. Some styles come in multiple colors.

If you want to get a shirt or sweatshirt, this time the sale will close in 21 days (the max offered by Teespring), to give folks enough time to purchase.

Thank you for requesting that I reopen the sale. I’m very grateful for your support.

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MEDICAL: Worse than I’d hoped, not as bad as it could be

I went from clear margins to dysplasia coming back in four months. The doc also found a white spot under my tongue that he says usually turns into an invasive form of cancer.

I was expecting the first news—I can feel this stuff on the inside, which most people can’t. Pain in this instance was a gift for me—had I not had persistent pain, I would not have bothered to follow-up when my GP told me he couldn’t see anything and he wasn’t worried.

The second news was an unhappy shock.

Because treatment for this is 1) keep it from going to cancer, and 2) remove to clear margins, and clear margins didn’t work out too well for me, he’s recommended me to a guy he considers the go-to guy for the tough cases.

Didn’t want to be a tough case, but here I am.

My dark side on this is:

  1. It has to be laser surgery, which I have been told (and have researched) is hellish painful anywhere, and apparently just LOTS of fun on sensitive areas like the tongue.
  2. In order to get to clear margins and then burn enough healthy tissue to prevent anything from ever growing there again, I could lose a lot of my tongue.
  3. The surgery could affect my ability to speak clearly, or to speak at all.
  4. There’s no guarantee it won’t come back, and this stuff does not respond well to chemo or radiation.

Dark side in pretty dark.

Bright side isn’t.

I’m a writer. Live chats and webinars and podcasts and videos and the other stuff I’ve created over the years is cool, and I’ve loved doing it. But, bluntly, I don’t have to be able to speak to work.

When I switched to Dvorak typing years ago, I eliminated my wrist pain. So for now, my hands and wrists are still good, and I can type easily.

I hold being alive as significantly more important that being alive, or being attractive. My objective is still to live long enough to beat my great-grandmother’s record. She lived to be 103, and I want to give her a run for her money. And I want to write fiction (and do some course creating) for the rest of my life.

The surgery gives me the opportunity to extend my life and keep the quality of it high.

So. I have an appointment to meet the new guy in a couple of weeks. He’ll probably have to do his own biopsy. (Lots of pain, some downtime)

Then we’ll schedule the surgery. (Hella pain, one month or more of downtime.)

The brightest spot for me, though, is that folks who have laser surgery for this issue have a high rate of no recurrence. That’s the chance I’m shooting for.

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I’m fundraising with writer T-shirts

People have been asking me for T-shirts for ages. I kept trying to over-complicate the process, (trying to get names for the entire first HTTS graduating class to put on the shirt, for example).

The shirts just never got done.

Break to today. There are T-shirts. Limited-time only (there’s a reason, and I’ll get to it). They have the stunning logo Kirsten Bolda designed for me on them.

They’ll be available until Jan. 14th. TeeSpring has a little timer under the “Reserve Your Shirt” button to let you know how long you have left.

Click the images below to go to the shirt style shown

Shirts back on sale until Feb. 9th

Small logo women's WRITER shirt. CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP.

Small logo women’s WRITER shirt. CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP.

Small logo unisex hoodie, multiple colors. CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Small logo unisex hoodie, multiple colors. CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Men's/unisex small logo WRITER Tee, multiple colors CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Men’s/unisex small logo WRITER Tee, multiple colors

Large Logo Baseball Shirt CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Large Logo Baseball Shirt

Large Logo Women's Tee CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Large Logo Women’s Tee

Large Logo Men's / Unisex shirt, multiple colors CLICK LOGO FOR SHOP

Large Logo Men’s / Unisex shirt, multiple colors

Large Logo Hoodie, multiple colors CLICK IMAGE FOR SHOP

Large Logo Hoodie, multiple colors

They come in multiple colors, in lots of sizes.

Here’s why I put them together today.

I have three painful areas on the right side of my tongue. I have to go in to see my doc on the 11th. Up to this point, every time I’ve pointed out a painful area on my tongue, it has proven to be dysplasia.

This might be the time that I go in and he says, “No, everything looks great.” I hope it is.

But I cannot plan my life on hope.

He told me on my last post-op checkup that we were not going to be able to do any more tissue removal in the office with just local anesthesia. If he had to cut anything else out, it was going to have to be done in a hospital, and it was going to require the use of a laser. And because I’m an adult about these things and he’s a good doc, he told me the laser was going to leave me in a lot of pain for a month rather than a week.

Hospitals, anesthesia, and lasers cost a lot more money than a numbing shot in the jaw and in-office surgery. Last year wasn’t great for me. And I have catastrophic insurance, which means I have to spend a LOT of money before the insurance kicks in.


T-shirts. They might not be necessary. It would be wonderful if they weren’t.

But the great thing about T-shirts, hoodies, and baseball shirts is they’re still wearable (and cool) if I turn out to be just paranoid (albeit justifiably).

If you like the shirt, click the image, and use the dropdown menu to get the shirt you want.

And thanks. I hope this is just me finally delivering on the promise of T-shirts.

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Welcome to 2016. Do something small right now

New Year resolutions tend to be enormous. Lose 100 lbs. Become a professional novelist. Make a million dollars.

By making resolutions this way, we make them impossible. The ONLY New Year resolution I completed successfully was this one. “Finish a novel before I turn 25.”

And I finished that one because I sat down and figured out how many pages I would would have to write per day to hit it. I fell behind on my self-imposed deadline a few times, but each time, I simply sat down and figured out how many pages I would have to write NOW. About two months before my birthday, I discovered that if I wrote twelve pages a day during the whole glorious week I was on vacation in our time-share at Myrtle Beach, I would finish the book a month early.

