The Last Moon & Sun and the Think Sideways Walkthrough

More than a month after I intended to start, (due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control™), today I’m beginning The Last Moon & Sun…which is not the title of the book, but I have to call it something until I have a real title.

This is not a little project. This is…well, mammoth.


One: I haven’t written in the series since I finished Book II, The Silver Door, in June of 2008, so I’m going to have to go back and redo my research in the first two novels—but this time I have to look for different things.

Two: I have to toss all of my outlines and plans for the series—I’d carefully planned out seven tightly-woven books. Unfortunately, I have to END the series with book three. Which means I have to come up with a whole new story for the ending.

Three: By the time readers have the chance to buy this book, it will be several years since the previous one. So The Last Moon & Sun cannot be part of the linked sequential series I’d laid out.

It has to answer all the questions I asked in Books 1 and 2…but because of the time gap (caused first by me having no clue how I could end the series in one book, and then me spending all of last year with either family health problems and emergencies, or my own) I now have to REINTRODUCE the questions, so readers who didn’t know Books 1 and 2 existed will still get a complete story in The Last Moon & Sun—while at the same time making sure readers who DID read the first two books will get all the answers they were hoping for, a fresh story that blows them away, and something good to remember when they finish the final page.

What I have to do:

The book is going to need some elbow room. The first two ran about 100,000 words apiece.

I’m aiming for 150,000 words for this one to keep it within bounds, but it may go longer, if I need more than that to tell the story.

I have a huge risk going into this. I don’t have (or want) a contract. I want to be able to do this the way it needs to be done, and that means I don’t want an advance that has to be paid back hanging over my head if the publisher doesn’t like the story I come up with, or doesn’t like the length of the book and wants me to rip out half of it and remove one of the two main characters, for example (because, gee, THAT’s never happened to me before), or wants me to change the story in ways I don’t like.

I’m hoping to write something magnificent, something my editor and publisher will love. I want to absolutely blow their socks off. But if I end up with another Hawkspar situation on my hands, I want to be in the position to say, “Fine, thanks but no thanks.”

This is going to be a challenging ride. Big book, tough development cycle, compressed writing time—the sort of book that will generate a lot of learning experiences for me.

And, if you come along with me, for you.

I’m going to be adding mostly-weekly demonstrations on how I apply the techniques of How To Think Sideways to my own work to the course.

Why mostly-weekly? Because if it takes me longer than a week to work through one section of the process, I don’t want to half-ass the information I put up on that section, and I don’t want to screw up the book. So if it takes more than a week, it takes more than a week. The full lessons are already in there here, and if you get ahead of me, you can drop back to previous lessons to see what I did.

As happens with every book I write, I’ll make some discoveries on how to write better, more richly, more efficiently, more passionately, and more deeply while I’m doing this book. Anything I discover, I’ll pass on to you. Any tools I come up with, any worksheets I create for my own use, any techniques…you’ll get them as I figure them out.

I’ll make time to be on the boards to answer a few questions, to ask a few questions, and to set up some specific discussion topics.

And I’m adding one other thing. Each week that I post my own Walkthrough, I’ll also be offering a one-hour brainstorming session to one student. I’ll record that session and include it in the course so you can see not just how that week’s techniques work for me, and how they might work for you, but how another student can apply them to his or her work—getting that third perspective can be enormously helpful when you’re facing situations you hadn’t anticipated.

Any active HTTS student or course grad will be able to apply for a brainstorming session. (Once you’ve been picked for one, you can’t apply again, though.)

I’ll pick the student whose question and story problem will make what I think will be the best demonstration for that week.

The brainstorming sessions will be free.

Now here’s the thing.

I haven’t raised the price on How To Think Sideways ever. It’s been at its debut price since I opened the doors in 2008 and the first class started through with me.

I didn’t raise the price when the course I thought would take four months to present took six months, and then seven.

I didn’t raise the price when I added the How NOT To Write A Series (And Why You Don’t Want To) course as a graduation gift.

I didn’t raise the price when the private Think Sideways writing community took off and became this amazing place where dedicated writers gather to work, to brainstorm, and to send off and frequently sell what they’ve been writing.

I didn’t raise the price when I added in the core elements of Grad Novel, including a marketing forum and a lot of private development work I did on the currently-sidelined Dreaming the Dead. (The book I’m finishing after I do The Last Moon & Sun.)

But this is going to be a MAJOR upgrade, so I’m going to raise the price.

Through the end of April, you’ll still be able to get into class for $25/ month for 12 months or $47/month for six months. When you join at that price, you’re grandfathered in at that price, and as long as you don’t quit, you stay at that price all the way through to the end of the course.

May 1st, though, prices are going up.

If you’ve been wanting to take How To Think Sideways this is the last time you’ll be able to get it for the introductory price.

I hope you’ll join me on what promises to be a wild charge into the deep, dark thickets of novel writing.


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47 responses to “The Last Moon & Sun and the Think Sideways Walkthrough”

  1. Kamakshi Avatar

    Hey Holly, I just read the silver door and it would be a great favour to me and to all my other fellow readers if you can come out with the emerald sun as soon as possible. And please do tell us the date on which it is going to come out in the market. Its just a request and is meant to be taken as a one with great eagerness if I am not going wrong with the words in conveying my emotions. THANK YOU

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      I have the outline done. I have the first chapter written. I have to finish some revisions of novels before this one in line, and as always, EVERYTHING takes longer than I expect.

  2. May Avatar

    Jk Rowling did not write the Harry Potter book series year after year. Each book is set for every year of school at Hogwarts and the age of Harry Pottet beginning at 11. Each book reflects the characters’ age in chronological order even though she wrote some of the books 2 or 3,4 years later. She did not consider the real time of her writing to the fictional time frame of the story.

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      If I could assume that millions of readers were following along with me, and that everyone who would pick up the third one had already read the first two, I could do what JK Rowling did.

      I’m not her, and I have to assume that my much smaller audience will mostly NOT have read the first two books. Which changes the way I have to write the story. I’m not talking about there being a time gap in the story itself. That MUST pick up where the first two left off.

      I’m talking about the time gap in readers’ lives, and in mine.

      1. emma Avatar


    2. Sally Avatar

      Hi!! Actually i am sooo…a bit u know sad? Well because i wish u can just write the moon and sun series all the 7 actually u should tell the ‘scholastic people’to see these how much we all love your books just different world and makes us happy how much we beg pls only if u could put aside all the work and write it cause it is what we wish from you (sort of beg u pls) and as u have said about smaller audience we pass our loved bools to our friends they oass to theirs so pls pity us……pls at least we can’t live in mystery.we trust u that u can write it by the end of 2016?? Theres a long way. Don’t displease us, Good no AWESOME book would one day be recognized. Thanks ( if u at least try to write and the for 1&2;)

      1. Holly Avatar

        I have some deadlines I have to meet first or my family and I won’t have food to eat or a roof under which to sleep.

        But at least all the rest of the series books are back on the table, and Emerald Sun is scheduled at the earliest date I can do it.

        1. Courtney Avatar

          Hey, I’m a huge fan of the Moon & Sun book series. I’m actually a writer myself & I’ve sent a manuscript to a publishing company that wants to publish a fantasy novel I just finished typing last year. It’s been almost ten years since The Silver Door came out. Do you by any chance have a release date yet gor Emerald Sun? Just curious.

          1. Holly Avatar

            Rights on the first two have reverted to me. I’m going to be bringing them out independently in new editions, and when I finish The Owner’s Tale, the final story in the Longview series, I’ll write The Emerald Sun.

            Also, congratulations on the book!

  3. May Avatar

    It’s a fiction. It does not matter whether you write and deliver the third book in the series the next month or 20 years later, you don’t need to reflect the lapse in the time of your writing. For seamless flow of the story and continuity and for the sake of the characters’ age, write it as if the last story hapiened only yesterday or a few weeks later. That’s why it’s a fiction, you don’t need to factor reality into it; the plot and setting in themselves are not real so why worry about the time when the story continues?

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      Answered above. I’m not telling the story in real time. The issues come from the fact that years have passed for both readers and me.

  4. Emily Avatar

    Have you been able to write any of book 3 yet? Any idea when it will be out?

    1. Holly Avatar

      Right now I’m still building my writing site,, and trying to get to and through surgeries for hyperparathyroidism and tongue dysplasia.

      The Emerald Sun is one of three novels on my priority list for once I get past these huge hurdles.

      Until I get past this, though, I simply don’t know, and can’t even guess.

  5. Amy Avatar

    I read the Moon and Sun series quite a few years ago now, and yet I still haven’t read a book better than yours. I loved them and have read them several times. Please write the next books, I understand your situation but I would love it if you could write at least one more book for the series, I love the characters and their unique relationships, I love the magical world they live in and I love the storyline. Thank you for the stories you have brought to your readers.

  6. Rowan Avatar

    I have finished both books of the moon and sun series and I can’t wait until this book comes out. For now I am waiting

  7. Hannah Avatar

    Actually, I am very displeased with this. I want to know more about Genna and Yarri and Danrith and Doyati. I would prefer that you continue as you planned because I was so excited for the rest of the series.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. I’m a lot more than displeased.

      I’m furious, but contracts are contracts, and I can’t unwrite mine.

      If you want the next book, mount a campaign to Scholastic and let them know you want to know what happens next in the Moon and Sun series…because MY HANDS ARE TIED and the series is dead unless they decide to pick it back up.

      1. Viva Avatar

        Will it be out by the end of 2015

        1. Holly Lisle Avatar
          Holly Lisle

          No. There is no way I can have it done by the end of 2015.

          I have the following things I MUST do first on my calendar:

          • Finish building the How To Write A Series course and writing the six novelettes that accompany it.
          • Write Cadence Drake 3: The Wishbone Conspiracy
          • Get the site moved and rebuilt.

          With those three things that I MUST do first, I’m not comfortable with stating even a potential release date. It’s the story I’m writing after I finish THE WISHBONE CONSPIRACY. That’s as definite as I can be right now.

      2. Rowan Avatar

        I wish that could happen!

  8. Erika Evasiuk Avatar
    Erika Evasiuk

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this update. Most authors will completely leave their readers in the dark on series updates even after I’ve Emailed them. It’s such a relief to know that progress is being made- however long it takes. This is one of my all-time favourite series and I’ll gladly wait even longer for a satisfying finish.

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      There are contract issues at the moment, so everything is on hold and I’m stuck waiting for new. I hope to be able to say that Emerald Sun will happen soon. Right now, the project is in limbo.

  9. Kristin Avatar

    I just finished books one and two and I just cannot wait for the third! This amazing fantasy world that you have created reminds me of something I would have imagined as a child, though nowhere near as organized or cohesive. Please keep us updated and I hope everything goes well!

  10. Alexandra Avatar

    This is not something I do, ever. Your Sun & Moon series reminded me why I first fell in love with reading, just when I thought reading had lost its allure. I was so grateful that you were willing to share this story with the world. The world you created is so glorious I cried, which is also something I never do. Someday I hope that I could create a story that might even come close to what yours has done for me. So, even if you never write a book to continue it I will be grateful for the two you did. If it is more readers I am certain I can find other dreamers that need help to remember. I just wanted you to know that of all the books I have read yours inspired me to try again until I succeed, and for that you have my thanks.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Alexandra, your dream is doable and reachable. And I’m delighted to have provided some inspiration for you to pursue it. Write with joy.

  11. Rachel Avatar

    Maybe you have already said why so sorry for repeating this question, but why do you have to end the series in the third book? Why can’t you continue with your plans to have a seven-book series? I really love your books by the way : )

    1. Holly Avatar

      By publishing it myself, I could write all seven books. The question for me is, will they reach enough readers?

      They don’t have to hit bestseller lists. I do need for each of them to sell regularly enough that I know people are reading them. If they don’t, I have other books I can write that will reach readers. I’m fifty-two. I don’t know how many more years I have left, or how many books I’ll be able to write in that time. So I need to know that people are reading what I write—because that’s the bigger point of writing. Having people read your work, enjoy it, get something that matters to their lives out of it. (The other point is that it’s a wonderful job, and crazy good fun. But at the end of the day, I do want to know that people are reading my work.)

      I love the series, but I also love the Cadence Drake series, and the Novels of Korre series, and a number of stand-alones that I’ve been working one over the years and would like to finish.

      So if it sells as well as my other books that are already up on Amazon and elsewhere, I’ll pursue the rest of the story. But I’m making sure that I give it a solid wrap-up in the third book, just in case it doesn’t.

      1. sreedevi Avatar

        the first two books of the moon and sun series were amazing and were very quick to become a favorite
        i am eagerly waiting for the third:P

      2. Kevin Avatar

        My daughter and I just TORE through Ruby Key & Silver Door and LOVE THEM. We are amazed that the next book has not been written in 6 years! What in the world can the publisher be thinking? This is a beautiful world that my 9 year old and I would love to spend A LOT more time in! We heartily implore you to self-publish the 7 book series and give these characters and this world their due existence in our hearts and minds. Sincerely, Kevin & Elia Ide. <3

        1. Holly Avatar

          Hi, Kevin. I’d love to. Unfortunatedly, what a non-compete clause in a contract means is that if I work any further in the world without a contract from the publisher, (which does not WANT any further work and has no intention of offering a contract), I am working for free and giving the work and everything I make from it to the publisher.

          I have a family to feed. I can’t afford to work for free. I’m guessing that as a parent yourself, you can’t either.

          1. Kevin Avatar

            Thank you so much for the response. I can certainly understand not being able to work for free! But I’m wondering….what state are you in? If you write the book in California then the non-compete contract is illegal and unenforceable. I’d consult a lawyer in CA to discuss details but I seriously believe this could be an option for you! Best, Kevin

  12. Annabell Lewis Avatar
    Annabell Lewis

    Is the 3rd moon and sun out yet??? I read the ruby key and silver door and they are my favorite books! (and now my boyfriends favorites too!) But we need the 3rd book! Is it here yet 🙁

  13. Annabell Lewis Avatar
    Annabell Lewis

    Has the last moon and sun novel come out yet?? I read the ruby key and the silver door years ago and they are still my favorite books! (and now my boyfriends favorite too!!) But I really want the 3rd one! Is it here yet???

    1. Holly Avatar

      It’s not out yet. I’ll start writing it later this year. Hope to have it in print next year. I apologize for the delay. Life, migraines, and work have kept me from it.

  14. Yashaswi B. Solankee Avatar
    Yashaswi B. Solankee

    Ms. you write fantastic and your books do make the reader to leave all jobs aside and explore the adventure awaiting for them in the novel.
    I expect that you will publish your next Moon and sun series soon.:)

  15. Adelana Avatar

    Your books are amazing! especially moon and sun. I cant stop reading The silver door, now i cant wait until the third book comes out.
    -In sincere anticipation of a beautiful book

  16. Kiara Blanz Avatar
    Kiara Blanz

    Did the third book come out yet? No? Please hurry! I can’t wait to read it!

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      It’s going to be a while. I’ll have to publish it myself.

      1. Jill B Avatar
        Jill B

        Hi Holly,
        My daughter and I read The Ruby Key and The Silver Door together in bed a while ago and have been waiting to see the conclusion. Just my luck, it looks like it’s going to be a while! I’m also waiting for Song of Ice and Fire series. I read all the books right before the fifth book came out before the HBO series even started. The mammoths are always the best! Please don’t give up… Thanks, Jill and Jesse : )

        1. Holly Avatar

          I’ll get it done. It’s going to take some time, but it’s on my writing schedule. And I’m very good at getting the work on my schedule done.

          I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you for taking the time to let me know.

  17. Kit Russell Avatar
    Kit Russell

    Hi, Holly,

    I just signed up, but since my PayPal is linked to my bank account only until my credit card catches up with my change of address, it’ll take a few days to confirm the payment. I just wanted to make sure that you knew that I actually did it before the deadline.

    Also, I’m assuming that the reason I can’t sign in is because the payment needs to be confirmed. Does the site send out messages when sign-ins become active, or should I keep checking?



  18. Michelle Avatar

    I’m so excited for the Last Moon and Sun and the walkthrough. I think it will really help me get a grasp on how certain elements of Think Sideways are intended to work.

    @Jessic@ I’m so sorry for what happened. My thoughts are with you and good luck with you novel.

    @Kelly Those are really good questions. I’m curious to see what Holly’s answer is.

  19. Kelly Avatar

    This will be so interesting. Holly, I’m really curious as to the reason for sidelining Dreaming the Dead? You seemed so fired up about that book. I’ve had times where I couldn’t decide whether to push through and finish a book I’d started and lost interest in, or to put it aside and write the new idea that had my muse jumping up and down saying, “Write this one now!” over and over. Do you advise giving in to your muse, or doggedly finishing what you start?

  20. Jessic@ Avatar

    I was holding off on getting this course as it is a good chunk of money. I know it’ll be worth every penny and then some, but that still doesn’t change the fact that money’s tight and this is an unbudgeted expense. That said, I think I have to take the plunge on this one. With the additional content and the fact that the price is going to go up, I just have to do this. I think I deserve it after the month I’ve had.

    I finished the revisions on my first ever novel and I’ve sent it out to a handful of betas. So far the comments are good, nobody hates it and I’m getting reams of great notes on things I missed, new ideas, inconsistencies, ect. Aside from that, I found out I was pregnant (was SO happy) then a week later, I miscarried (devestated).

    Now, I’m almost ready to start writing a new novel, so the timing for this is great. I’ve got my background and character fleshed out and can’t wait to get started. Also got Liquid Story Binder and I’m loving it. Things are looking up.

  21. Steve Lewis Avatar
    Steve Lewis

    Holly, if you don’t have a contract on the Moon and Sun book, why not realease it as an ebook? You could even do the rest of the books sequentially like you wanted and the fans wouldn’t have to wait forever. Just a thought.

  22. Deb Avatar

    Hello Holly, I am very excited about this new project of yours and look forward to joining you on your journey. I’m also working on a big book that matters greatly to me, and I know how overwhelming it can feel, at times. But I am determined to get it done. I have taken all of your courses — and have learned more than I even know how to put into words. I wish you all the best on this new journey!


  23. Felicia Fredlund Avatar
    Felicia Fredlund

    I’m with you. At the moment I’m on lesson four of HTTS, but that’s close enough. 🙂

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