The DMP Revision, and the WRONG End of the String – Family and Brain Surgery

By Holly Lisle

The string in the title is CHAOS, and in the little image on my blog, we are currently not in the neat and spiffy central spiral, but in the dark tangle out at the end.

I’ll start with the happier stuff. Today was Revision Monday, and I got just over half of the remainder of the write-in revision of Dead Man’s Party finished. Seventy-six pages revised and noted. Only seventy manuscript pages remain, and my hope is to be able to finish that on my next Revision Monday, whenever that might be.

The type-in revision is going to be a bitch, but I discovered that the stuff I wrote for the character who is going to be eliminated in the final version is actually excellent, contains very good conflict plus active worldbuilding for the story world, set in the near and deadly future, and can be given to the new male lead in the new version as the first couple of chapters of the novel.

The other news is more chaos, but not the good and happy chaos we’ve been in for the last couple of months. 

My brother-in-law is back in the hospital following seizures, and has discovered that the parts of the brain tumor that his previous doctor couldn’t get out some years ago because they were attached to the brainstem have grown in the interim. Are now causing weakness in his extremities, seizures, some other not-good things.

On the bright side, brain surgery has improved a lot in the last half a decade. On the dark side, it’s still brain surgery.

SO… He has big brain surgery pending. This is not a little deal. It’s currently planned for Thursday, but that might change. So the next couple of weeks might have me gone a lot. 

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

DMP Revision Monday, and Not Too Early for the Halloween Listener Episode

By Holly Lisle

I did four hours of work on Dead Man’s Party yesterday.

I got one page of manuscript done.

HOWEVER, I finally got the chance to do the thing I used to do first — world building.

I got six closely written pages of worldbuilding done, in which I figured out (this is AFTER having written the whole first draft of the novel) how my hero works.

Why would I do worldbuilding after writing the whole first novel and being well into revision? Because by working with an incredibly light concept in first draft, I allowed myself to find the story I really wanted to tell — and it took me twelve chapters to find that world. They were chapters in which I got to know the characters, and in a couple of cases didn’t. They were chapters in which I found the real conflict, for which I only had a vague concept when I started.

It’s a funny way to work for me, but it saved me a helluva lot of time getting started, it allowed me to finish, and it kept me from having a notebook full of stuff I won’t use… because I thought I was building an entirely different world than the one I wrote.

Here’s an example:

In the earlier part of revision, I discovered that the guy I wrote as my hero was a complete non-character, while the guy who wasn’t even supposed to be there became not just a great character, but a guy I really loved.

Here’s another example:

I discovered twelve chapters into first draft that I needed to move the story from Year Ten back to Year Two, because if I didn’t, one of the characters (the one who I’ve now removed) would have been dumber that a bag of bricks.

I LOVE what I got yesterday. It doesn’t count as words — what I built will have to be used during type-in revision — new stuff that will replace things I’m ripping completely out. But what I discovered gives me the conflict for the first part of the book where I have to completely redo the places where the story is set, and bring in the Post-Apocalypse that I discovered twelve chapters in had happened just two years earlier, not ten.

And now, for something completely different…

WRITERS: The Halloween Episode is COMING!!!

Last year in our FIRST Halloween episode, my daughter Rebecca, my son Mark, and I all read (and sort of dramatized) 500-word short fiction written by podcast listeners. We are going to do it again.

Which means you can submit ONE 500-word story you’ve written to us at the podcast — more details on that when we’re actually ready to start accepting.

But it means you have to know how to write 500-word stories. PLOTTED 500-word stories. Not slice-of-life, not mood pieces, not and-then-they-all-died.

Real stories. If you have not every learned how to do this, How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t SUCK is my free writing class — and to understand what I mean by REAL stories, listen to the stories last year that won.

