Welcome to my party!


Help yourself to the cookies, the many varieties of cheese, fresh fruit, home-baked breads and pies, and of course, chocolate and champagne. I’m celebrating the rights reversion of my novel TALYN, and thanking both Robin Rue and Beth Miller (and my agency, WRITERS HOUSE) for making this happen.

But while we’re here (and simultaneously live on Twitter) meet my other guests, hold conversations with each other, and ask me whatever you’d like.

I’ll happily answer questions about my books, both in-print and upcoming, my move to self-publishing, do writing neep, whatever.

I won’t give spoilers, but I will give hints. ๐Ÿ˜€

There may be a lag in seeing your FIRST post appear; if you haven’t posted here before, I have to MANUALLY approve your post (which does pretty well keeping spam off my site). But once your first post is approved, the rest will show up right away.

I’ll be splitting time between answering posts here and Twitter, and will be around from 10 AM to 3 PM Eastern Time.

We may get crowded. If by chance we crash my site, I’ll still be on Twitter. Join me there.

Follow @hollylisle

Thank you for coming. I’m delighted to have this reason to celebrate, and delighted you’re here.

The OFFICIAL party is now over. But I’ll still be answering posts and questions here over the weekend If you have anything you’d like to know about books or courses or writing or whatever, I’ll be here tomorrow and Sunday after I get my words on WARPAINT.

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236 responses to “TALYN PARTY!”

  1. John Avatar

    My question is about structure. My novel has flashbacks mixed in with current events (re: Highlander) to tell the story but each flashback is from a different character’s POV. As you can imagine it’s been kinda difficult, but I still think it can work. Or should I just scrap it?

  2. Zeta Avatar

    Appreciate any words of wisdom on dialogue,struggling with this…

  3. Holly Avatar

    @hollylisle Any tips for a second draft where the plot points are solid but there’s still something missing?

    Ask yourself, in each chapter or scene, these questions.

    1) What is the worst thing my main character could lose right now?

    2) What is the worst thing my main character could discover right now?

    3) What does my main character need to fear the most right now?

    This is short, but should help.

    1. Amy M. Cochran Avatar
      Amy M. Cochran

      Thanks for the advice. I’ll make sure I ask those questions.

  4. Quindora Avatar

    Congrats! Thanks for the party invitation — I’ve never really partied online before… *eats way too much virtual chocolate*

  5. Stephen B. Bagley Avatar

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to your many, many, many books!

  6. Carl Plumer Avatar

    Hey Holly!
    Just had to drop by, even tho I’m at work and all that. Thanks for all your Jedi teachings and best of luck with your indie path! Oh, and congrats on the great rights news.

  7. Annie Avatar

    Hi Holly, congratulations on the rights reversion. I’m half-way through HTTS and loving it. A couple of friends are planning on doing it too, as I haven’t stopped enthusing about it! I’m working on my first ever novel, and HTTS has given it so much more depth.

    I have also just signed up for HTRYN, but don’t worry, I’m not cheating and reading it while I’m drafting. I had a tax rebate due so I figured I’d invest it in HTRYN rather than fritter it away, so the next course is being squirrelled away until I’ve finished drafting and can put the effort into it. I can’t wait!

    Thanks for the help you give to aspiring writers. I’m very new to the game and learning with everything I write, but I know I’m further on than I would have been without you.

  8. Snitchcat Avatar

    Aside from all the advice and tips, articles and blog entries over the years, have to love the variation of presentation methods. Especially HTTS. Fun course. Thanks for that one! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Zeta Avatar

    Congrats Holly! New to your site and I love your page and the helpful info! I appreciate so much your helping new wantabes like me, with intelligent guidance and opportunities to improve! Have a blessed day! ZZ

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. I’m pretty happy with the way the current version has turned out.

      And I’m glad I can help.

  10. Margot Williams Avatar
    Margot Williams

    Congratulations!! Thank you so much for your inspiration and education!
    Cheers to you, Holly!!!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜€ And welcome to the party.

