Mar 192019

Feb. 24–25, 2024 — Creative Writing Retreat. Get this: Justine Cowan, a December, 2017, Shocking Real Life Writer’s Retreat student, left class and subsequently created a frenzy among potential literary agents for her book, The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames, ultimately landing super-agent Mollie Glick at Creative Artists Agency (which represents Hollywood elites like Laura Dern, Al Pacino and yours truly, Hollis Gillespie). CAA then took her book idea to the auction block, creating a BIDDING WAR that landed her a SIX FIGURE deal at HarperCollins!! For a first-time author!! Click here to enroll.

Click HERE for Private Consultation

HERE are samples of more Shocking Real Life Alumni Success Stories!

What past participants say about the Shocking Real-Life Writing Seminar

  • “I made contact (totally used your letter) with a friend’s agent at Writer’s House. It worked! Now he wants to see the proposal. They loved the idea. Thanks again! The class was great.” — Stephanie Davis, Editor, skirt! Magazine
  • “Hollis, thanks for being in touch so quickly. Your seminar rocked!! I want to be one of your successes. I’ll start with [the agent you suggested] and if a rejection, will just keep going. I did not even realize I was so on fire about getting this book out there, until I felt the full Hollis Effect!!” — Susan Campbell
  • “Hollis Gillespie’s writing workshop was the best I’ve ever attended. Hollis was extremely encouraging and helpful in both creative and procedural modes. And the yellow theme with the mimosas worked at a deep level of community which added to the enjoyment of the whole experience.” — David Ryback
  • “Hollis is a rule-breaker who will teach you things you won’t hear anywhere else. If you don’t care about political correctness and want to learn a proven tactic to get an agent’s attention, Hollis can show you the way.” — Debbie Unterman
  • “Hollis and crew were positive and upbeat. ‘Can’t’ wasn’t spoken. The environment and food were ‘quirky and fun,’ one of the underlying themes of the workshop and Hollis’s principles: build a support system of writers, share your work and contacts, and hit the send, send, send button on your computer made sense. The agent list was an added bonus.” — Lynn Hesse
  • “The Hollis Gillespie workshop was money well spent and the day went by very quickly! Hollis took time with each person to help them clarify details of the story that they’d like to tell, develop a creative title, found similar books to use as examples in a pitch letter and provided a list with a recommendation of an agent (or agents) to contact. Hollis gave concise, realistic feedback to each person. As an added bonus, Michael Alvear spoke and each offered excellent advice. I came home and began work immediately on my story! I’m impressed by Hollis and Michael’s philosophy of helping other writers. Thank you for offering this wonderful seminar to AtlantaWriters Club members.” — Sharon LeMaster
  • “It was a great experience and nice to sit around a table with others who are dealing with the same obstacles I am. I liked the advice given to ignore conventions and rules when querying agents and publishers which I will paraphrase: as long as it’s well written, go for it regardless of the ‘supposed’ hurdles or rules. Receiving a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you’re work isn’t any good or you didn’t follow the rules. I liked having published authors talk about their personal experiences and paths to success using somewhat unconventional means. I spent part of yesterday putting the advice in practice and sent out several queries with an entirely different attitude.” — Kathy Lewis

Oct 122017

I saw a job on for a Specimen Collector at Aloha Toxicology in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here is my cover letter:


Let me start by simply stating I’d be awesome at collecting urine specimens. I can’t say I’ve ever been paid as a professional to watch while men urinate, but on an amateur level I’m told my performance was passable. And I once reported a crack addict for urinating on the hood of my car. I was not in my car at the time, my car was in my driveway at the time, and I saw it happening through my kitchen window. So my point is that Continue reading »

Jan 062010

Fear causes writers block, and fear can get you out of it. Back before I went and spawned, I used to write on layovers during my job as a fight attendant. I was terrified to fly and certain I had one night left to live before I got back on the plane the next morning and had to commence crashing into a culdesac Continue reading »

Jan 172010

Writers, don’t freak out just because that’s what all the traditional publishers are doing, what with how they consider the onslaught of new media kind of like a plague. They are the big huge tree, and bloggers and other independents are each a locust, which, Continue reading »

Apr 032010

Hollis Gillespie’s 20 Hit-Boosting

Headline Tips!

In the web world, your headline not only has to appeal to human eyes, but to search engines as well. The more clicks you get, the higher you rank on Google, the more you make with whatever it is you’re selling (cupcakes? books? custom underwear?)  Below are 20 tips and examples to help make your headlines become CLICK MAGNETS: Continue reading »

Jun 072010
Besha Rodell is the the award winning food writer and restaurant critic for Creative Loafing. She is regularly published in national magazines such as Maxim, Every Day With Rachael Ray, and Time Out New York. She has won numerous awards from the Association of Food Journalists (including first place for food feature writing last year), and she has been nominated for a James Beard Award. She has a lot of (encouraging) things to say about the place of of food writers in the present climate of changing media Continue reading »