S R Silcox - Author

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Author: Selena (page 1 of 15)

Out of the group and into the round of 16

There’s nothing better than a player backing their words up with actions.

And that’s exactly what Sam Kerr and the Matildas did against Jamaica, with Kerr scoring all four of the Matildas goals to send us to second in Group C, and a date with Norway on Sunday morning in the Round of 16.

It also sent her to joint top of the Golden Boot ladder along with Alex Morgan (who scored 5 in the USA’s route of Thailand).

Suck on that one indeed.

Before I get into my thoughts, I want to give a shout out to Molly at Molly’s Footy Rants for getting her analysis up straight after the game. Check out her thoughts on the game here.

I needed a nap and more coffee to make my brain work after the early morning start before I dug in to get this recap done.

Okay, let’s get into it.

The Good

Sam Kerr’s Moment – After the waves she caused with her candid remarks after the win against Brazil, it was great to see Kerr in the thick of it. She scored two off the head (her speciality), dug one out from under her feet to sneak the third one and then pressured the ‘keeper into the mistake and dabbed in the fourth. And thank goodness for that – that fourth goal saved us meeting either France or Germany in the next round.

Ellie Carpenter put it all together – Carpenter seemed to be half-way there in the first two games. Attacking well against Italy, but lagging in defence, and then defending well against Brazil but being off on attack. Against Jamaica though? She was everywhere. Her defence was strong, she made some great attacking runs down the wing and when she lost the ball, she tracked back well to allow us to reset at the back. If it weren’t for Kerr’s four goals today, Carpenter was my best on ground for us.

Jamaica scoring their first Women’s World Cup goal – It was unfortunate it was against us. They came out firing in the second half and I have to be honest, they deserved that goal. They probably deserved a couple more, but I’m glad we held them to just the one.

Karly Roestbakken gets her chance – Roestbakken got a couple of minutes against Brazil and had a few touches, but she was given the chance to start in this game and played the whole 90 minutes. After a bit of a shaky start, she found her feet and although she wasn’t the quickest, she chased hard and chased down breakaways on her wing capably and had great awareness in getting her body behind the ball. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who she was before this tournament and when Alleyway left the team because of injury, I asked “Karly who??” She’s proved a more than capable replacement and will hopefully be a regular member of the team.

The Not So Good

Defence – We’re still not settled. We can probably put that down to a change in personnel over the three games, and that’s understandable because the backline has to do a mountain of work at the World Cup (especially against the opponents we’ve had this time around). However, from the outside looking in, it still seems we’re lacking a strong backline organiser/leader.

Wayward passes – We’re still giving away far too many balls from easy passes. Whether that’s lack of communication (where the receiver wants it – to feet or into space), tired legs or just poor decision-making, there’s still plenty to work on. We played well over the top in this game, which is of course why Kerr scored two of those four goals but we need to get our close ball play humming, and balls to feet under pressure if we’re going to compete over the next few rounds.

In the same vein, our off-the-ball movement is lacking some creativity, but that’s just match awareness, and I suspect adjusting to Milicic’s ways of playing. After listening to his press conferences, it seems like he’s trying to give the Matildas the tools to make decisions on the pitch for themselves and that’s going to take some time to get used to.

Where’s our goal sneak? – One of the things that’s glaringly obvious for a lot of our matches, and has been for a while now, is that on attacking raids, we don’t seem to have someone hanging around a couple of metres outside the 18 yard box waiting for the attempted clearances to pop the ball back in or take shots. We seem to have a gap in the midfield there, which means we’re allowing the opposition to get out of trouble and we’re doing way too much work in transition then to turn and chase.

Which is why, in her wrap-up, Molly mentioned that we looked a little lethargic. I agree. And it’s because we’re doing far too much running off the ball because we’re losing our shape – either everyone’s attacking or everyone’s defending and there’s a swathe of space in the middle we’re not taking advantage of.

Apart from all of that, we’re building nicely I think, and we seem to be fixing mistakes as we go. Each opposition will have their quirks, and it seems like Milicic and the coaching team are doing some good work in the background to give us the best chance of success.

It was a huge ask for a new coach to come into an established set-up so close to a major tournament, and while there are obviously growing pains, I think the team is adjusting nicely.

Bring on Norway, 5am Sunday!

Final random take-away

It’s much easier to get up and watch a 2am game than a 5am game, because it’s easier to go back to bed when it’s still dark. One reason I’m extremely happy to be working for myself from home these days is that I get to sleep in.

Suck on that one

Suck on that one t-shirt

(Or the one where Australia came back to beat Brazil 3-2)

First, the recap.

After the game against Italy, I was hoping for an improved back-line at the very least, and what we got was that, and a much-improved side overall.

After a little bit of a shaky start, and still missing passes, we started to play more confidently, and really grew into the game.

A couple of silly mistakes let Brazil jump 2-nil up, and it would have been easy for the Matildas to shut up shop and stem the flow to get to the half-time break and reset.