Our First AIARWIP Halloween Listener Edition is here. We will only accept one story submission per writer, but to get your best story, you generally need to write a batch of them. Which the class is set up to help you do. By the time you finish, you’ll have written eleven stories.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

First Ko-Fi Prizes went out yesterday

By Holly Lisle

There was a certain amount of “seriously, you jest”-ness in the issues I had to overcome to get the autographed copies of Character Clinic, 4th Edition in the mail.

But the first prizes for my funders are now on their way. Congrats again to the folks who won the first drawing, and thank you to everyone who’s funding my writing.

Last month, by the way, I hit my $640/month goal for funding two hours of fiction writing four days a week.

The funding went toward 16 hours of revision on Dead Man’s Party, and 48 hours of first draft on The Ohio Series: Novel 1.  I’m working four hours a day Mondays on DMP, and 4 hours a day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on TOSN1.

And making very nice progress.

So… New goal for this month is the same as it was last month. And I’m currently at 4%.

Today, I worked on the How to Turn A Stand-Alone Novel into a Series bonus for the How to Write a Novel class.

I thought it was going to be small. HA! I’m still fighting to keep it smallish.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

Dead Man’s Party revision — Three more chapters

By Holly Lisle

I got three more chapters and change finished on the read-and-annotate part of the revision before I had to move on to other things. Had a late start, but managed solid work and some good re-thinknig of early middle of the book before the fine edge of chaos wedged its way into my day.

So now I’m heading into the list of things that I have to do that don’t require deep though or creativity, because any sort of thinking that can’t be guided by a checklist is going to be beyond my reach for the rest of the day.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

The Ohio Series: 2667 words, and SOFW Goals

By Holly Lisle

Summer of Fiction Writing stuff first. I didn’t realize until this morning when I went it to check them that I’d forgotten to write down all steps of my clear goals.

So the first thing I did this morning was that. They’re on the forum, but I’m reposting them here as well.

My Summer of Writing Fiction Clear Goals:

Summer of Fiction Writing participant blog banner 150

My Summer of Fiction Writing Goals

A smack on the forehead here… I wrote down what I wanted to accomplish this summer in the “discussing what we’re going to be doing” thread, but failed to actually write my own goals here (the SOFW forum). Went looking for them last night, because I wanted to check them against what I was doing in my bullet journal, and… eep. Nothing.

So, somewhat late to my own party, here’s what I’m doing:

My summer FICTION goals are to get clear through the worldbuilding and plotting of The Emerald Sun: Moon & Sun 3and to have about 70,000 words done on the first draft of Book 1 of the Ohio Series.

Along with that, I’d like to have Dead Man’s Party and The Wishbone Conspiracy revised and to my editor (Matt). If I can only finish one revision in that time, it has to be DMP, because that’s the one that’s becoming the Accelerated Revision Bonus Demo for How to Revise Your Novel as soon as it’s finished.

My clear target is:

  1. Finish the first draft (or first 70,000 words, if I overrun my planned word count) of The Ohio Series: Novel 1 TOS: N1
  2. Do the complete revision of Dead Man’s Party – DMP – for both the How to Revise Your Novel class (as the demo for the streamlined “once you’ve done a few in-depth revisions” process
  3. Worldbuilding and plotting for The Emerald Sun (Moon & Sun 3): M&S 3

My reachable deadline is:

  1. TOS: N1 – August 31
  2. DMP Revision – June 30
  3. M&S 3 – START DATE: July 1 — COMPLETION DATE August 31

My working days are: Complicated…

  1. TOS: N1 – Wed/Thur/Fri
  2. DMP: Monday
  3. M&S 3: Monday

My method of measuring progress:

  1. TOS: N1 – Word count — 2000 words per day average
  2. DMP: Read and mark up the entire manuscript fast as possible while still doing a good job — pretend it’s a commercial revision deadline with a great slot bump if I hit it, then…Move on to type in, and complete the entire type in over the remaining time, throwing in Marketing Tuesday and weekend if needed.
  3. M&S 3: As follows …
    — Both M&S 1 and two fully read and annotated with yellow stickies on the important bits
    — Toys on Floor identified
    — Plot built in line-for-scene fashion in my Scrivener novel template, so that I am ready to start writing the novel while the TOS: N1 cools.

