It’s official, my latest short story, Groundskeeper, is finally out.
Groundskeeper is the first story in Stupefying Stories v 22 and is set in my Retailored Fairy Tales world. It focuses on Shena, the groundskeeper for a magic labyrinth.
In the heart of the labyrinth is a tower. In the tower, a princess. Ruling over all, an evil lord. But who maintains that magical labyrinth? Lord Rangatt sure isn’t going to trim all those hedges himself, nor maintain the traps or feed the beasts. That’s Shena’s job, passed down from her father, and she takes great pride in the fact not one prince has made it even as far as the tower. That pride wars with guilt however, and her awareness of how the other townspeople view her. Despite that, change can be a dangerous thing when it involves quitting your job for a powerful warlock, not to mention abandoning your late father’s legacy isn’t easy to do either. What kind of a catalyst does Shena need to finally decide on her fate for herself?
The latest Retailored Fairy Tales story, Groundskeeper, will be released very soon in the upcoming Stupefying Stories vol 22. You can check out the table of contents for it here on the publisher’s blog. If the order is exact it looks like this will be the third time one of my stories starts off an anthology so I’m quite pleased. Also there’s a lot of very interesting sounding other stories I’m keen to read.
Groundskeeper takes place in the same world as Glass Bones, Charming, and The Troll’s Toll. Here’s a little blurb for the story:
In the middle of a labyrinth stands a tower with a princess trapped inside. Many a prince tries to rescue her but the labyrinth is too cruel and none even make it to the tower. This fact is a matter of pride for Shena, the labyrinth’s groundskeeper, but the latest would-be hero has Shena questioning if she’s as evil as she thinks she is.
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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.
Tales of the Sunrise Lands has just released from Guardbridge Books and one of the stories in this cool anthology is mine: Hanabi to Kitsune (which translates to ‘Fireworks and Foxes’).
The story follows Mayu, a high schooler in current day Japan. In traditional high schooler style she has a crush on an upper classman (notice me senpai, notice me ;p ). She’s managed to catch his eye once at a fireworks festival, but she’s determined to do it again, even going so far as to steal a beautiful yukata from her grandmother’s attic. What Mayu doesn’t realise is her act of theft will result in mythic consequences.
I had a lot of fun with this one. I got to show off some of my knowledge of kitsuke(the art of kimono fashion), kitsune and a cavalcade of yokai, and got to come up with two more awesome Japanese names complete with matching and meaningful kanji (if you don’t know what I mean but are curious check out this old post on the complexity of Japanese names). I also played around with kishotenketsu story structure, though the end result can be viewed in both a three act way as well as a kishotenketsu sort of way(more on kishotenketsu in a later post).
You might also notice Mayu’s love interest is called Arima-senpai. My beagle, Arima, recently passed away, and though this story was written and submitted long before that, I can’t help but feel it’s a beautiful little tribute to him.
If you’re a fellow Japanophile I hope you’ll check out the anthology. You can find it on Amazon, or buy it directly from Guardbridge Books(if you can, buy it from Guardbridge, it helps support this awesome and ever-growing small press).
Last year I started a novel (well it was supposed to be a novella, but it got out of control) I’ve given the working title of ‘Skeleton Romance’ (I really need to give it a proper name). It was a joy to write, and – as often happens when in the throes of writing – I chased the muse.
I stuck to my plot outline quite faithfully actually, just I found myself adding in extra stuff. The primary addition was my two antagonists. Now when I look at the story I know it’s all the stronger for their unplanned appearances. The problem though is since I never planned them, I also hadn’t planned how to resolve their conflicts.
Just like bullies in real life, it isn’t so easy to deal with bullies in fiction. I didn’t want to fall back on stereotypes for their motives, nor wrap them up in a way that a real teenager might try to do and then find themselves in deep water. This is why I stopped when I was essentially 3/4 of the way through the novel. I knew I couldn’t proceed without resolutions for both antagonists.
As the year passed and I wrote other things flashes of inspiration came here and there until now, when I have enough to wrap them both up, but am now faced with figuring how to weave the romantic ending and the resolutions of the two antagonists together.
In case any of you out there are writers or just curious This is how I’ve done it.
Step 1: arc outlines on index cards
I wrote out my original plot outline ending from the point I stopped to the end (which I’ll refer to as the romantic conclusion) on index cards, one scene per index card. Then I wrote the major antagonist’s conclusion as I envision it scene by scene onto cards, and the same again for the secondary antagonist.
Now I’ve got 10 cards each with their own scenes on them. When the kids are NOWHERE NEARBY (crucial in case the caps lock isn’t a hint) I spread these out on the rug in front of me.
Step 2: Lay out original arc
First I lay out the romantic conclusion, because it’s already got its flow and order. Then I look at my to antagonist conclusions and look for where they would piece in nicely to the romantic conclusion. For the most enjoyable end I need both of them wrapped up just before the final conclusive romantic scene, but depending on how it all reads, putting both conclusions side by side just in front of the final romantic scene might be awkward from a pacing and timing perspective.
Step 3: Insert other arc’s scenes
I also look to see if some of any of the antagonist conclusion scenes can be merged with any of the romantic scenes. for example, information to defeat on of the bullies might be stumbled across while the characters are actually doing something that propels the romantic arc forward. Now instead of having to write two separate scenes, I merely have to add a little to an already outlined scene.
Ultimately I had a lot of fun with this, figuring out my concluding outline, and I had so much fun finally finishing my extremely unusual romance filled with teen angst, sexual identity, and suicidal thoughts (because what romance doesn’t include considering suicide?)(the story really isn’t a romance anymore ;p more a coming out/coming of age).
With a Kickstarter campaign that well over doubled its initial goal and surpassed all its stretch goals, the release of WARRIOR from Ink & Locket Press has been much anticipated. Now at last you can grab your copy — if you weren’t already receiving a copy for backing the campaign ;p
I’m excited to say my story Glass Bones is one of the twelve within these pages.
Glass Bones is about Mizzy, a Lake Maiden’s Champion(and lover), and how far she will go free her brother from the curse of Glass Bones he was born with.
After years of approaching wizards and witches for help only to be disappointed, Mizzy and her brother, Bran, have spent yet more years of traveling the world gathering magic rings. Now they are collected the pair can finally go to the world beyond Gate Eighteen, a place where gossip claims there is a cure for everything. But rumour isn’t always right, and everyone knows there’s consequences with any magic.
Interested in the rest of the anthology?
“I was a hard-boiled soul with a blood-stained dress. I was a warrior, right from the start.”
– Unnecessary Risks
A werewolf stalks the streets of London, fighting for her humanity. In Ancient Rome, a gladiator battles monsters for the man he loves. In alien-infested Ontario, a metal-lunged soldier fights for guns and glory—and the girl of her dreams.
In worlds far and unknown, a cursed man fights rumour and raiders to save the children who have no one else. A big, buff, wingless fairy wrestles with a fiery portal to save her Great Tree from demons. At the lost temple of the Red Desert, a human sacrifice fights for her life.
Facing aliens, demons, curses and armies, twelve unstoppable heroes must find the strength to defeat their enemies with wit, weapon and a warrior’s heart.
These short stories all feature heroes who identify within the LGBTQIA spectrum.
not the greatest photo ever taken of me, but too happy to care
Guess what I received in the mail today?
My contributors copies of Myriad Lands volumes 1 and 2!
Myriad Lands volume 1 contains my latest short story The Beauty of the Dance.
The Beauty of the Dance is set in a world where music and dance are the source of magic and power. In such a world what must being tone deaf and uncoordinated be like? Sune can tell you. Despite being an embarrassment to her talented, prominent parents Sune is smitten with one of the court’s finest dancers, Avalessa. When the object of her affections life is threatened by political intrigue and magical danger what can Sune do to help her beloved?
An Honorable Mention in the Writers Of The Future contest Q1 2015, this is one of those stories I had a marvelous time writing(I almost always do though ;p ) but also had a great time rewriting and editing (less common) with help from my fabulous writers group, Vision Writers, and the editors at Guardbridge Books.
I can’t wait to read the other stories in the anthology and I hope you’ll check it out too.
The Troll’s Toll is a Retailored Fairy Tales novella following Princess Lilly, the ultimate middle child. She’s lost in the crowd with nine siblings and her father struggles to even remember her name.
Her father’s disregard goes far deeper than that though. She discovers how unimportant she is to him when there isn’t enough money for the bridge toll, so he pays the toll with her – giving her over to the troll that runs the bridge.
From princess to housemaid, Lilly’s got a lot to deal with, and she even has to learn how to do the chores that are now her job. When your boss is known for grinding peoples bones to make his flour you sure don’t want to keep him waiting for dinner. And yet, the troll is not the most dangerous thing in the forest.
Set in the same world as Charming (readers of Charming will get to enjoy a few cross over moments), The Troll’s Toll is slightly more a ‘cozy’ adventure, as compared to Charming‘s galavanting around the countryside style adventure, but there’s just as much fantasy, wonder, and adversity.
Now that Charming is out in Leading Edge, and The Troll’s Toll is getting close to release I thought it was time to look into getting a logo for the Retailored Fairy Tales series which they are both a part of.
The Retailored Fairy Tales series is a world where a lot of my stories happen, a world where fairy tale happenings are every day occurrences, though like with real life, the happy ending isn’t assured and more is happening behind the scenes than in your usual fairy tales.
The upcoming releases of Glass Bones (in Ink and Locket‘s upcoming LGBT Warriors Anthology) and Groundskeeper (in Stupefying Stories) also take place in this world, as well as the novella I recently completed, Glass Slippers, about how the glass slippers actually came to be on Cinderella’s feet. And don’t forget the several sequels to Charming!
With so much coming out I thought it a good idea to get them all under a nice little umbrella together, so people could know they were all in the same fun universe.
So without further ado:
What do you think? Are you looking forward to any particular Retailored Fairy Tales? I’d love to hear from you.
Gaps is about Derek, a young man with an unusual memory problem. He doesn’t just forget things with alarming frequency, his mind sometimes fills in those gaps with false memories which are often indistinguishable from reality. One day, in the car park at the Indooroopilly shops he sees a gap in the concrete, and instead of the lower level of the car park below, he sees a forest and a mysterious young woman. He must be creating the memory, but there’s something about the girl in that other world, the way she looks at him, the way he wants to be with her. It’s got to be real. Right?
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (sometimes referred to as ASIM) is a fantastic Australian magazine (that they should totally sell at airports for a laugh ;p ) that I’ve been reading for years, so if you like this volume consider subscribing.
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.
Read ‘Glass Bones’ now in WARRIOR an anthology choc-full of LGBTQIA warriors all across space, time, and imagination.
Read 'Gaps' in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #63. Click the cover to buy.
Read The Beauty of the Dance(Honorable Mention in the Writers of The Future contest Q41 2015) in Myriad Lands vol 1: Around the World.
Read 'Nightfall' for free now in 18. Click the picture to decide where to download it from.
Read ‘God’s Chosen’ for free now in Darkest Depths – the Vision Writers 20th Anniversary anthology. Click the picture to decide where to download it from.
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