Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Category: Musings (Page 2 of 3)

For the random thoughts in my head – anything from music to science to who knows what!

I’d Rather Read The Book

Great books, great TV series. Definitely a successful adaption

Great books, great TV series. Definitely a successful adaption

So much these days is based on books. So many TV shows, so many movies. It’s great, but when I watch something I’ve never read the book of, unless it is SERIOUSLY awesome I spend the whole time wondering what the book is like. Is it better? Worse? Totally different? With all that in my head even if the show was ho-hum I really want to track down the book and read it.

Unlike some book purists though, I like a bit of deviation between book and screen. Obviously you can’t change too much – please screen adapters, keep the main characters the same, they are the ones we love for a reason! But I do love a storyline twist. For example, if you’ve read the first Dexter book and watched the first season of the TV show you can see a HUGE difference in the endings. I mean a character that was killed in the book’s ending (don’t worry, naming no names!) is still alive in the TV show. I welcome changes like this, changes that create some surprise.

Another example is The Walking Dead comics and TV show. So many of the situations are the same but the outcomes are different(more people dead in one medium are alive in another). I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, so forgive me for vagueness. I love this because it means that even if you read the book, you still get that wild tension pulling all the muscles along your spine tight when you watch the same scene on the TV because you have no idea how things will turn out. You’ll lean forward and your eyes are dragged by a special kind of gravity to the screen while you wait to see if they will make it out alive.

I think I’m also quite lenient on screen adaptions. I understand it’s hard to put in everything from the book into the movie/series. How do I know that? Because I can’t fit everything in my head onto the page! Writing a book you have all these scenes and back story to every character and so much of it doesn’t get shared for reasons like ‘probably won’t captivate the audience sufficiently’ or ‘doesn’t need to be mentioned’.

Are there any books you love (or hate) the screen adaptions of? What and why? Also, any book you’d love to see adapted?

Writers Are Lovely People

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn as a ‘lovely person’, I swear. The last few days has taught me how nice and helpful writers can be to each other.

As an online community it is hard not to find a writer’s blog or site that offers some tips or advice on how to improve your writing or get published (self or traditional). We offer free books to our readers (okay, true, we’re hoping to gain your love as a fan by doing so, but still free books are nice, aren’t they?). There’s also the direct contact too.

On facebook I sent out a message asking if anyone was interested in reading my latest short story, ‘The Wyvern’s Sting’ to give me a few reader reactions so I could tighten it up before submitting it to Belladonna Publishing’s Black Apples Anthology.

I had imagined a few of my non-writer friends putting their hands up, but my first two volunteers were members of my writer’s group. I was very happy to see eyes I know will find every dirty little flaw will be looking over the story. Since they would be looking over a story of mine later in the month I didn’t want to ask my critique group friends because I didn’t want to demand too much of their time (particularly because they are both further along in their publication journey than I am). And here they offer their time and advice up freely, happy to help an emerging writer.

There you have it. Writers are lovely people.

Do you agree? Is there anyone else you think is a wonderful person who deserves a mention?

2012 Rounded Up Plus Goals for 2013

I started this year expecting little. I was determined to move forward with my writing, but last year had not been kind to me and I wasn’t dreaming big. Now, as I write my summary of writing accomplishments for this year I’m surprising myself.

  • I created an author website (you’re on it)
  • I turned my epic fantasy trilogy into a quartet, splitting book one into two books and doing rewrites and revisions to make the new book one complete (now out waiting on an agent *fingers crossed*).
  • I wrote a stand-alone novel, cross-dimensional fantasy of 65,000 words, have done a 10,000 word re-write so far, but not a full revision, so it’s still in second draft stage. (Working title: Written By The Stars)
  • Wrote 58,000 words on ANOTHER stand-alone novel for NaNoWriMo which is epic fantasy. (Working title: Key, Clocks and Quests)
  • Joined a fantastic writers critique group (fantastic both in the fact it is speculative fiction we write and critique and the fact everyone there is fantastic).
  • Attended my first (and second) writers’ festival
  • Wrote and entered a short story into the Supanova 10th Anniversary competition (I love Supanova so much I really hope I can be a part of it!)
  • Have written several new short stories, most of which are part of my fairy tale re-imagining series.
  • Have beta-read my first novel of another writer’s work.

