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

Feb 172011

So you think your great idea for a blog is gonna “go” viral the minute you push “publish”? It’s possible, just like it’s possible for you to hit a ball out of Wrigley Park your first time at bat. So for those who want to be smart about how to avoid blog mistakes, here is a list of the top 5 blogging bad moves you can make right out of the chute, and how to avoid them:


It astounds me when people begin blogs certain their posts will “go” viral when Continue reading »

Aug 102014

1. Blog Often

Blog every day for the first 30 days, then blog at least twice a week.

2. Forget Perfection

The quest for perfection is just fear in disguise. It will keep you from posting.

3. Write like you speak

Authenticity will keep you afloat in the blogosphere. I use words I made up all the time (zimwad, ass-gasm), and Continue reading »

Oct 072017

I saw a job opening for a “Whale Watch Supervisor” in Hawaii on, so I applied for it. Here’s my cover letter:

Hello. First, wow, this is the first I’ve ever even HEARD of a “whale watcher supervisor,” but I thoroughly believe it is definitely, without a doubt, absolutely probably the best job in the history of the universe. Does the whale-watcher supervisor get to have whale-watcher subordinates? Like lower-level whale watchers I’d get to boss around and tell things like, “Look over there! Did you see that WHALE?!?!?! IT WAS AN AWESOME WHALE! Next time make sure you see it or I’ll write you a stern reprimand.” Because if so I’d be good at Continue reading »