Courses, classes, and novel for 2011

So…I’ve been MIA for a bit more than two months.

I’m back now, and ready to get down to the cool stuff, but before I get to that, here’s where I’ve been, and why:

After losing just about six months last year to constant migraines, vertigo, and there for a while the dread that I was going to drop dead any minute, I took time off from all my work except for answering customer service e-mails. I was off from December 17th to January 10th. Which is why there were no writing diary posts, no regular e-mails, and nothing else from me.

During that time, I didn’t have a single migraine, I only had one regular headache, and I had no vertigo. And I thought, cool. Rest fixed it. I’m all better.

Within two days of getting back to work, I was having migraines again. Every day. My second week back to work, the vertigo came back. Granted, I was doing taxes, dealing with a massive software glitch on one of my sites and world’s worst customer service, and updating websites, and it was frustrating, exhausting, and—except for spiffing up the sites, which was fun—it sucked.

But it had to be done, so I gritted my teeth and did it.

It demonstrated something I’d started to suspect when my vacation cured the migraines and vertigo, though. I can’t prove causation, but I have a strong enough correlation to think the migraines and the vertigo are both work-and-stress induced.

But a girl’s gotta eat. And if you wanna eat—at least in the world of the self-employed—you gotta work.

Enough background. Move to what’s cool.

I put together my schedule for the year, and did everything I could to make it sane, livable, cool, and fun for myself, while allowing me to fulfill promises I made last year before my life went south on me. My main objective in this is to create wonderful things while not living in daily pain—but I hope what I have planned will be fun for you, too.

So here’s my 2011.


Educational, but already gone, eaten alive by income tax prep and upgrading websites. Taxes are done, websites not so much. Such is life.


Starting today, actually. I’m doing the new stand-alone course How To Write A Series (which will also be the free graduation bonus for How To Revise Your Novel students who complete the course).

  • Week 1: Fundamentals
    • The 192 different types of series (yes, really—there are 192, and you’ll learn to identify every single one
    • How to make sense of them
    • How to choose the series type that’s right for you
    • Designing your series (It’s going to be a busy week)
    • Lesson will post on Feb. 7th, Live chat will be on Feb. 9th.

  • Week 2: Writing Your First Book
    • Presenting your characters
    • Establishing your world
    • Using your limitations
    • Controlling your story
    • Bringing in your ending

    Lesson will post on Feb. 14th, Live chat will be on Feb. 16th.

  • Week 3: Maintaining Your Series
    • Tracking and connecting your stories
    • Developing and using timelines and other series tools
    • Planning and writing follow-up novels
    • Designing a bullet-proof exit strategy
    • Lesson will post on Feb. 21st, Live chat will be on Feb. 23rd.

  • Live discussion: Q & A
    • If you’ve taken the course as I’m creating it, you can buy one of a limited number of tickets to attend the live session after Lesson 4 with me where I’ll answer questions on your series and brainstorm with you, or…
    • You can send your questions to me beforehand at a special e-mail address, and I’ll answer the best of them during the same live session.
    • Either way, every student will have access to the video and transcript of the Week 4 Q & A, which I’ll post to your student page as quickly as possible after the live session.
    • Lesson will post on Feb. 28th, Q & A will be on March. 2nd.

IMPORTANT: The How To Write A Series course has ONLY one live Q&A at the very end of the course.

The HTTS Walkthough has weekly live chats. I wrote this post sometime after 1 a.m. this morning, I had been working since eight in the morning, and I got the details of the two courses mixed up. I apologize for the error.

The stand-alone price for the four-week course will be $97, and will include mindmap, lessons, videos of techniques I use while prepping to write Book III of the Moon & Sun series (with transcripts), step-by-step instructions, my own proven system for keeping a series tight and not letting quality degrade with subsequent books, series worksheets, the course completion Q & A, and more.

If you receive the course as your graduation gift for completing How To Revise Your Novel, it is, of course, free.


Starting March 7th, I’ll begin creating content for the first month of the long-awaited, long-delayed How To Think Sideways Walkthrough. There’s been a lot of speculation about the Walkthrough. So here’s what it it, and how it will work.

I have to get the third book of the Moon & Sun series done this year. The kids who want to read it have waited too long already. So for the walkthrough, I’m going week by week through my own Think Sideways process, building Book III while I document what I’m doing and why. Documentation will take the form of notes, screen shots, new Technique videos (with transcripts), and pdf mini-lessons where I think they’ll add value and give you something new and useful. (I learn something with every book I write. I don’t know what I’ll learn this time, but when I learn it, so will you.)

Each week I’ll also offer a VERY space-limited, first-come, first-serve video session where I’ll take questions from students about problems they’re having with that week’s lesson in relation to their current project, and I’ll use a whiteboard to brainstorm directions they can take with problems that are stalling their stories. There will be an additional charge for the live session. ALL students will receive these videos (plus MP3s and PDF transcripts) as part of their course, as quickly as I can upload each. (TRANSCRIPTS TAKE LONGER. I have to pay someone to do them, and the person I hire has to do each one by hand.)

