Most of the classes are built, but there’s this series of “Quick-Fix” bonuses I was building for How to Think Sideways before the site software broke (and then hurricane… and hurricane… and then we moved, and my programmer moved on, and I got kind of buried in stuff)…

…that I’m having a helluva time finding.

This is kind of a long list, but I’m requesting that if you’re a current or graduate How To Think Sideways student who has any of the PDFs or MP3s for the quick fixes on your hard drive, you contact me in the forum.

NOT ALL OF THEM ARE DONE! But I don’t want to re-do the ones that are… and a vigorous search of my hard drive and BOTH backup drives suggests that somehow I managed to not SAVE some of these. Probably because I did them on my laptop — which does not get the same rigorous backups my work computer gets.

Get Beyond The Blinking Cursor
Get words—good words—on the page in just minutes, without anxiety, without dread, without second-guessing yourself, without struggling for the ONE perfect word, or sentence, or paragraph your mind insists you must have.

No. More. Wire. Hangers.
Or any other picky details, world-building procrastination, backstory bingeing, character indulgence, costume mania, or the rest of the fun distractions you’ve been chasing so you can tell yourself you’re working while you avoid writing. Do this, get story words now.

“But I’ll Never Be Shakespeare…”
Stall out because you compare yourself to writers you aren’t and never will be? Here’s a quick and dirty solution to stop THAT little problem dead in its tracks.

Write A Starter Scene That Doesn’t Suck
Smack your inner critic over the head with this one mean, fast sledgehammer, and get on with your words before the bastard wakes up.

Defenestrate The Dwindling, Superfluous Self-Aggrandizement Of Perambulating Verbosity
Description dragging your story through frozen molasses? This quickie will pitch the blather out the window in a hurry.

“I Don’t Love You Anymore… I Don’t Know If I EVER Loved You.”
Keep leaving your unfinished stories at the altar so you can run off with that hot young idea that looks so much better? “Hang on for one more day” with THIS short exercise.

“I Can’t Make Myself Write.”
If this is your problem, I have a fix. I call this one the “Ice Water” exercise. It’s a shocker.

Cure Hummingbird Brain
Write, delete, backup, fidget… New idea—”Hey, that’s cool,”—new character magically appears… “SQUIRREL!”—glass of water, check the email… Sound familiar? This frikkin’ defines me. Here’s how I fight it—and win—every damn day.

Fix Day-Week-Month Stalls
You’re moving along at a steady page, getting your daily word count… until you hit a story problem. And you stop to figure it out… only the quick stop turns into a day… a week… a month… This one is an EASY fix.

Write Interesting Plot Ideas
Plotting out your story in advance and all of a sudden, you’re faced with characters and story going nowhere fast? Take only a few minutes, and stir your anthill with this BIG stick.

Conquer Wild Bob, The Plot Destroyer
So you have this out-of-control character, and he insists that your story is going to go HIS way, in spite of the fact that HIS way bears no resemblance to the story you want to write. You have some new alternatives to get him to toe the line.

He won’t like them.

But you will.

Create Lightning Conflict for Every Situation
Struggling with what conflict is, how it works, or how to get it into your story now? I once plotted an entire novel using JUST this trick. (Deadlines, again, and howling desperation).

Hammer Out Human Dialogue
While consistent dialogue problems come from story issues rather than a failure of technique, and call for a more comprehensive fix, this quick trick can help you get your folks to sound like real people for the scene you’re writing.

 Stop Rushing Your Stories
There are a lot of reasons for rushing. The need to eat is a big one, and can’t be fixed by this technique. But if you’re galloping to the end of the story for no reason but to start writing the next one, my “tunnel” will help you take the time you need to do the story right.

 Break the Perfectionist Freeze
Can’t write anything because it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time through? Yeah. I remember that. You may have to repeat this exercise, but you’ll get wonderful first-draft words when you’re done.

Writing In The Midst of Chaos
Writers love the ideal of the silent room away from everything where they can be alone with their thoughts. But I’ve written whole novels at a desk jammed against one wall of a living room with a TV behind me, kids arguing on the couch, cats with the rips tearing through the house… and you can, too. If you can’t get silence or alone time, you can still write.

Fixing Transition Terrors
Some writers dread transitions like vampires dread pointy fire-hardened aged oak stakes. Unnecessarily (for the writers), as it turns out. Two minutes, five quick questions, and you’ll have your transition. And it’ll be a good one.

