I loathe drama — ZERO words, ZERO replacement scene sentences built.

By Holly Lisle

Sometimes my job as a writer and my job as a writing-community owner conflict.

Today was one of those days — and it was ugly and infuriating. I lost one very nice member who has been with me for years because that writer’s work was attacked in an fashion by another member.

I’m doing my best to get that member back — I had to make amends to the writer who was attacked because I failed to understand the problem when she brought it to me initially. She chose to be polite about the person attacking her work, and did not name names.

My moderators discovered independently both the attack on the work (which is absolutely forbidden in my site Terms of Use), and the identity of the attacker.

I had to ban the attacker from the forum (temporarily, but probably permanently, because I don’t think the member who left will come back, and I’m not sure the banned member will be able to stay within the TOS).

And this mess was completely avoidable. I have terms of service up on the site. I expect all members to read them. I then expect them to follow them. 

And I expect to never be yanked away from my actual job of writing fiction because someone has decided to treat another member horribly, costing me a student. Possibly two.

For this, I lost a complete day of work.


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Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

My patrons hit Patreon Goal #1: $500/month. Rewards are coming!

By Holly Lisle

I spent the morning writing fiction and putting together the rewards for my patrons.

And I’ve done a post on the Patreon site for everyone.

Today was my first day back to work after starting to prep for Hurricane Irma, and I came back to a lot of emails with questions about Patreon, and what I’m doing, so I’m going to answer them here.

“I would love to sign up but I’m not sure what the sign up page is doing? Is it linking me to a list or a payment plan (and if I use the email method … what does “password” mean? My password to your site or password to my email?) And how do you get payments?”

Patreon is not my site. It’s a separate site for people who create, and who are working to build incomes from their creation that allow them to pay bills, buy food, and make creation their full-time jobs.

Patreon recalls the medieval system in which the rich were patrons for artists (think Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo), who paid them to create, and then got to show off their creations.

Only instead of having one patron who basically owns you and everything you do (in modern terms, think “publisher”), you have folks who pay a dollar a month, or two dollars a month, or five dollars a month, (or more) and get an insider’s look at what you create, and how you create it… and get to let you know what they love and want to see more of, and who still get to show off the work that you create, and say, “I made that possible.”

Patreon has different ways of charging. I chose monthly payments rather than per-creation payments, because novels take a long time to write (in the “paying bills and putting food on the table” scale of time, and set a monthly amount of money per month against the number of bills and the amount of food my work in that amount of time could cover.

And Patreon will bill patrons’ PayPal accounts or credit cards on the first of each month, take a small percentage over the payment processing fees from PayPal and Stripe, and send what’s left to my bank account.

I would love to support you. However, my cash flow is pretty rigid, so if you could do a monthly option, it would be easier for me to plan to give you $10-$20 a month.

Pledges are monthly.

I don’t have anything set that high, because what I’m doing for rewards is… er … letting people watch me work.

As rewards go, that’s pretty weird. So I figured a buck a month would let folks see a small piece of in-progress fiction, and two bucks a month would let them see a bigger chunk of in-progress fiction, and $5 a month would let them look over my shoulder via screen-captured video as I write first draft.

There have been several folks who have pledged more (and in two cases, significantly more) than my suggested pledges.

But I don’t want this to be a hardship for anyone, and I still want you to get cool stuff that I can create WHILE I’m making fiction, rather than things I would have to create separately.

When you move, you should come to….

I got a lot of really cool invitations.

However, I have an adult kid in North Carolina, and an adult kid in Georgia, and I’d like to be somewhere in between the two so I get to see them from time to time. And I want to be well and gone from the ocean.

So I’m looking at places in western North Carolina, western South Carolina, northwest Georgia, or western Virginia. I’m an Ohio girl by birth, and I have no objection to the cold, to snow, to hills, or to raking leaves. I love to be outdoors, but Florida only has “outdoors” as I understand it for about a week in January.

I have not been outside voluntarily in seven years, because I don’t do well in heat.

So anyway.

I’m now writing 20 hours of fiction a month (though I ran over that limit by about an hour today, because I had to make the video reward, and I had to get to the point in the revision where I needed the new scene before I could write that).

The project I’m finishing is Longview #4: The Vipers’ Nest, and the rewards folks will get October 2nd will all be from that story.

Thank you again for making this possible for me.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

Help Make “Born from Fire” a FREE book

By Holly Lisle

I’ve given Amazon over a month to correct the price on Born from Fire.I’ve let them know, and folks on my SITE have let them know the book is FREE on:


Apparently the only thing that is going to make the book FREE permanently on Amazon is if they’re inundated by demands from readers who want to get it ON AMAZON for free.

According to other writers who’ve dealt with this problem, the first three links are the most important.

