Cuss, cuss, swear, swear, @#%^&*Z!!!!

By Holly Lisle


What a week.  Earlier, the kitchen sink started spouting water, so we were doing dishes in the bathroom sink.

Then the water heater died. Matt found a plumber, who will be coming out today, but since Monday, I’ve been refreshing my unused-but-never-forgotten camping skills, and have been doing a daily bath using one cup of bottled water.

Yeah, it can be done.

Yeah, you can get clean.

No, it is NOT as wonderful as a nice shower with hot water. And washing your hair in the other cup of water from the bottle isn’t fun, and does not give great results.

Good news, though… the plumber is coming today.

Meanwhile, I got ready to print out all four remaining manuscripts for a single five-novel one-pass revision. (Book One is already revised, but I do have to read through it and take notes on important elements that need to be consistent from book to book.)

However, I accidentally printed #5 first, and used up the last of my in-place HP printer cartridge doing that.

No problem, though. I’d bought a well-reviewed refurb cartridge off Amazon. 

Except the product turned out to be A) a counterfeit cartridge for which B) people giving it 5-star reviews could prove they’d purchased it in order to get a $30 kickback from the company (information was in the box). I shredded the kickback offer. (wish I hadn’t now) — I would have added photos of the get-your-kick-back paperwork to my one-star review.

Meanwhile, the printer identified it as counterfeit, and would not use it.

Because I bought it months ago so I’d have it ready to go for the five novels, I couldn’t return it.

So yesterday, we went to the BIG BOX (name withheld ‘cause I’m betting this next thing isn’t their fault) local office supply company, got their brand refill cartridge for $110, and got THIS warning message…Screen Shot 2022 06 30 at 8 14 39 AM

So I didn’t use it. I just put it back in the box, and am hoping that the place from which I bought it will take it back. We paid $110 for it yesterday. I have NO pages to show for that money spent.


Now I’m just going to wait for the plumber to get here.

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Interesting Times … But I printed out Ohio 2 today so I can start the revision.

By Holly Lisle

We’re having Fun with Water Heater and Plumbing(TM) this week, which I don’t recommend.

But today, after a long and ugly fight with my printer (which I won, but not without the damn printer’s damn protest), I got Ohio TWO printed out. Am now going to go plop on the couch and start the read-through portion of the revision.

I’ll take notes in a separate notebook on stuff I’ll need to revise to bring the story together with the first book and the last three, and make notes on all the other How To Revise Your Novel stuff that I’ll need to work on when I move from the read-through portion to write-in portion… and I’ll fix any spelling errors I spot (because I tend to miss these during the actual revision when I’ve already spotted them once). 

But primarily I’m going to be reading for story, and for places where I contradict stuff that happens in the first novel or that I now know will happen in Ohio Three through Ohio Five.

This will take a while, because as soon as I do the read-through and follow-up with the write-in on TWO, I’ll print and revise THREE, and then FOUR, and then FIVE.

My idea is to keep all the stories fresh in my mind so that I don’t have to do so much back-and-forth stuff between the five novels.

We’ll see how that goes.



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By Holly Lisle

No, I didn’t plan this. I thought I had another three weeks of writing to hit the end.

Yesterday, I was galloping along, and I’d planned to pick up today with the logical continuation of the scene I wrote yesterday, where my characters were in trouble…

And when I loped back into the office this morning to pick up where I left off, brain said, “Here, little writer. Here you go… have this spiffy bait…”

And I followed along, and the scene did not go where I expected. It went someplace so much better, and surprised me, and made me laugh…

And all of a sudden, in 2,000-ish words, the ending was right there. And it was the RIGHT ending.

So now I’m taking the weekend off.

I have five novels.

I’ve already read and revised the first one. The other four have been sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to finish the first drafts so I can revise them all at once, and make sure I’m consistent with the changes I make…

Which means re-reading Book One before I do anything else, and then working off of that as I do four back-to-back revisions.

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Came up short… but landed well

By Holly Lisle

Today’s scene was fun. I like what I got, I like the twist, I like the humor.

I am, however, not feeling well, and at the point were I realized I’ve been circling the drain on the scene without coming up with a “what next”, or anything else that would let me hit today’s planned word count, I ALSO realized it’s time to go stretch out on the couch and take a nap. Going to skip fixing links in emails today, going to skip heading into the forums. 

I got 1177 words out of 1250 planned, and I really like what I got.

So for today, that’s going to have to be good enough.

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Mwah-ha-ha-ha-HA! Evil is afoot, and fun is right on its tail!

By Holly Lisle

Boy, today did not go where I thought it would. Not at ALL.

In the back of my mind, I had this fun little scene planned, and when I popped out of the shower, I knew pretty much where I was going to start.

And I did start there — but absolutely none of the characters in the scene did what I expected, and the twist they threw at me was so wicked, and so perfect, that I ran with it, just to see what the hell the little buggers were going to do next.

Following them turned out to be the right choice, because I’m now deeply enmeshed in evil intentions and terrible plots and a horrible plan…

And tomorrow, I get to deal with that. And the beauty part is that none of this is coming at me out of left field. It all fits, it’s all tightly enmeshed with things that happened in the previous four books, it is the logical outcome of what really happened in yesterday’s scene, and while I need to quit now because I got my words and I have other stuff I have to do…. Well, tomorrow I have the fun of rolling out onto the page EXACTLY how the shit goes down.

Because the shit is gonna go down. 

God, I love this job.

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Somebody’s Lying! 1392 words, 65,395 total… and “Too Good to Be True” comes to town

By Holly Lisle

Today was a hoot.


Yesterday, I left my main in the middle of a situation that could have turned into a nightmare for her.

And I saved and quit for the day having no idea how I was going to handle it. 

Today, though, the last line I wrote yesterday turned out to be just exactly right… because it could mean two completely different things at the same time, and it turns out I figured out a way to let it mean both.

Which SOLVED a situation that could have ended in bloodshed, disaster, and horror… and instead became pretty funny.

The truth underneath isn’t funny. It’s desperately important, and scary, and my main character both knows the truth and had a hand in engineering the plausible lie that’s covering it up.

She de-escalated the disaster down into “oops, it was all a big misunderstanding.”

It wasn’t. Isn’t.

And tomorrow, I get to bring out the truth, and start building toward the end of the novel, and closure for the fifth book, and maybe a slightly broader tie-up for the first five books of the series.

I have to wrap everything up with less than a third of the book remaining. So tomorrow, my objective is to let my mind wrap itself around creating the events that will conclude the novel, and tie up any remaining threads from the first four… and still leave myself elbow room for a bunch of stand-alones in the same world to follow.

And because I know not all of you guys are readers waiting for the book — some of you are writers watching what I’m doing (and some of you guys might be new to me) — I’ve covered in detail the way I’m writing these books in two classes I built:

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers  … and How to Write a Novel.

I have a system. It looks pretty chaotic from the outside, but there really is a method to the madness, and it’s allowed me write books I’m happy with and hit my deadlines for about thirty-one years now.

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A Giggly Scene, A Wicked Secret… and I Love You, Tomorrow

By Holly Lisle

No big secret that these books are set in a decidedly sideways version of the Ohio town in which I live. I love this place, and I’m having a wonderful time building some seriously wacky shit into what is in reality a lovely old town with a great history, and some fine and friendly people.

Today I got to pull out one of the oldest tropes in SF (because I have no compunction about playing with elements of science fiction in my fantasy series, so long as I can them twist them straight back to fantasy), and I laughed my ass off when I realized how I was going to use the damn thing.

I left a note in the chapter so that I remember tomorrow the revelation I had right at the end. I’ve learned NEVER to trust myself to remember tomorrow’s cool thing if I don’t leave a note.

