My Mistake, Your Gain–A Fun Drawing for 10 Free Memberships

My newsletter introducing the workshop I’m teaching for [LINK CORRECTED] started like this:


In the midst of my current insane seventy-hour-a-week work schedule, I got this crazy question.

It was “How would you like to do a free writing workshop for our

Now, in most cases, the answer to the question “How would you like to add about 70 to 100 more hours to your workload and not get paid for it?” would be “Not very much!”

In this case, though, I found two reasons that made me say yes…

And on my writing diary while making the same announcement, I said:


I’m not an affiliate of I’m not making a dime from the workshop, nor will I receive any payment for recommending the site.

I’m doing this because I think it will be fun, and interesting, and challenging, and because it will let me meet some new folks.

And then Sharon, my primary liaison for the workshop, sent me a happy e-mail about how many people had signed up (231 the last I heard), and she told me I’d be getting some money.

To which I said, “I honestly didn’t know I was supposed to get any sort of compensation. The long e-mail I sent out and my blog post both made it clear that I WASN’T being compensated.

“So as nice as the money would be, I’ll have to turn it down. Use it for something cool. :D”

Her idea of cool was, why don’t I give it to ten of you as paid memberships for one year to

And I agreed that would be pretty cool.



If you’d like to win a year’s membership to, just post here. Let me know the MOST USEFUL THING you’ve learned from my website, this weblog, or any of my courses.

That’s it. If you do that, you’re eligible in the drawing.

I’ll do the drawings NEXT WEDNESDAY (FEBRUARY 24th), which will give folks a LITTLE time to reply, and winners enough time to attend some of the workshops this year.

I’ll announce the winners on this writing diary.

[A NOTE: I am reading these entries. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. If you attempt to use this contest to claim that I recommended a product I have never even heard of, I will delete your entry and block you from the site. I don’t tolerate spam. I have deleted one entry so far.]

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444 responses to “My Mistake, Your Gain–A Fun Drawing for 10 Free Memberships”

  1. Gabby Avatar

    When you say deleted, I hope you don’t mean mine. I can’t seem to find it but I don’t think I put anything bad in there.

    My favorite things that I have learned are plotting with the notecards and “you can’t edit a blank page”. Also just in general ‘write something every day.’ They’ve all made a big difference in my writing. I’m working to finish my first novel.

    1. Gabby Avatar

      Oh, sorry Holly. I’ve never seen multiple pages of comments before. Please go ahead and delete these duplicates. Sorry about that!

  2. Anne S Avatar
    Anne S

    The most useful thing I have learned form you is to HAMMER YOUR HERO and keep hammering him until near the end of the book when you can solve the problems.
    I had been going too easy on my hero and rescuing him TOO SOON.

  3. Danila Avatar

    I’ve learned a lot but I believe the most important thing was how to create characters. Before you happened to me I would have been lucky if my characters ended with the personality of burnt toast. I learned that there is more to creating a character than just appearance and personality traits.

  4. Robin Smith Avatar
    Robin Smith

    Hi Holly,
    I am simply amazed at your writing genuis. Honestly I can’t pick just one thing. Your delivery is clear and concise, be it from “Building a Plot” to “Creating Characters” To alllowing your”Iinner Muse” to guide you to your place of “Creation”. Educating “Holly Style” as well as listening and believing in your own possibilities, comes with it’s own rewards. You offer wisdon, support and encouragement to those who hunger to feast on Publishing. Though I still have a lot of Holly “Favs” to catch up on. I’m still in awe of your ” Story Building Techniques” The way you weave everything together effortlessly, (or though it seems) At every chance i’m telling writers to check out “Holly Lisle” For you are a forum of useful information. I’ve passionately decided that 2010 will be my year for publishing. I will be that ugly duckling turning beautiful before my very eyes, as I capture the dreams of my heart. Writing is orgasmic in more ways than one. Seduction begins at the point of desire. Though not deserving I would be honored to receive placement with SaavyAuthors. Holly, I live by one simple rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” I fiqure if you live by that simple quote, you can’t go wrong. Well Holly, you have served many people well, giving of your time and knowledge and to that I say thank you. And to you, I am most grateful.