My end goal:

  1. TOS: N1 – Complete first draft finished and ready for its pre-revision cooling period
  2. DMP: Novel revised and ready to send to bug hunters
  3. M&S 3: Complete novel outline in Scrivener, reference books (M&S 1 and 2) marked, tagged, and on desk ready for referral as needed.

My daily goal, and number of available days:

  1. TOS: N1 – 39 days, average of 2000 wpd
  2. DMP: 7 MAX… 4 if things go well.
  3.  M&S 3: 9 best case 10-12 if things don’t go well and I have to use some Marketing Tuesdays

My leverage — WHY I need to do this:

  1. TOS: N1 – This is my first foray in years into urban fantasy, and I’m going in with a brand-new pseudonym and essentially starting over, with the hopes of building an audience focused just on my urban fantasy. It’s a major career experiment in trying to build a comfortable income from my fiction — and getting my fiction to feed my family better than the canned beans lifestyle it’s offered with few exceptions since the beginning would let me put half my work time into writing new fiction.  
  2. DMP: The How to Revise Your Novel class is getting a long-needed revision later this year, and the Dead Man’s Party revision is going to be the brand new Accelerated Revision DEMO Bonus. Gotta get it done.
  3. M&S 3: Because I promised I would finish the series for the kids who read the first two books years ago. My word has to mean something — I have to keep that promise.

And then Today’s Words

The story flew, and I had a hard time stopping so I could get to the other tasks on my list. I kept wanting to find out what happened next — and what happened next was never what I thought was going to happen.

I finished my provisional outline yesterday, and though things never happen the way they do in the outline, the outline makes sure I include important events, don’t forget characters, and don’t forget the “ending, or better” that I’m writing toward.

So today, my goal was 2000 words and in my allotted time, I got 2667. It was an AWESOME writing day.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

Dead Man’s Party: Finished the novel first draft

By Holly Lisle

I finished another novel today — this one pretty much on schedule. I’d planned it for 50,000 words, and came in at 50,085.

Wrote 1847 words in a smidge over a hour to get there.

I got a GOOD ending for the novel. Most of the time, great endings are something I build in revision, and this one has the bones to become much better.  

Printed off the last of my pages. Next week, I’ll write one final scene for the book, something along the lines of “Six Months Later…”

In it, I’ll either tie the thing off as a standalone, or set up the some hooks for a series. Maybe both. I won’t know what I want to do with this particular novel until I’ve done the revision, but as of this minute, I’m thinking one-off standalone.

I’m not sure that I want to write post-apocalyptic as a regular thing, and I resolved the cannibals and zombies in this chapter, so I’m not sure where I’d take it if I decided to go further.

But it was a damn fine writing day, and I like how it ended. Though it’s pure scruffy, crappy first-draft writing. 

The revision will be fun. 

And I’ll be using this novel as my demo for Streamlined Revision Process for my How to Revise Your Novel course, which needs this particular bonus lesson.

So even if it doesn’t sell much, I’ll get a lot of very good things out of this particular novel.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

The Ohio Series, Book One, and The Emerald Sun planning

By Holly Lisle

I’ve spent the weekend and the last couple of days trying to figure out my writing schedule. I ran out of The Wishbone Conspiracy before I planned too, and that has to sit in a corner being quiet for a month, resting and getting cold so I can get an objective look at it when I do the revision.

I have not had time to read through and build out the backstory details for The Emerald Sun, because I’ve been simultaneously writing first drafts of two novels plus the biggest writing class I’ve ever done. How to Write a Novel, of which I’m starting Lesson 35 as soon as I do this post.

