Kirstie Olley

Mother/writer/gamer Kirstie Olley is president of Vision Writers group and author of many quirky speculative fiction stories that have been competition winners, Aurealis Awards finalists, and honourable mentions in international competitions.

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Just sharing the writing prompt I put on the Vision Writers website today.

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This will be a short post since my main goal is big(ish) so there’s only one.

  • Finish the first draft of ‘Skeleton Romance’ (working title)

Stretch Goal:

  • Get a real title for ‘Skeleton Romance’

Extra Stretch goal:

  • Finish ‘Light In The Deep'(working title) novelette

Now, less blogging, more writing ;p

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Oops, I forgot to do January’s round-up.

So far this year I’ve written a new short story: Mudgerwokee. A horror tale which was initially 9,000 words, then I shaved down to 7,500 to meet the editor’s word count, but now based on the editor’s notes I’ll be bumping up a bit again to flesh out the ending.

I’ve also completed self-edits on the first sequel to Charming, a fun novella called Charming Rivals and getting it out to my critique group for feedback – a longish process since the story after editing has become 18,000 words long and I can only post 5,000 word each month to my group.

February I’ve spent most of focused on Glass Slippers, completing my self-edits on that novella(which includes adding almost 10,000 words) and have now sent it off to beta readers and should get the feedback returned by end of March. I also wrote a (completely unplanned and out of nowhere) an erotic scene between two characters from Glass Slippers. Considering the style of the novella though, I doubt that scene will ever see the light of day ;p

And for the last couple of days I’ve been getting my head back into the voice of Min, my first person perspective protagonist from ‘Skeleton Romance'(working title) as I intend to finish that novel’s first draft this next month. I’ve been rereading the 43,000 odd words I’ve already written to refamiliarise myself with both plot and voice. Yeah, yeah, I know you endlessly hear writing ‘gurus’ telling you to never do that, just push ahead with the draft, but sometimes advice needs to be ignored. I mean if I didn’t do this, how much more rewriting and editing would I need to do later? Is the three days I spent re-reading (note: I was reading, not editing) a bigger waste of time than the time I would spend in rewrites and editing because I wasn’t better prepared? Also, I’m not a newbie who has never finished a novel (I’ve finished several) and the advice feels aimed at newbies who are finding ways (subconsciously or otherwise) to avoid finishing their novel.

I also went to a seminar with Joanna Penn which was awesome and another step toward my ‘keep learning’ goal.

So a lot of editing, and some fresh new words (approximately 26,000 new words). Not a bad start to the year, but I’m going to have to push harder if I want to meet all my goals for the year.

How’s the first two months of 2017 been to you?

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A slide containing the post-it note listeners to The Creative Penn Podcast should be familiar with and Joanna discussing it.

Yesterday I had the distinct delight to go to a part speech part panel featuring the lovely and clever Joanna Penn.

It’s funny, here in Brisbane we get a bit ignored, we aren’t Sydney (who the rest of the world thinks is Australia’s capital, not merely a capital of one of our states) and we aren’t trendy Melbourne, so we get overlooked fairly regularly by celebrities(though perhaps not so badly as the other capitals ;p ). Thus I honestly never expected an amazing author like Joanna would come here. Naturally the second she mentioned on one of her podcasts she was coming here I was like ‘sign me up for whatever seminar she’s doing’.

And I did sign up. I went into the event thinking I’ve listened to so many of the podcasts (I started listening when Xander was still an infant, I’d do our daily walk with him in the stroller(so he would fall asleep) and my headphones in) that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t actually learn anything much new, maybe just one or two points I’d forgotten over the years. I was there for the sheer excitement of seeing THE Joanna Penn, not just hearing her voice like I do every week. At the end of the seminar I looked at the notebook I’d brought with me and saw I had four pages of notes! Some of it ideas that came from what she said or reminders to myself, but also a lot of fresh info.

One thing that surprised me a lot was how much Brisbane actually played into the early stage of her writing life. i mean you know the basic story from having read her non-fiction books and blog posts and having listened to the podcast, but it was one of those things that didn’t really sink in until I heard her talking about all these familiar things. I knew the suburb where she’d lived, her old house looked like it could have been down the street from any of the places I’ve lived, she did the ‘year of the novel’ course from QWC (which I’m a member of). Isn’t it interesting how these points of commonality make you feel closer to someone (even if you don’t actually know them ;p )

Joanna Penn, me, and Emma Lee Gough

There were plenty of laughs too, both in Joanna’s original presentation and the panel style chat that happened after that. The Q&A that wrapped the session up was informative and they took the time to answer pretty much every hand that went up – and those whose questions involved a more in depth answer they invited to come down and chat with them at the end for more details – and, best of all, at the very end Emma and I got a selfie with Joanna.

I absolutely recommend if you ever have a chance to see her speak you do so.

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I’ve been forgetting to link these lately – whoops!

For the February writing prompt over on the Vision Writers website I’ve done ‘Role Reversal‘, so check it out.

 

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I’m a few days late with this because I worked my ‘day job’ (which is a very weird term considering my *real* day job is caring for the kids and writing, more aptly it would be my ‘once or twice a week’ job ;p ) both public holidays, and the moment I came home on the second day we jumped in the car to head off for Xander’s birthday trip. I hope this busy-ness isn’t a sign of the year to come ;p

First, I’ll break down 2016 by the goals I set at the start of the year.

Goal #1 – Finish the edits of Written By The Stars. Gah, I did try a couple of times, but honestly I’m stymied by the same problem as last time, I just don’t know if I’m ‘fixing’ things that are good as they are and leaving things that do need repair. I think I need to just get some beta readers to go over it this year and use their feedback to help instead of boiling my own brain endlessly over it.

Goal #2 – Be the best president I can be of my writers group, Vision Writers. If being voted in again is a good guideline as to success in such a role then: success. 2016 saw a LOT of extra jobs in regards to this fall in my lap, several which I thought would be taken care of by others. Most of them were my own over-ambitious fault though ;p

Goal #3 – Work on my several novellas I published The Troll’s Toll and all the reviews on Amazon are very positive. I’ve got Glass Slippers almost to beta-reading point, and Skeleton Romance turned out to be a novel, not a novella. Quite happy with this one’s result.

Goal #4 – Keep writing and selling short fiction. I wrote 5 new short stories (about 50,600 words worth) and sold Glass Bones (being published very soon in the WARRIOR anthology from Ink and Locket Press), Hanabi to Kitsune, The Beauty of the Dance (published in Myriad Lands from Guardbridge Books) and God’s Chosen in Darkest Depths anthology from Vision Writers. Also published in 2016 (though not exactly ‘sold’ in 2016) were Gaps in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #63 and Charming in Leading Edge Magazine #68. I also have had the honor of having an editor approach me and ask me if I’d like to write a story for their next anthology (I’m currently working on the story).

Goal #5 – Finish one of the NaNo novels I started – dismally failed as I didn’t even try it 🙁

Goal #6 – Work with as many editors as I can. This went great. I worked with editors on Gaps, Charming (a whole team on this one 😀 ), Glass Bones, The Beauty of the Dance, and God’s Chosen.

Goal #7 – Find some dedicated beta readers. I didn’t get very far with this one sadly, but again, didn’t work as hard on it as I could have.

Goal #8 – Keep Learning. A good result and fairly easy considering how many editors I got to work with. Additionally I learned how to format an ebook and layout a print book, as well as discovering new story structures such as kishotenketsu. I also listened to a LOT of podcasts, including The Creative Penn, The Self Publishing formula, the Novel Marketing Podcast, and Writing Excuses.

So over all quite a good year. I wrote 134,000 new words and did a sizeable amount of editing and other writing endeavors. I could have done better on the novel side of things though.

As for 2017’s goals:

  • Publish at least three more of my Retailored Fairy Tales
  • Finish first draft, complete edits, and get to beta readers ‘Skeleton Romance’ (also give it a real title ;p )
  • Continue writing and traditionally publishing stories (won’t be hard with three sales already due for release ;p )
  • Continue learning
  • Continue being an awesome president of Vision Writers Group
  • Write at least three more Retailored Fairy Tales
  • Complete a novel (as in to the point I can resume submitting to agents)

So there’s a few very specific ones, and a few looser more general ones but I’ll certainly be kept busy.

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For this holiday season grab two of my stories for free (or even three if you sign up for my newsletter also!).

God’s Chosen is my most recently published short story, released in Darkest Depths, and you can get THE WHOLE ANTHOLOGY FREE from the 25/12/16 to 28/12/16. Not just my story but also all the other tales by up and coming Australian authors.

God’s Chosen is the tale of Ryn, a young woman born into a modern day cult, and her fight to break free, no matter how badly her peoples’ God wants her to stay.

The Troll’s Toll, the first of my Retailored Fairy Tales novellas, will also be free. For those not familiar with my Retailored Fairy Tales, they are set in a world where witches will curse you for looking sideways at them, trolls charge bridge tolls(and accept princesses as payment), but you can hire a Prince Charming should your daughter have need of escaping either of the aforementioned predicaments.

As for the story itself: Lilly might be a princess, but she’s still the ultimate middle child, lost in a crowd of ten siblings. From his inability to ever get her name right Lilly knew her father didn’t care about her, but she never guessed exactly how little until the bridge. Without enough money to pay the toll, he uses her as payment to the troll that runs the bridge. Now Lilly must re-adjust to life as a troll’s slave, but the troll is not the worst thing in the forest…

  1. Grab The Troll’s Toll free
  2. Grab Darkest Depths (containing God’s Chosen) free
  3. Grab Stolen Hearts for free by signing up for my newsletter

And have a great holidays everyone <3

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distraction thy name is Pokemon
distraction thy name is Pokemon

November was going pretty well, in fact I was even keeping a NaNo pace at the start. And then Pokemon Sun/Moon came out. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks ;p

As for the actual goals I completed Sugar Cane and Swam Monsters at 15,000 words, and I completed Glass Slippers rewrites at 39,000 words. The edits aren’t quite finished, I still need to do a read through and a scour through before it goes to beta readers, but considering how many new words went into and shuffling of scenes and ideas and subsequent fact/continuity checking this is still a pretty good result. Sadly, I didn’t get around to Charming Rivals or ‘Skeleton Romance’, though I did a lot of thinking about ‘Skeleton Romance’ and its climax.

For December I’m keeping the goals light as school lets out early so I’ll have both kids all day every day – except when I go to work! I want to:

  • Finish Glass Slippers edits and get it to betas
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Charming Rivals

Stretch Goal:

  • Complete (or at least continue) ‘Skeleton Romance’ first draft

I’d love to have December as a ‘race to the finish’ but we’ll see how things go.

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If you caught my last post (October Goals Round-Up) you know I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year because I’m supporting my husband in doing it. But I did a quick check on my word count for this month so far and I’m on 21,050 – technically on track for NaNo (well, off by 567 words, but the day is young).

I got there by finishing Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters (which lets face it isn’t a short story but rather a novellete at 15,000 words), and giving in to the demands of my muse (who wouldn’t let me think about anything else) by writing out the first 3000 words in ‘Romance is Dead'(working title), and finally by adding the carriage heist scenes(and answering a few other issues my writers group had) in Glass Slippers which so far have come out at adding 9,250 words to the story.

Obviously much trimming will be done on these words in later editing stages, but I’m just amused that I’ve kept pace with NaNoWriMo despite not officially doing it. Sadly, since the rest of the month is the trimming sort of editing I doubt tomorrow will see the same thing happen, or the rest of the month.

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Yes, I carved jack'o'lanterns again ;p
Yes, I carved jack’o’lanterns again ;p

I spent the first two weeks of October going over (and over and over) Charming Rivals, there’s something wrong with it I’m sure, but I’ve been suffering a lot of self doubt lately which I can’t seem to shake. I’ve done what I could and submitted it to my writers group for feedback so hopefully I’ll hear back soon if I’ve fallen short.

Then I had a dream. A story dream. I have them every now and then; a dream which would be an awesome story. I spent that day writing just short of 4,000 words of outline as well as some choice dialogue snippets which had to be preserved before wakefulness stole too much of them. The story is currently under the working title ‘Romance Is Dead’, but I’m positive someone in the same genre will have already used the title, so it’s just my reference point for now.

‘Romance Is Dead’ wasn’t my only idea this month, I also had two others, and figured out a way to make the long-shelved The Eighteenth Soldier work better so I can finally complete its draft with confidence(though I’ll probably change it to sixteen soldiers since I’m no longer trying to make it fit a theme of ’18’ ;p ).

I wrote 6,200 new words in Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters. I’ve come across an unexpected thread in the story and am currently chasing the rabbit down the hole so might not keep all the words, but it’s fun none the less.

To be honest though, despite all that talk about working on Glass Slippers last month… well I didn’t even read the feedback from my group on it yet. I got so wrapped up in Charming Rivals, then ‘Romance Is Dead’, and now Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters. I need to get myself into gear.

I think my biggest problem at the moment is a lack of confidence in myself. I keep thinking my stories aren’t that good, then it seems like all of them are sub-par. I keep forgetting several of my stories have been written ‘off the cuff’, self edited with no other eyes on them, submitted, and been accepted for publication. Two of those by the first place I sent them to. One of them even went on to be an Aurealis Awards finalist. So I’m not crap. Yet I’m having some trouble getting my subconscious to accept that fact. I’m sure every writer (heck probably every PERSON) goes through this. But it bugs me because now I’m not sure if something really is wrong with a story, or I’m just being silly.

Enough pessimism, my goals for November are:

  • Finish Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Glass Slippers (and try to find beta readers if possible)
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Charming Rivals

Stretch Goal:

  • Complete (or at least continue) ‘Skeleton Romance’ first draft

Though I may have to hold myself back from writing some of my new ideas also ;p

You may notice a lack of NaNoWriMo in my goals list. I’m not doing it this year. Why? Well partly for the same reasons as last year, but mostly because this year I’m supporting my husband in writing HIS novel! It’s a hilarious noir thriller called “I Am Not Liam Neeson”. I can guarantee if he finishes this he’ll sell his novel before I sell any of mine because it is comedy gold. And he doesn’t read my blog, so I’m not just saying that to pander him ;p