Yippeeeee!!! Good News on Ohio 5 & Writing Site Updates!

By Holly Lisle

I had a blast this morning. Lost track of time, (and as a result got twice as many words as the last few writing days)…

And I got a kick-ass start to Chapter Two. My MC is in trouble, her entire town is in trouble, and in MY tomorrow but her next three seconds, she is going to get some awful news.

Which I am really looking forward to writing. 

But, with 506 words for the day, 3,122 words for the book, and a nice, solid start to Chapter 2, I must now go work on the website.

I’m working on the emails that will bring groups of HWC members back to the site after we replace the school with the new software. I also have some “techie for other folks, but I have to set it up” stuff to do today.

So, having had a whole lotta fun with the words, I now go to do spiffy “new school awesomeness” website stuff. 

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

Ohio Novel #5- 251 words on Chapter 2

By Holly Lisle

So to get the context of this, the picture above is what’s going on outside my house right now.

I’m inside, where it’s warm (if you’re wearing sweatpants, double-layered socks, and a hand-knit wool sweater, anyway).

I’m writing about Ohio in the spring… which (ahem) this ain’t… while looking out the window at snow spiraling down off the barn next door, with the snow currently coming down so hard that the house catty-corner from us across the street is just a hazy impression of its big old monster self.

Turns out, this is the perfect time to write a spring scene. Because to get spring right, you have to want it. You have to be able to summon the shapes and colors and sounds and scents, the still-cool air that feels like a kiss, the smell of warming earth and fresh-sprouting grass… and as much as I’m enjoying watching the snow because I’m inside and don’t have to drive in it, (and right now, we don’t have a road anyway… we have an unbroken blanket of snow that’s going to be last to get cleared because we live on an alley…) I do find myself happy to contemplate dogwoods and crabapples and Judas trees in full bloom. 

Those are next on the Ohio Weather menu.

Meanwhile, I got 251 words, NOT about the weather, but about scary things happening to people I like.

Now I have to go talk with my guys over at HollysWritingClasses.com about the upcoming website move. And work on that. So…


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

Finished Chapter 1 of Ohio Five!

By Holly Lisle

And it was not easy. I wrote words, then deleted a BUNCH of words, including some of the ones I’d just written, and then got the right words. 

I managed to capture this in pictures. 

My starting wordcount…Screen Shot 2022 01 14 at 10 42 53 AM

The wordcount after I realized I was writing in the wrong direction and deleted a hefty chunk of stuff…

Ohio 5 2 2022 01 14 at 10 43 17 AM

And my final wordcount after realizing what the right direction was…

Ohio 5 3 2022 01 14 at 10 55 57 AM

It’s a process. And this time the process let me dump a lot of thicket so that I could see both the forest AND the trees. Which, considering my main character and the guy who was first to the scene of a BIG crime are now hiking together towards the woods, is an appropriate metaphor.

With good and happy and dangerous words now on the page, I can head off to work on the website again, a more cheerful and considerably less stressed-out person.

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

Timed out. But some words are better than none

By Holly Lisle

The wheels of fiction do not run smoothly, and today was pretty bumpy.

The chapter starts strong… but now I’m in the weeds, wondering where the important guy my MC ran into is going, and why she’s following.

But while I only got 109 words, I did get some questions for tomorrow.

So now I have to go work on the website.

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

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

Another stolen hour on Ohio Five… 541 words, and a new discovery. AND a website update.

By Holly Lisle

In Ohio Five this morning, I got a bit of additional backstory on the terribly important guy who has now gone missing, and am moving to a big moment for my main character.

And I got to write some more fiction, which was a pure joy.

Now back to the website, with the knowledge that we are very close to being done with it, at which point I’ll be able to go back to Book 5 pretty much full time.

Giving my first hour to writing Ohio Five these past couple of mornings has been a joy. Starting the day with my real job reminds me that the website building (which has never, ever been my favorite thing) is just a temporary disarrangement of my life, and that the work I love is waiting on the side of this.