    (Copied from entry in wrong topic)

  5. N Daniel Avatar
    N Daniel

    I’ve learned that I’m neither as strange or alone as I previously thought. You allowed me to take up my pen again and think of myself as a writer, and renewed my long lost hope that eventually I might become a published author. You let me know that it is ok to write the stories running around in my head down even if they never see the light of day. You gave me a sort of mentor. Thanks.

  6. Val Avatar

    I think the most important thing I’ve learned has been through the “How To Revise Your Novel” class. I had such a hard time writing the drafts of my novels because I would see broken pieces, know they were broken, and not understand how to fix them. It would be really depressing as I kept re-starting novels, not really sure there was anything else to do. And this course has shown me a better way, empowered me to just write straight through a draft because I know I CAN fix and tie everything together on the other side.

    Thank you.

  7. Alice Avatar

    Hi everyone,
    I just keep learning new things all the time. Everything you write Holly, I read and I begin to see other ways of being and doing. What an eye opener. If your missionin part is to offer hope to people who have walked in your shoes, ( I have in many ways) you’re doing it well.

    Writing isn’t just about writing well. Writing is about living well too.

    What is it they say? Ah yes,

    “When the student is ready the teacher appears”

    I’ve got a new WIP along with all this poetry Who knew?). I’m looking at my revision of ” I Like Red ” with something other than a jaundiced eye . Things ae looking up . Whew!

    Thanks again Teach… LOL , Alice

    Ps Am loving TalysMana. It’s like a parable, a teaching story built around the art of creation and the responsiiblities that go with itt.
    It’s good to watch to your first draft unfold. I’ll be buying a copy when it’s officially out on the shelves

  8. Keyera Ronning Avatar
    Keyera Ronning

    Gosh, I’ve learned SO much from you, it’s hard to decide. But I think the MOST important things I’ve learned so far are that writing takes dedication, and how to create believable characters. My characters always used to be what a lot of people call Mary Sues – perfect no matter what I did to try changing them. But reading your character workshop really helped me fix that. I’ve noticed a drastic change in my characters now and before I found your site, and to be honest its frightening. I never realized how disturbingly perfect my characters were. The characters I have now are well-liked by everyone who reads my stories, and my confidence is way up. Even if I don’t win this contest, I love your site and it’s the best site I’ve ever been to. Thank you so much, Holly.

  9. Ivye Avatar

    It’s hard to choose, actually, but perhaps the best things was when I started to discover that maybe I could try to trust that wild, sulky, unmanageable being, my muse, and play with it a bit. I confess I was very much the sceptic, at first, but then it all started to work in many unexpected ways, and it gave me back the joy and thrill of writing!

  10. Eric Avatar

    The one thing that I have found most useful on your site is that I can dare to dream. As a young writer, I sometimes feel intimidated by those who have gone on before. Every time I sit at my computer and attempt to write, I feel as if the giants of the past are glaring at me. Thoughts like “You have to make sure your grammar is correct!” and “You can’t write that! What will your audience think? That is so unrealistic!” bombard my mind.

    Thanks to you I have found ways to compensate for my mistakes and still seek the worlds that I have found only in my imagination. Your work has helped free me from my enslavement to the ever present opinions of “those people” who always tell us what can or cannot be done, yet never have a name.

    Thank you Holy.

  11. Amy Avatar

    The most useful thing I’ve learned from your site is that the writing life is actually possible.

    Yes, I actually knew that before. But I’m not sure I really believed it. I think I’ve had a perception of writers as either being unbelievable wordcount generating machines who just have brilliant ideas fall out of their minds and onto paper; or as slightly spoiled and privileged people who are independently wealthy, have nothing but time on their hands, and don’t have to earn an actual living; or as moderately insane reclusives who have no life except in their own imaginations, which they dump into the pages of their books.

    Maybe each of these perceptions has a certain amount of merit, but you strike me as a pretty normal person (in a good way) whose ordinary life struggles didn’t keep you from pursuing your dream, working hard at it, and creating a life as a real working writer. Honestly, I’m impressed. And it makes me think that just maybe, if I work hard at it, I can create that life for myself too.

    It’s a genuine revelation.

  12. Bugboy Avatar

    Hi, Holly. I’ve learned from your wonderful emails how to plot, but also, more importantly, how to hope. I love your signature – write with joy. Thank you for all the time and love you put into your work.

  13. Rex Winberg Avatar
    Rex Winberg

    HTTS was much more than a writing course, it has actually greatly improved my self examination and reasons for what I do in daily life. How often does a writing course dramatically change your life? I dont know about the other graduates, but it is the best course I have ever taken.

  14. Katie Avatar

    I’ve learned to just keep going. No matter what’s going on in my life, or the world, or if I feel ‘inspired’ or not-the most important thing is to just keep writing.

  15. Sara Carrero Avatar
    Sara Carrero

    I think that this is going to be weird, but i´m not from USA, i am from a southamerican country called Venezuela, i’m 20 years old, i speak spanish not english as a prime language, i learned english when i was 15 years old, and i write since then, i’ve never wrote in english, i don’t know how to make my ideas flow in this language as much as they do in spanish, i’m always afraid to make a mistake on the conjugations or with the use of the differents verb times.That doesn’t mean i don’t find a lots of useful tips in your emails. when a read things like “give your hero the best lines”, or “Make your villian stronger”, i suddenly find some knowledge that i’ve always had in my head but haven’t realize, and i learn how to use it, how to focus my creativity. So for that i say thanks, like all the other people in this forum that has find in you a teacher and an inspiration.
    And yes, i need a dictionary sometimes to understand some words, but just once a month, something like that.

  16. shirley Avatar

    There are so many useful things I could pick.! I would have to say the most important thing I get out of all that you teach us is…in every lesson there is an underlying message, be positive, be happy, be confident, be yourself. So I will sum it up as it being…write from a optimistic joyful heart. When I am in that mode… I can write things that amaze me! Then I laugh and say, “Thank you Holly!


  17. Sarah Avatar

    Hi Holly

    The most useful thing – too difficult to choose one outstanding piece of advice, technique etc. But your regular emails and constant encouragement have enabled me to complete my first novel and to feel like a real writer. It’s like having a good friend and confidante right here with me. Thanks.


  18. Stewart Adams Avatar
    Stewart Adams

    ‘Write with joy’

    Is easily he most valuable thing i’ve learnt from your newletters. I wrote with sporadic motivation; the fear that i could never be as good as ‘that’ author, of people never liking my work and the ever depressing feeling that other people have done this story before me.

    It wasn’t until i learnt to write for myself, purely for the joy of writing that sparked my passion for writing and kept it burning ever since. It was through your humble words of wisdom that let me learn the joys, the saddness and everything inbetween that can be experienced from writing.

    A most sincerce thankyou

  19. Courtney Avatar

    Among the thousands of useful advice slowly urging me forward, and the millions of little inspirational things you say that make me jump immediately into a word document to follow up on a new lead my creative conscious has discovered, each and every step closer to the goal… the most important thing I’ve learned from you is that there IS someone out there like you, someone who has done what I want to do, someone who is doing what SHE wants to do, someone who’s making it, and is willing to help me. Just knowing it’s possible, just knowing that there is this… amazing person who WANTS me to succeed, even though she doesn’t even know me. That fact alone makes the world brighter, and makes me want to keep writing, so that I can add a little more oil to the lamp.

  20. Trisha Oksner Avatar
    Trisha Oksner

    The mottos from the very first week of HTTS are still glued to my writing desk. The idea that “Safe Never Starts” has helped me to get motivated in several areas of my life where I was lagging. And “Perfect Never Finishes” ought to be embroidered on a pillow or something in my house…

  21. Alyssa Avatar

    I learned not to feel bad if I don’t get a college degree. I’m pretty young, so everyone’s expecting me to pick out a college and apply for scholarships. You’re the first person who has told me my life isn’t over if I don’t make it in college. I’m still going to try (for my mother’s sake, at the least), but you made me feel better about myself.