Either way, you’ll learn how to troubleshoot problems with your story by seeing it done live, and hearing the back-and-forth discussion between the students in the live session and me.

Current students, students who join How To Think Sideways before March 1st, and course grads will all receive the walkthrough at no extra charge. The price of How To Think Sideways will go up on March 11th, when I upload the first new material, to reflect the added content. All students who join the course on March 11th or later will pay the new price.

April – September

The HTTS walkthrough, writing Moon & Sun Book 3, revising Book III, and sending it off to my agent.


Start the loooong-delayed Holly Lisle’s Create A World Clinic.


Finish Create A World Clinic and make it available through Novel-Writing School, and via Kindle, iBook, and Nook.


Off. I’m going to need it.

January 2012

Tax prep. Oh goodie.

…After that…

I’ll surprise you. I have some things already on the calendar. But it’s not full, so I’ll surprise me, too.


Because Rebel Tales now has full editors who have their full season guidelines posted, we’re now open for story submissions in a BIG way. Writers, I’ve made resources easier to find, and have made the query desk one clink from any page on the main site.


Join us in our quest to create a great new serialzine while bringing back the midlist, and to create writers who are making a living from their writing while writing great stories.

Ask questions here, let me know what you think.

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86 responses to “Courses, classes, and novel for 2011”

  1. Elizabeth Poole Avatar

    I am ecstatic to hear you’re feeling better. I was really worried about you for a while.

    I’ve read through your replies to other people’s comments, and I know you don’t want to postpone the courses you’ve promised (the HTRYN grad bonus, of which I am a grateful graduate, the Create a World Series), but make sure you take care of yourself first. Your loyal supporters like myself aren’t going anywhere. We know life happens, and your health is more important than receiving our grad bonus rightnowthisveryminute. πŸ˜€ It will come in time.

    I did have a question regarding the HTTS walkthrough: what is it? I actually haven’t heard about it yet. If at some point in the future you could go into more details about what the Walkthrough entails, I would be much obliged.

  2. Shelayne Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    As with everyone else here, I’m very happy to hear that you’re feeling better and seem to have identified a cause for the migraine problems. I’m glad you’re planning to take it a little easier this year. I’ll be wishing you a stress-light and pain-free 2011!

    I looked over the new Rebel Tales site and am extremely excited about the new season guidelines that are up. Question: How long will Rebel Tales be accepting submissions for the first seasons under the current issue themes and layouts? I have a story in the works that I think would be a good fit, but it’s at least a few months away from the finish line. What’s our time frame look like on this one? Any information would be a big help. Thanks a bunch, and take care!


    PS: In the glitches department, the links under the “home” button on the Rebel Tales website (about rebel tales, what is rebel tales, etc.) aren’t working for me when I click on them. Also, I submitted to Rebel Tales several months ago and was working with some of your sci fi editors at the time. Recently, one of them responded to a message of mine but I never received the alert e-mail for it (a week later, I received an e-mail for another message response, and only then found the initial response waiting for me along with the newer one I’d gotten the notification for). I’d received all the alert e-mails up until then with no issue, and have changed none of the settings on my e-mail account. Possible glitch from their end? Thought I’d let you know, as I’ve been relying on the alerts and it was scary to find out I’d missed one!

  3. Patti MH Avatar
    Patti MH

    Holly, Not to be forgotten in the quest to kill migraines (which I have suffered from for years), is posture when spending long, stressful, tiring hours at the keyboard. I discovered that when I ever-so-slightly tilt my head forward for any length of time while writing (etc), it puts excess strain on my neck muscles and I end up in agony all over again. Just thot I’d mention it in case it helps.

  4. Vanja Kovacic Avatar

    First of all, I am glad you are feeling better and I hope it lasts! Because your contribution to teaching the craft of writing is unparalleled and invaluable.

    And second of all, I’d like to thank you for the HTRYN graduation gift in advance. I’m currently on week 7 of the course (and lovin’ it, despite all the work), but I am revising part one of a series and I’m sure that your new course will really help me finish the second part.

    So thanks! And take care!

    – Vanja

  5. Michelle Avatar

    I hope this question is okay to ask. I submitted my story to Rebel Tales and never heard anything back about it. I just want to make sure it didn’t get lost in the shuffle somehow.

    1. Holly Avatar

      It has taken me until now to get the editors in place. Writers are now hearing one way or another about their stories.

      I apologize for the delay. My people were ready to go with requests and more last year. I wasn’t. The turn-around times at Rebel Tales are ALL on me.

  6. WandersNowhere Avatar

    Welcome back, Holly πŸ˜€

    Sounds like you’ve got the game plan on the table and are ready to go at it. I’m extremely excited for Create a Series (I believe the word is: YESSS!!!!) and of course for Rebel Tales! If I hadn’t queried already, I’d write something else and query that too. I’m really looking forward to the new courses, but really it’s just good to see you back doing the thing you love to do.