Now, however, I’m off to HollysWritingClasses.com to find out how close we are to wiping out the old software and replacing it with the new software. Pretty sure it will be early this week. And if it is, after my hour of stolen time each morning, I’m going to be doing a bunch of bringing writers into their new accounts a bit at a time, and working in the help desk with Becca getting folks back to their classes, and making sure all the links we break in the move get updated to working links in all the lessons of all my classes.

I’m SO grateful to have site members who volunteered to help out.

Wish us all luck on the post-site-upgrade repairs. <shudder> It is going to be a big job.

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

Ohio 5: One stolen hour, 420 words

By Holly Lisle

Now I have to get back to the website replacement work for HollysWritingClasses.com, but I did manage to get 420 new words on Ohio 5.

It’s slow progress, but it’s FICTION, dammit. And I needed it today.

And love the heartbreaking strangeness that I got.

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

STILL building the website… time for a small break.

By Holly Lisle

Howlingly bad weekend has rolled into a **MONDAY**.

My nemesis is a plugin that is supposed to integrate Xenforo with WordPress.

I am making an error somewhere. I cannot find the error I’m making. I have a help request in with the plugin creator, I have my database guys looped in because they’re the ones who need the data the plugin is supposed to give us, and I am going to walk away for a couple hours and write fiction.

Starting in on Ohio Five, because fuck this noise.

I need a sanity break, to not look at software for a couple hours.

For the next couple of hours, I just do something I actually know how to do.

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

Still building the website… Asking for help from HTTS students…

By Holly Lisle

Most of the classes are built, but there’s this series of “Quick-Fix” bonuses I was building for How to Think Sideways before the site software broke (and then hurricane… and hurricane… and then we moved, and my programmer moved on, and I got kind of buried in stuff)…

…that I’m having a helluva time finding.

This is kind of a long list, but I’m requesting that if you’re a current or graduate How To Think Sideways student who has any of the PDFs or MP3s for the quick fixes on your hard drive, you contact me in the forum.

NOT ALL OF THEM ARE DONE! But I don’t want to re-do the ones that are… and a vigorous search of my hard drive and BOTH backup drives suggests that somehow I managed to not SAVE some of these. Probably because I did them on my laptop — which does not get the same rigorous backups my work computer gets.

Get Beyond The Blinking Cursor
Get words—good words—on the page in just minutes, without anxiety, without dread, without second-guessing yourself, without struggling for the ONE perfect word, or sentence, or paragraph your mind insists you must have.

No. More. Wire. Hangers.
Or any other picky details, world-building procrastination, backstory bingeing, character indulgence, costume mania, or the rest of the fun distractions you’ve been chasing so you can tell yourself you’re working while you avoid writing. Do this, get story words now.

“But I’ll Never Be Shakespeare…”
Stall out because you compare yourself to writers you aren’t and never will be? Here’s a quick and dirty solution to stop THAT little problem dead in its tracks.

Write A Starter Scene That Doesn’t Suck
Smack your inner critic over the head with this one mean, fast sledgehammer, and get on with your words before the bastard wakes up.

Defenestrate The Dwindling, Superfluous Self-Aggrandizement Of Perambulating Verbosity
Description dragging your story through frozen molasses? This quickie will pitch the blather out the window in a hurry.

“I Don’t Love You Anymore… I Don’t Know If I EVER Loved You.”
Keep leaving your unfinished stories at the altar so you can run off with that hot young idea that looks so much better? “Hang on for one more day” with THIS short exercise.

“I Can’t Make Myself Write.”
If this is your problem, I have a fix. I call this one the “Ice Water” exercise. It’s a shocker.

Cure Hummingbird Brain
Write, delete, backup, fidget… New idea—”Hey, that’s cool,”—new character magically appears… “SQUIRREL!”—glass of water, check the email… Sound familiar? This frikkin’ defines me. Here’s how I fight it—and win—every damn day.

Fix Day-Week-Month Stalls
You’re moving along at a steady page, getting your daily word count… until you hit a story problem. And you stop to figure it out… only the quick stop turns into a day… a week… a month… This one is an EASY fix.