    I learned that the price I’ve paid to be a writer (forgoing a social life to stay home and write, and consentrate on more important things than school popularity contests.) is worth it and I’m not doing something wrong.

    You taught me about the Busman’s holliday! This saved my NaNoWriMo project this year. I had it all outlined and I liked it, but it didn’t have the fire that this old romance of mine had… So I wrote a sequel to the romance along with the original NaNo project! Worked like a charm!

  22. Zach Ricks Avatar

    I’ve learned so much about motivation, about trusting yourself, and about reconnecting with my muse. But I have to say, the lessons on motivation were the absolute most valuable thing to me, period.

  23. Brigitta Vesei Avatar

    I thought I had achieved a huge hurdle when I finished my first draft. This was my first attempt at writing any kind of a story, and it took me forever to figure out how to transform my idea into a story with a plot. I not only had to figure out all the “and then what happens” stuff, but also how to organize my work methods and my work-in-progress, how to keep my characters true to themselves, control my story’s timeline, and keep my objects from inexplicably twinkling in and out of existence.

    Finally it was done! Whoopee! It’s downhill from here, I thought, and cracked open a bottle of champagne. I knew my story had some flaws, some continuity problems, and few weak characters, but I figured the hard part, that of creating something out of thin air, was behind me.

    Ha! I started working on the revisions, and my momentum crashed into a wall. It now seemed that this process would take twice as long as creating the first draft did! How on earth could I possibly get a “macro” look at my whole piece of work and still be able to drill down to the details that needed fixing or revising? Thanks to the first few weeks of Holly’s course on How To Revise Your Novel, I’ve learned how to do just that, and this alone has been more than worth the price.

  24. Louise D Avatar

    Your plotting advice. Until I read the fundamentals on how to break down a novel into scenes and how to do the word count, I started but never finished anything. Thanks to your advice I finished my first novel which will be published by The Wild Rose Press in July.
    I can’t thank you enough 🙂

  25. Norie Wah Day Avatar
    Norie Wah Day

    Your website was the first that gave me hope to be a writer. I felt you wrote as if you were having a one-on-one conversation with me over coffee and giving me advice. You showed me that anyone can be a writer if they really want to; even all the odds are stacked against them. And you willingly try to help others to become a published author constantly.

  26. David Schoeman Avatar
    David Schoeman

    Hi Holly.

    The one important thing that I have learned from you is to slow down. Everytime I start thinking about a plot, I have it all sorted and laid out in my mind and as soon as I sit down, it comes out sounding like a fart in a perfume factory. So through your lessons and advice I have learned that you have to slow down, and draw the pictures frame by frame and not one snapshot every hour.

    Thanks again for all the advice and material that you provide to the wider community. It is really appreciated.


    David Schoeman

  27. IRENE Avatar

    Hi! I have learned that I can actually begin this process and continue to the end. You make it simplistic and I do not get all bogged down in extra verbiage. Thankyou!

  28. EJ Avatar

    “The first draft is for you; the second draft is for the reader.”

    I always knew the first draft wasn’t supposed to be final. I knew it was fixable if it was a big soupy mess. However, the first draft philosophy transcends writing. It’s OK if my bathroom isn’t squeaky clean. It’s fixable if the laundry sits in the dryer for a week. The world won’t end if I don’t compost tomato vines until February.

    I never thought I was a perfectionist. In fact, I was sure I wasn’t one. I’ve learned that my disorganization is due to perfectionist procrastination, and that I will continue to be disorganized until I get done with the first draft of my house. Once the first draft is done, I can do the second.

    Thanks for boiling it all down for me.

  29. Julianna Avatar

    Hi Holly. The most helpful thing I have learned from your website is drawing maps to jumpstart plot ideas.