So I had writing time today, and nothing I’d planned to write that I COULD write. Because of that, I started the first book of what is NOT going to be called The Ohio Series, but which is going to be set in Ohio.

And to my amazement, the novel started in a condo in South Florida with a young woman who, when an old dude showed up to tell her that her grandmother had left her a house, and who countered with, “I never had any grandmothers.”

And got weirder from there. By the end of the first scene, magic had happened, and I was hooked.

Got 1834 words by the time I finally pulled myself away. Not as many as my goal when I set up a stock template for 70,000-word novels last week, but way more than I’d expected to get starting cold.

On now to HTWAN Lesson 35: Writing Endings with Multiple Antagonists and Multiple Climaxes. Or what I call Playing on Hard Mode.

Oh, yes. Over the next several weekends, I will be reading and noting and worldbuilding from the first two books in the Moon & Sun series to get the voice of the protagonist back, and to plan out the final story. At the point where I finish the first draft of Dead Man’s Party, which will be in three more weeks, I’ll be ready to  start writing The Emerald Sun, which I’m considering changing to The Emerald Sky.

And I’ll have a space in my schedule ready-made for it. It can, as suggested by my daughter while we were working together today, become my next Monday novel.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

Dead Man’s Party: 1178 words today, some nice tension, and just three chapters left

By Holly Lisle

I got my words this morning in three ten-minute runs — and I love what I got. I ran a smidge over my goal, but that’s okay. This scene was a short, tight run through the third of four scenes that are occurring simultaneously in the novel as my characters go tearing toward the ending.

The world of Dead Man’s Party is talking to me. I like it, at least the part of it that occurs later, as I understand the story that’s been crawling out of my process.

I like it enough that after I do the revision, I’m going to revise and publish it and see how it does for me, and consider writing other books in the same world. I can already think of a number of other books in the world.

But post-apocalyptic cannibal/zombie/AI is a bit outside where I usually play. So we’ll see whether the first one gets any interest before I fling myself yet again into “gee, I could write in this world forever.”

For writers:

My revision of this novel is going to become the Streamlined Revision Process demo for my How to Revise Your Novel class, which is getting its long-overdue upgrade/update after I finish the first draft of How to Write a Novel.

Which is going to be soon now.

I’m kicking myself for not having used the process I came up with in How to Write a Novel to write other novels. I could have had so much more fiction written, even though most of my time has been going toward class-building.

Regret gets you nowhere, though — so now I can just be grateful that I asked the right questions while I was building the class, and that I’ll have finished the first drafts of two novels written simultaneously just a couple weeks apart.

And will have a LOT of fiction to revise in the next couple of months.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

Why I shut down my Patreon fundraiser

By Holly Lisle

I’d intended to send a Questions & Answers email to my How to Write a Novel launch list, but that’s going to have to wait.Instead, I did THIS.

Closed my “Move out of Florida while writing fiction” fundraiser.

Here’s why — it’s this clause in the Patreon Legal Agreement

By posting content to Patreon you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your content.

Understand that I read that clause and all the rest of them before signing up.

BUT… I’m not a lawyer, and I understood that clause to mean that Patreon was claiming the right to use my Patreon-created content (in other words, my POSTS) to promote the site.

I DID NOT think that they were claiming the right to use and abuse the content I was giving my patrons. In this case, three monthly chapters of the raw first draft of one of my current novels in progress, Dead Man’s Party.

A friend emailed me with a link to this post, however:

Turns out, I was wrong. Patreon is claiming rights to my novel.

So I’m out. I sent the first copy of this email to my patrons using a private Patreon post, and then I shut down my Patreon fundraiser, and am now trying to figure out how to actually close my account.

I’m not letting this kill my dream of moving us out of Florida…
…(hopefully before the next hurricane, if not the start of the hurricane season).

How you can help, if you want to —

I have created original classes ranging from under ten dollars to way over a hundred. If one of the classes I offer could help you, then you buying it would help me.