So all-in-all a fairly productive year as far as an emerging author’s life goes.

Of course a good year needs to be followed with another, so here are my goals for next year:

  1. Finish re-writes/revisions on book 2 of the Storybook Perfect quartet, get it up to standard.
  2. Finish revisions on ‘Written By The Stars’(the 65,000 word novel mentioned before) and start querying with that novel too (If I haven’t landed an agent with current query). If I can afford it, I’d love to buy a manuscript assessment on it as well, both for the novel itself and also to learn from it for further stories.
  3. Complete first draft of Keys, Clocks and Quests (the NaNoWriMo novel). If I have time get it up to snuff too, but I’ve been aiming fairly high so far.
  4. Complete another first draft of a new story (what will I choose? So many ideas!). I’ll probably start it during NaNoWriMo(or Camp NaNoWriMo, I recently signed up) to give me a good boost.
  5. Enter more competitions and start submitting to journals and zines. I haven’t written many short stories, so probably make some more too (got a few ideas, as always the problem is keeping it small)
  6. Start a newsletter with a freebie incentive – I have to write that freebie incentive as well.

I’m not going light on the goals as you can see. If I can achieve what I did this year with no goals set down for myself, what can I achieve this coming year if I do have goals? Let’s see!


What goals have you set yourself? They don’t have to be writing related. Do you have any resolutions you’re determined to finally achieve next year?

End of the Year Post – Round One

I saw this first at Blub from the Burbs and wanted to replicate it for one of my two end of the year posts.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Well for starters I wrote an entire first draft of a novel in two months and change. I also participated in my first NaNoWriMo and won it too (with a different novel’s draft). I also joined a writer’s critique group.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I made no resolutions last year. I achieved very little in 2011 because I was so focused on being an awesome mum (and being totally overwhelmed by it too) so I had no expectations for 2012. That is why I am so thoroughly impressed with myself and what I managed to achieve.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two friends gave birth this year, one to her second daughter, and the other had her son prematurely (he’s fine). Welcome to the world Florence and Link.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I lost both of my maternal grandparents this year. They followed each other closely in their passing which compounded the loss but also had a bittersweet poetic touch to it.

5. What countries did you visit?
No travel sorry. My largest jaunt was to cross the NSW/QLD border. When I first moved to Brisbane I did that every weekend so no biggie there.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Is it greedy to say money? I’m not talking ludicrous piles (though I wouldn’t refuse it), just enough to keep ahead of the bills so they don’t cause stress.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Is it shameful to confess none? There were some great things that happened, but nothing I can imagine myself commemorating.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Toss a coin between writing the first draft of a novel in two months and change and opening this site.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not managing to get out of debt. Stupid past-self spending all my money.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick CONSTANTLY from mid-May until late August. I picked up a cold and that cold became a flu, then mutated back to a cold ad infinitum. I didn’t want to take antibiotics because I was still breast-feeding Xander (which for those who don’t know means he would get dosed with the antibiotics too) and I was also working a lot because the aforementioned premmie boy was born to my boss so he went on parental leave early and for longer than originally intended. I just had no chance to recuperate.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I didn’t buy a lot of stuff really, probably the awesome Woody (from Toy Story) doll for Xander.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My husband, T-J, for all my crazy crap he puts up with, like the entire month of November (NaNoWriMo) and my general eccentricities.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Ugh, more people than I want to list, but I’ll stick with the vast majority of politicians (both local and foreign) and people like the man who recently went on a shooting spree in a school. There are also a few people from my personal life too, but I’m not going to start shit on the internet.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Bills. I know, how depressing. Stop being a broke writer Kirstie!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My writer’s critique group – everyone is so awesome! I also was really excited about the Supanova 10th anniversary too.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I didn’t listen to the radio very much so I can’t say really. I like the positive message in The Script’s “Hall of Fame”, so while it may not remind me of 2012, it’ll probably be in my inspirational playlist for a long time.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I think I’m happier this year because I feel like I’m finally making progress on my dream of being a writer. I’m definitely thinner, I lost 15kgs thanks to the aforementioned illness. As far as richer and poorer I’m poorer 🙁