Write Interesting Plot Ideas
Plotting out your story in advance and all of a sudden, you’re faced with characters and story going nowhere fast? Take only a few minutes, and stir your anthill with this BIG stick.

Conquer Wild Bob, The Plot Destroyer
So you have this out-of-control character, and he insists that your story is going to go HIS way, in spite of the fact that HIS way bears no resemblance to the story you want to write. You have some new alternatives to get him to toe the line.

He won’t like them.

But you will.

Create Lightning Conflict for Every Situation
Struggling with what conflict is, how it works, or how to get it into your story now? I once plotted an entire novel using JUST this trick. (Deadlines, again, and howling desperation).

Hammer Out Human Dialogue
While consistent dialogue problems come from story issues rather than a failure of technique, and call for a more comprehensive fix, this quick trick can help you get your folks to sound like real people for the scene you’re writing.

 Stop Rushing Your Stories
There are a lot of reasons for rushing. The need to eat is a big one, and can’t be fixed by this technique. But if you’re galloping to the end of the story for no reason but to start writing the next one, my “tunnel” will help you take the time you need to do the story right.

 Break the Perfectionist Freeze
Can’t write anything because it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time through? Yeah. I remember that. You may have to repeat this exercise, but you’ll get wonderful first-draft words when you’re done.

Writing In The Midst of Chaos
Writers love the ideal of the silent room away from everything where they can be alone with their thoughts. But I’ve written whole novels at a desk jammed against one wall of a living room with a TV behind me, kids arguing on the couch, cats with the rips tearing through the house… and you can, too. If you can’t get silence or alone time, you can still write.

Fixing Transition Terrors
Some writers dread transitions like vampires dread pointy fire-hardened aged oak stakes. Unnecessarily (for the writers), as it turns out. Two minutes, five quick questions, and you’ll have your transition. And it’ll be a good one.

“So… I’m In the Middle, And I Finished a Scene, and… and… and…”
Lost in the vast desert of your story’s middle? Let’s chop this sucker down to size, and give you the next thing to write, right now.

Make the Time to Write Today
I have to thank my father for this one. It was his solution to all the time crunches he had when I was a very small kid, and it’s worked for me for everything, not just writing. Mix this one with Get Beyond the Blinking Cursor, and you can write every day for the rest of your life, no matter how hellish the day’s schedule.

Write Compelling Description
Ever write like you were flying, have the words just shoot from your fingertips, only to discover on rereading that you have written action, you have written dialogue, but the whole thing might as well have take place in a vacuum? This quick fix will give you immersive, fast-paced description. Fast-paced description? Seriously.

Stop Changing Your Mind Mid-Story
You want to welcome the ideas that help you move your story forward. This is how good stories become great stories. You DON’T want or need to welcome ideas not related to your story, that derail you, that prevent you from finishing anything, and that are in the end, destructive to your success. With this tiny workshop—as long as you USE—it, the ideas that destroy your progress will no longer bother you.

Muzzle Your Over-Controlling Inner Editor
This workshop is a walk on the weird side, a couple minutes of focused fix you can put into play when your Inner Editor (left brain) starts stomping on your Muse (right brain).

Learn Your Plotting ABCs
Have trouble with plotting? Need a quick, simple, no-jargon no-theory way to just get the damned story to roll in the right direction? In this micro-workshop, you’ll learn exactly that.

Gun-To-The-Head Emotion
Do you have a hard time getting characters to react with believable passion, fear, dread, shock, humor, lust, or rage? Need to give your story an emotional jumpstart? You’ll get the quick fix for that.

Speak With Different Voices
All your characters sound the same? Need to give each one a unique voice without resorting to the ear-torturing dialect of novels from the 1800s? This is simple, fun… but don’t let the neighbors catch you.

Pacing: Pick It Up
In this second Pacing Quick-Fix, kick a dragging scene into high gear with a 1, 2, 3 exercise that will both pick up the pace, and make you grin.

Pacing: Slow It Down
Have a scene you know is racing away from you that must go slower? Use this little technique to put the brakes on.

