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 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 Probably will end up as a 2016 project.
  • Maintain this blog, and add new content regularly.
  • Get Stage One of 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

  • 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 /

  • 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.

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By Holly

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

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7 years ago

Hi Holly I was wondering if you ever got to finish ‘The Emerald Sea’?

Hassan nasralah
Hassan nasralah
8 years ago

I have been re-reading hawkspar since I first picked it up in 2009 about 4 times a year. It is inspirational. I would have loved to have seen more of the citadel and interactions between the various oracles and seru! I am dying to be able to purchase “Redbird” within my lifetime. SOOOO many questions I have! I love your work! You’ve made a lifelong fan out of me!!!!!

Dan Allen
8 years ago

For 2016, one of my goals will be to enhance this comment system, so typos can be corrected. As in, I have only *3* goals for 2015.

The 2nd goal for 2016 is to move the box where comments are typed to the top, or the newest comments to the bottom, so the place where we type is as close as possible to where it will appear. My brother’s site has a cool way of letting you edit right in the page. I wonder if that can be applied to the stuff you are planning!

Dan Allen
8 years ago

Holly, this is fantastic and inspiring.

My brain can fit only 3 items at once, so I have only goals for 2015:

1. Implement 5 main pages for the replacement of, including the content management system that makes them fun and efficient to use them.
2. Replace 10 websites currently run by a certain chain of car dealers,so they can run them in-house, instead of outsourcing. Their outsourcing bill for websites is about $450,000 for the year.
3. Keeping this item open, so if something comes up, I can do it.

Thea van Diepen
8 years ago

I had a thought about the things offered on Readers Meet Writers: You have on there the possibility of purchasing worlds. What about just languages? I keep wanting to make more languages than I need, and I know that creating languages or jargon or whatever is difficult for some people.

If this ends up not really being a need, that’s fine. But, if it is, I’ll be more than happy to help fill it.

Angelika Devlyn
8 years ago

Happy New Year, Holly!

I agree it is indeed a long list – but exciting! Once you have written this down and shared your goals with the world (as you have) you have in effect committed yourself, which will move you to accomplish more in 2015 – hopefully more than you thought feasible.

Good luck. Though I am sure hard work and dedication has a lot more to do with it 🙂

Julian Adorney
Julian Adorney
8 years ago

Wow, this is quite the list!

I have two questions:

1) I’d love to be more involved with, but I have been all over the site and I can’t find the poll. Is there a link?

2) Are you planning to write all the stories in #5 this year? I probably wouldn’t ask anyone else, since it looks like a 4-5yr list, but you have a track record of doing things amazingly fast. If not, what stories are you prioritizing? I for one would love to see Dreaming the Dead and Moon and Sun #3 both become a reality.

Julian Adorney
Julian Adorney
Reply to  Holly
8 years ago

Good to know. I’m looking forward to all of those!

Elise M. Stone
8 years ago

Wow! And I thought _my_ list for this year was overly ambitious!

I was buried with publishing a new book toward the end of 2014, so didn’t see the survey or any of the things you were thinking about doing. The ReadersMeetWriters site looks awesome, but I can’t imagine getting all of it done in 2015. I’m also intrigued with the idea of the bookstore. While I’ve had success with putting all my work in KDP Select this year, I’m leery of that as a long term strategy. What with B&N being a total disaster and Apple not understanding how to make a bookstore open to everyone and needing discoverability tools so books can be found, I’d like a viable alternative to selling books online.

Wishing you lots of luck and good health for the New Year!

NOTE: I had to use Firefox to post this because in Chrome the darker brown box headed “Legal” and “Holly Lisle’s Writing Updates” overlaid the bottom half of the comment box as well as the Post Comment button.

Katharina Gerlach
8 years ago

I’m still awed at how many things you’re jugling, but when I looked at my own list, I realized it’s getting closer to the length of yours as well. I’m catching up on you. 😉

All the best for 2015. Hopefully this will be our breakout year (and I’ll be one person to fully support the Moon&Sun series. I’m even offering to translate it into German if you want me to).

Hugs from over the pond,

8 years ago

I can’t even imagine trying to get half this much done in one year, Holly. If I get my extremely shortened list completed for the year, I’ll feel proud. If you get half of this done, you deserve a trophy for survival.

My hats off to you, girl. I can surely wait for each component to get installed. Sometimes a lower pace gets a person further in the race. 🙂

8 years ago

Your list is amazing, full of wonderful projects I look forward to seeing. Just please remember to do what drives you, and don’t let people complaining to you make this work feel like a chore. Make yourself happy first and foremost, and your readers will benefit from your passion. I worry about you, sometimes. I feel like you take on so much, and then I hear about you getting sick, or having the ice pick migraines. Take care of yourself! You are an incredible person who gives so much. We want you to be well 🙂

Genissa Bornong
Genissa Bornong
8 years ago

Wow, Holly! That’s quite some list! I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous year with your determination 🙂

8 years ago

Damn. And I was feeling overwhelmed by _my_ list. Thanks for sharing this. Reminds me I have no excuses.

Mildred Holmes
Mildred Holmes
8 years ago

I just saw the voting poll today. For some reason I was unable to log in. Figured I’d wait as that usually helps. Got switched to the new forums yesterday.

Wasn’t sure if the poll was still open for voting. However, I had planned on voting for the three-prerevision writing, and exchange editing. Matching service was something I thought about. Though considering I only got through about half of the list on the page, I wasn’t sure exactly where I was at.

I do have a list of skills that I could offer. Been working on that for my business plan.

Tried to buy one of your classes-the crash revision and things kept getting mixed up because my card is expiring this month. So I have to wait patiently for the new card to come in. Wishing I had a staff person or two to help me. I’ve applied for and been accepted at a Writer’s Workshop which has played havoc with some of my plans.

Just a bit to let you know I understand exactly where you’re coming from. So, I wait patiently while you and your trusty sidekick get things sorted out. I do have enough of the mini courses to help me through.

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