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Rest. I hardly take a break and just sit down anymore, I’m always trying to write, or entertain Xander all while trying to clean the house and have a cuppa. The only times I slow down and rest are when I’m seriously ill and have someone else watching Xander.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry and stress. Oh and procrastinate. I’m sure I could have achieved even more if I procrastinated less.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At my parents unit with T-J, Xander and my mum and dad. Small simple and by the beach. Xander loved his present so much he fell asleep with it.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Stayed in love.

22. What was your favourite TV program?
New show, or carrying over from previous years? If it’s a continuing show my answer is Doctor Who, if it’s a new show I was really enjoying Emily Owens MD – then I heard it was cancelled, not happy.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t hate easily (not true hate) and that list is very small. No one was added to that list this year. I’m actually grateful for that.

24. What was the best book you read?
Non-fiction Stephen King’s On Writing, Fiction: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in manga With The Light.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don’t think I discovered anything this year. Well, unless you count podcasts, I’ve finally started listening to them.

26. What did you want and get?
The Atelier Meruru collector’s edition game and a Kindle Paperwhite.

27. What did you want and not get?
An agent/published (but I also could have worked harder on that)

28. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Avengers, nuff said.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I held a masquerade ball and hit the big 3-0

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Reading and writing again. I did so little of that in 2011 and to be back on track is a delight.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
I went with a daring style that I’ve been wearing since my teen years: geek t-shirt and jeans. If it’s cold a long sleeve shirt goes under the geek shirt, if it’s hot the jeans turn into jeans shorts.

My cutting edge style.

My cutting edge style.

In summer shorter pants may be required. Totoro cosplayer optional.

In summer shorter pants may be required. Totoro cosplayer optional.

Longer sleeved shirt worn under the geeky mash-up shirt to keep you warmer in winter

Longer sleeved shirt worn under the geeky mash-up shirt to keep you warmer in winter

32. What kept you sane?
I’m sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Chris Hemsworth, again, nuff said.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I’m generally not much of a politics kind of girl, but I was very interested when Julia Gillard called bullshit on some of the sexists in parliament.

35. Who did you miss?
My parents. They left just before my birthday and only returned home a few weeks ago. They were caravaning around Australia and I’ve never been separated from them that long. It’s also very hard to communicate with people in the Australian outback, mobile phones don’t work as well, so it was even difficult just to chat on the phone. It may seem odd that it bothers someone of my age so much, but family is extremely important to me.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I didn’t physically meet anyone new, but I met many great people online and am loving the blogging community far more than I ever thought I would.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Sleep is very important. You fall apart with less than five hours a night, and when you’re holding down three jobs at once you need to be together.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Why use someone else’s words when I can use my own? “The first step into the blinding light, drawing ever closer to the sun” (part of a folk song sung by people in the world of my third book (working title) Keys, Clocks and Quests).

Web Presence

While waiting for an agent’s reply to my query I’ve been trying to keep my mind otherwise occupied so I don’t go through the yo-yo of emotions I do whenever someone looks at my work. This is pretty easy during Christmas(isn’t EVERYONE crazy busy right now?) fortunately, but I still need something to distract myself with so that I don’t check my email every five seconds while on the internet. So I decided to check my ‘web presence’.