Life Is Short and Art Is Long and Marathons Are HARD
Writing and finishing novels—good novels—requires endurance. Patience. Unrelenting focus for long periods of time. And life has so many emergencies, urgencies, and bumps that can pull you away. SOME emergencies really are… but this trick will help you winnow out the chaff and keep your attention where you want it to be.

Butt In Chair
Want to write, but find yourself polishing the brass scones or folding underwear into 6″ squares (you know because you measured), or mowing your lawn with scissors instead? Okay—this one you may not like… but one way or the other, you’ll come to terms with the issue.

If you have any of these, log into your account here: https://hollyswritingclasses.com

Then go to THIS FORUM LINK, and let me know which ones you have.

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

My next week-ish: Brain reset, but no rest

By Holly Lisle

I may not be in here regularly for the next week (I am possibly being a bit optimistic on that week thing, by the way. It might take me two or three to do everything I have to do.)

The first part of what I’m doing is letting Book 4 settle into the back of my brain. I need to figure out Book 5 — and Book 5 needs to bring the first series to a strong ending. The first reason is that I cannot know how well these will do, and if they flop, I don’t want the folks who bought all five to be left hanging.

The second is because if they do well, I have stuff in mind for following books, and I’m torn between each one being a complete adventure, and doing a second five-book series.

Gotta get some distance, some perspective — and gotta think about the stuff in the closet. It’s a pretty scary closet.

The other thing is, of course, the HollysWritingClasses.com complete rebuild.

The classes — lessons, videos, and downloads — are already built on out out-of-the-way work domain. My moderators did that part.

But the SITE is not built. I hooked it up to the new shopping cart yesterday, and we did test purchases, and the word that comes to mind is… BUTTERY. I don’t imagine a lot of people “squeeee” over a new shopping cart.

I squeeeeed.

I’ve owned this software for years — I got it when Dan was building the first version of the HollysWritingClasses.com site. He couldn’t come up with a way to integrate it into what he was building, though.

So I just hung onto it — it was, like the stuff I create, a one-time purchase that you can go back to any time.

And when I had to buy all-new classroom software, I made DAMN sure before it bought it that it worked with my existing cart.

And… <SQUEEEE! (yeah, again)> Boy, does it.

Dead simple to set up classes, and my moderators doing test purchases were saying stuff like, “Wow, that was flawless.”


We like flawless. 

The software comes with built-in affiliate software, so the affiliate program for members will be coming back.


My database guys got me ALL the membership emails for HollysWritingClasses, going back to the days when there were just the one class: How to Think Sideways.

There were more than 7000.

Obviously, a lot of these are going to be dead emails.

And obviously, not all of the folks who owned the classes will want to come back.

I told folks when I sent out the emails, If you unsubscribe, we’ll remove you from the classes. Had a total of 222 unsubscribes when I came in this morning, handed off those email addresses to my database guys so they could start deleting accounts.

Had 477 so far who will be staying. I’m delighted such a high percentage of folks are staying.

I’ll give this a week-ish to sort itself out, re-email only those folks who didn’t do anything, and give them one more week.

Then I’ll delete all the non-responders from the mailing list, and my moderator/database guys (Tom & James) will remove their classes and delete their accounts.

And we’ll move on to the next big obstacle.

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

AND DONE… Ohio #4 comes in at 82,359 words.

By Holly Lisle

And there are places where it’s thin. My stuff always puts on muscle in revision.

I love the ending — it answers a BUNCH of questions, and brings in a new role for one of my main characters, and at the same time, it sets up Book Five.

I’m taking a week off from the words, just to let stuff perk. Maybe a smidge more than that — say until the Monday after next.

During that time, I’ll focus on the rebuild of HollysWritingClasses.com, and let Ohio Novel #5 stuff percolate in the back of my mind.

Because stuff happened today that was big, and weird, and really important — and some of that is going to have to be included in the start of the next book.

Anyway — got MORE words than I planned, took longer than I expected to get them.

Totally worth it.

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