    On the headaches; you’ve probably thought of this, but how’s your lighting? I’m getting headaches and tired, strained eyes (sudden development of floaters in my left eye the optometrist assures me is just a sign of ageing – but I’m not even 30 yet) and I think I’ve traced the cause to the LUDICROUS number of fluorescent tubes every Japanese office, teacher’s room, classroom and even convenience store puts in the ceiling. There are 60 tubes in the ceiling of the room I’m sitting in right now alone. Excessive computer use makes my eyes feel tired and burned out, yes, but these fluros feel like needles in my retinas. I know your condition’s more related to the inner ear, but if your eyes give you any trouble, I’d be happy to pass on any good info I find in my new quest to preserve mine. Just let me know πŸ™‚

    Anyway, hugely excited about Create a World and Create a Series – Those are going to be very beneficial to my big series. I didn’t get far in my HTYRN revision of Book I because I was derailed by a sudden explosion of ideas for the next draft that I’ve written down, in some cases written out, and set aside until I know how to deal with them – resisting the urge to immediately write them into the first draft. Thanks to you I know better than that!

    But once I have some clearer goals for the series I think this will all collate into the final version. It has problems now. But I am slowly seeing solutions.

    Happy writing!

    – Chris

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’m having the same revision-writing issue as you with “Dreaming the Dead.” Over my vacation, I suddenly realized where I’d gone wrong with it, and what I needed to do to fix it—and fixing it (it’s sitting at 56K words right now) is essentially a massive rewrite of what’s already there, and the rest completely new. I permitted myself to let a huge Power Spiral creep in on the existing version (something I’ll go over in Create A Series) and it totally wrecked the book.

  7. Jessic@ Avatar

    Wow! What an amazing schedule for the year. I’m very excited about the series course and the create a world clinic, and Congratulations on getting Rebel Tales up and running. You’re such an inspiration.

    So glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Hopefully, the migranes will stay away.

  8. Tracy Avatar


    I’m glad to hear you’ve figured out what contributes to, or in this case causes, your illness, but I’m equally sorry to hear it’s something as unavoidable as work. I do hope you’re able to find a healthy balancing point where you can do the work you NEED to get done without suffering through all the negative symptoms. Notice the ‘need’ is in all capital letters, I’m a Type A personality too and I know what we think we have to do and what we really need to do are two very different things.

    I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors this year. I’m excited about all of them. I have a question though. Do you have a minimum contingency plan in case all of this becomes too much for you and you do have to take more down time? It might help to have a reasonable backup plan just in case so you don’t have the additional stress of feeling like you failed to meet your goals. Make writing your number one priority and put all of us on the back burner if need be. We love you and we love all the work you do on our behalf but we’d rather see you happy and healthy than going through the fires of hell because you think you owe us something. Our time will come. We can wait for it.

    Take care of you.


    1. Holly Avatar

      The minimum contingency plan would be to drop the Walkthrough delivery (and writing Moon & Sun III) to every OTHER week (taking a full year to deliver both), and postponing Create A World Clinic yet again.

      And if you read my e-mails, you would understand how much I don’t want to have to do that. Every week I get:

      • Questions about when the HTRYN bonus will be up
      • Questions about when the HTTS Walkthrough will be up
      • And questions about if I’m still going to do Create A World

      All of those were my plans for LAST year. I don’t want to postpone them any more.

  9. Irrevenant Avatar

    Firstly Holly, you rock. Period.

    I second what was said about having your spine looked at. I get headaches too, and though stress is the likely cause, tension in the neck and back is the primary delivery system. :/

    Have you considered adding a student wiki? That way students could chip in on things like transcripts as well as creating a resource of things like common issues and examples.

  10. Hanna Avatar

    Glad you are back. I can certainly relate. When I was not working, I was down to 1-2 migraines a month. Now that I am working again, I am back up to 20 or so. (I say migraine, because it takes a triptan to end the pain.) There is some research that the busier the brain, especially if problem solving and struggling, the more chance for migraines.

    I do not want to add to your already full list, but two things were not on your plan for the year, and I am curious if they have been tabled. Talysmana and WABWM ?

    My story revision got sidelined by holidays, long term guests and work. I am getting back to it this month. I need to do more research than I have time to do …

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’m hoping to be able to work Talysmana in later this year. WABWM will be available here as I work through Moon & Sun III…though I won’t be posting every day, so folks will have to click the category on the right if the current post drops off the page. That, too, will still hang fire for another month, until I actually start on the book.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    Glad to hear you’re back, if still not 100%. The year sounds fantastic. You are as always amazing and an inspiration. And, completely selfishly, yeah for Create a World!!!! We are so excited we do the dance of joy!

    And now… back to figuring out where my driveway is. I know it’s under all this white stuff somewhere…

    Take care of yourself Holly! We love you and want you here in whatever capacity.

  12. Kevin O. McLaughlin Avatar

    Sounds fun and exciting! I’m glad you’re back on your feet, and I hope the planning helps you stay that way.

