My first 5 star book of the year, and I read it at 1.5x speed
One of my more casual goals for this year was to increase my audiobook and podcast listening speeds. Audiobooks already save me time by allowing me to read while walking, exercising, cleaning, and doing housework, but I also listen to 9 podcasts about writing craft/book marketing and 8 fiction podcasts (I also want to grow that fiction set). I want to keep reading 50+ books a year as well as consuming these (mostly) weekly podcasts, but I also want more time to write and sure as heck aren’t cutting into my time with my family. Increasing reading speed gives me the opportunity to try and have it all.
I’d set the goal aiming that in around 6 months I’d be listening to all my non-fiction podcasts at 1.5x speed and I’d *maybe* try audiobooks around that speed too by the end of the year.
I’m already listening to all my podcasts at either 1.5x or 2x, and have listened to most of the audiobooks I’ve read in the later half of this month at either 1.5x or 2x. I’ve already adapted. Only every now and again do I come across a narrator (or host) who speaks a little too fast to handle at the higher speeds.
T-J laughs at me. He teases me all the time about the not-quite-chipmunk sound of the voices. But while listeneing to the audiobook of Barefoot Investor and reading along with the print version my fab friend Jake bought me, I discovered listening at 1.75x speed is very close to my normal reading speed when reading a paperback or ebook (my reading is a tiny bit faster). This is probably why I’ve adapted so easily to the faster listening speed because my brain is already capable of absorbing this sort of information at this speed already, only my mode of consumption has changed.
If you’re in any doubt as to the improvement of my reading speed, I have kept up-to-date will all my podcasts and read 8 books this month. Also note this is during summer school holidays too! And my enjoyment of books hasn’t lessened; I read my first two 5 star books of the year already, Holly Balck’s ‘The Cruel Prince‘ and Naoki Higashida’s ‘The Reason I Jump’.
Do you love audio for reading or listening to podcasts, or are you hesitant to try it?
I’ve never been one to cry at weddings before. I understand the emotion that leads people to cry at them and I have felt that culminating swell and flutter often, but never actually had the tears until today. I doubt there was a dry eye in the place.
Today our Aunt Trish and her partner Cath were married. It was a beautiful and touching ceremony and I’ve been told that it was the first same-sex marriage to take place in Queensland. The law passed allowing same-sex couples to marry in Australia on December 9th, 2017, but you must give your celebrant 30 days prior notice before the ceremony can legally take place – however, there are exemptions for every rule and Cath and Trish qualified for one(though a part of me wishes it wasn’t so considering their specific exemption).
The magnificent staff at John Flynn Private Hospital (where Cath worked for some 25+ years) went all out setting up and decorating marquees, putting on a delicious spread and making a wedding cake that will be the envy of many couples I’ve no doubt.
All our love to you both Trish and Cath and may you be together and happy far beyond this simple moment in time <3
If you’d like to see more photos than what I can fit in this tiny post those of us attending the ceremony today are using the hashtag #CathandTrish2018 on your poison, oops sorry, social media of choice.
The Heartstrikers series. It was sneakily addictive. They seem slow at first, but by the end of the first book, I thought I’d enjoyed it but wasn’t amazed and yet I went straight to Audible, bought the next one, downloaded it and started listening within ten minutes. I was like an addict who thinks they weren’t obsessed with crack and then finds themselves taking the next dose automatically ;p
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, once you get over the HP fanfic feel (which makes sense after having read Fangirl by the same author) it is frigging awesome and just so deeply satisfying. I will definitely reread this at some point
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal was a delight. A WWI setting but with a supernatural twist, countless strong female characters, and that plot, those feels – I highly recommend it.
Strange The Dreamerwas so unusual I couldn’t help but love it. It has a great mish-mash of myth and fairy tale feeling but all in its own world. My only complaint was the in the same scene head-hopping that was used a fair bit in the later third.
I read a lot of books on the craft of writing also. My favourite craft books for 2017 were: Half A Million Words In Nine Months by Talitha Kalago for productivity can’t be beat (and I read a few productivity books this year, not just writing productivity but general productivity)
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell is probably my craft content winner for this year, though Save The Cat Goes To The Movies had some very cool ideas/concepts in it which means the original Save The Cat is near the top of my to-read pile for craft books in 2018.
Final Fantasy XV. Yes, I know, it came out in 2016, but I played most of my first playthrough in ’17, and all of my second playthrough, and let’s not forget the DLCs, Episodes Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis (<3), so IMO this is perfectly valid to be one of my favourite games in 2017.
OMG the chocobros! You could see the all male cast as being sexist, but I saw it as being fanservice ;p I mean, there was the tsundere(Noct), the beefcake(Gladio), the megane(my Ignis) and the shota(Prompto). I told one of my gamer friends this and he says he can’t unsee what I showed him, so he’s always thinking of them that way now ;p Also, that new game+, so generous. You keep EVERYTHING, level, EXP, AP, gear, items. I don’t think you lost *anything* except story progress. It took me months (in my fragments of time, late at night) to finish my first playthrough(admittedly because I love side quests), then I did new game+ and, with my level 80 characters, I just whisked through the story, crying just as much as the credits rolled (and that post-credits campfire scene!)
Also, the episodes! Gladio was just a bit of fun, Prompto was good fun and nice to live out his tragic past, but Episode Ignis! OMG. I mean, Iggy was already my fave (seriously, glasses, puns, the ‘mum’ of the group, and his scathing moments of sarcasm – how could he not be my fave?) but that episode! Not only was the combat style the easiest to adapt to for me (A results all the way through 😀 ), but the story was so good. And then, cherry on top, being able to go back and make a different decision which essentially creates a new ending for the entire game not just the episode. I was so happy. There may have been tears again. Anything that elicits this much excitement and tears deserves my #1 billing.
Atelier Firis: If you know anything about my gaming side, you know I’m a huge fan of the Atelier series. I even have the actual artbooks (not just those crappy free ‘art books’ you get in collectors editions(though I do have plenty of those too ;p )). For this one, I loved the focus on exploring. The portable atelier was soooo handy as well, (remember Totori where you had to return to base if you needed to craft anything?) but I hated the nebulous time frame. I didn’t know how long I had to complete my tasks and it stressed me because in older games you sometimes had to complete one task within a year to unlock the ability to stretch the game’s timeframe out to the more typical three years.
Then after all that panic, it turned out I could complete the storyline and *then* finish all my character events. In fact, several character events couldn’t take place until post game. It made things too easy. I like the ‘three years’ time limits the earlier ps3 games gave me, enough time to take things seriously, but enough time to explore. I still have some character endings to unlock, but the excess of freedom takes the ‘urgency’ out of the game, so I keep feeling like I ‘need’ to play other things instead.
Also, when I saw Monika in Atelier Sophie and she looked sooooo much like Linca I was expecting for there to be a tie-in where she’s the genetic donor to the Linca clones or something, but she wasn’t even referenced in this game :'( I also kinda wish they’d left Oskar large. There are very few positive portrayals of larger characters in games, and while he wasn’t 100% well treated it’s better than him magically losing weight ‘off screen’ and appearing in this game as a skinny character…
I did dig how different outfits affected things like alechmy, travel speed, drops, ect. But I often just wore whatever I found cutest ;p
Persona 5 Can you believe I didn’t find the time to play it sooner? I’m barely halfway through the second dungeon, I only just started it before Christmas. It came out within a week of Atelier Firis and close to when Zelda: Breath of the Wild did, so it got back-burnered. Then there was a month or two were health and work conspired to reduce my gaming time to zero. When I came out of that funk I forgot about P5 and started playing the FFXII Remastered for PS4 (because I never beat the final boss originally, I went off to grind with sidequests and then got distracted by other games and time got away from me to the point where I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the ending because I’d forgotten so much of the story). I got halfway into FFXII and realised I hadn’t played P5, but I knew if I stopped FFXII I’d never finish it either, again – so now Persona 5 became my candy for completing FFXII.
Thus far (as established I’m only halfway through the second dungeon, so I’m still getting tutorials every now and again ;p ) it’s got everything I love about the Persona series: crazy anime characters with big nutty personalities, familiar monsters (who you can capture and use to fight for you), hilarious plot (often wth very serious and dark undertones(not always undertones…)), the character interactions which increase friendship levels and power up their respective personas in your arsenal, and unique dungeons and an unusual way to access them.
It’s also got some new twists, like the way you enter dungeons, the way you capture your personas, and can essentially mug the monsters for money. I really love the post-battle roundup of what exp/money/items you got from the battle, it’s long, but hasn’t yet worn me out. I’m having fun thus far and looking forward to getting clear of this dungeon when time should free up a little more (in game ;p ) and I can start taking charge of my in game time better (one of the game mechanics the Persona series has is it gives you ‘free time’ to spend either upping stats by doing cool things like participating in eating challenges, going to movies, or making coffee/lockpicks; or deepening friendships to power your personas up; or go into the dungeons, and it’s always tough to try and get everything done in a single play through)
Other games I played:
I just started I Am Setsuna on the Switch. I was attracted by the dark love story plot, but I’m not far enough in yet to write a quality review.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while awesome reminds me I don’t really like open world stuff(as you might have guessed a bit in my comments about Atelier Firis). I far prefer a linear path that I have to follow. I don’t know if that’s me being old-fashioned, or because I have such a small amount of gaming time I don’t like to waste time making choices as to where to go, I want to be told instead.
I had a blast playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on my phone. I always love an Animal Crossing game, but the problem with phone games is to play them cheaply you have to play a lot, and … well… time – never enough of it.
And countless otome games ;p
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018: Octopath Travellers, I played the demo on Switch. Lately I’m starting to play less of the 2d look games – only so many games I have time for and I want them to be pretty – but this one has surprisingly dark themes and plot lines and I’m liking the tweaks on ye old standard turn-based combat, so depending on price I’ll probably give it a go.
2017 has been a pretty good year to me (though health-wise it might have been a little kinder ;p ).
This is a long one, so the TL;DR highlights are here and my goals for 2018 are right down the bottom.
Apart from writing 78,400 new words and a whole bunch of self editing some of the highlights were, I had three short stories published: Hanabi to Kitsune, Mudgerwokee, and Glass Bones. I received two new honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest for Mermaid In A Jar and Foxworth.
There were a few exciting firsts for me such as receiving my first rewrite request(when you submit a piece instead of a rejection they say ‘hey if you fix up these couple of problems again you can send it back to us for reconsideration’, usually once rejected you can’t ever send that piece back to that place(it’s considered rude at the least and it’s against the submission rules at a lot of places)). It was also the first time an editor approached me to do a story for their anthology(instead of me submitting work to them).
I applied for a grant for the first time, and while I didn’t get it I got told I was close and got some lovely feedback on the sample I’d submitted.
The Troll’s Toll rolled along nicely, gathering up a decent number of very lovely reviews and only one of those reviews is by someone I know(and it’s only an acquaintance, not a friend who might feel they owe me a good review). All the rest are legit strangers who found my book and liked it. I do wonder about the couple of one star reviews on Goodreads, I don’t care so much about them being one star, it’s that they left no review beyond the star rating. I want to know what they didn’t like so I can gauge if there was something I should have done/done better or if they were someone who is outside my target market so I really truly don’t care at all ;p
In personal things my right arm had a run for it this year: oil burns down the inner arm (right where it brushes on laptop edges or desk edges when typing >.< ), a random weird swelling (assumed allergic reaction to a bug bite), and my Christmas present to myself, a bread knife slicing through my pointer finger right before Christmas. I’m certainly glad it was my right arm not my left since I’m a leftie, but typing does slow down dramatically when you’re down to one arm (cue bad internet jokes… we all know the ones I mean ;p )
This year also saw Xander starting to use some more words. He also verbalises more when signing and requesting now (even if the noise he’s making doesn’t really sound like the word he’s supposed to be saying). At school he’s also using some new PECS systems which seem to be working well and we’re hoping to get our hands on a PODD book for him this coming year so he can use one at home. It’s amazing to see how much he’s improved. He also got his first real haircut this year and both he and the barber survived ;p (we’ve been cutting his hair while he slept until now, which doesn’t result in too bad a look when you have wild curls like our little man)
Harley, on the other hand, has hit the ‘terrible twos’. Terrible is DEFINITELY the active word in that sentence. Time might have dimmed my memory, but I’m sure she’s worse than Xander was at that age. Partly because if she tantrums for something her sweet prince of an older brother gives it to her 99% of the time, reinforcing that tantrums get her results >.< We’re trying to teach him he can say no to her, and hoping that will help.
So, how’d I fair against my 2017 goals?
Goal #1: Publish at least three more of my Retailored Fairy Tales. I’d chosen this because I keep calling myself a hybrid author (which means I both traditionally publish and self publish), but 90% of my work was traditionally published. However, I recognised by my mid-year re-evaluation that I’d be rushing out poorer quality works if I followed this goal. There was no way I was going to let my self published stuff be of lower quality than my trad stuff, so I cut the actual publishing part out. Instead, I just worked on the production/revision/beta feedback/editing portion so I could have some polished work and revive this goal for 2018. I’m very on track to follow through on it in 2018 now.
Goal # 2: Finish first draft, complete edits, and get to beta readers ‘Skeleton Romance’ (also give it a real title ;p ). This went swimmingly. I finished it, did my self-edits, and gave it the title Lovely/Lonely (which I’m hoping my betas will let me know of the aptness). However when it came time to give it to betas, four other people in my beta-reading circle had asked for critiques on their novels just before Lovely/Lonely was ready and it was a safe bet everyone either wouldn’t have the time or would be all betaed out, and then it was December and Christmas, and as our friend Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins is wont to say ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’, so I decided to ask in mid-to-late January 2018 for betas instead.
Goal #3: Continue writing and traditionally publishing stories. This also went wonderfully. Not only did three stories get published, but I had my first case of an editor approaching me and asking me to do a story for them, but I also got my first rewrite request – and from an SFWA qualifying market too! I also got two more honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future Competition. I’m starting to rack up a lot of them ;p I also have one more short story under contract for next year, and several out there doing the rounds looking for homes. I also completed and wrote six new short stories and have the first half-two thirds of ‘Alone Time’.
I also signed up for the 5 Years to Become a Bestseller course (back when it first launched and it was only $25, it’s gone up since then ;p ) and have completed the first six months of work (it’s a five year course of course ;p ).
I also attended a short seminar by Joanna Penn (if you’re an indie author you know who I’m talking about!), as well as a couple of courses from the QWC, and attended the Brisbane Writers Group Convention (which is becoming much more about the craft and selling/marketing than finding a writers group).
Goal #5: Continue being an awesome president of Vision Writers Group. Well if being voted in again is any sign I must be doing well. This may be the last year I do this because I think there are some people waiting in the wings who would like to try their hand, I’m doing this for love and fun, but I think they have goals this role could help them toward, but let’s see how this year rolls.
Goal #6: Write at least three more Retailored Fairy Tales. I completed Charming Rivals, and have done the first third of Nothing Charming. I got the completed Glass Slippers off to betas but haven’t quite done the revisions yet. I partially completed this one but fell just short.
Goal #7: Complete a novel (as in to the point I can resume submitting to agents). I chose this because I have several half complete drafts and a couple of completed drafts in need of editing and revision. I chose Written By The Stars since it’s one of the oldest completed and is a standalone with a teensy bit of series potential. However it took me months to get through just the first third of the book (where as the first draft of Lovely/Lonely‘s edits took about a week, and they are similar length) and I realised it’s a lot bigger job than it appeared. I’m putting a full rewrite in my goals for 2018.
So that’s four goals brilliantly done, two partly done and being revived for 2018, and one being rolled into another 2018 goal with some other things. Not a bad result
And now, without further ado, my new goals for 2018:
Publish the Charming Series. This includes getting the first 3 out (Charming, Charming Rivals and Nothing Charming) and writing/revising/(hopefully)publishing The Handrell War, which will be the first novel length Charming for Hire story.
Get beta feedback on Lovely/Lonely, revise it with the feedback and start submitting to agents/publishers/competitions.
Continue writing and publishing short fiction in traditional publishing markets. This has never seemed to be hard for me ;p I already have several lovely stories I completed at the end of ’17, and several planned to do this year.
Take my back catalogue of short stories that are out of their exclusivity periods and self-publish them.
Start working towards creating a monthly fiction podcast. Uncertain yet whether I will be serialising a single story or just doing some short stories. I blame this goal on listening to and enjoying so many other fiction podcasts ;p
Continue being a good president to Vision Writers Group. We’ve recently had a turn over of sorts, several of our old regulars have gotten busy or successful and moved on and we’ve had a massive influx of talented newbies and I want to foster their growth and encourage them. I also hope to do more with the website, including (as I’ve recently started doing) making the images more ‘pinnable’.
Complete one of the unfinished novels (‘Keys’ or ‘Tucca’) and have it at least beta ready by years end if not betaed, revised, and out there doing the rounds.
Continue learning. Listening to podcasts, reading craft books, reading books in my genre, researching markets I want to sell to, researching successful self publishing, researching book marketing. All things I already do, all things I plan to continue doing. I’m also enrolled in the 5 Years to Become a Bestseller course, and have been following it pretty closely thus far and intend to continue on with that.
Rewrite Written by the Stars. I think she might just need a complete rewrite, but that *seemed* like too big a job – such a waste to cut all those words – but the recent slog through editing it makes me think it might be the easier way actually. This is my stretch goal for the year. The stretch on my stretch goal is having it betaed and revised with that feedback and out doing the rounds (a girl can dream, can’t she?)
The following are not so much goals as things I’ll be doing:
Another website overhaul. I also want to make some lovely landing pages just for my books/book series.
I’m going to add to the end of my round-up posts links to my Goodreads reviews of any books I read that month too, both fiction and non-fiction, and depending on my enthusiasm for that book, maybe a short snippet of a review.
Up my listening speeds. I’ll start with podcasts then add audiobooks. I want to be listening to podcasts(and comfortably absorbing all information in them) at 2x speed by the end of the year and audiobooks at 1.5x (If I can get to 2x that would be nice but I do partly feel fiction is a little nicer to dwell in). The reason behind this is I want to consume more, and the less time I’m listening to podcasts the more I am to books and I’d love to be polishing off more books every year.
Here’s hoping 2018 will be a healthier, less tantrum-filled year ;p Have you got any big goals for this year? If you’re thinking of making some goals but haven’t quite gotten around to planning them out yet I suggest you check out this blog post by the madly organised Talitha Kalago (author of Half A Million Words In Nine Months).
Kirstie Olley is an award-winning speculative fiction author and the full-time wrangler of her children Xander and Harlequin.
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Read The Troll's Toll: A Retailored Fairy Tales Novella now.
Read 'Charming' (Honorable Mention in the Writers of The Future contest Q4 2014) in Leading Edge Magazine issue 68.
Read 'Short Circuit' (finalist in the 2013 Aurealis Awards Best Fantasy Short Fiction category) in Oomph: A Little Super Goes A Long Way from Crossed Genres.
Read ‘Hanabi to Kitsune'(Fireworks and Foxes) now in Tales of the Sunrise Lands from Guardbridge Books.
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