Anyone who wants to see their work published (traditional and indie alike) has probably read somewhere that they need a platform. For those who haven’t heard of the platform, this is the place where people can easily find you and your work, a place from which you try to sell your books. It isn’t JUST about sales, but that is a key component and purportedly every agent and publisher takes platform into consideration (though the exception would be if your work was so mind blowing they just don’t care, but I can’t imagine anyone sensible relying on that).

How does one check one’s web presence? Why by doing an act which is claimed by some as the height of narcissism: you google yourself.

So, I googled myself. The first time I tried this was pre-pregnancy and I did so partly out of boredom and partly because I’d watched three different TV shows in the last week that mentioned it and since I’d never tried I figured I’d give it a bash and see what came up. My search was automatically re-directed to Kirstie Alley. No thanks, I know my own name. When I corrected it all that came up was my personal facebook profile and a Myspace account I’d forgotten I even had.

Fortunately a whole lot pops up now and the entire first two pages only direct you to various pages of mine. The only thing that bothered me was that THIS PAGE, this website you’re reading right now did not show up. I couldn’t figure out why my webpage and blog didn’t show up, I must have flunked as far as SEO goes. Then I realised I don’t state my full name anywhere on this webpage. In some kind of internet privacy fear I must have automatically not included my last name.

Let me rectify that.

Hello everyone, my name is Kirstie Olley and I am a speculative fiction writer. Pleased to meet you.

Summing Yourself Up

So I had this brilliant idea to change my header. Inspired by the old school books already there I imagined gathering up books from my library and arranging them together with two bookends. The books would be favourite books, featuring my fave authors and genres all at once and the bookends would further this idea.

It isn’t easy to sum yourself up in one image, even with a great array of books. After a lot of thought and fussing I finally selected my winners.

However the picture didn’t look anywhere near as cool as I had hoped. The image did do the job of perfectly showing my eclectic taste, but it looks too messy.

So, since I put so much effort in, but am ultimately no longer planning on using the picture I’m going to post it here for you to look at so see how well a picture of a bookshelf can sum a person up.

If you can list all the books gathered here (and the name of the girl who is the left bookend) without reading the list below we need to get in contact with each other, because you might just be my soul mate (in a non-romantic way obviously, since I’m happily married).

The planned header

The figurine standing as a bookend on the left is of Rin from Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal manga series.  The books are (from left to right):

The English translation of ‘Atelier Chronicle’, an art book covering most of the Atelier series of video games,

Kaz Cooke’s Kidwrangling, my child raising bible due to its openness, funniness and the fact it will offer multiple options, not just ‘let your kid cry themselves to sleep’,

Stephen King’s On Writing,

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. As if there could possibly be a better author combo in the world!

‘Tortall and other Lands’ Tamora Pierce’s short story collection. I picked it because otherwise I’d have to try and fit in one of her quartets and that would take up too much space,

The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, a favourite from my youth,

David & Leigh Eddings ‘The Pawn Of Prophecy’ the first fantasy book I read,

Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle. Do I need to explain the awesomeness that is this book?

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody, a book that moved me so deeply it started me writing fantasy(before that I wrote Goosebumps inspired horror and childhood slice of life/adventure). I wish I had the copy I first read, but early 20’s Kirstie handed it in to a second hand bookstore.

The BBC’s ‘Dalek survival Guide’ because I am an unabashed Whovian,

Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wolfman and Perez’s ground breaking DC release. I originally considered putting a Teen Titans comic there, since they were what started me on American comics, but none of them had the title or artists near the bottom, only the DC logo.

Gate 7, CLAMP’s new title. I am a mad CLAMP fangirl, 20+ artbooks (and that NOT counting the 15th anniversary CLAMP no kiseki artbook series), just about every translated series, and 30+ figurines.

With The Light, by Keiko Tobe, I don’t need to explain this if you’ve been reading my blog for long. Just go here and here.