  30. Lindsey Avatar

    Hello Holly,

    The very first newsletter I received after signing up was Titled “Write for Yourself.” I had been contemplating and struggling with a a story that has been running laps in my head for years. Scene upon scene, word upon word, but once I sat at my laptop or a pad of paper, I froze. Every single time, I only thought “why am I writing this? Whose going to want to read it, it’s not that good of a story anyway”. Doubt and fear of others opinion held my fingers in place. After reading that first newsletter, I sat down to my laptop. I thought up a scene and just as I was about to freeze, I remembered: Write for myself. No one would have to read this if I didn’t want them to. For now, it was enough for me to have my story down to read myself. Words flowed and before I knew it, I had a page. Since then, every newsletter has held wonderful golden nuggets of advice and knowledge. “Write only the good stuff” helped me let go of the “But I need to write this in order to get to that!” and then I was able to connect. “Think, don’t just emote” encouraged me to go back over what I had done and read it as if I was reading a book someone else had wrote and find my errors and correct them. I’ve yet to try Being and Actor, but I look forward to it, just as I look forward to future newsletters and advice.

    The help you provide is so very much appreciated. You have helped make me a better and much happier writer 🙂

    Lots of Happiness to you,


  31. Angela Avatar

    It’s easy for me to pick the most important thing I’ve learned from you. It’s that I can write. Before I took HtTS I didn’t think so. Now I not only know I can write but I am writing. What’s more I like what I’m writing and I’m not worried about how it’s going to turn out cause I got HtTS and HtRN to guide me along the way. Thanks so much for everything.

  32. Veronica Avatar

    I don’t think I can list the most important things I’ve learned after I subscribed to Holly’s Tips. The character tips were useful – most characters of mine are now living people made of ink, paper and/or Microsoft Word files. The editing tips were EXTRA-USEFUL – I’m writing my first draft instead of letting my obsessive-compulsive self attack my art. The stop-moping-start-writing tips were, in my opinion, the best ones. No matter how you hit that adamantium block, no matter how the world is burning around you, writing is power.

    Or something like that.

  33. Amy Avatar

    Toolwise, I think the single most useful thing I have learned from your various courses and articles would be The Sentence. It has transformed years of vague ideas and meandering starts into actual stories.

    My close second would be the identification of conflict points to intensify the story. I’d never realised this was what was missing in previous work.

  34. PAM MARTIN Avatar


  35. Atara Avatar

    I can’t really say one thing that you helped me with. It’s just all your tips and encouragement really help my writing. Thanks so much!

  36. Valerie K Avatar

    Generally I have learned through your willingness over and over to “model” being a successful writer for us, whether through specific processes or realistic discussions about publishing. People achieve mastery through seeing a skilled practitioner actually do it. Specifically…hmm…so many things. Thinking of your link to logical fallacies in an early HtTS lesson, and how useful that was to becoming aware of chinks in my own reasoning. You demand a high level of mental engagement from us, and it is daunting, but also very refreshing.

  37. Sally Stephenson Avatar
    Sally Stephenson

    I have been reading your blog for years and have found all the information that you have posted to be helpful and inspiring to my own writing. I knew nothing about editing, proof reading, plotting etc until I read the guides that you have written so for that alone I always recommend this site to people and your novels as they’re just as awesome and I’ve learnt never to give up on a dream because one day it could happen!

  38. Bernadette Crumb Avatar
    Bernadette Crumb

    The most important thing I learned from you is “Perfect never finishes”. I was sabotaging myself before learning this by trying to get it “just perfect”. You’ve taught me that on the first go round, good enough IS good enough. While I’ve not yet finished working on the first draft of my novel, I have finished several short stories that had been languishing on my hard drive without endings. And I’m very happy about that! That deceptively simple change in attitude made more of a difference than any number of grammar lessons, proofreading practice and plotting scenario workshops.

    Thanks! 🙂

  39. Deb L Avatar
    Deb L


    The most useful information from you, for me, is not giving up because you can always learn to improve and/or believe enough in what you’re selling to forge ahead. Also don’t give up because the dream can be realized, part of which is sharing knowledge with aspiring writers when the published part of dream begins. Authors such as yourself are role models and inspiration in that regard – appearing just at the moment when frustration reaches a pinnacle, changing the decision from f**k this to OK, let’s try this another way.
    Thanks for the contest, too.

  40. AJ Seawiel Avatar
    AJ Seawiel

    Hi Holly! I think the most valuable advice I’ve gained would be from taking your free mini-plot course. I’ve read tonnes of plot-help books and articles, but after I took that course, I realized that I’d been reading way too much. 🙂 You cleverly gave advice that was straightforward and easy to follow. Thanks to you, I now have most of a clean plot line worked out for my novel.

  41. James Avatar

    I have benefitted most from your plotting and organizational techniques. For someone who made a living with the left half of his brain for most of his life, it is amazingly hard for me to bring it to bear on creative activities such as writing.

    Thank you very much!

  42. Michael Johnson Avatar

    No doubt about it: Your advice on how to frame a query letter was vital. I haven’t sold my opus (yet), and might not, but I know people are reading it. I’ve even had some encouraging words from a first-string agent. I would be extremely pleased with a membership.

  43. Victoria Avatar

    The most important thing that I learned is to never give up. That there are a million ways of doing things, and that if one method doesn’t work for you, try another one. I learned that if you really want to do this, you will forge ahead, and give it everything you’ve got, and that you’ll never give up on your dreams.

  44. Lianne Avatar

    It’s something you teach in different ways for many aspects of writing: write things that matter – only worldbuild the stuff that actually makes a difference to the story and characters, only write the description that brings things to life or has importance to the story, write what matters to YOU.

    Every time I read a tip or a lesson that touches on this, it teaches me something new. It sounds so obvious, but it’s a revelation every time!

  45. Cheryl Avatar

    Holly makes writing more fun. Less daunting. Her upbeat attitude comes across in her instructions. They hardly seem like instructions. Her questions posed about characterization, environment, plot, etc. are thought provoking. They make me stop and think, in a process with direction. Then, with a print out of one of her courses on my lap, I put pen into hand and write notes. Notes that don’t make any sense but that’s OK. They are my stepping stones to story.

    I stumbled onto Holly’s site but it was no accident. Thank you for your guidance and humor.

  46. Rachael Bueckert Avatar
    Rachael Bueckert

    What I learned is fairly simple, and it is this; write. Before I began reading your articles and workshops, I was so worked up in the mechanics and the planning and the overall worry of failing that I never ever got around to actually writing anything. I have since gotten over that barrier, and while I’m still studying technique, I make sure to take the time to practice that technique and create something with it. I have learned a lot from reading your material, but I must pick this one tiny piece as the most important. Without it, I would still JUST be reading.

  47. Debora Avatar


    To be ruthless with your creative passions. If it matters to you, write it. If you find yourself blocked, do whatever it takes to bust your way through. Jump off a cliff, figuratively speaking, if you think that might help. Nobody can stop you but yourself.

    This is your heart of hearts. Make it happen.

    “You can do this.” — Holly Lisle

  48. Helenee Avatar

    I couldn’t even dream of choosing between all your valuable advice and insights, as you are dealing with every aspect necessary in the creation of a novel. There is one thing, though, that shines like a holy star, guiding my way and helping me remember what this is really all about, at any time, even the hardest : WRITE WITH JOY.

  49. Mark Lawrence Avatar
    Mark Lawrence

    Hi Holly. The most useful thing I’ve learned from your courses is that there is no one single method to plot, write or revise a novel. You’ve taught me many different techniques along with when, where and how to get the best results from them.
    Thank you, Mark.

  50. Moira Avatar

    I’ve learnt that whenever I lose all faith in humanity, or just find myself empty and hollow, I can come and read something you’ve written. You never fail to help me fight the lie that giving up is the way. Even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree, because your side is always… what I’m trying to say is that dolphins are smart but it’s hard to make sculptures and violins with flippers.

    I’ve learnt that giving up is worse than a hundred other sins, that human potential is somewhere ckise to infinite, that what seems set is always fluid… and that if I ever finish my novel, the cosmetic changes, the line-by-line stuff, is dead last. One thing? Forget Holly. You’re too prolific, and far too inspirational.

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