I know that having just Kobo drop one of my books down by ONE PENNY brought them out of the woodwork to match price.

So they will respond to SOMEONE. But I think it’s going to have to be a lot of folks pretty much all at once.

If you’re willing to help me out, here’s what you do:

Go to this page

Scroll down until you find the Product Details (shown in the image below if you get HTML email rather than text email).

The "Make It Free" spot on Amazon
Find the link that says, Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

Mutter, “Yes, [dammit, darn it, by golly], I would.”

And then, for as many times as you’re willing to go through the process of telling them (up to FOUR), copy and paste a different one of the links above into their little box.

‘Cause they are NOT listening to me.

And if you already did this for me once before, when it was only free on Smashwords — I’m very sorry to ask again. It turns out (again according to other authors who have had this same problem) Amazon doesn’t consider Smashwords a real market.

Live and learn (that’s me living and learning, not you…)

So this time, I’m not including the Smashwords link. I’m only including the ones Amazon considers real competition.

If you’re willing to help me make this book permanently free on Amazon, thank you. I’ll let you know when this little campaign actually pays off, so you can get your free copy then.

<beating head on wall a whole lot right now>


P.S. If you’re a writer and ever find yourself in this situation, I’ll be happy to return the favor.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

Kate Wordly joins the site

By Holly Lisle

I’ve added some new help for the both readers and writers who use my site, in the form of Kate Wordly, Bot Gofer.

At the moment she doesn’t know a great deal, but as you ask her questions (and I answer them), she’ll become very helpful to both of us.

She’s not an AI. She’s simply a way for you to ask me questions directly on the site. If she knows the answer (which she’ll only know once I tell her), she’ll point you to to the right page.

If she doesn’t know the answer, ask her in a few different ways to make sure you’ve covered possible different wordings. If nothing helpful comes up, please be patient.

I’ll find the questions she’s asked on the next following weekday, and create answers.

I’m hoping to make her a fun, 24-hour-a-day resource for you.

Added later…

Interestingly, Kate doesn’t work on blog pages. I guess because you can post replies on them. So if you want to try this out, go to any book or article or about pages and ask her a question. Or just go here: Ask Kate a question about my books, or about writing.



Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

I’m working on the site: Expect wreckage

By Holly Lisle

Odds are it isn’t going to be pretty … until it is.

I’m just sick of the layout, the navigation, the complexity of the whole thing.

So I’m doing what I can to strip it down to something cleaner and easier to use, and once I do that, I’ll add a fiction shop back in so that folks can get my fiction, including some exclusives, directly from me.

But first — UGH!


Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

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

By Holly Lisle

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.



Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

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

By Holly Lisle

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

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

Round 1 Testing for New Holly Lisle Writing School Website: 39 Volunteers Requested Now

By Holly Lisle


WebinarJam has crashed every time but one on this, with people unable to reach rooms I’m in. I’ve checked my links, I’ve checked their links, and at this point, the only thing I can do to stop wasting people’s time is give up.

I’m going to see if there’s some way to do this same process with Skype. I’ll set the testing back up again if there is.


Today (Wednesday, September 9th) and tomorrow (Thursday, September 10th), I’m going to be doing what’s called “Paper Testing” to find usability problems with the interface the new writing school site (HollyLisleOnlineWritingSchool.com, or HLOWS.com for short).

I need a maximum of 39 volunteers (already have one) for one-on-one testing with me in a video chat room.

Paper Testing is fun, and it will take each volunteer about fifteen minutes WORST case.

Here’s how it works. I have five scripts prepared. They start with things like, “You’re a first-time visitor to the site. Find something that interests you, and tell me why.”

Or, “You’re already a member. Log in.”

Here are the instructions for doing a usability test:

Paper Test #1 for HLOWS.com

How To Do Your Usability Test

At the scheduled time, log into the web chat link I’ll send you.

Make sure I’m already in chat with you. (Have your microphone on, and say “Hi.” 😀 You’ll be coming in as a presenter, and I might hear you before I see you.)

Find the screenshare button on the left, where I’ve highlighted it. Image below.

To help me test, all you have to do is talk while you work your way through the instructions I give you by clicking the places on the drawings where you think the necessary actions SHOULD take place, describing what you’re trying and what you think your action will accomplish.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz005

When you complete one instruction, I’ll give you the next task. There are a MAXIMUM of six tasks in each test, and the whole test will take no more than about fifteen minutes if I’ve done a terrible job of laying out the site.

You do not need to hurry. If you make mistakes, me seeing them happen will help me figure out where I’ve made mistakes in the design. Your mistakes will make the final site better.

Take your time, think out loud, and let me know every time something doesn’t make sense to you or you cannot figure out or find a way to accomplish the instruction on your script.