Fortunately, Scrivener is great for letting you leave notes.

And I’m so excited to write what I realized that I was tempted to keep going.

So… 1250 words exactly today, and 64,003 for the book, and I’m five chapters from the end. And I love, love, LOVE the words I got today.

NOW, however, it’s on to the next thing. I have seven tons of lesson reminders yet to build to get everything over on working the way it’s supposed to… and I need to get at least half a ton of them built today.

So with words finished, and the start of today’s headache already moving in like clouds before an oncoming storm, I’m going to go do lesson reminder links in lesson reminders for writing classes for at least one hour.

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates, and when these books go on sale, get invited to the launch.

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In spite of a bit of uphill-ery, I got there. 1281 words, 62,753 total

By Holly Lisle

And I managed along the way to muddy my feet on Vikings, evolutionary biology, predator psychology, and something that looks like next Monday it could traipse into the realm of the steamy near-miss.

I also had a lot of wicked fun, got in a couple of funny one-liners, and at the end of the day (and the week), I’m pretty pleased by where I am in the novel, and what awful things I’m going to do to my main character next week — all now set up by the casual and off-hand hints in the book related to the items listed above.

So with that, I’m going to take my damned headache and head off into the weekend to put my feet up and NOT think about the stuff I set up today.

I’ll get a much fresher take on all of this if, as I come back to it next Monday, I’ve had a chance for forget why I put that stuff in there, so that I’ll be able to clearly see what fits, and what was overkill.

This is pure How To Think Sideways stuff, and I absolutely love when it clicks like this.

But anyway…

Hope you have a great weekend. I plan to.

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Coming of the Fen — The Ohio Invasion

By Holly Lisle

There’s a certain amount of wackiness in what I have going on right now, in spite of the fact that the core of the problem my characters are facing is nothing less than save-the-world with a pretty big dollop of save-a-bunch-of-worlds.

I’m having a helluva lot of fun playing with the situation. But…

I can’t guarantee that what I wrote today will stay. It fits. It includes real-world stuff I love, and I think it’s both funny as hell, and downright terrifying in places… but I won’t know until I’ve finished this book and started in on the read-through and markup of all five books if it flows naturally from the first four books without any shark-jumping.

Context is everything. I have a lot of funny shit in all five of these books. But I won’t know until everything has cooled off and I read them fresh if the funny is undercutting the power of the scary, or just spicing it up.

But… Fen. The plural for SF/Fantasy fans who go to SF/Fantasy conventions, which I love but haven’t had the time or means to do in years. The Fen have arrived in my book. At least for now.

And — at least until the cool-down read-through, when I see if they make the cut — I’m happy to have them.

1306 words for the day, and 61,476 total. And I’ve done final calculations on my deadline, and working at this pace I have 26 days left (while still taking weekends off) until I finish the novel. I might get all wound up and run long. But if I stay in bounds, I’m now less than a month out from wrapping up the fifth book, and rolling right over to a re-read of the already revised Book 1, and then the One-Pass Revision of books Two through Five.

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Yesterdays revelation became today’s surprising scene

By Holly Lisle

I knew yesterday that I left myself in a good place when I wrapped up the words. I didn’t realize how good until I started rolling this morning. My main character had a massive revelation about the crushing mistake she was about to make, and figured out a way to avert disaster on the upcoming Day One of a big situation she has invited — and has to survive.

No way to avoid the fact that she’s got a potential explosion on her hands — but she didn’t make the Well-Meaning Big Stupid Mistake — and her ally is working with her to help her see through the lens of the past a couple of other big mistakes in history she doesn’t want to replay.

Bad things are still going to happen. She has folks who hate her and want to see her family line die out with her, and because she doesn’t know who they are, but they know exactly who she is, she’s at a major disadvantage.

But with an interesting new perspective, she’s at least figured out a better way to deal with what’s coming at her from out of the dark.

1398 words today, 60,171 total today, and I’m very happy with where this is.

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