S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated every Sunday - more often than not.

Month: December 2013

The Story Behind the Story – How a 10 day deadline became my debut novella, Three Wishes

Three Wishes - Low res (2)

Monday the 9th of December saw me press publish on my first novella, Three Wishes. It’s up on amazon, and hopefully up on kobo soon. It was a rush to see it up on it’s own little page with my name on the cover.

This little book is so far from what I usually write, but I loved every minute of it. It’s conception was completely different to my other stories, so I decided to share the story behind the story.

For the better part of a year, I’ve been working on 2 series (both urban fantasies) and a couple of YA contemporary ideas, and getting stuck on all of them. I promised my wife that I’d have “something” published by the end of the year, and as the weeks and days ticked over, I realised I wasn’t going to be able to keep that promise.

I knew my wife would be upset, because from her point of view, my first year of being a full-time writer was a waste. I’ve written a lot of words and been able to find my ‘voice’, so I don’t think it was a complete waste of time, but I guess I can see why my wife would think that. I had nothing tangible to show for my efforts.

So, I said to myself, “Self, what would make your wife not be angry with you, and allow you to keep your promise?”

Self replied, “Write her a book. Women love that shit.”

So it was that I came up with the idea to completely forget about all that had come before for the time being, and come up with something entirely new. I gave myself 10 days to come up with a short story or novella that was of a publishable standard. It wouldn’t be enough to just have a story finished – I would have to be happy enough with it to want to share it with others ie publish it so the world could crap on it.

Apart from appeasing my wife, it would also serve as a way to prove to myself that I could come up with something from nothing, and that I could write fast if I wanted to. It would also double-up as a Christmas present, so how could I not go ahead with it?

Let me tell you, it was exciting and exhausting and fun and terrifying, all at once.

After tossing around ideas for a few hours, I came up with the one I used – a character so excited about Christmas and a believer in Santa who wanted to prove to others that Santa exists. That’s my wife to a T, although the character of Sophie isn’t really based on my wife (though she will probably tell you differently!)

I then gave myself another day to come up with the plot from start to finish. I had a minimum and maximum word count (7,500-12,000) to keep me from blathering on, and then came up with the characters and the general plot. I wrote one sentence about each chapter, flipped those chapters around so they worked better and then started writing.

The twist didn’t come to me until I was writing the chapter where it happens (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet read the book). When that happened, I sat back and thought, “Huh, well there you go.” I didn’t second guess it, even though it changed my ending. I also didn’t second-guess it when another character appeared out of the blue and changed the course of Mac’s story.

All up, I hit the 10-day time-frame I gave myself to have it publish-ready. It took an extra few days to commission the cover art and get my beta readers and an editor friend of mine to look over it, and another day to teach myself how to format the file to upload it to amazon and kobo, which proved easier than I first thought.

Then came the time for the big reveal. I had tossed around just giving it to my wife on Christmas morning, but that meant that I couldn’t tell anyone about it, even if I published it, because my wife would find out. While it was an exciting prospect to wait and give her the best present ever, I really wanted my family and friends to know that all my talking about writing wasn’t me just talking crap.

I wanted validation, and I wanted to release my little book on the world and see if it could make its own friends.

I decided to print out the story and compile it into a little booklet, complete with a ribbon tying the pages in place.

Three Wishes - Original Print version (One of a kind!)

Three Wishes – Original Print version (One of a kind!)

I was extremely nervous giving the book to her, because I knew how much I wanted her to like it. The thing about my wife is, she can’t fake it. If she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t tell me she did, just to make me feel better. Having said that, we had the following conversation:

Wife: So is this just for me or for publishing?

Me: If you like it, I’ll publish it if you want me to. If you don’t I won’t.

Wife: That’s too much pressure! I’m going to lie to you. If I don’t like it, I’m going to tell you I do, just so you publish it anyway.

Lucky for us both, she liked it.

I sat beside her as she read it, and she seemed to laugh in all the right places. And because she liked it, I published it.

After all of that excitement, I’m not exactly sure how I can top that for a Christmas present, but I have just over a week to come up with something.

I’ll be quiet on the blog for the next few weeks because of the Christmas holidays and working on the 2 urban fantasy projects, and then we’re off with my niece on a 2 week holiday to Tasmania in January. I’ll still be writing during that time, but I probably won’t find time to update the blog until the end of January.