    Of course, as one of those HTRYN grads, I’m especially thrilled about the upcoming Series course. πŸ˜‰ Really looking forward to that!

  13. Jennifer Avatar

    I’m sorry to hear about the headaches and vertigo returning. At least you have an idea of what’s contributing to them. I understand. I’m dealing with a work related stress illness. I hope you feel better soon and hope also that you’re able to figure out a way to alleviate the tension.

    Your year looks very full and very promising! The How to Write a Series course is one I will be checking in on in the future. Excellent calendar of events! That’s also great news about Rebel Tales. I look forward to hearing more and submitting some tales in the near future πŸ™‚

    All the best,

  14. Lewinna Avatar

    I have been very busy and stressed and the other day, I walked into work and someone had left a CD playing. Immediately I began to feel incredibly soothed–I lay down on the couch and didn’t get up for 15 minutes or so (on my shift!). Yet when I got up I got everything done with time to spare, and felt at peace and within myself. I’ve dabbled a lot in sound healing in my day (used to play in nursing homes and whatnot, and have played with toning, modes, and crystal bowls) but have been out of it for a long time. I’m studying massage therapy now and thought I would pick up that CD to use for giving massages, I found its effects so profound on my functioning.

    It was called ‘Chakra Suite’ by Steven Halpern. I also found this article on his website that I thought was really good:

    1. Holly Avatar

      I love music. Unfortunately, one of the side effects I’m having with BPPV is discomfort in my right ear—the ear where the rocks are loose.

      I can’t stand to listen to music when I have vertigo—it stops sounding like music and starts sounding like noise. Which sucks.

      1. Lewinna Avatar

        Oh that’s too bad!

        The music on the CD wasn’t ‘music’ exactly… almost it was just tones, very simple and precise. My understanding of the way we interpret music in our brains has a lot to do with patterns of rhythm, melody, etc. This music (from what I read) seems designed not to make patterns in our brain but to retune the body and energy itself, kind of bypassing the brain in that sense.

        But I don’t know how that would relate to sounding like noise–it might be just the same for you as any other kind of music, and be unbearable.

        In any case I really do hope that you find a good balance that works for you! πŸ™‚ Best of luck with that!!

        1. Holly Avatar

          I can’t even listen to Clapton playing acoustic guitar with no vocals—my previous go-to music when stressed. When THAT sounds like noise, things are bad.

  15. Olga Avatar

    Hope this year will be less stressful and consequently less painful for you. It’s good to see you’re back and with such an impressive plan. I was wondering though – what’s going to happen with TalysMana this year? I haven’t seen any new chapters since #25 “Will Call” and have been wondering ever since what happens next. Thanks!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Talysmana is still on hiatus—now because of me rather than Becky. Once I’m past How To Write A Series, things will slow down for me, and I hope to get back to the daily 250-500 words on it. But that’s not going to happen this month. This month is NOTHING but Series.

  16. Texanne Avatar


    A video of the Hallelujah Chorus would look nice here.

    I always ROFL whenever a doctor tells me something isn’t stress induced. Everything is stress induced, including all the good things about civilization. πŸ™‚

    PS: Has Rebel Tales been opened to submissions from outside writers yet?

    1. Holly Avatar

      I laugh, too. Stress is my #1 thing. I HAVE to have a certain level just to be happy.

      And on Rebel Tales, GOD yes! We’re looking for stories NOW, and we’re open to all writers. And it’s a paying market. Please please please query.

  17. Layren Avatar

    Hey Holly, I’m so glad that you’re feeling better! I’ve been wondering how your health has been holding up and since you disabled the other e-mail I had due to spam, I didn’t have a good way to e-mail you to check. I’m so excited about the Series course and the Create A World. πŸ˜€ I have really enjoyed all of your courses and gotten a lot of bang for my buck with them. πŸ˜€ When I sell my first book, I’ll be happy to give you a testimonial if you need one. πŸ™‚

  18. Sarah Avatar

    This is wonderful to hear! I wrote what I thought was the prequel to my historical novel this year, then began to think it might be a trilogy– and have now realized it’s going to be a series. Great timing! πŸ™‚ Too bad I won’t be done with the course so can’t participate in the live program– but will be look forward to finishing and getting guidance on my series.

    Take care of yourself!

  19. Doran Avatar

    Hi Holly, looks as though you have put together quite an accomplished year. Bravo to you!! Just do not overwork yourself. Sorry to see the headaches and vertigo come back. Pace yourself and give yourself R&R time. Your health is too important. Thanks for all your effort and good information.

  20. Muriel Avatar

    I’m so glad to see you back…I only wish you were 100% better. I’ll tell you, I suffer from debilitating migraines also. I certainly know what it is to have them back to back until the pain has taken all the strength from your body. I went through 3 years of trying different medications (what an expense,) until my neurologist finally put me on a painkilling nasal spray. It works wonderfully, but it knocks me out for about 8 hrs….what a tradeoff, but I’ll take sleep over that kind of pain any day. I have found that the older I get, the more migraines I am having and their intensity is increasing…not a fun way to live. So, I know what you’re going through and I am so sorry. I cannot imagine having vertigo on top of the pain.