Battle Angel Alita, Last Order vol 7, by Yukito Kishiro. I love this series, madly. My passion is primarily for the characters. I selected this volume in particular because if a hilarious story behind it. I won’t waste space on that story here, but if you ask nicely I’ll probably tell you it in the comments.

From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa, a beautiful cross-dimensional manga,

Honey and Clover by Chica Umino, a magnificent slice of life josei manga. I use a picture of one of the characters as my profile image still in various places around the net (including my gravatar),

Aquarium by Tomoko Taniguchi, one of my absolute favourite manga-ka

A notebook, because it’s a writer’s staple of life.

And lying underneath it all the art book for Kiki’s Delivery Service, my second favourite Studio Ghibli movie. My favourite is Whispers of the Heart, but I haven’t been able to find the art book 🙁

Wrapping it up with the right side book end, a family of maneki-nekos I bought from the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo.

How many were you already familiar with? Do you have any pictures that sum you up well?

Screaming Woman Bird

I’ve been doing a lot of work late at night recently. Once TJ is in bed the TV is off so the house is quiet. That means I get to write to the sound of the screaming woman birds down by the creek.

If you have never lived in the right part of Australia you have never heard the call of the Bush Stone-Curlew. It doesn’t take much imagination to turn the bird’s cry into a woman’s scream.

The first time I heard one I was in my teens at my best friend’s house. Her property backed onto a swamp. While camping I heard a shriek and my friend laughed at my panic, telling me it was just a screaming woman bird. I honestly believed that was its legitimate name until I moved into my current house and heard the call again.

With a good ear you can distinguish the bush stone-curlew from a woman in distress, but at midnight when that haunting cry wafts through your window from the bush beyond your backyard you can’t help but wonder…

Every Day I’m Jugglin’

Just for laughs

It’s very easy when taking on projects to have too many balls in the air. Between juggling writing(and revising) my novels, writing this blog, being a mum and making enough money with my part-time job I’m kept pretty busy. I prioritise with care, obviously Xander comes first in everything I do (even over sleep sometimes – such is the life of a mum).

I thought I was doing a good job. Okay maybe I wasn’t writing on this blog as often as I initially goaled to (my goal was every two to three days, but it more like every four) but I was keeping on track. Then I remembered my emails.

I – like some people – have several email addresses. There’s one for things I sign up to, newletters, forums, websites. I call that email my spam-mail because more often than not the emails aren’t all that important. That address has a silly name I made up when I was fourteen, you can tell, because it’s Sailor Moon themed. I check that email every few days, just when I have the time and tend to delete half of my messages without reading.

Next there’s my professional email, which I use for querying agents, sending emails related to my other job (not many of those now I’m part time though) and important writing things. I check that inbox multiple times each day.

Then there’s the email I was given when I paid for hosting this blog. The one in my ‘contact me’ section. I diligently checked it multiple times a day as well, but after three months of receiving absolutely no mail on that address I set up a re-direct to my professional email. At least I thought I had. Apparently I’m not as tech savvy as I thought because my redirect didn’t work and I missed an email letting me know I’d been nominated for an award and how to join the voting. The voting finished a month ago. I only discovered this because I accidentally clicked open Outlook instead of Notepad and it loaded.

When I looked a little closer my blog probably wouldn’t have won since the award was for blogs of a particular content on which I’ve only posted about once or twice, but it is not so much the award that matters as the opportunity.

When you have too many balls in the air sometimes you can miss an opportunity because you’re too busy juggling.

But how do you know if the ball you chose to put down to make the juggling easier wasn’t the one which had the opportunity?


Joining Picklebums for Real life Wednesday.

Real Life Wednesdays

Library Card

Om nom library card

Today I finally got my library card.