“So… I’m In the Middle, And I Finished a Scene, and… and… and…”
Lost in the vast desert of your story’s middle? Let’s chop this sucker down to size, and give you the next thing to write, right now.

Make the Time to Write Today
I have to thank my father for this one. It was his solution to all the time crunches he had when I was a very small kid, and it’s worked for me for everything, not just writing. Mix this one with Get Beyond the Blinking Cursor, and you can write every day for the rest of your life, no matter how hellish the day’s schedule.

Write Compelling Description
Ever write like you were flying, have the words just shoot from your fingertips, only to discover on rereading that you have written action, you have written dialogue, but the whole thing might as well have take place in a vacuum? This quick fix will give you immersive, fast-paced description. Fast-paced description? Seriously.

Stop Changing Your Mind Mid-Story
You want to welcome the ideas that help you move your story forward. This is how good stories become great stories. You DON’T want or need to welcome ideas not related to your story, that derail you, that prevent you from finishing anything, and that are in the end, destructive to your success. With this tiny workshop—as long as you USE—it, the ideas that destroy your progress will no longer bother you.

Muzzle Your Over-Controlling Inner Editor
This workshop is a walk on the weird side, a couple minutes of focused fix you can put into play when your Inner Editor (left brain) starts stomping on your Muse (right brain).

Learn Your Plotting ABCs
Have trouble with plotting? Need a quick, simple, no-jargon no-theory way to just get the damned story to roll in the right direction? In this micro-workshop, you’ll learn exactly that.

Gun-To-The-Head Emotion
Do you have a hard time getting characters to react with believable passion, fear, dread, shock, humor, lust, or rage? Need to give your story an emotional jumpstart? You’ll get the quick fix for that.

Speak With Different Voices
All your characters sound the same? Need to give each one a unique voice without resorting to the ear-torturing dialect of novels from the 1800s? This is simple, fun… but don’t let the neighbors catch you.

Pacing: Pick It Up
In this second Pacing Quick-Fix, kick a dragging scene into high gear with a 1, 2, 3 exercise that will both pick up the pace, and make you grin.

Pacing: Slow It Down
Have a scene you know is racing away from you that must go slower? Use this little technique to put the brakes on.

Life Is Short and Art Is Long and Marathons Are HARD
Writing and finishing novels—good novels—requires endurance. Patience. Unrelenting focus for long periods of time. And life has so many emergencies, urgencies, and bumps that can pull you away. SOME emergencies really are… but this trick will help you winnow out the chaff and keep your attention where you want it to be.

Butt In Chair
Want to write, but find yourself polishing the brass scones or folding underwear into 6″ squares (you know because you measured), or mowing your lawn with scissors instead? Okay—this one you may not like… but one way or the other, you’ll come to terms with the issue.

If you have any of these, log into your account here: https://hollyswritingclasses.com

Then go to THIS FORUM LINK, and let me know which ones you have.

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I may not be in here regularly for the next week (I am possibly being a bit optimistic on that week thing, by the way. It might take me two or three to do everything I have to do.)

The first part of what I’m doing is letting Book 4 settle into the back of my brain. I need to figure out Book 5 — and Book 5 needs to bring the first series to a strong ending. The first reason is that I cannot know how well these will do, and if they flop, I don’t want the folks who bought all five to be left hanging.

The second is because if they do well, I have stuff in mind for following books, and I’m torn between each one being a complete adventure, and doing a second five-book series.

Gotta get some distance, some perspective — and gotta think about the stuff in the closet. It’s a pretty scary closet.

The other thing is, of course, the HollysWritingClasses.com complete rebuild.

The classes — lessons, videos, and downloads — are already built on out out-of-the-way work domain. My moderators did that part.

But the SITE is not built. I hooked it up to the new shopping cart yesterday, and we did test purchases, and the word that comes to mind is… BUTTERY. I don’t imagine a lot of people “squeeee” over a new shopping cart.

I squeeeeed.

I’ve owned this software for years — I got it when Dan was building the first version of the HollysWritingClasses.com site. He couldn’t come up with a way to integrate it into what he was building, though.

So I just hung onto it — it was, like the stuff I create, a one-time purchase that you can go back to any time.

And when I had to buy all-new classroom software, I made DAMN sure before it bought it that it worked with my existing cart.

And… <SQUEEEE! (yeah, again)> Boy, does it.

Dead simple to set up classes, and my moderators doing test purchases were saying stuff like, “Wow, that was flawless.”

FLAWLESS.

We like flawless. 

The software comes with built-in affiliate software, so the affiliate program for members will be coming back.

EMAILS.

My database guys got me ALL the membership emails for HollysWritingClasses, going back to the days when there were just the one class: How to Think Sideways.

There were more than 7000.

Obviously, a lot of these are going to be dead emails.

And obviously, not all of the folks who owned the classes will want to come back.

I told folks when I sent out the emails, If you unsubscribe, we’ll remove you from the classes. Had a total of 222 unsubscribes when I came in this morning, handed off those email addresses to my database guys so they could start deleting accounts.

Had 477 so far who will be staying. I’m delighted such a high percentage of folks are staying.

I’ll give this a week-ish to sort itself out, re-email only those folks who didn’t do anything, and give them one more week.

Then I’ll delete all the non-responders from the mailing list, and my moderator/database guys (Tom & James) will remove their classes and delete their accounts.

And we’ll move on to the next big obstacle.


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And there are places where it’s thin. My stuff always puts on muscle in revision.

I love the ending — it answers a BUNCH of questions, and brings in a new role for one of my main characters, and at the same time, it sets up Book Five.

I’m taking a week off from the words, just to let stuff perk. Maybe a smidge more than that — say until the Monday after next.

During that time, I’ll focus on the rebuild of HollysWritingClasses.com, and let Ohio Novel #5 stuff percolate in the back of my mind.

Because stuff happened today that was big, and weird, and really important — and some of that is going to have to be included in the start of the next book.

Anyway — got MORE words than I planned, took longer than I expected to get them.

Totally worth it.


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SO…

My website over on HollysWritingClasses.com is undergoing a massive overhaul (complete site rebuild).

And I anticipated the process taking FOUR months.

Turns out… it’s probably not anything like that.

My amazing community moderators over there have already finished building all the classrooms in the new software, and getting all the class materials into them — a process I’d expected to take about two months. That means that all the lessons, all the downloads, all the videos, all the EVERYTHING… are done.

Except for the lesson timers (the things that make a new lesson show up each week for the writer taking the class), which I have to go in and do manually.

Turns out, that takes about ten seconds a lesson, and all the lessons are (for the person building the class), on the same page, so you can just go through and check a box and put in a number and it takes a couple seconds if you’re being careful. 

So, timers are a non-issue. I have to do them, but they won’t slow anything down. That’s what I’m going to do today on all the classes… and I anticipate having all the classes done today… even if I have to duplicate the BIG classes to offer the slower-pace/smaller monthly price one-lesson-every-OTHER-week option.

I’d figured another two months for my two database guys to figure out how to move all the existing members and all their existing classes into the NEW database, while I built the front end — the sales pages for the classes, for us to test the new classroom with the new, beautiful, professional, already integrated shopping cart.

And it very well might take us that long.

But since the software we’re using has built-in professional integration with the shopping cart we’re using… probably not.

Moving ever single writer who ever bought a class (and who therefore still owns it) into the new database might in fact take two months. 

But I’m going to say odds are pretty slim that anything else will.

So I’m saying  BEST CASE, we could be on the new software and live on December 8th (one month from now).

I’m saying that the Reasonable Assumption is that we’ll be moving everyone and everything to the new site (and the new site to HollysWritingClasses.com) around the New Year.

I’m excited. There are a lot of things I’ll be able to do on the new software that I cannot do on the old software… but that’s a post for another time.

Right now… I’m heading in to write the ending of Ohio 4 novel. Yep. LAST SCENE. And I know what I want to have in it.

Tomorrow, I’ll start outlining Ohio 5.


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Fun, fun writing. 

It flew, and I made myself laugh.

I’m not done with the novel yet, but I’m done for today.

I left things hanging, but I wrote considerably more than my 1250 words goal.

Now I have to go work on the website.

Monday, I get to come back to this, and to the follow-up scene I realized has to follow this one to end the book.

Beautiful stuff today, and a process that makes me happy every single time it clicks like this.

 

Also… remember Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young… and the song Our House. The band and the song get a weird little nod in this book.

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Down now to 77,762 — which is still way more than minimum novel length. It’s just hard to watch words I’ve already written disappear into the ether.

But now… Hoo Boy!

Now my MC walks out the door, and the big shit that takes me to the end of this novel starts to happen. 

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I woke up this morning knowing the ending. As has happened sometimes in the past with novels, it was just there, something my brain figured out while my body was asleep, and dumped into the hopper for me to see when I woke up.

So TODAY, I need to dump about 1200-1400 words that went in the wrong direction.

That’s a whole three seconds of my day.

And then I settle in, and I write the ending.

That means that this book won’t look like 90,000 words when I finish it. Not a problem. Short books for me always get longer in revision. (Long ones frequently do that, too — but that isn’t today’s issue.)

But odds are BIG that I’m going to finish Ohio 4 today.

If I stop messing around here.

So… this was yesterday’s end-of-day word-count. 83,316.Ohio 4 2021 11 04 at 2 34 45 PM

And having just cut the words that had to go, this is where I’m starting this morning.Ohio 4 2021 11 05 at 8 10 36 AM

You can see that I ripped out a lot of words. Don’t care, they needed to go, they were slowing me down. I know how BOOK FOUR ENDS. 

So now… it’s time to wreak havoc, and let loose the Cat of War.

Hot SHIT, I love this job!

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Today I realized that if I had my ending, I could just stop here. 

I always end up adding significantly in revision. 

But I don’t have my ending yet. And when I say that, I mean that I don’t KNOW my ending yet.

I have the outline. 

But I went a different way with the story, so now the outline of the ending scenes is toast.

I’m finding my way. I like what I found today. I have no idea what I’ll find tomorrow.

I’m hoping the path of the story will flow a little faster then. Not smoother. Just faster.


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Another day of building the fix for the HollysWritingClasses.com website.

And then a day of coming in late, and tired… and falling into the story.

I did not know that today was going to be the day one of my secondary villains came out of hiding. Or that the various things this character has done would pick TODAY to… er… roost like chickens.

I might have chickens on the brain (my daughter has taken up raising them).

But I stepped into the story distracted by work problems, by stuff that hangs over my head that isn’t any fun… and the story kicked me in the shit, howled “Pay attention…” 

And then did weird, interesting things. 

And I got good words and lots of them.

1,334 words for the day, 82,047 overall.

I’m closing on the end. I don’t know what it’s going to be — my outline went out the damn window some ways back like … like a chicken eyeing a big vat of boiling oil (now I want fried chicken)…

And now I’m thinking blogging while hungry is a bad idea.

BUT…

I’m near the end of Book 4.

Something today changed everything. 

My MC has a new enemy. A new way of seeing not just her town, but her time since she arrived in Ohio.

And until I’ve slept on it, I’m not going to know exactly what changed, or exactly what effect it’s going to have. But I’ll say this: Tomorrow should be really interesting.

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It’s a complete site overhaul over there.

*100% new classroom software

*100% new shop software

* Same forum — but upgraded, updated

* Lessons actually integrate with lesson reminders (for the first time ever)

* And if I bring the affiliate program over, THIS time it won’t die on people, because the software it runs on is…

A) state of the art
B) fully supported by the company that created it

 

My amazing moderators and I are building, and once we’ve finished building, we’ll test, and then we’ll move the existing database into the new software so that everybody who EVER owned any of the classes will own them again, and everyone I can reach will be able to head back in and find all their stuff in nice, clean, shiny, working classrooms.

The amount of work this is… it’s nuts. 

But it’s going faster that I anticipated (by several orders of magnitude) because my moderators truly are amazing people. Some of whom are working for Deity pips. All of whom are volunteers, doing all of this work for no payment.

I haven’t been around here much, because I’m there. Because we’re on the ticking clock of ancient, unsupported software and very old versions of sub-frame stuff, and …shudder… 

The FICTION…

Well, I got 172 words, and they don’t suck.

I still like where I’m going.

But my stress level right now is not actually conducive to writing fiction. So, having genuinely tried to get words, and having pinged like an engine that’s dropping pieces on the road, and that’s starting to both smoke and steam, I’m going to call TIME on today’s words, and go see how much of the front end of the site I can get built (because that part has to be all me) I can get done.

And some hours after I started writing this post, I came back to it with ZERO front-end stuff figured out, because while  the Kadence WordPress them is very pretty (and pretty expensive), the backend on it is a nightmare I’m having no luck figuring out — and so far, they have not gotten back to me with any answers to my questions.

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