    I can’t wait for the Create A World clinic!!
    Take care

    1. Holly Avatar

      I won’t go the meds route with the migraines.

      I’ve had very bad experiences with prescription medications and my creativity level, so I take aspirin and Tylenol in carefully regulated doses, grit my teeth, and sleep when I can’t do anything else.

  21. Allen Avatar

    Holly – first, it’s so great to see you back! We’ve missed your presence here and in the forums.
    Second, I am really excited to see that the third Moon and Sun book is being worked on. That’s a great world and I’m sure kids all over will be happy to get a chance to revisit it. Will the Walkthrough address any differences between writing a first novel and doing a third book in an existing series (in regards to the HTTS process)? Or is everything so similar is doesn’t matter?

    Again, it really is great to hear you’re back up and running.

    @clauda c The entry under February says: “I’m doing the new stand-alone course How To Write A Series (which will also be the free graduation bonus for How To Revise Your Novel students who complete the course).” So it will be both a stand-alone and a bonus for HTRYN students.

    1. claudia c Avatar
      claudia c

      oh, ok! Yeah, i see that,Allen, thanks. i just kinda freaked out because on another post i think i read that she starts today, but iΒ΄m not sure if the course starts today or she starts writing it today…

      1. Shayne Avatar

        Claudia, Holly said that she’s starting to write it today, and it will be available on February 7th.

  22. Rachel Avatar

    Holly – Have you tried DragonSpeak? It’s a software that transcribes what you say as you say it. It has some glitches, but mostly catches everything. With a little editing afterwards, I think it’s useful. Then you would just have to pay one time to purchase the software and recieve the transcription as you’re conducting the live Q and A.

    Just a thought (:


    1. Holly Avatar

      Hadn’t considered it, and will look into it. Thanks for the info.

  23. Prue Avatar

    Sounds great Holly! Good to see you up and doing πŸ™‚
    Following your ‘Walkthrough’ will be a blast.
    I hope you can take time out to do a few relaxation exercises when the fun goes out of things, to keep those headaches/migraines/ at bay.
    Either that, or do a Mary Poppins and find a way to turn everything into fun…if you work out how, please share! πŸ˜€
    Have a good year and look after yourself.

  24. Cindi Avatar

    VERY happy to hear you’re healthy again — but I agree with Nicki: is there any way you can either isolate what part of work is causing the migraines and vertigo (you’ve probably checked this out but, could it be that you need glasses or glare-free screens or something?) or better balance work and fun so that you don’t have to pay for your work with physical problems?

    As for the new stuff on the site for us — hooray, Hooray, HOORAY!!! Thank you for thinking of us while dealing with health issues and taxes!

    Write with joy!

    1. Holly Avatar

      [blockquote]is there any way you can either isolate what part of work is causing the migraines and vertigo[/blockquote]

      Probably. But if I lock me in a padded room and prevent me think really hard for long periods of time, I’m never going to get anything done. πŸ˜€

      I am my own problem—after having ruled out everything else, what I love to do most is most of the cause of my pain. Cranky people and pain-in-the-ass software issues don’t help, but at the core, I have chosen a life that requires tremendously focused thought for long stretches, and the harder I push my brain, the more it pushes back.

  25. claudia c Avatar
    claudia c

    Sorry, here I am again..the thing is i canΒ΄t seem to find how to get access to the Series course. Help please!

  26. Anne Lyle Avatar

    Glad to hear you’ve found a way to keep the migraines under control, and I hope you continue to have fun with your work!

    I’m looking forward to the HTRYN bonus course with bated breath. I’ve just sent out the full ms of my HTRYN project to a publisher and agent who were both interested in it; the former wants a synopsis of a sequel to present to his marketing team, and the latter asked for some idea about “books two and three of this series”, so the series course couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me! *lol*

    1. Holly Avatar

      Huge good luck. I know how hard you’ve worked getting that enormous book revised, and I hope with everything I have that it blows the agent and the publisher away.

      I won’t let you down on the course. You’ll have the part YOU need in Week One.

  27. clauda c Avatar
    clauda c

    Hold on…do you mean that the write a series course will ONLY be offered to those who have done the Write a Novel course? You mean we wonΒ΄t be able to get it as a stand alone???

    1. Holly Avatar

      No. That’s not what I mean at all. The identical course will be offered as a stand-alone and as a graduation gift.

      The stand-alone will be available on when it goes live, and will cost $97 for the four-week course.

      The graduation bonus will be available to every How To Revise Your Novel student on on his or her completion of the regular course. Which means, at the end of five months of lessons.

  28. Charlotte Avatar

    Holly – so sorry you haven’t been well. My 2 cents. Hire an accountant, have your eyes checked if you haven’t recently and join a yoga class – great for headaches and all kinds of stress. Feel better.

    1. Holly Avatar

      LOL! I have the best accountant on the planet. I want to be nice to him so he’ll keep me as a client. So I spend several weeks a year organizing all my receipts and other documentation, mileage, proof of income, and other documentation into big ring-bound notebooks. This year’s documentation took several reams of printer paper, two four-inch binders, two two-inch binders, and a big records box with hanging files.

      If I just walked in with that much loose paper, he’d die. And I can’t have that.

      Eyes are okay. I row, do push-ups and V-ups and other body-weight exercises 3 out of every four days. I eat well, don’t drink or smoke or do drugs or anything else that would damage me.

      I’m really quite healthy. I’m just a Type A personality, and stress gets me.

  29. Vanessa Avatar

    Holly, reading your blogs is a little like watching the Die Hard movies…

    I’m sorry that stress seems to set off the migraines…try to treat yourself the way you would treat someone else who has dealt with the year you’ve had, and don’t push too hard.

    1. Holly Avatar

      The thing I love about John McClane is that he always does the right thing, and in spite of repeatedly getting the shit kicked out of him, he doesn’t quit, he doesn’t back down, and he doesn’t compromise. Oh, and in the end, he wins. He’s a great character.

      I’d take him as a role model any day.

  30. Paul Williams Avatar

    Hey Holly,

    I guess being a former medical practitioner you know about the Eply manoeuvre to relieve the symptoms of BPPV? Link here: for a video explaining a bit about it if not.

    I too am worried about you, you’ve done so much for all of us over many years and deserve much better. The karmic balance must be touching the floor on your side of the fulcrum. There’s a lot of goodwill and fondness for you out here, from total strangers too. Gee, how about that? πŸ™‚ I even had a dream once where I won the best screenplay Oscar and my parents understood when I thanked you ahead of them in my acceptance speech πŸ˜‰

    Outsource as much as possible. I’d be happy to do transcription for you, what would it be, a couple of hours per week? My way of saying thanks for all your systems, solutions, insights and trailblazing. But seriously, outsource as much as possible.

    Your schedule sounds great, and I can start allocating some money towards your courses now that I know they are in the pipeline.

    Moon & Sun III – maybe video blogging every so often would be an option, so you could talk to camera and not worry about writing. I’ll only let you do this if you promise to relax and enjoy it and not try to put out polished professional videos. Just you, in your hair curlers, talking to yourself, would be more than fine.

    It’s curious though, that something physical manifests itself in your body when the fun stops. I notice posture changes and tension shifts in my body when I am stressed, and one of these days I will allocate some time to learning how to sit in a healthier way when working at a computer. I just keep thinking that I am too busy to do it yet, but I guess one of these days my body will force me to take a holiday.

    Talking of taking a holiday… if you ever take a break and holiday over to the UK (and Wales especially), we’ll show you a magnificent time and we promise not to talk about writing stuff except in an inspiring and uplifting sort of way. Plus you’ll return recharged, refreshed, and able to write about rain and lush green landscapes in ways you only dreamed about before πŸ™‚ You know, like the Eskimo languages are supposed to have 24 words for snow, so do we for rain: rain, bloodyrain, morebloodyrain etc. Anyway, the thought of taking time out for a holiday might stress you out, so do whatever you have to do in order to be blissfully happy.

    Best wishes,


    1. Holly Avatar

      I do the Eply stuff a few times a day. It really does seem to help.

      I hope you get that Oscar, too—and it was a very cool dream. Thank you for the mention. πŸ˜€

      I’m not a believer in karma…but even if I were, I’d have to say karma has been working in my favor all along—in a weird and twisted way. If I had not had to live through awfulness at so many different times in my life, what would I have found to write about?

      Seriously. Everyone else on the planet can bitch when disaster strikes. The writer who isn’t—in the back of his mind—simultaneously suffering and thinking “how am I going to use this in a book” isn’t a writer. Might someday become one, but isn’t one yet.

      And one of my life goals is to get to England. Has been since I was seven, and my parents promised to take me to a castle if I learned to walk again after I cut my Achilles tendon in two. (The doctor who fixed the tendon told them I might not, and getting walking back hurt like hell, but I did it.) They took me to a magnificent estate in Ohio, which I loved, but which was not the castle I had in my mind.

      I’ll get to England someday.

  31. Laura B. Avatar
    Laura B.

    So very glad you’re back and feeling good! Was worried about you and definitely missed your presence.

    Many of us compromise so much on the side of security when we settle on work that will support us, that the road to a different life seems like an insurmountable task or hard to even imagine. (I’m approaching retirement and thinking much about the direction I now want my life to take and FUN certainly is a major focus.) Hate that you suffered over this issue; appreciate that you are–once again–a role model for something important!