Here’s what you’ll need to volunteer:

  • A microphone or mic headset that works with your computer, or a built-in mic that you know has good volume.
  • The Chrome web browser and a Gmail email address.Reply to this post with your Gmail address because that’s the only way I can make you a presenter in the web app, and you must be a presenter to share your screen. You’ll need Chrome because the controls I show above won’t work if you’re not using Chrome.I’ll also use this address to schedule our session with you.
  • A second browser that ISN’T Chrome. You’ll be using that browser to share your screen. The Paper Test is very low tech, but does require that your browser process images. This WILL NOT WORK with a cell phone because of the primitive nature of the test.When you have your second browser opened, you’ll click the screenshare button, highlight that browser,

    and click the share button.

  • About fifteen minutes that you can block out of an hour or so of availability. If you post your response here and let me know today or tomorrow, and the time you could be available (any one-hour block from which I can pull 15 minutes, or something cool like “anytime between 10 AM and 3PM” will work, I’ll set up a schedule with testing times and mail each volunteer with your fifteen-minute block, along with the login details. (The fifteen-minute block starting at noon tomorrow is already taken, but as I write this, everything else is wide open.
  • I will be saving the screen test as a video, and Dan, the moderator, and I will be going over all of them looking for places where my initial design causes problems, and where we can make things better and easier to use, so if you volunteer, you automatically agree that I can save and use the video of your test.

Let me know you can help by posting your availability times below. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY—if you can use your web browser, you can do this.

I’ll give you the URL for the papertest site once you arrive and have your screenshare browser set up.

I’ll be starting testing at 10 AM this morning if I have volunteers by then, and doing as many tests as I can before 3 PM. I’ll be doing the same thing on Thursday.

Thank you in advance for volunteering. I want to make sure that when we build the front end for the new site (which will NOT be what we go live with, but which will follow soon after) you’ll have a site that is easy for you to use.

By the way…

This is a sneak peek of one of the test pages:

Holly Lisle


WebinarJam has crashed every time but one on this, with people unable to reach rooms I’m in. I’ve checked my links, I’ve checked their links, and at this point, the only thing I can do to stop wasting people’s time is give up.

I’m going to see if there’s some way to do this same process with Skype. I’ll set the testing back up again if there is.


Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

HowToThinkSideways.com will become HollyLisleOnlineWritingSchool.com

By Holly Lisle


How To Think Sideways is going to change domains as well as software.

We’ll be moving to Holly Lisle Online Writing school.

And we’ll be adding some domains, because while HollyLisleOnlineWritingSchool.com is a good URL from an SEO standpoint, it’s a pain in the ass to type.

So HollyLisleOnlineWritingSchool.com

will be just the main page, surveys, and the shop,





which will be class and workshop launches and split testing,


and HLOWS.com,

which will be the community and classrooms (’cause, dammit, SHORT NAMES MATTER)! And the stuff you’re going to have to use everyday if you’re active on the site is going to be EASY.



For a while you’ll have both the old logo and the transitional logo on the new site so folks can be sure they’re in the right spot.

Then the main transitional logo will be there by itself. I have no date yet on the move. Dan and I are both hauling ass, with me looking for reliable cloud server space at the moment, because TigerTech has been telling me for a while that I have outgrown them. UGH!

I’m drinking my damn tea, but with the shop dead, I’m not working any six hours a day at the moment.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved

Isolated Malware Incident: Incident Report for AWeber

By Holly Lisle

After receiving a number of reports from folks who received the Tuesday HTTS newsletter and reported that it was showing warnings that the links connected to malware, I received the following email from Aweber that applies a BROAD stroke of overcompensation on Google’s part:

AWeber Network Status July 28, 2015 1:50 PM
To: Holly Lisle

[AWeber status] Resolved : Isolated Malware Incident

Isolated Malware Incident

Incident Report for AWeber

New Incident Status: Resolved

Google has removed the malware alert from all emails sent through the AWeber service. Emails should no longer be flagged as containing possible malware. Thank you for your patience as we’ve worked to resolve this incident.
Jul 28, 13:50 EDT

We have disabled all links redirecting to problematic URLs, and we are actively engaged in conversations with Google to have the alerts removed from emails sent through our service.
Jul 28, 09:37 EDT

We have identified an isolated incident of a website that uses AWeber has been infected by malware. As a response, Google has marked all links from AWeber customers using click tracking (redirecting through clicks.aweber.com) as potential malware. We are working with Google to clear the misapplied alert as well as the AWeber customer to resolve the isolated malware incident. Please know that the AWeber system has not been infected by malware. We apologize for any concern or inconvenience this has caused. Thank you for your patience.
Jul 28, 09:11 EDT

I put the HTTS newsletter on hold following these reports. I have now reset it to be delivered on Tuesdays again.

Thank you to all the folks who reported the problem.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved