Writers, I Want You.

After the fix is in, and the store is reopened, I will be announcing a plan for inviting writers to help maintain, build and operate the systems Holly uses to write and teach, including her websites, databases, servers, and writing tools on her personal computer. Specific jobs need doing on a regular basis, such as making sure backups are running and work when called they are needed.

Volunteer Sign-up Link


I am developing all the training necessary for all the jobs. Prior experience in IT and related disciplines can be helpful, but not required. In fact, lack of experience is just as helpful.

I am looking for writers who are interested in helping and receiving training. I am confident that Holly will help make sure the training doesn’t suck.

Holly and I are determined to do everything possible to keep these systems or their successors running for seventy five (75) years. Neither Holly nor I will be here in 2090, but there is a chance her systems will. That tells you right there, we are going to need people making this happen, besides us.

No one can do much work for free. The training provided here is the same training provided to interns and apprentices at my company. One of the goals we all share is making what I’d call “a lot” of money working on systems. In other words, the technology and work experience her at Holly Lisle’s Online Writing School is a potential path to professional work with the pay that comes with it. We are not only teaching how to run the machines, but we are teaching how to make money and have a good life as a result of working on the machines.

If not enough writers get involved, then I will be recruiting volunteers who are not writers to work here, because there is to much for me to do alone. The reason I am reaching out to writers first is writers will do the best job. Not just on writing systems either.

Trudging your road to the Happy Destiny of professional writing might cause you to lose sight of something I can see, and I know every writer must have seen at some time or other. There is not a single thing in the universe that is like writing. Only humans do it. Not all humans do it the same.

If we had to make a list of the most important things humans have done, it easier to imagine an argument over which books to include, not WHETHER books, writing should be included. Most of the writers I have worked with professionally were journalists or marketing people. I have spent my share of time around lawyers, because my family is filled with them. Lawyers take special note of their writing. All writers, of all kinds, plug into the world in a different way than the rest of us. You all know, your writing talents have no end of potential uses. What you might not know is writing skill possibly is the absolute best background for people coming into the field of professional computing.

Think I am just making this up? When I worked for Andersen Consulting, (now Accenture), their preferred hire for their programming staff was English majors. Not just any. They looked for motivated, intelligent people, but no background in our main work, programming, was needed. They would train everyone. They built a company with more than 300,000 employees and $30b in annual revenue. I am not looking for $30b in annual revenue. Not even one billion. I am looking for people to start a chain of people that will operate without stopping for 75 years. If we have people doing that, there will be a chance that some of what we make in this system today will still be operating and useful in 75 years.

I am looking for people who either just want to help out, or maybe people who see a higher purpose served by Holly Lisle’s Online Writing School, who can see that work needs to be done to keep this purpose alive. Well, it is an online school, so systems are part of what this school is, and Holly, for reasons I really do not understand, has vested in me major responsibility for the systems used by this school.

I love this work. I work harder on it than any work I have ever done. With all my time and effort, I cannot come anywhere near doing all that is needed. So, what I am doing is building a perpetually growing team. Except for some writers, everyone on the team will be doing this work primarily for support of their career development.

Instead of paying a school or college to walk them through impractical unrealistic classes on programming, they will get training on the practical requirements of keeping a working system alive and building replacements. Do any among us think Holly is going to stop innovating and redefining the systems she needs? There always will be a mountain of development work here. This work is the basic purpose of the business and eduction program I am building.

Why this school as my focus? Well, what better purpose could there be? This school brings writers and writing into the world. Seriously, name one thing that more worthwhile that. I’ll tell you what I told Holly. When my day comes to chat with my buddy, Peter, Up at The Pearly Gates, if he’s going to tell me an area I fell short in was picking support of Holly Lisle’s Online Writing School as the best thing I could to culminate my career, my conscience will be clear that I gave my all to something I really thought was such a good thing, I didn’t see any reason to look for something better. It is not just my feeling I am talking about. I have heard from a a few people around here. There is something here that comes from another dimension of human existence. It a dimensions that thumbs its nose at science. Science cannot detect it, but that does not make it unreal. The Human race is here. And here, people take what they are doing very seriously. What could be better to support than this, in the real world?

And as you can see, one of the things I am going to need help with is explaining this to people. For that, and many other reasons, Holly Lisle’s Online Writing School needs writers working on its systems.

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44 responses to “Writers, I Want You.”

  1. ClareW Avatar

    Hi Dan,
    I’m interested in helping / testing / finding out more. The other link in Holly’s email about it didn’t work. I’m not sure if that means the window of opportunity to volunteer has passed (no problem — I understand if you’ve got enough or even too many people throwing in their 2 cents) or if it’s a bad link. Let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Dan Allen Avatar

      Clare, thank you for reminding me the form needed attention. It is not too late to sign up and the form is fixed at the same link Holly posted, repeated here: http://houston-data.com/houston-data#signuphollys

      A lot of people have signed up, but it is not too many. I would say the signup form was put up prematurely. Adding to the problem of me not being ready to manage a group of volunteers, there was a series of problems in Holly’s live system that diverted attention from the work of building Holly’s new system. I am regrouped, refocused on Holly’s new software. In the next couple weeks, the first part of that software will reach a beta phase. Having a lot of people testing that system will be extremely helpful.

      I continue to be reluctant to say much more, even though there is a lot on my mind on the subject of volunteer support for Holly’s systems. My intention is to develop a strong, verified plan, that I can explain and be sure is going to stick

  2. Elizabeth Winfield Avatar
    Elizabeth Winfield

    I would love to be in but I would love to have a better idea of the time commitment involved. I do not have programming experience but I have written manuals for programs (it was my high school job).

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Elizabeth, what kind of work would you like to be doing to help out? What do you envision for yourself?

      What would you really like to do if you could?

      If you can fill in some of that for me, I will take my best shot at estimating the time commitment.

      1. Boppingbeth Avatar

        I would be willing to help with updating help files and directions for using the software (and doing some testing). I’m not a lot of use with the other things, but I have lots of experience writing manuals. I have a couple of hours a week available for most of the year, with more time in July. If that doesn’t work with what you need, no worries. I can wait and play beta-tester with some of my writing.

        1. Boppingbeth Avatar

          I’m also up to learn some coding or some file updating, but again, I only have a couple of hours a week to give you.

          1. Dan Allen Avatar
            Dan Allen

            This is very helpful what you have explained, thank you. I am not sure what you mean by file updating.

  3. Niche Avatar

    I’ve got dated IT pro experience, but my available time is in fits and spurts, especially of late due to family upheavals and health issues.

    I’ve written a lot of fanfic but not gaining much momentum on originals.

  4. Katharina Gerlach Avatar

    I’d so like to sign up but with my reliabilities it’s not very likely that I’ll have the time for this. However, you can always PM me if you’ve got specific questions you want me to answer, Dan.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Katharina, have you worked with floating divs? It’s no big deal, I just wanted to ask hou about something if you have.

  5. Irina Avatar

    How many hours a week will we have to invest? I don’t want to sign up and then not deliver on schedule, because I underestimated the actual workload.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Irina, signing up only means you are interested in learning more about how this is going to work. Once we get going, time commitments will vary from less than an hour per month to several hours per week. There is a mountain of work. My plan is to make the mountain visible and rely on volunteers to pick the spots where they get involved. 80 people signed up so far, so there is going to be a lot of flexibility.

      If there is anything you need to know, please do not hesitate to ask.

  6. Phoenix Avatar

    I signed up to help. I don’t know *how* much help I can be, really, but I’m willing to give it a shot!

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      I have a story to tell from a project we did at the end of last year, where the project was a mess and the team was trying, but just could to get it together. It all changed, when the person who stood out for being supposedly knowledgeable about what we were doing, began writing about what she was seeing and experiencing. The whole project changed almost withing 2 days. Among the things she wrote was how difficult it was for her to gain access to the new forum we were putting in. Well, I needed to fix that. It was at that point that I started making links that would get people into the with just one click.

      If you get links from Holly Lisle’s Forum sent by email, and click on them, you get straight into the forum, logged in as yourself, even if you are not logged into the classrooms, because the person who said she doesn’t understand what we are doing, starting writing about it. She did it, because she was on our team and didn’t know what else to do.

      I am here to tell you, before she started writing like that, I was working on making a lessor solution acceptable, instead of doing what we needed.

      I think that is proof that being a writer interested in systems related to writing or learning to write, is all the qualification needed.

  7. Werner Avatar

    Count me in Dan! I’m signed up and ready to go…

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Werner, you sound like project management material. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. crystal Avatar

    I’d beta test this. I’m using Scrivener right now.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      You are on tne list for beta testing, thank you.

  9. stephanie Avatar

    Hey, I signed up for this. NOT a published writer YET. Working on it though! Have less than zero clues about software development/coding but hubs is a network security guy, and he keeps me relatively grounded and in working programs/computers lol. Would love to learn more/help with this project however I can.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      I have learned to be extra careful when spouses of IT people are in the house. Spouses can have keen powers of observation, going only on impressions they get from what people say. Plus, some spouses will ask their IT professional other halves about what they see and hear and then have key info, or key questions, or things to check.

      Something else. In meetings, the person who says they don’t know anything about technology nearly always has tremendous knowledge, insight, and practical experience in a special area of IT.

      I have a question for you. I just emailed you a magic wand. It’s loaded with Magic OneShot, available at specialty stores. I can guarantee, the magic works perfectly but it can used only for creating the situation you would love to see yourself as part of working on Holly’s System. Part the magic is this will fit with the magic for you. In other words, if you want to be fixer of a big problem, then we’d have a big problem to fix, thanks to this MagicOneShot.

      So you know the question. You can ignore the email with the magic wand attached, or you can do something with it.

      Dare you write what use you would LOVE to put this wand? And share it here? I would be delighted and grateful if you could do that. More than likely, I will do what I can to make it happen, not with magic, and it will be a huge contribution you will be able to see in the systems we deliver. The magic happens when you write what you would with the magic.


    I’ve signed up. If I find the work to be too much, I’ll let you know. My computer background is OLD. Fortran, Basic and Pascal old, but I am willing to help. Most of my paid writing was marketing and contract.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      You want to get into to programming here? We need at least 5 to get that part of the volunteer work started I am looking for 10. Experience is fine, but absolutely not required.

  11. Lynn Crain Avatar

    I’d love to help with the beta testing. I used to do that for a variety of database companies as well as Oracle and WordStar when it was around. I’m really good at breaking things and telling you how I did it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Right now, I use Word and OneNote. I have Scrivener but haven’t even used it yet. I developed a set of Word forms myself that I use for book information and synopsis but other wise don’t do much of anything special. It would be great to get all those in one place.

    I am a multi-published, award winning author who is trying to push her writing up to the next rung. I hope I can help.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Ok, you are on the list I just started of Beta testers. I am already looking for something something to challenge yoiur ability to break systems. That is what testing is for.

  12. Stacey Riley Avatar
    Stacey Riley

    I’ve signed up. I have helped beta test Scrivener for Windows. I also have an IT tutor background.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      We need a crew of people to take lessons plans and turn them into lesson. That is a pretty big job. I need to start laying what lessons we need then get help developing that into something useful.

  13. meham Avatar

    I’m in!

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      So it’s you and Werner, project managers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Kathy Avatar

    I’ve signed up. I have mostly IT experience – Linux admin, software dev, etc. I have some amount of course experience (as in maintaining online classes or writing them). I’m interested in helping with those parts – as in I’m interested in supporting the implementation and/or maintenance, but I don’t have energy for (or interest in) the software design part.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      I am putting out a call for everyone with any experience with unix administration. I am idea of something kind of special.

      A step to start chain reaction that will not stop for awhile. It would entail a 6 month commitment that can be renewed once only. At least two people. Then, the next people, and so on. That is the chain reaction. An unbroken chain of backups, through unixtime: 4102444799

  15. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

    I am not published yet- but I am on the way- and I have no tech skills beyond those I have had to develop thus far, I can’t see me progressing far without remaining curious and adventurous. I flit between Y writer and Scrivener and Word and that is at least 2/3rd more work than I need to be doing for little extra return – if what you are doing is likely to replace that then I am all for helping where I can.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Marie, what is the return on running Scrivener and Y writer, instead of one or the other? I am thinking you might use only one or the other for any given project.

      1. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

        Ywriter you can set up as many CH and Sc as you want and add or take them away but Scrivener only one at a time as far as I can see which is tedious Ywriter has much ‘better’ forms and frame work for me at Scene level and will track VP etc and other things on one form but it has a bad story board which I have yet to appreciate and it may not be future proof, it is also fussy about where you put the initial project – I use a memory stick for both as have to use several or random machines to work on- and if I make a mistake at that point it gets annoying. Scrivener stuff is always where I left it and most advice out there for uploading work is out of it I have got very handy at saving between the three with the view that what works most of the time gets used at the end when I want to get to books ready to upload and add covers etc easily. Meanwhile I know the work is saved in three places – but it IS a lot of work to keep making sure it is done equally. A combo of the two would be perfect for me – ireally don’t want to be using the templates of Scrivener when I am wanting to get on and I haven’t found Ywriters preset forms annoying – if I don’t want the info I don’t record it, VP tracking IS very useful.
        If you are looking at designing somthing for this site check these others out – I am writing fiction I think if I were writing non fiction then Scrivener would be more use ditto general writing project/Blog post management and note collecting – again Ywriter would struggle with that…

        1. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

          Also it needs to function off line but be able to collate material on other machines where installed when connected – be capable of being installed on sveral machines – and running entirely on a memory stick.
          ie check out One Note in various releases – fantastic but earlier versions don’t speak to each other and check out the relationship between One Note and Evernote re importing and exporting – there are a lot of nit picky issues between all these – they don’t do the whole job and they don’t entirely communicate with each other either see relationship between Evernote and Scrivener – I don’t envy you this task I come at this stuff from the sharp end I want it to do XYZ now and when these things don’t I sometimes think it is because they are designed from the back – what can be done not what is needed to be done.How you then future proof it I do not know but I am certainly keen as I am blooming sure Holly has tried all these other things and found the issues long before I did. Good Luck Marie-Claire

          1. Dan Allen Avatar
            Dan Allen

            Marie, I have noticed there is a lot of “what we can do easily” going around, giving us countless products where none do “what needs to be done.”

            One of the complications is the need to work offline and across random machines. I have a hypothesis I want run by you.

            There is no chance of making this system work offline and across random machines, before making it work online on one machine.

            The system is not usable if it is limited to this scenario, but the system has to work in one place before it can be made to work in many. It is not possible to make any system work in multiple place before making it work on one.

            An example of making it work in one place is to solve the problem that forces you to use Ywriter and Scrivener.

            Once that picture is perfectly clear, then we can develop what we need to make it work offline and on random machines, using a memory stick to carry it where you go.

            END HYPOTHESIS

            What if we could give Ywriter the storyboard it needs, and make it less fickle on where things are setup when you start a project?

            1. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

              Yes and while we are doing a wish list -I like the mind map soft wear -now stick all that together and for me it is a winner.You would also need Ywriter type forms – that amy not be the tech term for them but they are not the same as the templates on Scrivener.

              I have Scrivener and Ywriter loaded on my two usual machines but the full program is on separate memory sticks. If I use the version on the desktop it stays there on that machine and won’t ‘update’if I have used the other machine- If I use the program on the stick and have saved the projects to that stick in the first instance then I can run the program and save to the stick and take that work to the next machine. one issue happens if I use the short cut on the desk top I can easily get lost and files get muddled neither Ywriter nor Scriv will synch on line as far as I can tell where as Onenote and Evernote will I get round it as I expect everyone does – I have my old version of one note running through something called Rednote which then allows it to synch with the later version my other machine uses but I had to fiddle hard to get any solution there sorted!I find my approach to this is similar to my approach to Maths – I get there but don’t get me to demo the working out ๐Ÿ™‚

              1. Dan Allen Avatar
                Dan Allen

                Marie, thank you for taking the time to spell all this out. A day will come when I will have to say we are doing somethings and not others. From the understanding I am getting from discussions with writers regarding the OneStep product, everything you have said here fits into what I know about what this product has to do. You have added specifics about the Scrivener templates vs the Ywriter forms, and you also mentioned Ywriter’s support for creating multiple CH and Sc, vs. Scrivener’s support of one at a time. I will be finding out more about those features.

  16. LG Avatar

    Out of curiosity (and sheer overthinking-ness), are the check boxes in the sign-up link for stuff we’re interested in or have experience with, or…? ><

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      Interested in.

      1. Dan Allen Avatar
        Dan Allen

        Thank you Holly.

        I am going do another survey that will be more clear.

  17. Murrday Avatar

    I’ve signed up.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      yay! Thank you. I have another magic wand, if you are interested. You can use it to make this project exactly what you want. Any ideas on what you could do with that?

  18. sylvia resnick Avatar

    I am a published writer of eight books but I am very interested in the program Holly said that you created for her that involves all facets of writing a novel, ie: character descriptions, plot summary, etc. If that is why you are seeking volunteers and you think that my input will be helpful then count me in. I can’t wait for that software to be available.

    1. Dan Allen Avatar
      Dan Allen

      Sylvia, yes, one of the reasons we are seeking volunteers is to accelerate the development and availability of OneStep, the system that involves puts all the tools for writing a novel into one place.

      I have published no books, so I ask a lot of dumb questions, sometimes it’s sometimes it is a pain. Are you comfortable sharing here, what software do you use for writing books?

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