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.

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

86 comments… add one
  • Cathryn Blair-Bennett Jun 14, 2011 @ 0:06

    You mentioned Rebel Tales is up again. Will my original userID and password work or do I need to start over? I am very glad to hear it is up again!

  • Bill F Feb 10, 2011 @ 3:57

    I read your blog and zeroed in on the list of ailments you mentioned. I too suffer from the constant migraines and stress induced pains. Someone recently gave me a book titled, “Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James L. Wilson M.D. and it thankfully is written for the layperson. The symptoms you described match what I’ve read and I wanted to recommend the book to you as well.

    I know you probably have a mountain of books yet to read on your list but this one is for your well-being. It talks about healthy ways to get back the energy from an exhausted adrenal gland caused by stress from work, family, evil imposters (Kate Ferreri), and taxes. In other words… life. I found it educational and thought it may help you as well. I am an eternal skeptic of self-help books but this had potential.

    As everyone else has already said, I hope you feel better.

  • Janet Feb 7, 2011 @ 19:59

    On the writing front, very excited about How To Write a Series.

    So sorry to hear that the migraines and vertigo are still bothering you. I’ve been plagued by migraines for many years, but recently got diagnosed with another related problem that might be relevant to you – occipital neuralgia. Tense neck and shoulder muscles compress the occipital nerve at the base of the neck, which sends shooting pain into my head. It feels just like a migraine – even has light and sound sensitivity. Pain meds don’t work well on it. Working in front of the computer brings it on for me – also seating position, overwork in general. According to my neurologist, occipital neuralgia is often undiagnosed in patients who also have migraines because it can be hard to patients to tell the difference. Just wanted to mention it in case – its one of those things they can actually help if they figure it out 😉 I’ve gotten much better in a short time with physical therapy and moderating my workload.

    Also, since you mention above that you don’t like taking meds (me neither), you might want to know that there are several supplements for migraines that work pretty well at reducing the frequency and severity of attacks. These are all supplements tested in double-blind, placebo controlled studies in major medical journals. I take Petadolex (butterbur), Migrelief (feverfew, B-2, and Magnesium) and CoEnzyme Q-10. My neurologist has me on all of these (he’s a pretty forward thinking guy.) You might want to ask your doctor about them. I have no side effects from any of them. The migraines have gone down in frequency since I’ve been on these supplements. A bit pricey to take them all, but so far I’m liking them better than the meds.

  • Jean Delaney Feb 6, 2011 @ 19:09

    Since your vertigo and migraines resolved with “rest” from your work consider that the lighting in your workspace is insufficent or incorrect color temp for your eyes or flickering at a rate that upsets your nervous system. Another possibility is that your monitor(s) are part of the problem. See an ophthamologist.

    A week of headaches that started when I had been at work for about 20 minutes and resolved during my drive home sent me to have my eyes checked. Result was bifocals at age 22 but no more headaches.

    Good luck

  • Lynda Miller Feb 5, 2011 @ 18:17

    I have been blesses with migraines all my life! I do know that stress, work, etc. can set them off. But, also cold weather and other things. Glad that you are better.

  • DaltonLynne Feb 5, 2011 @ 2:52

    I’m not done with HTRYN (in fact, I’m still working through HTTS, though I *have* completed my novel); will the bonus course be available indefinitely, or is there a time limit?

  • Gloria Nesbitt Feb 4, 2011 @ 20:52

    Holly, due to a computer problem I have lost the links to the HTRYN and HTTS classrooms and bookstore. I wondered if you could resend them to me?

  • Jeanette Feb 4, 2011 @ 12:26

    Hi Holly,

    Hope you feel better soon! Also, I just wanted to thank you for your “Writer’s Tip” emails. I just got the one about setting reachable goals and BOY does it apply to me. I have a list of goals on my white board at home, all due by the end of February and only one crossed out. When I’m “on”, I think the pace is sustainable and set a flurry of unreachable goals. Then I hit the hard stretches and wonder what I was thinking! Anyway, I’m going to start doing little chunks and setting goals in the quiet periods so they’re more realistic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.