  32. driftsmoke Avatar

    I’m glad to see you’re back. Reading what you have to say makes me smarter in both my writing and my life. The series course looks fantastic. You always give such a good value for the money. I can’t wait to see how all this stuff (videos, chats) is going to work. πŸ˜€

  33. Stephanie Avatar

    Glad to hear you’re figuring out the headache stuff, and hope you can make it go away permanently!

    The year sounds exciting. I’m particularly looking forward to the create a year clinic.

    Thanks, and take good care of yourself!

  34. Lucca Avatar


    I MISSED YOU DEARLY!! I will join you writing a book myself, it will be a pleasure πŸ˜€
    Regarding the HTRYN bonus, I am waiting anxiously to start with that.

    What about the HTRYN Lite with the add-ons of the course? Just to know, if you don’t mention it I guess is off or maybe I am lost on this.

    I truly hope you have a 2011 filled with joy, fun and health.
    A fat hug from sunny Madrid,

  35. claudia c Avatar
    claudia c

    Sorry to hear youΒ΄re having health problems. HereΒ΄s my two cents: get a good massage. Headaches, especially bad ones, can come from having a bad strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.
    Now I once had really really bad headaches and vertigo together–turns out it was salmonella, that had crept up to my brain. So maybe you should check into that as well.

    Anyway, i am looking forward sooooo much tot he series course! CanΒ΄t wait. iΒ΄ve been seraaching for something like that for a while now, so thanks Holly.

    Stay strong!

  36. Reese Avatar


    I am glad that you are feeling better!

    Question, I took the How to Revise class last year. I was wondering if I will be able to take take the Series class as a stand alone?

    Thank you and stay well!

    1. Holly Avatar

      You could take the course as a stand-alone, but I don’t know why you’d want to, because you’d have to pay to get it.

      And because you’ve already graduated HTRYN, you’ll have the course automatically show up on those annoying blank pages that have been hanging fire between lessons 23 and 26 on your class page, on the same dates and at pretty much the same time as it shows up in the stand-alone version.

      Finally, as a graduate, you’ll have the same access to the live event at the end as the folks who pay for the stand-alone version.

      Folks who are just starting HTRYN and want to receive the course for free will have to wait until they graduate to get it, and I won’t be doing other live events for it this year, so they’ll get the videos, but not an opportunity to get a ticket.

      The course is ONLY available for free as a graduation gift from me, and such, it’s only for graduates of HTRYN. Like you. πŸ˜€

  37. francesca Avatar

    Hi, I so hope you are feeling better.
    have they found the cause for your vertigo?
    I ask because I also suffer from vertigo and am a writer.
    all best, f

  38. Melissah Avatar

    You obviously need more cake and icecream.

    Welcome back.

  39. Dean Kutzler Avatar

    I’m looking forward to delving into your course-btw.

    Just a quick note about your health… I’ve had experience with headaches and vertigo while working on the computer. The computer screen, even though we cannot see it, is constantly moving, vibrating, humming per se, and your brain sub-consciously picks up on it and this can cause the headaches and vertigo you’ve been unfortunate to endure. After reading your post in which you said it had started again after you went back to work, it seems that it may have been the invisible movement of the screen and the stress that has been causing your problem. It might be worth mentioning to your doctor. I’ve also noticed that taking medicine (vicodin) after a lovely tooth extraction, caused the same sense of vertigo as well..

    Feel better! And OH! Thanks for the great material and courses..

    1. Holly Avatar

      In my case the vertigo is BPPV—benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Believe me, I did the doctor thang in a big way last year, because what we first thought it was was either a brain aneurysm or a brain tumor.

      I’m mostly okay. Just showing the wear and tear of being fifty.

  40. MadisonP Avatar

    Good grief!

    Holly, while I and others really appreciate all you do, please please don’t feel compelled to take on the extra work. I can’t imagine writing a book and having to blog it every day PLUS answer questions. That seems like it could be quite “work-and-stress” inducing. NO work and stress is worth your health. So if it gets too much, please know we care about YOU more than all that “other stuff” and to take it easy so you can stay healthy.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’m not going to blog every day on the writing of Moon & Sun III. Along with everything else, that WOULD be nuts.

      The documentation will come in the shape of five-minute videos when I hit turning points or do something I know students need to see and understand, or come up with a new solution to an old problem. I have my transcriber on notice, and high-quality backups I’ve worked with before that I can contact in an emergency in case my main source gets busy.

  41. Dusty Avatar

    I was thinking of your Create-a-World clinic just yesterday, actually! I was wondering if it was still in the works. πŸ™‚

    I hope you do more eBooks. I’m glad to see all the classes coming out, but I’ve always been an eBook person who works through things on her own time. I hope you do more of them.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I have a lot more outlined and planned. Just not THIS year. {g}

  42. Alexa Avatar

    Holly, I am in awe! I can barely organise the next month let alone the year! I tip my hat to you in utter admiration.

    Hope the headaches get better – I get migraines rarely but when I do end up in a dark room, under a cover, wimpering to myself. I’d hope that a doctor has already suggested this but have you had your eyes checked? That can cause excrutiating headaches if you need glasses or a different prescription.