*** How to Write a Novel ***

(IN LAUNCH: On sale ONLY through Tuesday APRIL 8 — Final Discount Launch)

How to Revise Your Novel:

How to Write a Series:

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers:

WRITING CRAFT SERIES (Each class is under $10)

Create a Character Clinic:

Create A Plot Clinic:

How to Write Page-Turning Scenes:

WORLDBUILDING SERIES (Each class is under $10)

Create A Language Clinic:

Create a Culture Clinic:

Create a World Clinic:


How to Write Short Stories:

How to Write Villains:

How to Write Dialogue with Subtext:

Title Cover Copy Marketing Basics:

How to Find Your Writing Discipline:

How to Find Your Writing Voice:

How to Motivate Yourself:

Beat Writer’s Block:


How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck



You can help out by buying some of my indie-published fiction.


Light Through Fog:


Strange Arrivals:


Fire in the Mist:

Bones of the Past:

Mind of the Magic:



Both of the Cadence Drake novels Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and Warpaint, are off sale while I come up with new titles and new cover art for them, and new key words, descriptions, and other marketing that allows me to correctly put them in front of the audience that likes a few vampires and a bit of horror with its spaceships.

The Longview Chronicles (complete Series) is in the same universe — still dark, but without the vampires:

Or you can get the individual stories:

Born from Fire:

Suzee Delight:

Philosopher Gambit:

Gunslinger Moon:

Vipers’ Nest:

The Owner’s Tale:


Minerva Wakes:


Author Page:

Midnight Rain:

Last Girl Dancing:

I See You:

I have much more fiction that’s commercially published, or which is out of print and has reverted to me, but which I have not yet republished.

I’m not linking to ANY of that fiction, because your purchase of used books or books where publishers haven’t paid royalties in years will not help me.

So there we are.

I want to thank all my patrons again, and I am so sorry that I had to do this, but there is no way I can permit this:

Excerpted from Patreon Legal Terms

You keep full ownership of all content that you post on Patreon, but to operate we need licenses from you.

By posting content to Patreon you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your content. 

No. Just NO.

P.S. I have had one of my Patreon patrons already ask me how she could continue to support me on a monthly basis.

Here’s the answer I gave her:

“I’ll look into what’s available. Right now, I’m crushed to discover the rights Patreon actually claimed, and worried about getting involved with any other site. So I’m in limbo. You’ll find my blog at I’ll be keeping my folks there up to date on how I deal with this. It sucks.

Hugs, and thank you for asking.”

Why is EVERYBODY on my blog, my mailing list, and in my forums getting this?

Because if you know me, you’re probably either a reader or a writer. If you’re a writer, you may be considering using Patreon, and you need to know. If you’re a reader considering funding someone on Patreon, THEY need to know.

And this is the ugliest, broadest rights-grab I have personally ever seen. Or sadly, been caught up in.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

Insider stuff from my How to Write a Novel students

By Holly Lisle

Monday I asked my existing students the following question:

What is the best thing about my How to Write a Novel class?

I explained that I would be using their words along with their names or forum IDs to tell people not yet in class what mattered most about it to them.

I asked only on the private How to Write a Novel forum so that these would only be comments from verified, active students… and my folks started answering immediately. Better yet, answers are still coming in as I write this.

Here are some of them.  I have not cut or excerpted these — I’m letting the folks taking the class now talk to you themselves.

I’ll post some more of these on Monday.


HD Peterson says:
The best thing about Holly’s How to Write a Novel class is that for the first time ever I actually feel like I have a chance of finishing something… and making that something good.

Most writing books I’ve read, or other instruction I’ve received, offer nebulous advice on story structure and vague descriptions of techniques to develop it. Holly gives a clear step-by-step breakdown of how she does it, complete with exercises designed to get you working with both halves of your brain — the creative and the logical — without stifling either one.

