BAM! Rough start goes to “I love this I love this” and surprising myself!

By Holly Lisle

First, a bit of grousing about numbers accounting on the damn scene.

Two days in a row, now, I have accidentally with one keyboard command deleted a big section of not just my words for the day, but the rest of the words in the chapter. 

It’s an easy fix. You just paste it back.

Unfortunately, when you paste it back, Scrivener loses your count for the day by subtracting the words you cut… and then adding everything you pasted back in as new words.

So, having in fact written exactly 45 words so far this morning, my word counter now shows that I’ve written 1308 — the number now in the chapter.UntitledImage

But there’s no way that I can find to reset the wordcount for the day to zero, and I’m not in the mood to dig through the internet or the somewhat squiffy software documentation to see if there’s a way to do this.

So to hit my REAL goal for the day, I’m going to have to hit 2445 words.

And I’m writing the number here so that I don’t lose track of my actual objective.

And so that when that shows up in the blog, you will not be unduly impressed. 

Okay. Back to the actual words.

And now it’s 9:26-ish AM, and I hauled ass and got them. The big 2,484 words is actually just a smidge over my 1250 objective for the day.

But the words… oh, BOY, the words.

I had absolutely no clue what was going to happen when my MC talked to my visitor.

And what happened was that my small town, through the visitor, is about to get global reach and power in a really terrible way.

From the characters’ perspective, this is horrible beyond belief.

From my perspective as writer… it was just AWESOME. I love the way this think keeps surprising me, and love the way it’s flying along, twisting every time I think I know what’s going to happen next…


And I just wrote down the new Scene Sentence for tomorrow in the manuscript so that I won’t forget it.

Because… DAMN. I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow.


Now, however, I have to go work on the complete site rebuild and classroom overhaul of for the rest of the day.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved Site Move: LAST Chance to Correct Your Account

By Holly Lisle

How To Think Sideways Logo

The move over at 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: (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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The Adventure Of Creation: Think Sideways Writers Anthology, Is Live #readers

By Holly Lisle

I am delighted to announce that The Adventure of Creation: Think Sideways Writers Anthology is live on Amazon.

I was delighted by the quality of the stories: by their breadth, variety, voices, and skill. I enjoyed every single one. And I highly recommend this anthology to folks who like my work.

I’m not in it (except to write the foreword) but these are writers who made me laugh, put a lump in my throat, constantly surprised me, and kept me turning pages. Once you meet them, you’ll want to find out what else they’ve done, or are doing.



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Apple Made Its Decision. My Turn.

By Holly Lisle

Rotten Apple

Rotten Apple

Apple rejected How To Think Sideways Lesson 6: How To Discover (Or Create) Your Story’s Market.

Not because of links to Amazon this time.

Because of content.

Lesson 6 includes my “Amazon River” technique, in which I show students how I use a couple of useful bits of Amazon’s website software and the Amazon database to figure out how to find alternative genres for their books if they aren’t having any luck selling it in the genre they wrote it for. I’ve successfully used this technique to place both TALYN and MIDNIGHT RAIN.

This is not just essential information for writers publishing or hoping to publish commercially—it’s also the fastest way for self-pubbers to find potential new markets for their existing work.

And there is no other website in the world on which you can do this as quickly, as completely, or as successfully.

So now it’s down to me.

I cannot sell PART of the course on Apple. So How To Think Sideways will not appear on the iBookstore. Neither will How To Revise Your Novel.

But I also will not deal with this sort of head-up-ass behavior from a distributor. You don’t tell someone “The problem is the live links,” and then, when that person has complied with your change request and removed the live links, turn around and say, “No, no. The problem is the CONTENT. You can’t mention Amazon in your lesson.

This is not professional behavior from a professional market.

And cold moment of truth here—you cannot write a writing course that includes information on publishing and self-publishing and NOT mention Amazon. It’s the place where your writers are going to make about 90% of their money.

So I’m pulling ALL my work from the iBookstore today. I apologize to iBookstore fans. I tried. Hard.

But I’m done.

Previous Posts in This Discussion

Same morning, three hours later…

All my self-pubbed books are now out of the iBook store. The work by me that is still there is commercially published, and I cannot do anything about its presence or absence.

But, for writers, especially those involved in or considering self-publishing, I can no longer recommend Apple as a professional distributor. Requiring no links to a competing website was borderline…but I complied because I wanted to keep the courses available for students who could not get them any other way.

Requiring the removal of actual lesson content, however, is unacceptable. No, it isn’t censorship. Again, only governments have the armies that allow them to censor.

It is simply an unbelievably stupid business decision, since the people buying the lesson would have to pay for it BEFORE they read the content, and would not abandon Apple because of the content.

The big markets that meet my standards for good distribution practices for self-publishers are now down to and Barnes&

I don’t yet have anything up on, so cannot yet report on the quality of service of the site. It does have an interesting “Pay on Demand” feature that kicks in once you’ve hit their sales threshold.

I’m backlogged getting lessons set up on my own site, Amazon, and B&N, but will start testing once I catch my breath.

I’m deeply disappointed by the loss of Apple as a viable market. I know a lot of folks hate the company. I loved it, though—and recent decisions on this issue as well as the issue of sandboxing in the next OS make me realize it’s working hard at making itself a company I won’t be able to support.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

This is the price for a Short Courses Community membership.

By Holly Lisle

Thinking of Joining?

Thinking of Joining?

I’ll offer two ways to pay:

PAYMENT PLAN PRICE: The price for a SHORT COURSES Membership is going to be $5 a month for six months. After the final payment, the student becomes a lifetime member at the SHORT COURSES level.

At any point during the six months in which payments are being made, the student can quit and receive a refund for the current month, and will no longer be a member.

SINGLE PAYMENT PRICE: One payment, $30. Student becomes a provisional lifetime member at the SHORT COURSES level. At any time during the first 60 days, the student can request, and receive, a full refund, and no longer be a member. After the first 60 days, the student becomes a lifetime member.

100% of either membership will be applicable to upgraded memberships. Meaning that at ANY TIME you choose to upgrade, you can apply the $30 you paid for SHORT COURSES membership to your Think Sideways or Revise Your Novel memberships; in other words, you can give yourself a $30 discount on either of those memberships. (Likewise, you’ll be able to apply the cost of upper-level memberships to OTHER upper-level memberships.)

This was the price I’d originally intended to charge for SHORT COURSES, and no one gave me a good reason to raise it.

But SHOULD you join?

The price discussion brought up some interesting questions about the community and its value to writers, along with the question, “Why should I join?”

The short answer to this question is, in most cases, you shouldn’t. Most writers are looking for a social venue, and won’t benefit from the community.

The point, the purpose, and the value of the Writers’ Boot Camps Community

I’m going to quote myself from one of my replies in in the price discussion:

I’m already publishing HTTS and HTRYN as individual lessons on the big platforms (the HTTS lessons will go out to Hitch for compiling in about another week, once I have all the links updated in the lessons to reflect the new workgroups and the worksheet landing pages. This is old news. But I don’t intend to charge Kindle’s top 70% royalty price (9.99) for each lesson. I’m coming in significantly under that. (That MAY be new news. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before.)

But my personal statistic (90% of people who get the community for free don’t use it) is WHY I don’t want to charge the maximum amount possible for the lessons, and to use that money to offset the price of community membership: I don’t want people to pay for something they don’t use. In other words, I don’t want ten people to buy the course on Kindle, and have nine of them subsidize the one member who joins the community and gets as much out of it as my active current students do.

So the question becomes…what does my community offer to students that makes it worth paying for, and why will some writers want to join?

And the answer to that is:

The community supports the courses. Period. It isn’t a “social” community. (It has social elements–there are open discussion boards and the writers who use them have a LOT of fun discussing various topics.) This is a hard concept for most people to get, because almost all forums are essentially social gatherings, where people talk about work, but don’t work.

The Writers’ Boot Camps are built around work.

I’ve written something like a dozen courses now (HTTS, HTRYN, HTWAS, Plot, Plot Outline, Character, Language, Culture, Scenes, Dialogue and Subtext, Beat Writer’s Block, Motivate Yourself, Writing Discipline, 21 Ways to Get Yourself Writing, the upcoming Mugging the Muse Second Edition Course…, and the upcoming Create A World Clinic) okay, so FOURTEEN now available with two more on the way—MTM: 2nd Edition is due for release next week and Create A World Clinic is due for release when I wrap up this overhaul and get WARPAINT finished…

…And the community is the place where the people who bought the “textbooks” have a live class where they can work through their lessons with other folks who are taking the same courses.

The workgroups are now open, not assigned, and set up lesson by lesson. I’m currently building out the Short Courses boards with the individual lesson posts. (These have been empty until now, because until I had the software with which I could invite Short Courses students to join, there was no point in doing the work of building out the boards.) If you’re already a community member and you log in and go to the new Mugging the Muse: 2nd Ed Workgroup, you’ll see how the Short Course Workgroups will work.

The community is my duplication of the process I used to get published.

This is why I’ve gone to such trouble and expense to build the community and to build a way for new people to join it by choice.

I learned much of how to make my work publishable by belonging to a writers’ group when I was just getting started. I didn’t learn much from what the other members told me about what I was doing wrong. Or right. I learned from figuring out what THEY were doing wrong. And right.

So I’ve set up the community based around workgroups, where writers can present snippets of work that are giving them problems, and receive comments from other students on these. Where, lesson by lesson, they can work through my processes and techniques, and get and GIVE feedback from other students doing the same lessons. And where they can read through solutions discovered by students ahead of them.

This is why the boards are private, why moderators monitor them, why I don’t make the thing public and invite everyone to join. It’s a place for my students who want to accelerate what they’re learning in the lessons by taking what they’ve learned and applying the concepts and principles to work other than their own.

My objectives with the community are:

  • High signal to noise ratio—conversation stays focused on writing
  • High content to filler ratio—the majority of the posts should give students something valuable for the time they’ve invested in reading them
  • High work to play ratio-–the boards are primarily dedicated to classwork, publishing, marketing, and self-promotion, not to general conversation

I’ve managed to maintain that so far…and while eventually I’d like to have enough active students in there to have regular posts on all boards all the time, I want to continue to do that by focusing on quality, not quantity.

And because my purpose with the community is to create a resource that will help writers publish their work, if they spend all their time hanging out on the boards rather than writing, I’M DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

I hope that answers your questions.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

How much should I charge for Writers’ Community Membership?

By Holly Lisle

I’m FINALLY almost ready to open the Boot Camps

Students of my smaller courses have been asking me for a long time if there was any way they could join my writers’ community.

It’s taken me something like two years to figure out a way to do it, and Margaret and I have tested and shot down a multitude of different softwares and processes to get here.

But I’m about ready to open the doors of my private writers community to students other than my Big Course Students.

Here are my questions:

Lifetime membership, or a monthly (or other subscription time) fee?
If lifetime membership, then one payment, or multiple payments, or the option of both?
What price?

So I’m going to show you what I’m offering, and then I’m going to ask you to tell me what a lifetime membership to this level of the community would be worth.

Remember that this is a private writers’ community with a focus on writing for publication. We have (and tolerate) no spam, no trolls, no flames.

It’s moderated, my moderators are spectacular (they’ve all taken or are taking all of my courses, they’re all writers.) The community members are amazing. I attend personally, and once I get my life overhaul finished, will attend regularly as I’m writing my way through my novels.

You can take a peek at the public areas of the community here:

You can take a look at the boards I’m opening up for the new level of membership here:

(Most of them are new, because I’m starting to offer workshops for courses that have never had them before.)

So, please take a moment, reply to this post, and tell me how much I should charge for access.

Thanks for your help.

I really appreciate it.

P.S. Here’s what current students say about the community.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

What Would You Recommend About Joining the Writers’ Boot Camp Community?

By Holly Lisle

Holly Lisle's Writers' Boot Camps

Holly Lisle's Writers’ Boot Camps

Since my last birthday, when I decided I was going back to writing full time, Margaret and I have been working on a way for folks who haven’t taken How to Think Sideways, How to Revise Your Novel, or How to Write A Series to join my private writers’ community.

Professional Plot Outline is coming out first, NOT How To Think Sideways, because I’m still not done writing the Self-Pub lessons, but I’m finally getting ready to take the first little section of the roll-out live.

So anyone who has taken Professional Plot Outline will receive an invitation to join the writing community in the next few days to a week. (As soon as the course becomes available no Kindle, Nook, iBookstore, and shortly before it will be available in print.

Following them, I’ll open the doors for students who’ve taken the Clinics (Character, Plot, Language, Culture, and Scenes) and the motivational courses.

And then I’ll switch HTTS over to Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and print, followed by HTTS and HTWAS. As each course rolls out, people will be able to join the boards for that course.

There are a lot of writers who are eligible to join the writing community who don’t yet know why they’ll benefit from it.

I know what I love about the community. I love watching writers “get” the process and start succeeding.

But what do YOU love?

If you’re current member of ANY of the Writer’s Boot Camp sections (HTTS, HTRYN, or HTWAS), would you please take a moment and use the comments below to tell other writers why you’d recommend joining?

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The Apple iBooks Author Issue: Small things, and large principles

By Holly Lisle

The short version: I have removed my books from sale on iBookstore because Apple has included a clause in software I don’t use and wouldn’t have used anyway a clause claiming the right to refuse publication on its platform of works created with this software (which is fine and I applaud their right) and further stating that if they reject your work you cannot sell it in the format the software created anywhere else.


Here’s the clause:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;
(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

And then the next paragraph is bold-faced, just so you don’t miss it:

Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including
without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.

Here’s the guy who found, dissected, and posted about it, along with his dissection, and it will save us a BUNCH of time if you read his article.

So what’s the problem? You’re not going to use the damn software anyway!

Nope. I’m not. But I had ten books up on the iBookstore, which I put there using iTunes Producer, which is software. I do my epub versions of most of my books in iWorks Pages, which is software. And I work on Apple computers, an iPad, and an iPhone, all of which use Apple software. OS X and iOS 5 at the moment.

And the rule of software is this: Software does not get to dictate the use of output. Period. Software does not get to tell you WHERE you can sell what you’ve created, only that you have the right to sell it (in the cases where software requires a commercial license if you are producing for profit).

Software does not get to tell you, “If you create this work on our software and we don’t want to distribute it, we own the rights to the version our software created, and if you want another version, you will have to disassemble this one, and rebuild it from scratch on other software.”

The purpose of purchasing and/or using software is to make your work easier.

It is not to have the software claim ownership of any part of what you have created with it.

There is no difference—except in number of people affected—between a company claiming ownership of the rights to something you created with its ebook publisher, and something you created with its OS.

    The principle is identical.

(Apple is not claiming to own rights to your work if you work on OS X. My removal of my own work from their site is on principle, not because my own work is affected.)

And there is no number of people affected that is insignificant. The smallest minority is the individual, and minority rights protect the rights of the individual because those are the only rights there are.

So THAT is why I pulled all my books from distribution on the iBookstore, why none of my further books or any of my writing courses will be going to the iBookstore, and why I can no longer recommend the iBookstore to my students.

And this in spite of the fact that Apple makes my favorite products in the world, and I hate like hell having to do this.

And if they remove their damn clause and respect the purpose of creative software and the rights of the individual, I’ll go back.

COMMENTS have now been closed on this post.  Please read the follow-up post, and if you choose, comment there.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved

HTTS Students: Writers’ Self-Promotion Lesson now LIVE

By Holly Lisle

Lesson 13A is now live on your student page (if you are already to Lesson 13 or higher).

Look for it in the lesson links at the top of your student page, right next to 13.  It will be either 13A or Thirteen-A, depending on the class you’re taking.

This is an enormous lesson which many exercises; by the time you’ve completed it, you will have a full, working self-promotional system in place.

But anticipate that getting through it all will take you several weeks.

Login to your student page:

At the top of the page, find 13A.

Click the link, and download at least the lesson and the resources list.

The other two are adjuncts primarily for students who will be getting images compressed via Kindle, etc, but I wanted them to be available to you as well.

Also, the community boards for building your IBBN (part four of the lesson) are live, and you can start
using them as soon as you get to that part of the lesson.

All the self-promotion resource boards are here:

Read instructions carefully BEFORE you post.

Go get ’em!  And write with joy.


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A pic from my office: My path-to-freedom workboard

By Holly Lisle

What I have to do to retire from teaching

My office workboard, now with what is probably going to be a two-year checklist in place.

If you’ve taken any of my courses (or read some of my more detail-oriented posts, you’ll recognize me as big on goal-setting, getting a plan in place, and making sure it’s where you can see it.

So the day before yesterday, I erased all the short-term stuff off my office workboard, and put up my BIG goal, which is to retire from teaching inside of two years so I can write JUST my fiction again.

And I put up the steps on how I’ll accomplish this, in order, and with checkboxes.

I love checkboxes.

They’re physical proof of progress. Sitting there blank, they’re a reminder of a step to be taken. Checked, they’re a square on the game board you’ve now covered.

I don’t know how you organize goals, but on the MACRO level, this is how I do mine. On the micro level, I have a notebook I carry with me all the time, in which I keep lists of the small steps that help me accomplish the big steps. I’m pretty close to finishing the first of the four Self-Pub lessons. I’ll check that off on the little list, then make a check on the board when all four are finished.

How do you get from where you are to where YOU want to be?

Oh. By the way, CD II and CD III on the right are shorthand for Cadence Drake 2: Warpaint, and Cadence Drake 3: The List of Three (working title). So my list does include the completion of two novels along with all the rest of the work on the board.

Freedom Board Update: Two Down >>

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