No, I didn’t plan this. I thought I had another three weeks of writing to hit the end.

Yesterday, I was galloping along, and I’d planned to pick up today with the logical continuation of the scene I wrote yesterday, where my characters were in trouble…

And when I loped back into the office this morning to pick up where I left off, brain said, “Here, little writer. Here you go… have this spiffy bait…”

And I followed along, and the scene did not go where I expected. It went someplace so much better, and surprised me, and made me laugh…

And all of a sudden, in 2,000-ish words, the ending was right there. And it was the RIGHT ending.

So now I’m taking the weekend off.

I have five novels.

I’ve already read and revised the first one. The other four have been sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to finish the first drafts so I can revise them all at once, and make sure I’m consistent with the changes I make…

Which means re-reading Book One before I do anything else, and then working off of that as I do four back-to-back revisions.

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Today’s scene was fun. I like what I got, I like the twist, I like the humor.

I am, however, not feeling well, and at the point were I realized I’ve been circling the drain on the scene without coming up with a “what next”, or anything else that would let me hit today’s planned word count, I ALSO realized it’s time to go stretch out on the couch and take a nap. Going to skip fixing links in emails today, going to skip heading into the forums. 

I got 1177 words out of 1250 planned, and I really like what I got.

So for today, that’s going to have to be good enough.

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Boy, today did not go where I thought it would. Not at ALL.

In the back of my mind, I had this fun little scene planned, and when I popped out of the shower, I knew pretty much where I was going to start.

And I did start there — but absolutely none of the characters in the scene did what I expected, and the twist they threw at me was so wicked, and so perfect, that I ran with it, just to see what the hell the little buggers were going to do next.

Following them turned out to be the right choice, because I’m now deeply enmeshed in evil intentions and terrible plots and a horrible plan…

And tomorrow, I get to deal with that. And the beauty part is that none of this is coming at me out of left field. It all fits, it’s all tightly enmeshed with things that happened in the previous four books, it is the logical outcome of what really happened in yesterday’s scene, and while I need to quit now because I got my words and I have other stuff I have to do…. Well, tomorrow I have the fun of rolling out onto the page EXACTLY how the shit goes down.

Because the shit is gonna go down. 

God, I love this job.

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Today was a hoot.

Seriously. 

Yesterday, I left my main in the middle of a situation that could have turned into a nightmare for her.

And I saved and quit for the day having no idea how I was going to handle it. 

Today, though, the last line I wrote yesterday turned out to be just exactly right… because it could mean two completely different things at the same time, and it turns out I figured out a way to let it mean both.

Which SOLVED a situation that could have ended in bloodshed, disaster, and horror… and instead became pretty funny.

The truth underneath isn’t funny. It’s desperately important, and scary, and my main character both knows the truth and had a hand in engineering the plausible lie that’s covering it up.

She de-escalated the disaster down into “oops, it was all a big misunderstanding.”

It wasn’t. Isn’t.

And tomorrow, I get to bring out the truth, and start building toward the end of the novel, and closure for the fifth book, and maybe a slightly broader tie-up for the first five books of the series.

I have to wrap everything up with less than a third of the book remaining. So tomorrow, my objective is to let my mind wrap itself around creating the events that will conclude the novel, and tie up any remaining threads from the first four… and still leave myself elbow room for a bunch of stand-alones in the same world to follow.

And because I know not all of you guys are readers waiting for the book — some of you are writers watching what I’m doing (and some of you guys might be new to me) — I’ve covered in detail the way I’m writing these books in two classes I built:

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers  … and How to Write a Novel.

I have a system. It looks pretty chaotic from the outside, but there really is a method to the madness, and it’s allowed me write books I’m happy with and hit my deadlines for about thirty-one years now.

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No big secret that these books are set in a decidedly sideways version of the Ohio town in which I live. I love this place, and I’m having a wonderful time building some seriously wacky shit into what is in reality a lovely old town with a great history, and some fine and friendly people.

Today I got to pull out one of the oldest tropes in SF (because I have no compunction about playing with elements of science fiction in my fantasy series, so long as I can them twist them straight back to fantasy), and I laughed my ass off when I realized how I was going to use the damn thing.

I left a note in the chapter so that I remember tomorrow the revelation I had right at the end. I’ve learned NEVER to trust myself to remember tomorrow’s cool thing if I don’t leave a note.

Fortunately, Scrivener is great for letting you leave notes.

And I’m so excited to write what I realized that I was tempted to keep going.

So… 1250 words exactly today, and 64,003 for the book, and I’m five chapters from the end. And I love, love, LOVE the words I got today.

NOW, however, it’s on to the next thing. I have seven tons of lesson reminders yet to build to get everything over on HollysWritingClasses.com working the way it’s supposed to… and I need to get at least half a ton of them built today.

So with words finished, and the start of today’s headache already moving in like clouds before an oncoming storm, I’m going to go do lesson reminder links in lesson reminders for writing classes for at least one hour.



Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates, and when these books go on sale, get invited to the launch.

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And I managed along the way to muddy my feet on Vikings, evolutionary biology, predator psychology, and something that looks like next Monday it could traipse into the realm of the steamy near-miss.

I also had a lot of wicked fun, got in a couple of funny one-liners, and at the end of the day (and the week), I’m pretty pleased by where I am in the novel, and what awful things I’m going to do to my main character next week — all now set up by the casual and off-hand hints in the book related to the items listed above.

So with that, I’m going to take my damned headache and head off into the weekend to put my feet up and NOT think about the stuff I set up today.

I’ll get a much fresher take on all of this if, as I come back to it next Monday, I’ve had a chance for forget why I put that stuff in there, so that I’ll be able to clearly see what fits, and what was overkill.

This is pure How To Think Sideways stuff, and I absolutely love when it clicks like this.

But anyway…

Hope you have a great weekend. I plan to.

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There’s a certain amount of wackiness in what I have going on right now, in spite of the fact that the core of the problem my characters are facing is nothing less than save-the-world with a pretty big dollop of save-a-bunch-of-worlds.

I’m having a helluva lot of fun playing with the situation. But…

I can’t guarantee that what I wrote today will stay. It fits. It includes real-world stuff I love, and I think it’s both funny as hell, and downright terrifying in places… but I won’t know until I’ve finished this book and started in on the read-through and markup of all five books if it flows naturally from the first four books without any shark-jumping.

Context is everything. I have a lot of funny shit in all five of these books. But I won’t know until everything has cooled off and I read them fresh if the funny is undercutting the power of the scary, or just spicing it up.

But… Fen. The plural for SF/Fantasy fans who go to SF/Fantasy conventions, which I love but haven’t had the time or means to do in years. The Fen have arrived in my book. At least for now.

And — at least until the cool-down read-through, when I see if they make the cut — I’m happy to have them.

1306 words for the day, and 61,476 total. And I’ve done final calculations on my deadline, and working at this pace I have 26 days left (while still taking weekends off) until I finish the novel. I might get all wound up and run long. But if I stay in bounds, I’m now less than a month out from wrapping up the fifth book, and rolling right over to a re-read of the already revised Book 1, and then the One-Pass Revision of books Two through Five.

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I knew yesterday that I left myself in a good place when I wrapped up the words. I didn’t realize how good until I started rolling this morning. My main character had a massive revelation about the crushing mistake she was about to make, and figured out a way to avert disaster on the upcoming Day One of a big situation she has invited — and has to survive.

No way to avoid the fact that she’s got a potential explosion on her hands — but she didn’t make the Well-Meaning Big Stupid Mistake — and her ally is working with her to help her see through the lens of the past a couple of other big mistakes in history she doesn’t want to replay.

Bad things are still going to happen. She has folks who hate her and want to see her family line die out with her, and because she doesn’t know who they are, but they know exactly who she is, she’s at a major disadvantage.

But with an interesting new perspective, she’s at least figured out a better way to deal with what’s coming at her from out of the dark.

1398 words today, 60,171 total today, and I’m very happy with where this is.

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I did not think about the book at all over the weekend. I took this one all the way off. Played games on my Switch — Dungeon Village, Dungeon Village 2 (brand new, and much bigger than the first one, with some really nifty additions), some Animal Crossing (though the ‘homework’ aspect of that particular game is starting to wear on me) and Portal Knights, which I love beyond reason. All the PK variations on treasure hunting and the weekend events are enormously fun. 

So I came in today not even remembering where I left off last week. I knew I’d left myself hanging.

I read through Friday’s words, and damned if a lovely solution didn’t just pop into my mind as I wrote. 

I got my words in an hour — fast for me even when things are really flying. And I love what I got, and am looking forward to picking up where I left off tomorrow.

The image on my desktop (captured behind my word counter) is a cave in Scotland. Related conceptually to the answer I figured out as I was getting words down, but NOT a part of the book.

The cave, however, kind of poked the idea at me. So it gets a wave and two thumbs up.

NOW… though, back to building lesson reminders. I’m only on the second version of the first of the classes that need them. And all the classes except the Clinics need them.

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I am by preference an outliner, not a pantser. 

By preference I have a map for the novel I’m writing, and while I make take a small side road on the map rather than the freeway, in general I don’t abandon the damn car and go hiking through the woods and the weeds with nothing but a canteen and a pen knife.

But preference sometimes takes you where you’ve been before, and every once in a while, shoving the map in your back pocket and wandering in the direction of the sun can bring you to new ground, to sights previously unseen, and to vistas of wonder and delight.

Which is where I ended up today, and where I got envision enemies thrown into terrible chaos by the destruction of the core of their enmity discovering some strange, disturbing… but still HOPEFUL… common ground.

It’s lovely, weirdly funny ground. 

And writing it made me happy.

* * *

By the way, I’ll note that my deadline still shows as June 12 for finishing the first draft of this novel. The massive derailment of my writing time while I did the things only I could do to get the HollysWritingClasses.com site live (and my end of it was pretty small, compared to the massive work my moderators did) was still enough to destroy that deadline. I haven’t had the heart to do the math to come up with an achievable new deadline yet. I have that on my Tiny Little List for Monday.

Just didn’t want anyone to look at that deadline and get excited. No way am I writing 3,258 words a day for the next ten working days. I’ll need 26 working days to hit the 90,000-word goal, and all the previous books have run long. I have every reason to expect that this one will, too. So I’m still a ways out from finishing the first draft. I just haven’t felt like fiddling with the Scrivener word count meter yet, because I would like to see what I can get done in that ten days.

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