Best of all, the story you develop retains spontaneity and the potential for happy accident and surprise without the danger of uncontrolled free-fall into an inescapable abyss. It’s evident Holly knows her stuff. Even better, she knows how to teach it.

This is the best money I’ve ever spent on a writing resource, bar none.


Diane Berry says:
The best thing about Holly’s How to Write a Novel class is that, after many half-finished novels, I’m finally learning how to complete one.

Holly has shown me how to establish a regular writing routine, and, among other things, has given me the tools to create interesting characters, immersive conflicts, surprising plot twists, and story arcs that sustain the middle of the novel — the place where I’ve always gotten stuck.

For the first time ever, I’ve reached the middle of my novel with so many ideas for what happens next, I can’t write fast enough to get them down.

How to Write a Novel has been a very, very good use of my time and money.


Tom Vetter says:
The best thing about Holly’s courses — besides the fact that they teach all the specific skills needed to become a professional writer — is that she gives you an entire toolbox of techniques to coax your muse into providing you worthy stories, and to keep that slippery storyteller whispering words all the way to a wonderful conclusion.


Linda Niehoff says:
To be able to see an author write a book alongside me and demonstrate the lessons I am learning has been priceless.

Seeing Holly’s process at work as she hits snags, writes towards new ideas, and fixes problems as they arise in first draft has changed the way I work.

How to Write a Novel class is giving me a system and structure to get out of my own way and get words on the page.


Patty Masserman says:
The worksheets in the class are the best part because Holly gets you asking questions that lead to surprisingly useful answers.

I’ve tried plotting and pantsing, but she has introduced me to a way of writing that gives me enough of a scaffolding to build my story that leaves enough room to discover delightful characters and occurrences along the way. So many times, I’ve stopped and said, “Oh. Okay. Let’s see where this goes.”

She’s an absolutely delightful guide.


 How To Write A Novel Registration closes in:

Don’t miss the best possible price on this class!



Angie Mroczka says:
The best thing about this class is that while I know I don’t have time to write a book right now, I know that the course is sitting there waiting for me to make the time.



Yvette Roserie says:
The best thing about this class is that Holly doesn’t just give you a list of steps to follows but she break down the process and give real life examples while teaching the method.

Then you get to watch as she writes her book implementing the methods taught in the class.*  The way she teaches it gives you the opportunity to reverse engineer something you think worked in a book you like and apply the method to your own writing.

Also you have the opportunity to go thru this process with other students who are from varying backgrounds.

This class and experience is awesome.


*  [HOLLY interjecting here] You can literally watch me write.
I’m capturing on video each word of the first draft of the novel I’m creating specifically for this class. The videos are at the bottom of each corresponding weekly lesson. They start with Lesson 5, when we’ve finisheh building our ideas, and we start our books.

You’ll see every good thing I get. And you’ll see every mistake. I make some really interesting mistakes in first draft.

Not everyone finds the videos useful (and watching is not required). But for some folks, they’ve been a game changer.


Donna Beasley says:
I had spent about 6 months writing my novel when I realized it was never gonna work. The idea was great but my execution sucked and I needed to start over.

Luckily I discovered Holly’s Novel Writing Class that same week. The best thing about this class is its really great for a first time novel writer like me. It really help me think through the concept, character development, descriptions, and her approach to research was freeing.

I am on chapter 21, over halfway through the first draft of my middle-grade adventure novel.

And every time I sit down to write I can’t wait to find out what happens next. It’s that exciting.


Chris Bridges says:
This class is the blueprint you have always wanted, but couldn’t find on how to write your novel. As long as you do the work you WILL have a novel at the end of the class. The forums and Holly help to make sure everyone understands and can move though the writing process.

Holly also gives you a massive amount of tools to work with.

Holly’s classes are the best thing I have bought for moving my writing forward.

If any of these look interesting to you, you can find out everything else about the class here:




Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved