Author Archives: Kirstie Olley

About Kirstie Olley

A mother of an adorable and energetic baby boy, an enthusiastic JRPG gamer, a prolific writer with more ideas than she knows what to do with and a loving wife. Dreams of seeing at least one of her stories published.

Revision Conundrum

I’ve come to a point in editing Written By The Stars where I have to decide whether or not to pull out a cool plot point.

The concept of this part of the plot is awesome and it would be a great way to show the differences between Fanta’s home world (our own) and the world she ends up in. On the other hand the only way to solve it in this book is to either change a part of the story’s climax I don’t want to change, or make it part of the driving source for a sequel novel.

I’ve idly toyed with the idea of a sequel to Written By The Stars almost since its completion, but have never had a strong enough plot idea to make me want to commit to it.

Now I haven’t got a choice. If I keep this plot thread in, I need to resolve it in the second book (because all first book resolution options make me want to barf for entirely non-pregnancy related reasons), or I need to remove all mention of it and stick with a stand-alone fantasy novel. This means I have to pause in editing to see if I can make a plot outline worth committing to.

Which is a pity since my editing momentum has been great the last few weeks since I restarted working on this revision back at the writers retreat.

</rant> ;p

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February Goals Round-Up 2015

feb goalsFor such a short month I was surprisingly busy, but at least I managed to get a lot done.

For goal #1 (being a good president to my writer’s group) we’ve commenced work on an anthology to celebrate 20 years of Vision Writers writing and critiquing one another. The anniversary is next year, but as most people who know about publishing are aware it’s not as simple as snap your fingers and done, so we’ve a long road.

I also organised and ran my first writers retreat. It was all Vision Writers members, but it wasn’t an official Vision event. We all had a great time and you can find out a little more about it here if you’re interested. I would like to do it again, but not any time too soon – not with baby on the way ;p There’s so much organisation that you might not realise is involved.

In regards to goal #2 (final revision and editing for Storybook Perfect) I still haven’t started it, but that’s because I only want to revise one book at a time, and I’m working on goal #3 which is the revision of Written By The Stars. I’ve been using holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course to help me get as much done in one pass as possible. For most of last year I was stymied by the massive world building lesson, lesson 7, but I finally defeated the daunting lesson and moved through another 6, I’m almost finished :D

Regarding goal #4 (writing and submitting more short fiction) as usual I killed it. I think I’m very much in love with short fiction, which is funny considering one of my very early posts about finding them difficult ;p

I wrote an extra 3000 words in ‘Foxworth'(previously known as Tubby) based on the group’s feedback, and according to those who gave the story a second read through made it even better. I also finished ‘Couples Counselling’ at a total of 3358 words and submitted it to my writers group for critique. Then I wrote a new flash fiction piece called Ella’s Baby (500 words) and did some editing on the novella ‘The Troll’s Toll’. Because of The Troll’s Toll’s larger length I’m seriously considering self publishing it as it’s length makes it a hard sell to just about every market I know of.

I’ve been working towards goal#5(starting a mailing list) too – finally! I have formatted two ebooks and made my first cover, all working towards the freebie for signing up. I’m repackaging a competition winning story that’s now out of print. You’ll see the results very soon.

Goal #6 (keep learning), well I learned lots through goals 1, 3 and 5 and even (as you always do from good feedback) some from goal 4, so still chugging along.

On wonderful, but slightly less goal orientated notes, I enjoyed my 3 year blogiversary and I added Goodreads buttons all over the website :)

How’d you go with the shortest month of the year?

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Vision Blogging: Trope Or Cliche?

Blogging about today’s meeting over on VisionWriters.net about one of the biggest take aways from today’s feedback: using tropes to your advantage while avoiding cliches that make your readers roll their eyes.

Check it out.

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Three Year Blogiversary

3621625591_dc0a8063d6_mIt’s been three years since my first post ‘Starting In Medias Res‘ and to celebrate three years of blogging here on Storybookperfect.com I’m going to share with you some of the ways I’ve changed over the last three years.

Well of course, first up I’ve been published. I’ve won a local writing competition, been a finalist in a national award, and have an honourable mention in an international competition. I’ve also racked up plenty of rejections too.

