2023, What a Year!

Hello everyone, and before anything, happy holidays!

This year has been a ride, and sitting down to put everything into perspective is overwhelming.

I have been writing for pretty much most of my life, and although I created my socials in 2021, it wasn’t until 2023 that I actually dared engage with people… and, most importantly, publish some of my writing, talk on YouTube (!), and begin a podcast (!!). I met some wonderful people along the way, participated in events, and faced the apprehension of putting my writing out there.

It may sound small to some, but to me, 2023 was a shift and a first step, and as Dalinar, from Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, said, “The most important step someone can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one.” To me… I took quite a few steps this year.

Unearthed Stories, BookTube, & Events

Unearthed Stories, that little mobile game filled with text-based interactive stories, is my first step in publishing… but it also holds a place dear to my heart, as it was crafted and developed alongside my partner, the owner of Prowess Games. Each of those stories has a piece of me, and having it out there for others to read is just mindblowing.

Early in the year, I was coding, writing, and doing designs while reaching out to people. I was a nobody; another name on the internet–yet some of them listened. Varsha, from Reading by the Rainy Mountain was the first person (and first BookTuber!) to actually read DANCE WITH ME, and give me a stunning blurb as well. Then, I met Susana Imáginario, who is the author of some of the most imaginative mythological slipstream books out there.

Susana invited me to talk on her channel, and I was so nervous! The day before, I got a headache, stomach pain, anxiety, everything you can imagine and all due to the nervousness of appearing on YouTube for the first time. But it was great, and after we finished talking, I kept grinning for days. We met again shortly after to discuss Fahrenheit 451, and Susana’s invitation sparked another idea–my podcast. But I’ll talk about that in a bit.

Talking of writing, I met @buvafineart (aka José), who made the most outstanding graphite artwork of the characters I wrote for DANCE WITH ME. His cover artwork (pictured above) had me in tears–he masterfully added many details of every other character and thoroughly captured DANCE’s mood in a way I couldn’t have imagined. And don’t get me started with the character artwork he did (five of them: Lyra, André, Sougo, Margot, and two of the final scenes)–they were terrific! Each one had me grinning from ear to ear, squeaking in joy because, before BuvaFineArt, I had never seen my very own characters drawn!

Eventually, I found my way to the Page Chewing forum, and I need to thank Steve for creating that incredible space. That forum is so full of heartwarming people, bookish discussions, and overall support that I could write an entire blogpost about it. I’m just beyond happy to be part of it.

I was also part of Hayley Anderton’s Instagram’s Winter Wonderland, where a bunch of indie authors got together to network, discount some books, and shamelessly increase our TBRs. I interviewed by @catiereadsandwrites through her Indie Author Interview Series, and loved every moment!

And of course, Varsha (again, thank you!) invited me to join the SF Masterworks discussions… so picture me dashing to the bookstores to purchase “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (all while panicking about the delays of anything shipped to Australia), because the library didn’t have it. It was a fantastic discussion alongside some of my favourite booktubers–and I felt small and honoured, all while disbelieving I was right there with them. I’m so looking forward to more bookish chats.

My Podcast, Books Undone

Amidst all of that, Books Undone happened! Again, after talking to Susana about discussing Fahrenheit 451, and after years of deafening my partner with monologues on books’ themes (to which he listens very patiently), I got the idea of doing a YouTube channel; after a well-placed suggestion I decanted for a podcast, and again Varsha provided excellent tips and insights.

Thus, I bellowed in apprehension while researching podcasting, tools, and what-nots. I cannot, for the life of me, make a decision uninformed (which is what sparked me to write RESTORERS, mind you). So, after a September full of things, researching, and setting up, my partner humbly offered me his Blue Snowball mic, and Books Undone started shortly after.

The intro episode went out on October 8th. Since then, I have podcasted about Fahrenheit 451, Flowers for Algernon, and Babel-17, keeping up with my goal of one monthly episode at a minimum. And honestly? I have so many plans for 2024!

If, at the start of 2023, anyone had told me that I’d be podcasting, I would have responded in horror (at my awful voice) and befuddlement. Now, I’m incredibly excited to grow Books Undone and invite people to talk and discuss books with me.

Goodbye 2023 & 2024 Plans

Overall, 2023 was a year of twists and turns, many unexpected and planned, but all very welcomed.

For 2024… oh dear, that could be a rollercoaster, and I am so, so eager to share some of my plans in due time! More interactive stories (spoiler alert, two time-looped ones), an expansion of UNEARTHED STORIES into new technological realms (hint-hint, wait to January/February for news), a new Guests’ Talks series in my podcast, more GoodRead activity (this one is, at least, a goal), and other plans I cannot hint lest I divulge everything on a verbiage of excitement.

All I can say is thank you. To all of you who made this an incredible year, For you, it may have been a small interaction over the internet with yet another aspiring writer, but it meant the world to me. You encouraged me, supported me, and that is invaluable.

To end, I want to quote (again!) Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive; as his Knight Radiants say–journey before destination. I’m nowhere near any destination (and there will always be more to come), so I’m looking forward to my journey through 2024.

Thank you, truly. To the champions out there, the readers, the reviewers, the authors, the silent followers, the curious ones. To all of you, as we say in my home country, I wish you success in 2024.

~ Livia