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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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.

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I tried to finish writing this post last year, but things have been hectic – no surprise there! But it’s done now so buckle-up and check out some of my favourite books and video games in 2017.

Books

I review nearly everything I read, and you can check out everything I read and reviewed in 2017 on Goodreads. If you don’t want the whole list some of my top books were:

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 Dreamer was 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.

Also, an honourable mention to How To Write a Novel Using The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson for having such a unique spin on providing the information: telling it all in a story!

 

Games

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.

Finishing Persona 5

Atelier Lydie and Suelle – on Switch, yassss!

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdoms – the PS3 Ni No Kuni was so good how could I not be keen for this one?

Did you have any stand-out favourites in books or games for 2017? Do you totally agree or disagree with me on any of my faves? Anything you’re looking forward to now we’re in 2018?

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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’.

Goal #4: Continue learning. Through the course of the year I’ve read 8 books on writing craft (and I’m part-way through a ninth), you can see which ones on Goodreads if you’re curious. This year I added some new podcasts on craft, marketing, and/or indie publishing to my existing feed including The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, The Sell More Books Show, The Worried Writer, Write Now, and Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast. I also added several fiction podcasts to my feed as well including Apex, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Podcastle(all markets I’d love to sell my fiction to too, so I can call that market research while listening to great stories ;p ). I also went back and listened to five years of back episodes of the Writing Excuses podcast (which I already listened to since season 9, so I’ve only got three more years of back episodes to listen to ;p ).

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).

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Much healthier this month (though a round of tummy bugs hit the kids and I have a little cold, it’s ultimately not anywhere near as bad as much of the rest of the year ;p )

I finished the beta feedback both on the near future sci-fi/dystopia novel and for the choose-your-own-adventure fairy tale novel. They took up the lion’s share of my month though.

I also entered Hanabi to Kitsune and Glass Bones in the Aurealis Awards, which requires ecopies, so I decided rather than badgering the publishers for ecopies I’d just makes one of my own stories myself and practice my ebook formatting skills. I’ve recently bought and almost finished reading The Zen of Ebook Formatting by Guido Henkel so they should be pretty schmick ;p

On the very last day of the month, the Pacific Monsters anthology from Fox Spirit Books launched, containing my horror story Mudgerwokee. A promotional blog post is already up on the publisher’s website by me, and I’ll do one here soon too.

All last months goals and my progress:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft – I wrote a new 1,000 words, but that was all I could scrape in before the month ended
  • Complete beta reading the near future sci-fi novel I’ve been given – done!
  • Beta read choose your own adventure fairy tale novel – done!
  • Work on those re-submission rewrites I was given for Foxworth – been mulling them over mentally, but not red pen to paper editing has yet started
  • Use feedback on Not Human, Not Alien to polish the story – feedback read, should be easy to implement, but didn’t get the time. Need to write a suitable thank you letter too (even if I paid for it technically by backing a Kickstarter project ;p )
  • Write ‘Alone Time’ first draft – I have rough sketched the complete plot now, so ready to write. Expecting this to come in around 3,000 words as long as I don’t chase any rabbits ;p

Also, the results came in from the latest quarter of the Writers of the Future contest. I’d entered Mermaid In A Jar in it and received another honourable mention. Very happy to get another certificate, but really wanting to actually win for once (always an honourable mention never a prize ;p ).

Since this is the home stretch of the year, my goals are largely about trying to wrap things up, ticking off the last boxes. Because two-thirds of the month are school holidays (meaning both kids at home with me), and my other job is working in a video games store… at Christmas, you can see how I might not get as much done as I hope, but I really want to close out the year well.

  • Complete Nothing Charming draft (no, really this time ;p )
  • Resubmission rewrites for Foxworth
  • Complete revision of Not Human, Not Alien, if satisfied start submitting it
  • Write ‘Alone Time’
  • Read the three craft books at the top of my TBR pile
  • Start submitting Mermaid In A Jar

Stretch Goals:

  • Begin Revision of ‘Look Skyward’ (and give it a real name)
  • Work on beta reader feedback for Glass Slippers
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 I’m posting on the Fox Spirit Books blog today, a piece to help promote the just-released Pacific Monsters anthology which contains my horror story: Mudgerwokee.

The blog post is about why we’re afraid of the dark… or rather it started out that way and kind of turned into a flash fiction piece.

Check out the post and let me know if you like it, and if you’re a horror fan have a look at Pacific Monsters while you’re on the Fox Spirit website.