It’s shocking, I know. How does someone who reads at least two books a month have gone so many years without a library card? Well I always had the disposable income to buy whatever book tickled my fancy. I know when you borrow the book from the library it is supposedly tallied up so the publishers know the author’s book is being read (the internet says so, so I guess it must be true…), but I know buying the book leads to more benefits for the author so would buy because that mattered to me.

Now my disposable income is dramatically smaller (and what little I do have keeps getting spent on Xander) and I can’t just buy anything I see and want (which is my habit).  Over the last few months my ‘To Be Read’ pile has been reaching almost manageable levels (I mean gosh, I can’t remember the last time I was down to ten books left to read), but of course interesting books keep sweeping by asking for me to buy them and I’ve had to be strong and say no. Afterwards I go home and write the title in a Notepad file on my laptop and there the book sits and waits, and soon, very soon I will go to the library and borrow it.

So many cool features have been added to libraries since I last went too. Apparently you can now go online and search if the book you want is there at the branch you want and if it isn’t you can just email a request to transfer it and they’ll SMS you when it arrives in the branch. Wow! Technology!

I feel so old saying that.

It’s crazy that some of my fondest memories of my youth were spent in the Lismore library, yet I haven’t owned a library card since moving out of home.

Is anyone else out there like me? Or could you not live life without your library card in your wallet/purse? And does anyone know if the internet is lying to me by claiming authors still get acknowledged for how many times their book is borrowed from the library?

The Heartbreak of a Closed Bookstore

Growing up my parents owned a shop on the main street of Ballina. I spent many a weekend and school holiday day in the back room of that shop watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit on the TV my parents put in there and walking up and down Main Street window shopping. My favourite store of all was a second hand book store down an arcade that lead to the river backing Main Street, it was called ‘Reader’s Delight’.

Oh I loved that store. I would buy books and exchange books and spend hours figuring out what book I would beg my parents for money to buy next. The old man (he seemed ancient to the eight year old me) was friendly and chatty and didn’t complain I was pawing through 80% of the books on his shelves like the people who ran the book store located right next door to my parent’s store.

A couple of years ago my family (including my parents) were in Ballina and we returned to the store because we were already headed down the arcade on another errand. I was delighted to find the store still there, just as perfect and packed with books as ever. The same old man reclined behind the counter, an open book in his lap as I remembered. When he recognised me – now in my late twenties – you couldn’t have removed the smile from my face. Unless you told me what my next trip would be like.

Last week my husband and I returned to the area to visit a nephew turning eighteen. Though we were staying in another town we had a reason to go to Ballina and parked near the arcade on Main Street as that was the first park we found. When our errand was completed we walked past the mouth of the arcade. I regaled my husband with my stories of ‘Reader’s Delight’ and he asked if I wanted to go down there. With money and time alike a little tight (and a cranky toddler) I replied “No, it’s okay.” I ducked a little to see the sign at the end of the arcade. “The signs there still, so I know it’s still there, that’s good enough for me.”

Unfortunately my husband decided money and time weren’t so tight and he would like to see if they had any good children’s books. Something didn’t feel right, but we went anyway. As we approached the storefront I could feel the crack opening in my chest. An empty, dusty store hid behind the glass pane whose only decoration was a ‘for lease’ sign. No books with yellowed edges packed tight on shelves, no sweet old man reading his book and smiling from behind the counter, nothing but that sign on the arcade awning still there only because no one had leased the location yet.

For a few moments I felt as if my childhood had been stolen away by this closed store. I had to remind myself away from the melodrama (I do have a tendency after all) but still couldn’t help but wonder, had the GFC hit my favourite store? Had my adored store owner passed away? Again with the melodrama. When I expressed my distress to T-J he calmly told me that it was more likely the owner had simply retired (and that is why I married him).

I like the image of the bookstore owner sitting in his home, all the books he couldn’t sell stuffed into his own shelves, reading happily on a recliner in his retirement, the smile on his face a mirror to the smiles he created on thousands of book lover’s faces through the decades he ran Reader’s Delight.

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