  43. Lauren Avatar

    Most importantly: get better! I don’t have any wisdom on this, just a wish for your recovery.

    In response to the cool stuff: Huzzah! I’ve been hoping you’d do something like this. I really enjoyed your page-turning-scenes, and I’ve been thinking of taking your how-to-revise-your-novel course for a while now. Since my six months of unemployment is finally over, I might just reward myself with a little something from your site…

    Take care (No, really),

  44. Danzier Avatar

    (shocked and amazed face)
    Holly, do you always plan out your year like that?!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Yes. I always do. Actually, I plan about a year-and-a-half ahead.

      Some years the plan works out better than others, because some years I remember to plan LESS than I think I can do, and thus accomplish everything. Whereas many years, I plan for Super-Holly to show up with her time-travel abilities and give me forty-eight work hours a day…and the bitch hasn’t shown up yet. πŸ˜‰

      It’s a pretty simple system, actually. I use 18 pages in a 7″x5″ notebook, write the name of each month at the top of the page, and write down what I want to accomplish in that month, figuring to the best of my ability the hours it will take to accomplish each task vs. the hours I actually have available.

      Some years, I hit. Some years I miss. And last year I just got blindsided.

      1. Elilura Avatar

        I think I might try this. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  45. klharrds Avatar

    Great to see you’re back Holly. I hope you can find a balance between work and rest to beat the migraines.

    Both the new freebies for HTRN and HTTS Grads sound great.

    I am really looking forward to Rebel Tales getting up and running. I recently re-read Solaris after years and years and it has me in the mood for some good short (ish) science fiction.

  46. Nicki Savantes Avatar

    Hi Holly,
    Awesome things in the pipeline for us, yay!
    Thinking about your health: if the holidays made headaches, vertigo etc. disappear and work made them come back, I’m wondering if you could get a more precise handle on this (if it’s only certain aspects or types of work (or deadlines?) which cause unpleasantness). I’m saying this because for me it’s only a certain type of thinking that causes migraines (inner conflict between “want” and “should”). Perhaps you could do something akin to allergy testing, like *not* do a certain type of work for a week and see if there is any change in the symptoms? Maybe there are ways to delegate or share the less pleasant parts, or it might be worth spending some time on to see if you can tweek them to your greater satisfaction?
    Thank you for consistently inventing and delivering stuff that exceeds my expectations!
    All the best,

  47. Julian Adorney Avatar
    Julian Adorney

    Glad you’re back on your feet, Holly! We were worried about you.

    The new year schedule sounds amazing. I’m consistently in awe that you can a) plan out an entire year, and b) write a novel in 6 months while also doing a full-blown HTTS walkthrough. You’re an inspiration.

    I got 556 words tonight. Not great, but its just first draft. Also, I thought of a potentially cool plot twist that’ll add more depth and meaning to the story.

  48. Cat (from HtTS) Avatar

    Don’t do too much. Take some time to relax, too.
    Me, I’ll query Rebel Tales as soon as my last full-request is answered (out for a year now, maybe that’s an answer in itself πŸ˜‰ ). Also, I’m half way through my NaNo-manuscript’s revision, in case you wonder. Glas to see you back on your feet.

  49. Johanna Avatar

    You’ve probably already looked into this, but I worry about you and feel like I should mention it — is there any chance your migraines are related to prolonged exposure to a computer screen, or were you able to use the computer for long periods of time during your break without any problem?

    By the way, I also suffer from chronic headaches (though no where near as bad as yours sound) because of stress. At least, that’s the assumption because they couldn’t find any other reason. Hang in there!

    1. Holly Avatar

      πŸ˜€ I’ve used computers for as long as seventeen hours at a stretch without the least headache. I’m doing things I think are fun when I do that, though—writing courses and novels, fiddling with my websites.

      The headaches start when things get not fun. I’m hoping that by doing what I like and not pushing myself too hard (and believe me, compared to the schedules on which I created Think Sideways and How To Revise Your Novel, this is a pretty sane workload) I’ll be able to stay functional.

      And if the headaches and the vertigo linger? Or get worse? Then I go back to Point A. A girl’s gotta eat. I’ll deal with it. At least various doctors and I have now thoroughly ruled out dying of something pernicious and awful.

      1. Carol Englehaupt Avatar
        Carol Englehaupt

        As a long-term migraine sufferer the best treatment I’ve gotten is from chiropractic. I found out that tension and eye strain can pull the C1 vertabrae out of place triggering excruciating pain. Regular chiropractic adjustment and massage therapy on my scalp have almost completely eliminated the severe migraine attacks that I used to get. I figure you’ve probably already explored this but just in case you haven’t I thought I’d mention treatment that helped me. It’s surprising to me how tight and painful the muscles in the scalp can be.

  50. Valerie Avatar

    First and foremost — I really hope you start to consistently feel better! That aside, I just wanted to say that I am very excited for the Create a World Clinic. πŸ™‚

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