Holly Lisle isn’t the most famous of contemporary authors, but you might have read her if you’re into paranormal romance, fantasy or sci-fi. I like her female characters in particular, since they tend to be strong, and finding mates does not diminish their strength. Her style is sharp and witty, she tends not to spend too much time on description unless she’s using it as a plot device, and she paces the action so well that you have trouble putting the book down.
But it’s not her fiction that makes her a favourite. It’s her writing courses.
How To Think Sideways may look expensive to a broke writer, but having taken it a couple of years ago, I can tell you that it was worth the money. She goes through every aspect of story creation, from plot to world-building (important even if you’re “writing what you know”) to dialogue to character creation, but many of her lessons can serve in real life as well.
You don’t have to take my word for it though. Even if you’re literally as broke as I am right now (I wasn’t when I bought the course), there are plenty of free essays and tips on her website (which you can find by clicking on her photo up there) as well as – and this seems to be new – a free 3-week flash fiction course that she made just to prove that her longer, not-free courses are worth it.
I often have trouble reading non-fiction, it doesn’t pull me in as well as fiction does. Holly’s lessons are an exception, because she uses her own life experiences to illustrate them – and she’s no less of good story teller just because it’s her own life.
If you’re not a writer, there is also a reader’s page with short stories, two of which I have translated into French (with permission, of course) here and here. That’s another great thing about her – she’s accessible. She answered my request within two days of me asking it. She’s there for her readers and especially for her students. And that, I think, is what I like best about her.