  11. Holly Avatar

    @hollylisle What do you do when you are a beautiful mimic of other people’s characters but can’t bring the lightening on your own?

    You stop writing other people’s characters.

    You start looking through everything in your life that matters to you.

    You pick what matters to you most, you figure out what would put it in jeopardy.

    Then you create the person who would be you, if you were in that situation, and the person who would be you if you were the person set to destroy everything you most value in the world.

    And you write that.

    1. Zeta Avatar

      Love this reply!

    2. SJ Driscoll Avatar

      “The person who would be you, if you were in that situation, and the person who would be you if you were the person set to destroy everything you most value in the world.”
      I sure have been both those people, and a lot of folks I know have been, too.

  12. Michael Turner Avatar
    Michael Turner

    Currently working in Iraq so I’ll have to pass on the Champagne, might try a cookie though:-)
    Congrats on getting the rights back and thanks for the writing tips you have sent to me.
    Hope the hang over is worth it!!!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Come home safe. In the meantime, extra cookies for you. And thank you for coming.

      (I had my one four-ounce glass of champagne and switch to sparkling water. I’ve never had a hangover, and don’t want to try one out at this point in my life. ๐Ÿ˜€ )

  13. SJ Driscoll Avatar

    First no more teaching, now rights reversion–have the stars shifted in their course? Double congratulations, Holly!
    I do have a question: what do you think about using different pen names for different genres? Some writers swear by it but I’m still dubious. You don’t write in a single genre but you do hold on to your own name.
    I ask since 20 or so SF, crime and romance/relationship stories of mine, some previously published and some not, are about ready to be e-pubbed. I will keep writing in all 3 genres. Using a different name for each genre seems like overkill.
    Thanks for your time and have a super party day!

    1. Holly Avatar

      My approach has been this: I have some writers for whom I will read ANYTHING they publish, if I can find it. I am that writer to some readers, so my objective is to make their pursuit of my work as easy as possible.

      I put my name on everything, hoping that folks who hate suspense will look at the cover art and realize they won’t like that book, for example. But I’ll take that chance to reach the readers who don’t care about genre but do care about individual authors.

      1. SJ Driscoll Avatar

        That makes sense. A writer would be like “Maytag” or “Volvo.” Companies have different products but what matters is the manufacturer’s reputation.
        Thanks, Holly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jennifer Avatar

    Congrats Holly. Thanks for all your advice over the years. I’ll have to dig out my copy of TALYN–weird to think that so many of the books I own are probably out of print. It will be nice to see this one on shelves again.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’m saddened by all the books I love that don’t exist in any current form anymore, and all the writers who have vanished.

      I keep hoping BRIDGE OF BIRDS will come back someday so I can buy it again. But there are hundreds of others, too.

  15. Amy Avatar

    Congratulations! I have read 3 of your books and would love to read Tayln. I am also still doing your HTTS lessons. Slow going but enjoying it. Thanks for all of your hard work, and taking the time to teach us. Congrats again!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Good luck with HTTS and writing your book, and thanks for coming.

      And thanks for reading. I’ll get TALYN out soon. ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Holly Avatar

    @hollylisle I don’t have a specific question. My main writing struggle is making a it a priority. Any advice?

    You have one life, and you’re running on the clock right now. Yesterday, I was sixteen. Today I’m fifty-one. Tomorrow? I can’t count on tomorrow.

    But I can look back on what I’ve created, and who I love, and why I love them, and if I die today, I’ll know that I made my life what I wanted to be.

    If you can’t, right now—if you look at your life and think “This isn’t what I had in mind,” then figure out what you want. Really want. What matters to you. What, at the end of your life, you’ll look back on having done with joy, not regret.

    Figure out, step by step, what you’re going to have to do to become the person who can do the things you want to do. And then start doing them today.


    This is not a rehearsal. There is not test. No passing grade. No failing grade. No one who will come along and make your dreams happen for you. There is you, and there is now, and there is a clock that never stops ticking.

  17. Amy Avatar

    Thanks for the invite. Great party.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks. I have cool guests.

  18. Glen Forbes Avatar
    Glen Forbes

    Congratulations, Holly, on getting your book back! I know I enjoyed Talyn immensely, and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know – and Hawkspar, while I was at it. I was a fan of your writing long before I read any of your novels, though. I don’t remember how I found your site, but I remember saying to myself: “Well, if she writes novels half as well as she writes ABOUT writing novels, I had better pick some of these up!”

    I was not disappointed. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Since then, I’ve signed up for newsletters, followed your blog, and I’m currently stuck in HTWYN but looking forward to more, always more.

    Congratulations again, and thanks for the invitation! =D

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. Welcome to the party. ๐Ÿ˜€ for the kind words, and for taking a chance on my novels.

      Hang in on the lessons. Sometimes if you skip ahead to the next one, the previous one will come into better focus.

      1. Glen Forbes Avatar
        Glen Forbes

        Oh, no. Thank YOU. Your work – both fiction and non – has been inspirational and eye-opening. Just the first lesson of HTWYN would have been worth paying for.

        I tried. Oh, I tried. Calling Down Lightning didn’t work for me, even after trying a second and third time. I tried to move on to the next lesson with previous ideas, and I think all it’s shown me is that none of my ideas have been concrete ones.

        But I’m hardly giving up. I can see the potential there, in the techniques and the ideas. Just need to dig in and try again. Or maybe see what the next lesson does for it, but I don’t want to skip too many since they seem to build on each other nicely.

  19. Janet Kerr Avatar
    Janet Kerr

    Hey there Holly,
    Congratulations! I have been enjoying all of your material for years now and want to thank you.

    Party on!

  20. Barbara Avatar

    Thanks for the invitation, Holly. I’m really enjoying this glass of warm punch. Congratulations to you, and thanks so much for all your great advice.

  21. Tracy Avatar

    Congrats, Holly! I am enjoying your writing school newsletter, and especially your libertarian commentary. Keep up the good work!


    1. Holly Avatar

      ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks. I’m not a libertarian. Or any -ian or -ist. But as an individual, I’ll keep writing about what matters to me.

      1. Tracy Avatar

        That’s why I used a small “l”. Sorry; it was not my intent to label you.

  22. Holly Avatar

    Add your favorite songs or pieces to the Virtual Jukebox.

    1. Nicola Avatar

      I’d like to add “so long and thanks for all the fish” – from the film of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”


      “We will rock you” the original from Queen.

    2. Zeta Avatar

      Would like to add Natasha Bedingfield “Unwritten” to the jukebox!

    3. Lisa Avatar

      Running Up That Hill–Kate Bush

    4. DasteRoad Avatar

      I’m adding “The Poet and the Pendulum” by Nightwish! It’s the unofficial soundtrack for “the Path of Blood”, the novel I’m currently revising, and it’s one of my main sources of inspiration when I need to get my writing groove back! ๐Ÿ˜€

    5. Danzier Avatar

      “One Girl Revolution: Battle Mix” by Superchick and “The Valley of the Damned” by Dragonforce. My bad guys get their own soundtrack ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. Richard Avatar

    Hooray!! That is really great news!

    I can’t wait until Talyn is available electronically. I have wanted to read it for some time but there are no electronic versions out there (I have pretty much stopped buying hard copy books and am converting to mostly if not all electronic purchases from here on out). Forgive me if I have missed it in all the various posts, but any feel for when Talyn will be available electronically?

    !!! Congrats, Congrats, Congrats !!!

  24. Jennifer Avatar

    Hi Holly, I have only just signed up recently and I haven’t had much time to read over your articles, however, I was just saying to my husband the other day that what i find difficult about writing is that I have to get into character for the story and I can’t do that when the kids are home. And just the other day, that’s exactly what you were advising us to do! I knew I wasn’t crazy! Thanks so much for all the helpful advice. It’s really appreciated and wanted!

    1. Holly Avatar

      ๐Ÿ˜€ Glad that one helped. As some one who wrote when the kids were little and in the house, I can recommend working during naptime, and asking the kids to get into character, too. Collusion in this regard is much more effective than conflict.

      1. Jennifer Avatar

        Well, i like to be alone when i’m writing, so now that they are older, I put a sign on my office door that says: “WRITING, DO NOT DISTURB” and under that in smaller print it says: “Seriously … Do not disturb.” The kids think i’m funny, but they are supportive of what i do. On a good day, I can write for hours and hours, but i feel guilty later for getting lost in my work and forgetting about the kids….LOL….

  25. Elizabeth Avatar

    Brought a funky looking dip and organic chips to the partaaay! Congratulations!

    BTW, I working on your courses and find them very helpful. Thank you for making your knowledge available.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you so much. Yay, chips.

      And I’m glad you’re getting some good out of the courses. Let me know how your writing goes.

  26. Holly Avatar

    @hollylisle Question: How does one create their own style? And how do you know your favorite writer hasn’t left their print on your writing?

    You write about things that matter to you.

    You write in your words, not from your thesaurus.

    You write about characters who have something to live for, and who are willing to fight for what they love.

    You give them someone worthy as an opponent.

    And you tell the stories that wake you up at night, the stories you’ve earned from your own life, your own struggle, your own fear, your own passion, your own hunger.

    If you do this, you cannot write anything but your own work in your own voice, and while you may be influenced by the work of others, it will not mar your work.

  27. bev irwin Avatar

    Congratulations, Holly

  28. TJ Avatar

    Congratulations on the rights reversion, and welcome to the Dark Side!

  29. Kathleen Gabriel Avatar

    Congratulations to you and Talyn. She’s a great character, and I enjoyed your book heaps. I hope you’ll be selling it on Barnes and Noble so I can put it in my Nook. If not, then I’ll buy it as a whatever format and still put it in my Nook. I have run out of bookshelves and walls to put them on. So sad!

  30. NancyJ Avatar

    So very thrilled you’ve got Taylyn back! Here’s a confetti shower to celebrate. Hope I didn’t get too much in your drink. Like too many others, I’ve got to scat, but I’ll try to get back later. In the meantime, here’s a hug ((((())))) for all you’ve accomplished and another ((((())))) for all you’ve made it possible for us to accomplish. I’ll be buying your books, starting with Talyn, for all my friends who love their e-readers.

    Bye now. Oh, wait, there’s cookies…..

  31. Patrice Avatar

    I’m so happy you have something to celebrate. I love reading all of your tips and great advice. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. I’m glad you’re finding the tips helpful. ๐Ÿ˜€

  32. Dicey Grenor Avatar

    Congrats on getting your rights back! Cheers!

  33. Holly Avatar

    @hollylisle Holly, when should a new writer consider getting an agent? Happy party day!

    When you have rights to sell, and someone interested in buying them. Agents remain a necessity. If you plan on dealing with commercial publishers you MUST have an agent to help you hang on to every right you can.

    Even if you’re self-publishing, you want an agent when you start getting offers for the purchase of translation rights, movie rights, video game rights, audiobook rights, and on, and on, and on.

    Your agent is your warrior, the person who stands between you and bad contracts, bad clauses, publishers who keep lousy paperwork, and everything else than can go wrong in your career.

  34. Vanessa Wells Avatar
    Vanessa Wells

    Woo-Hoo!!!! Here’s a toast to fighting for your rights and winning. By the way…can I get the name of your caterer? Everything looks amazing! ๐Ÿ˜€

  35. Ronald Canepa Avatar

    Just dropping by real quick to say congrats on getting your story rights back. Woo!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. Welcome to the party. Recommend something for the jukebox?

  36. Lee Avatar

    Grats on getting the rights back. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I almost missed popping in (west coast) lol

    I also remember asking you a little over a year ago if Tayln was available in .pdf/Kindle/Nook format ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Lee Avatar

      Oh yeah… where I’m currently at in the self pub venture: 1 book up, a 2nd book waiting for me to get off my lazy arse and do a cover for, 2 more books awaiting final proof–and a backlist of 5 books with really jacked up files that will need to be fixed line by line (recovered work from a hard drive crash long ago).

  37. Richard Dwyer Avatar
    Richard Dwyer

    Congratulations, Holly. I wish you the best in your self-publishing efforts. Your personal story is an inspiration.

  38. Kate Avatar

    You have fast become one of my favorite authors and join such company as CS Freidman, Lois McMaster Bujold, MZ Bradley, Eric VanLustbader and Jennifer Robeson.
    My husband is a staunch believer that reading fiction is a lesser endeavor than reading non-fiction. He let me read your book Vincalis the Agitator aloud to him and he fell in love with it after only a few chapters.
    Thank you for writing about such explosive and wonderful themes!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you so much. I’m delighted you enjoy my work.

      And I loved writing VINCALIS. I’m delighted your husband liked it, and I think you’re cool for getting him interested.

  39. Rabia Avatar

    Congratulations on getting your rights back! I love Talyn, and have handed copies of it to other people. I’m assuming you will be self-publishing it? When can we see a sneak peek of its new cover art?

    I’m buried in laundry as well as doing science with a 7 yo who’s trying to come up with a way to turn Jupiter into a star. I will try to come back later.

    *sneaks cheese and chocolate on the way out*

    1. Vanessa Wells Avatar
      Vanessa Wells

      Rabia..if the 7 yr old figures out how to light up a gas giant…I wanna watch. ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. bev irwin Avatar

    Congratulations, Holly.

    Glad you’re in the driver’s seat again.

    Bev Irwin/Kendra James

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you Bev. Me, too.

  41. bev irwin Avatar

    Congratulations, Holly. Nice for you to be in the driver’s seat again.
    Bev Irwin/Kendra James

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks, Bev. I’m thrilled.

  42. Barbara Avatar

    Just wanted to stop by and congratulate you on your successes. I love your writing courses. They are very complete and give me direction and confidence, thank you. Best of luck to you in your continued success.

    1. Holly Avatar

      You’re welcome. When you publish, let me know. I try to buy as many of my students’ books as I can.

  43. Leslie Avatar

    Congratulations on getting your book back! And huge kudos to your agent and her assistant for going to bat for you with the publisher.

    Here’s a toast to many happy years ahead of writing and publishing lots and lots of books.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Open recommendation: Robin Rue and Beth Miller are fantastic. And Writers House kicks ass.

  44. Sylvia Nickels Avatar

    So happy you have rights to Talyn back, Holly. Watching great grandson, will be back. Save some chocolate.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I have the Godiva truck backed up to the door. ๐Ÿ˜€

  45. Carol Englehaupt Avatar

    Marti-v will try to drop by with her own congratulations but today she is moving back into her house. She is super busy and stressed but she’s thinking of you, Holly.

  46. Cynthia Avatar

    Hey, congratulations! What a victory for you – I know how hard and long you’ve been working to achieve this.

  47. Holly Avatar

    @hollyLisle Do you recommend short stories (writing/revising/editing/submitting) as prep for novels?

    Not really. I recommend them for learning how to finish work, and I recommend them for writing them because you like to. But writing a novel is structurally and thought-process-wise a completely different beast than a short story, and writing one won’t teach you how to write the other. I do both because I like both.

    1. Tami Avatar

      Thank you! That does make sense.

      Structuring a story in 1k words is certainly different than structuring it in 100k. I’m finding it to be a valuable exercise, but it’s not like comparing a king-size soda to a kid’s meal drink.

    2. R.C. Mann Avatar
      R.C. Mann

      I had considered waiting to self-publish my first novel until after I had made a name for myself with some short stories. Do you think this is a good idea? I’m retired btw, so I don’t have to make a lot of money.

  48. Elizabeth Avatar

    This is a great outcome for all the hard work. I hope it pays off for you for many, many years. Thank you for sharing both writing tips and your journey.

  49. stephenterry.weebly.com Avatar

    Great party, Holly. Thanks for all of your advice. Much appreciated.

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