I remember I used to read all the spam comments to check and see if a legit person had been erroneously filtered in. Now if I went through and read the 600 odd comments that appear daily I’d have another 100 to read by the time I went through them. If the filter took your comment sorry, but she’s gone ;p

I’ve discovered the ‘joys’ of spending twenty minutes tinkering with a widget or a page improving it in ways that most people probably will never notice.

And for the start of my fourth year here’s four things I promise never to do:

  1. Those stupid ads, positioned right beside a link you need to click so you accidentally click the ad thus giving me money and you frustration(and maybe a virus to top it off).
  2. Speaking of ads, those ones where Google algorithms try to tailor the ad that appears to what you’ve looked at recently, but only ever seems to show a website you just visited.
  3. Spreading information (or gags) across multiple pages so you have to click next to keep reading the one article. This is a cheap tactic used to get more hits per day so Google ranks you higher
  4. Make my mailing list sign-up form appear as a pop-up mini-window over my website. These annoy me because even when I have signed up to the mailing list, when I visit the site again later it prompts me again. If you want to join my mailing list I’ll be setting it up very soon (still working on the freebie), and it will always and ever live in my sidebar, never in pop up windows.

Well. Here’s to three years done and a multitude more yet to come :D

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Sleepless Nights and The Troll Challenge

You weren't planning to sleep tonight anyway, were you?

You weren’t planning to sleep tonight anyway, were you?

I couldn’t sleep last night. I woke up at ludicrous o’clock in the morning and my brain was all ‘Hey Gurl, let’s get up and do something’. There’s no point even trying to sleep at that point because my suddenly active brain will start to dwell on less pleasant things if I don’t get up and do something with the unexpected/unwanted energy.

So I decided to do another read-thru edit of The Troll’s Toll. By the time I finished I was tired enough to go to bed, and excited enough to dream myself into the world and the futures of Lilly and Gramble.

Today, doing some catch up TV viewing I watched the most recent episode of Face Off (which you know I love thanks to this post) and what’s this weeks challenge?

Trolls.

Oh yeah.

And even better it featured Doug Jones (who played Abraham Sapien from Hellboy among many other wonderful creature roles).

None of the make-ups quite looked like Gramble to me, but there were quite a few that I almost want to make him into.

All this makes me feel really excited about The Troll’s Toll again. Which is awesome, but I kind of need to be striving towards my primary goals with my baby deadline so close. Ah, the troubles of a creative life ;p

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Certifiably Delighted

Me and my shiny new certificate. Yes, I framed it.

Me and my shiny new certificate. Yes, I framed it.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I suppose it was more in passing in a goals round-up than in a big way. So let me rectify that.

Last year my (still not yet published) short story, Charming, received an honourable mention in the fourth quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers Of The Future contest.

An honoruable mention nets me a nice certificate to commemorate the achievement. And it just arrived in the mail :D

Now I’ll be putting it beside my lovely Redlitzer trophy and my ‘published author’ plaque/desk stand thing. I’m starting to get a nice little collection going.

If you’d like to know a little more about Charming this is the one sentence summary I have for it on my ‘Current Projects’ page:

To keep his small kingdom from bankruptcy Prince James sells his services to worried parents and lazy lovers to rescue their princesses for them. His latest mission however, is proving to be his most difficult.

Charming is still out there shopping for a home and has a couple of sequels at various developmental stages too. I’ll keep you updated on its progress.

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Vision Blogging: Valentines Writing Prompt

valentinesI’m blogging over at VisionWriters.net again today. This time it’s a writing prompt for Valentines day that encourages you to match a pair of personal ads with hilarious results.

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January Goals Round-up 2015

There should be a ‘belated’ in brackets at the start of that title ;p

As mentioned yesterday I not only went on a writers retreat but organised the whole damn thing(including lunches and dinners), so the end week of January was a crazy rush for me – hence utterly forgetting to do my goals round-up.

I sent out only a couple of stories (most of my polished ones were sent out at the end of last year so are still awaitng acceptance/rejection), but I did do a crazy massive edit on Glass Bones to make it an acceptable word count for a particular magazine running a theme I thought it very apt for. I took Glass Bones from 8,400 words to 6,000. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but somehow I did(I might post about that more soon).

I wrote a new short story ‘Tubby’ based on the writing prompt I created for the Vision Writers website. Tubby came in at 2,300 words and I submitted it to my writers group for critique. I also got back to work on Couples Counselling(an idea I had last year) and wrote an additional 1,800 words in it. So goal #4 is chugging along quite nicely.