So that’s what I did.

You lose 100lbs one pound at a time. Write a novel one page at a time. Make a million dollars one dollar at a time.

I have a little video for you. Takes ONE minute to watch. Bear with me, because this isn’t about saving for retirement.

It’s just about doing something small. Today.


This matters. It’s the secret to living YOUR life.

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On the new site

We thought we were going to be ready to go live with HollysWritingClasses.com December 1st. Get all the members in, have the first couple of classes done and in place with the rest in progress.

Holly's Writing Classes

Holly’s Writing Classes
Write Your Own Sky

We’ve hit a completely unexpected problem—well, the Group B beta testers have hit it, actually—and while making our desired December 1st date for taking the site live may still be possible, right now we’re probably going to slow down and try for the middle of the month or early January.

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Requesting 5 HTRYN Grad volunteers to test inside HollysWritingClasses.com

Rough tests on the first section of HollysWritingClasses.com are done.

I’m now asking for 5 students with current accounts (you’ve been using your account within the past month or two) who are graduates of HTRYN and who would be willing to go in over the weekend and use the first part of the software we’ve built.

This is still pretty rough. Rough enough that you’ll receive a “Wave 1 Tester” pip for your heroic efforts in bughunting this part of the software.

First five volunteers will receive invitations either late tomorrow or Saturday. Make sure I have good contact info for you when you post here.

Added Later

I have my five testers. If we end up making significant changes as a result of this test, I’ll invite the next folks who volunteered, in order of volunteering, and you’ll get special tester pips, too.

Thank you to everyone who’s volunteered.
You guys are wonderful. 😀

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HowToThinkSideways.com Site Move: LAST Chance to Correct Your Account

How To Think Sideways Logo

The move over at HowToThinkSideways.com is starting

We’re starting to move member accounts onto the live new software, new domain, and new classrooms this week.

In order to receive your new temporary password, you MUST have a working email address in your current account.

Here are the steps to make sure you’ll be able to get to your stuff (INCLUDING free class, worksheets, and forums).

Step One: Check your current account

Log into your current account here:

https://howtothinksideways.com/login/ (opens in new window)

If you cannot get into your account, create a Help Desk ticket for me here:


Tell me everything you remember about your account:

  • Full name
  • User name
  • current email address, plus any possible older email address that might have been attached to the account

NOT your password. Never give anyone your password.

Step Two: Once you’re logged in, check your email address

Your email address is the first and most important piece of information where your NEW account is concerned.

It will be your sign-in name. It will be your contact address in case anything on your account breaks.

And it will be where your “This is your new account” email goes, which contains the validation link you MUST click in order to receive your new temporary password.

If that email address is wrong, you will not be able to get into your classroom, and following the move while the dust settles, I am expecting LONG lines in the Help Desk.

So check your email address in your account:


You cannot fix anything you see here. This is part of the software that is broken.

So if you have an email address linked to your account that no longer works,
create a Help Desk ticket for me here:


* Tell me the email address that’s in your account
* Tell me what it I need to change it to

At this point, fixing missing classes will just slow us down

We’ll still have all the data and receipts we have right now, and will still have backups of your existing account and all previous purchases from my sites.

If you’re missing anything, gather your receipts, and once you can get into your classrooms on the new site, let me know which ones aren’t working for you there. (They’ll be the same ones.)

Right now, we have to deal with the part that will keep people out of their accounts completely.

We’ll be moving people in groups

I’m the only one doing the help desk stuff (because I’m the only one with nearly years of receipts stored on my hard drive) and having 300 people in line in the help desk is incredibly stressful. (I know this, because I’ve had this happen before.)

Massive stress is not healthy for me right now.

So Dan and I will move a group, those folks will receive their confirmation and sign-in emails, if you’re in that group, you’ll sign in and promptly check for problems with your classes, I’ll fix your account, and we’ll move another group.

We have well over 10,000 people to move. This will take some time.

But you might be in the very first group, so today you need to make sure your email address will work.

Thank you for your help on this.

And I’ll see you inside.

Write with joy,

Holly Lisle

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Writing contest sites, and fiction versus the NBA

I never recommend writing contest sites that charge an entry fee. No exceptions. I’ve never entered one, because I was out to make a living from my writing, and contests were an unnecessary diversion from my path.

Your mileage may vary. But I received an interesting request from someone building a “perpetual writing contest site” and once I removed all the identifying details, I thought you might find it interesting to observe the conversation.

Here’s the link to the article (the first one I’ve added to “Writing Mind, Heart, and Soul in a while):

From there you can come back here and add your comments on the article if you care to.

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Thank you for the birthday posts, and for reading my work

holly-2015-250x250I’ve been trying very hard to stay positive and focused these past few months. I’ve done my best to keep working during the nearly simultaneous discovery back in June of dysplasia in my tongue and the final collapse of the HowToThinkSideways.com website (when the shop is unfixably dead, the site is dead, Jim).

It’s been tough.

The fact that you came here last week, said hello, and wished me well helped more than you can imagine.

I tripped over The View From Fifty-Four this morning, and cringed at how much of a beating my life and objectives have taken in just one year.

Nothing has changed except my sense of the time I have in which to accomplish everything, but that has not changed for the better.

But having you come in and say, “I’m still here, I’m still with you…”

That helped. It helped a lot. Thank you for being here, for reading my books, my courses, my newsletters.

Thank you.

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