 

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October was rather a write off unfortunately. Health of myself and my family, and a spat of nasty migraines meant there were multiple days at a time where I couldn’t even look at a screen. That’s the reason why this post is so late too. The only one of my goals I made any real progress on for the month was my beta feedback, but I’ve not quite completed even that yet.

For November I’m just rolling forward last month’s goals and adding giving beta feedback to another book as well. And hoping against hope I can finally have a month where I don’t have health problems ;p

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When I set my goals at the start of last month I completely forgot to take into account the fact that approximately half the month would be lost to school holidays. Add in the hideous flu strains swimming in the Aussie air at the moment and I’m impressed I got anything done.

The biggest thing I did do was rage-paused editing Written By The Stars. Rage pausing is kind of like rage quitting, but you will come back to it, more like shoving it in the deep freezer in the garage(the one you can fit a human corpse in if need be) rather than drenching it in kerosene and throwing a match on it. It mightn’t sound like a good thing that I rage-paused Written By The Stars‘ edits, but when I stuffed it in the freezer beside… nothing. Nothing is in there.

>.>

<.<

>.>

Anyway, when I put Written By The Stars in the deep freeze I got out Lovely/Lonely (formerly known as Skeleton Romance) and edited it instead. And I completed the edits. Yup. Completed them. It’s ready for beta readers. The fact I can edit my more recent book in less than a month but the older book has taken months and not quite reached the 1/3rd mark is irrefutable evidence that over the last five years my writing has changed and advanced a lot.

My other goals (and progress on them) for September were:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft: Not quite, but I did write another 5,000 words
  • Beta read the non-fiction book and the near-future sci-fi book I’ve been given: I completed the non-fiction book but have only just started the fiction one
  • Using group feedback, edit Mermaid In A Jar so its ready to submit to publishers: Edited and submitted, just waiting to hear back
  • Write one of the new short stories rolling around in my head, ‘Bards vs Beasts’ or ‘Alone Time’: Nope. Failed to do anything more than just roll the idea around in my head while driving a few times. I have decided however it’ll most likely be ‘Alone Time’ that I’ll work on. Perhaps it’s because Mudgerwokee will be coming out soon, but I’m in a horror/dark fantasy mood ATM

Is anyone else sick and tired of being sick and tired? Apart from two flus(one of which is currently still with me, bleh), during the holidays Harley’s sleep pattern got a hiccup. The sort of hiccup which means I’m not even getting five straight hours a night anymore. Often not even five hours total between the two kids patterns sometimes. I don’t think that’s helping my poor immune system fight these viruses.

On the plus side, nearly all of the holidays were sunny and we took the kids to a lot of fun places. I also received another Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest (this time on Foxworth)(though I swear, one of these days I’m going to win the damn thing), and got my first ‘if you do these rewrites, please resubmit’ rejection. I’ve only had ‘yes’, feedback rejection, and form letter rejections before. I have now collected at least one of every kind of rejection except the ‘please forget about our magazine, never submit here again’ kind, and TBH I’m quite fine to never get one of those ;p

I also got an email from the Kickstarter campaign I backed which had the bonus of giving me a story critique and I’m doing one last polish on Not Human, Not Alien before sending it in for critique. I love working with new editors 😀 (even though it’s a ‘critique’, not an edit, I’m still getting an editor’s feedback, and that always helps me grow)

For October my goals are:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Complete beta reading the near future sci-fi novel I’ve been given
  • Work on those re-submission rewrites I was given(might take a while, I have to figure out how to integrate the changes without changing the story from what I want it to be)
  • Use any feedback on Not Human, Not Alien to polish the story and start submitting it(if the feedback comes back this month, editors are busy people and I’m not a demanding person ;p )
  • Write ‘Alone Time’ first draft

And stretch goal:

  • Continue editing Written By The Stars

Now to go take a bunch of flu meds and see how well I can self-edit when dosed up ;p

Hope you guys are all staying a lot healthier than me <3

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original photo by Lukas Roberston on Unsplash

We had a great turnout at the Vision Writers’ Group meeting this month. For a while now we have been averaging 6-7 people a meeting, but we were back to nearly filling up the table today. It was a good mix of veterans and the newcomers of this last year, and two first timers.

As usual there was heaps of good advice, but I decided to go with some advice around avoiding naming your character for stylistic or big reveal purposes. You can check out the article over on the Vision Writers website.

A Rose By Any Other Name – Or Without One?

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Did you enjoy reading Hanabi to Kitsune? Were you confused or intrigued about kitsuke after reading it?

Kitsuke is ‘the art of wearing a kimono'(and that act of it too). Some basic rules you might have caught in the story are that certain prints suit certain seasons, and how particular colours match(or contrast!) to look beautiful and stylish.

For example with prints and seasons, when I wore a kimono in spring, you’ll notice the strong theme of cherry blossoms both on my kimono and my obi (the picture also shows the gorgeous bow they tied for me too). Don’t panic if you find a lovely yukata or kimono which has multiple season images on it – you’ve found a special item which can be worn in both seasons 😀

You can also let your destination play into your choice, for example if you are going to be spending time waterside you might pick a print with irises on it since they grow by the water.

Your age can be a factor too. Younger people are encouraged to wear bright colours or bold patterns, but the older you get the more you’re encouraged to wear muted colours and simpler prints and patterns. Never forget though, you’re only the age you feel you are!

If you’d like to admire more kimono and learn more about kitsuke you can check out or follow some of the blogs I do.

Check out Kimono Tsuki she’s currently doing a Disney Princess Kitsuke project so she’s combining two loves of mine <3

Aubergine Fleur’s blog is full of magnificent shots of a wide range of obis being worn beautifully.

On Tumblr Kimono Nagoya(many pictures, plus a good amount of advice on how to co-ordinate); Tanuki Kimono(stories and accessories abound too), Wa-Dance (so many adorable drawings with on point kitsuke, and swatches), and Kimono Colours(puts a colour palette beside the pictures to help you figure out what matches and contrasts best). There’s lots more, but these are just my top picks, if you’re curious for even more and too lazy to look forthem yourself I could be convinced to share a longer list.

Going back to Hanabi to Kitsune, it’s just as well Mayu chose not to go obi-less since the ‘Heisei style’ her friend saw never extended very far beyond a few television images, and a couple of fashion blogs in Japan. It didn’t really take off ;p If you’re curious as to why I included it I was flicking through my Tumblr feed I saw the post below and decided a kitsuke-savvy girl like Mayu would know and think of it. At the time I wrote the story this was very new news. Time has proven it to never evolve. But I like it still being there, maybe it will make people Google ‘Heisei style yukata’ and make them ask more questions about kitsuke.

http://kimononagoya.tumblr.com/post/149916446276/hi-i-hope-i-can-ask-a-question-and-include-an

by

my theme be all

I did fairly well in August, particularly for someone who lost their voice twice! I finished edits of Dressed For Success and submitted it. I’m quite fond of it. It’s very strong work IMO. Even if they reject it, I’m confident the story will find another home fast. I’m so proud of it I actually used it in my SAF grant application(which I also successfully sent off).

In further news relating to completing goals, I finished edits on Mermaid In A Jar, submitted it to my writers group, and will get my feedback tomorrow.

I’m 7,600 words into the Nothing Charming draft(that’s a new 6,400 written this month), but still have a good 25,000 words to go if my projection is accurate

I’ve edited a few more chapters of Written By The Stars, including one which, with additions/revisions is now 20,000 words long, so needs breaking up ;p It’s been a long slog, mainly because the draft was written back in 2012. I’ve done five years of growing as a writer since then. Soooo much is wrong with it. It’s not an impossible job, but not an easy one either. Also, back then I clearly felt like I needed to club readers over the head with my theme and sometimes its so bad I just can’t look at it ;p My theme be all ‘notice me, senpai!’.

I chaired two panels at the Brisbane Writers Group Convention and took a seminar on a new(to me) method for non-verbal communication with Xander.

As far as learning my craft more goes, I listened to seasons 3, 4, and 5 of Writing Excuses (if you missed it, last month I started binge listening to their back catalogue. I originally started in season 9 a few years back and didn’t bother with the back catalogue because it seemed like too much). I also read James Scott Bells’ Plot and Structure, and went to the aforementioned Brisbane Writers Group Convention.

And the biggest miracle of all, I have thought of a possible proper title for ‘Skeleton Romance’: Lovely/Lonely. Not a perfect fit, but pretty solid and quite evocative, I even have a funky little logo imagined up for it ;p

September’s goals are:

  • Focus on editing Written By The Stars
  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Complete feedback for the non-fiction book and the near-future sci-fi book I’ve been asked to beta read
  • Using group feedback edit Mermaid In A Jar so its ready to submit to publishers
  • Write either the new short story rolling around in my head currently titled ‘Bards vs Beasts’ or the horror story ‘Alone Time’
  • If the cover comes back in time, get the proof and – if time – maybe even do the print run of Darkest Depths print version.

Stretch goal(because miracles can happen, even if they didn’t last month):

  • Commence edits on Lovely/Lonely (aka ‘Skeleton Romance’).