Until then, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

My debut novella, Three Wishes, is on special on amazon until Boxing Day for just 99c. You can buy it by clicking on the cover at the top of this post, or clicking here.

Second Ashes Test Wrap Up

Yesterday marked the end of the Adelaide test match, which was all but over for England on the second day when the Aussies declared with over 500 runs on the board.

It was great to see us finally get passed the early wobbles, and while Warner holed out again, he was on fire. I love watching him bat, and he’s the type of batsman that either gets out early or goes on to get a big score, and no matter which it is, he’s entertaining to watch.

On the bowling side, it was hard to pick a stand-out. Johnson again played havoc with the English heads, bowling fast and mean. Siddle, Harris and Lyon all played their parts, even though they didn’t all get the wickets they deserved. Watson and Smith also played cameos with the ball, and did well to tie the English down while our pacemen had a break.

It seems the English batsmen just can’t cope with the pace and bounce of our pitches. I’m not entirely sure why they’re not taking a leaf out of our play book and doing the same thing to us. I’m really looking forward to seeing how our quicks go on the Perth pitch, which is traditionally fast and full of bounce.

One thing that bothered me about the commentary during the match was a comment about Watson not contributing to the team. At current, he looks like a man who feels like every one else thinks he’s over stayed his welcome, particularly when he gets out. He’s had a lean series so far with the bat, with his highest score of 51 coming in the first innings in this test. He hasn’t been used with the ball much but he had figures of 1 for 0 (1 wicket for no runs) off 3 overs in the first innings, and 0 for 6 off 6 overs in the second. His economy alone when he’s bowling is a fantastic contribution. That’s exactly what you need from a part-time bowler, which he’s become over the last few years. And since when was 51 runs not a contribution in any innings?

Even though I was excited that we’re that much closer to bringing the Ashes home after the Adelaide win, I’m a little disappointed that we can’t seem to keep our mouths shut. I’m all for banter on the field, and I know I said in my last wrap-up that England give as good as they get (especially Broad, Anderson and Prior), but when we were looking like winning late on the fourth day, I really don’t know why Johnson and Haddin felt like they had to rub it in.

I saw Broad go after Johnson at the close of play on day 4, and I think that was uncalled for, but I think we really should be concentrating on winning matches instead of stirring up the opposition when we’re so far ahead of them both technically and mentally.

I’ve read on some of the news blogs that the reporting of the Stokes/Johnson clash has embarrassed both camps, and I really hope we can all go to Perth with clear heads and better manners. By all means, banter away, but the players have to remember that they’re not playing in a bubble, and the cameras are everywhere.

Having said all of that, bring on Perth. If England found it hard to play against our quicks on a batting pitch like Adelaide, I can’t wait to see how they go on a bowling pitch like Perth.


‘Tis the season…to go a little bit crazy

Today marks the official start of the Christmas Season, which for me means organising a visit home, booking our dogs into suitable digs for their “holiday”, and trying to find new hiding places for my wife’s Christmas presents.

It also means I’m a few weeks off my promise to have “something” published before the end of the year. Although I’ve had 12 months to get stuff finished, it’s taken me that long to get into a good routine, work through the ideas I have and to find my voice.

I’m still struggling with a few things but I’m getting better. I have some short stories I’m happy with so they’ll get published but more likely in the new year, and after I have some longer books out.

I have managed to get a lot of work done in the last week on a new project that’s been marinating for a few months. I have a very short time-frame, but I’m planning on this one being available for Christmas – a great time for publishing a debut work I think.

I’m also working on a project for a good friend of mine, which I’ll reveal when it’s ready to go (in the next week). It’s a very special and exciting project that’s been almost 2 years in the making, and it’s something that I’m proud to be a part of.

And that brings me to the ‘crazy’ – since the production schedule is so tight, I’ve been working late nights and early mornings just to get my own special project done. I have a few days left to get the first draft to my Beta’s, I’ve commissioned a cover that should be ready in the next week or so, and I’ve got all the back-of-house stuff ready to go – smashwords and amazon accounts, links, business stuff etc – so I’m hoping once the actual book is finished, it will be a smooth transition from unpublished writer to published author (famous last words, I know).

If  you want to hear about the progress of both of these projects, sign up for the newsletter. Subscribers get to hear about stuff first, and as a bonus, subscribers who sign up before the end of December get a free copy of my short story ‘The Breakup’.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing about today – it marks the day I get to open the first flap on my Advent calendar.

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