As far as goal #1, being a good president to my writers group I think I’ve been doing well. This is based on a lack of hate mail and no one throwing rocks at the back of my head ;p . No, really, I’ve based that on me getting to work on the Vision Writers website, updating pages, getting the start of a regular blogging schedule underway – including making up (what I hope are) new and original writing prompts. Not to mention the writers retreat (despite it not being an official group event I’m sure it fostered happiness within the group), lots of organising for that!

While I didn’t touch #2 or #3, number three did get a thorough going through at the retreat, but since this is a January round up we can’t count work done in February.

All up, a good, but very busy start to the year :)

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Retreating From The World

This weekend just passed I enjoyed going on a writers retreat.

The view from the whale watching tower atop the house we rented.

The view from the whale watching tower atop the house we rented.

We rented a house on Stradbroke Island within walking distance of the beach – because that never distracted any writer ever… and now I may or may not have slight sunburn on the top of my bump(but nowhere else).

There was writing and editing, there was voting for funny awards (like ‘most likely to give the rest of us a complex’ and ‘most distracting’) and math used to calculate our best achievers, there was tasting of medieval themed drinks like mead (which was actually what started the whole idea last in June last year), there was a party house across the road(who won the aforementioned ‘most distracting’ award), and many new in-jokes created.

While all the attendees were members of Vision Writers it wasn’t an official Vision Writers retreat(I was  not president when I started organising it, only vice president(nor was I pregnant when I STARTED organising it ;p )).

Let me assure you there is more to organising and wrangling such a large number of people than you’d think. However I set myself an editing goal and both achieved and exceeded it, plus this morning (though not officially part of the retreat but rather an extra day of camping I tacked on the end of it so I could enjoy some time with Xander and T-J on the island as well) I wrote a 500 word flash fiction piece I’m currently calling Ella’s Baby. So productivity was enjoyed.

We had a lot of fun and I hope to do it again, but I don’t see the future letting me arrange another one until next year at least.

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When The Going Gets Tough

- my mind tries to distract me.

I have just finished writing what may have been the toughest scene to write in my life thus far.

It wasn’t tough because I had no idea what to write. I knew EXACTLY what to write. It was the content, how close it is to my own life, that made it hard.

My mind kept trying to twist away from it. Hey Kirstie, check out what’s happening on Facebook. Oh, you should totally look at baby monitors for the new baby instead. No, write a blog post about this. You should go read that book you started yesterday. No wait, you should email that magazine you think might not have correctly removed you from their subscription list and is sending you copies you haven’t paid for yet.

Sometimes I could barely get a whole sentence out without my brain trying to disengage.

Tubby is a schnauzer

Foxworth is a schnauzer

This is all Talitha’s fault ;p No actually, going back far enough it’s my own. I made a writing prompt on the Vision Writer’s website and it inspired me to write ‘Foxworth’, the story of a family of five who adopt a dog with mismatched eyes and a creepy reason why he keeps being returned to the animal shelter.

I submitted Foxworth to my group for feedback, knowing it was a rather selfishly written story with an ending written to satisfy my own real life worries. I wanted to see if the story could appeal to anyone but me and maybe a few parents in similar situations to me.

Foxworth was well received, mostly with minor corrections, but the deeply talented Talitha pointed out something very important my story was missing. I had shied away from the distressing side of my life which the story was trying to appease. I wasn’t admitting to how bad things can be sometimes. I needed to show that to make the ending satisfying for more readers, to make those who haven’t lived this understand why the ending is cathartic. (You can read a bit more about Talitha’s feedback on the Vision Writer’s site)

I don’t know yet if what I’ve written will connect with people deeply enough. People who have experienced it will understand, but I think they would have understood even with the early version which didn’t flat out put it in your face.

I do know however, that Foxworth is becoming the story I’m most deeply invested in out of all my works.

There’s a particular market I really want to submit it to, but if they reject the story I’m not sure I have the strength to keep sending it to other traditional markets like I do with all my other short stories. Not due to the pain of rejection (I’m pretty numb to that after the last few years and being aware that sometimes there’s only 4-5 story slots and well over a hundred submissions makes it less painful) but because I want it out there now. I have a deep urge to get Foxworth into the hands of others. So perhaps you’ll be reading Foxworth soon…

 

 

schnauzer image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

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