But they didn’t.

They worked and fought hard, all the way to the break, and Foord’s goal (coming off the back of a Kerr run pulling defenders away from the play) shifted the momentum just enough to give us a sniff.

What an amazing thing half-time breaks are. I’ve seen plenty of matches where that break was the difference between a win and a loss, and this game was no different.

The Matildas came out swinging in the second half, and we looked much freer in the middle and up front.

It wasn’t so much about feet on the ball in the second half, but the way the Matildas created space and chances. Though we still played a little slow from the back-line, we had the personnel to deal with counterattacks.

And it was the taking of those chances that made the difference. (And a little bit of luck, thanks to the no offside call on Sam Kerr in the own goal that won the match).

In the end, the Matildas came out on top because they played confidently. A couple of tweaks to the run-on side made a huge difference, and for the first time in a little while, Kerr and Foord are working well together, and Chloe Logarzo playing in behind is a big reason for that.

All-in-all, we still have a few things to work on, but we’re getting there. Very few teams go into the World Cup 100% on their game, and the Matildas are building nicely.

Four Little Words

Who would’ve thought that four little words would make such a huge impact.

Suck on that one.

Sam Kerr, 2019

It was authentic raw emotion, elation, a big up yours to those, in Sam’s words, ‘haters’, who she later called out on twitter just to show the rest of us a little of what she and the rest of the team cops on a daily basis.

T-hirts have already begun to pop up around the place immortalising those four words.

I know for some people a statement like that coming from the captain of one of our most successful national sporting teams might seem trite, immature, and in bad taste.

But when you put them up against everything the Matildas have been faced with over the last 5 months, the constant speculation over Alen Stajcic’s sacking and the rumours and innuendo that continue to swirl around the team, whether Ante Milicic was the right coach for the job, and all of the trolls and sexist, homophobic and misogynistic bullshit that they put up with constantly, we shouldn’t be so surprised.

Add to that the constant battle for recognition that all our women’s teams go through, along with equal pay and opportunities, better facilities and coaching, I think those four little words sum up what the Matildas team was feeling quite succinctly.

Now excuse me while I go find a ‘Suck on that one’ t-shirt to add to my collection.

(PS Bring on Jamaica!)

If you’re after more Women’s World Cup analysis, check out Molly’s Footy Rants – here’s the latest on the Aus v Brazil match.

And if you’re after a much more nuanced opinion on Sam Kerr’s calling out of sexism etc, check out Kate O’Halloran’s article here.

Women’s World Cup game recap – Italy 2 – Matildas 1

Not the start we were hoping for.

The Matildas went into the World Cup as they always seem to in tournaments – full of hope and optimism and ‘this is our time’ hype. All teams do that, to some level, but this Matildas team was going to be different.

We’ve got some of the best strikers in the world in our team and some great up-and-coming youngsters alongside some experienced campaigners. Sounds like a pretty balanced mix.

Except.

We have a new coach who came in under some controversy and has only been in charge since mid-February. Since then, we’ve had an almost constant chirp about ‘bringing back Staj’ and questions still hanging over the team about what actually happened. That sort of thing is distracting and while I’m not saying it affected last night’s result, it has to have an impact mentally on the team to continually have the coaching questions still hanging over the team’s head.

Despite all of that, we forged ahead on the road to France with high hopes and optimism.

The game last night was not the Matildas I thought I’d be watching. It was frustrating at times, seeing how easily the Italians broke our backline, and how big a hole we have in the midfield.

The only thing that stopped me from yelling at my TV in frustrating at seeing another wayward pass or sloppy defending was my sleeping wife.

We have so much pressure at the back (sometimes self-inflicted) and yet play slow football there when we gain possession – I know there’s this new philosophy where goalkeepers are seen as the 11th player and are used as such, but boy it’s annoying to see the ball go backwards when a forward pass is on offer, especially when we don’t use that backward pass option to reset in the mids and offer options to go forward again.

Sam Kerr is always going to be marked out of the game – or attempted to anyway – and we know that. So we have to come up with better ways to counter that and bring Foord into the equation to offer an alternative.

Kerr can beat a single marker easily – heck she can beat a whole backline if she gets the right ball – and if you’re playing everyone else in except Kerr early, you draw players away from her. Someone will always have the job of sticking with Kerr, but using alternative attacking options as a ploy to draw players away from our best striker will free her up for those runs only she can make.

Defensively, we’re a schmozzle. Clare Polkinghorne is one of our best defenders, but someone isn’t communicating at the back at all. There seemed to be a distinct lack of organisation, especially during set plays. We seem to be taking a tactic and not deviating, which from an outsider’s point of view, looks like we’re not giving the players enough confidence to call plays as they see it, and make their own on-field decisions.

And the most frustrating part about that is it’s nothing new.

Defence is something we’ve been struggling with for a long time, and putting someone in charge of organising and moving players around at the back, changing tactics when needed on-field, would go some way to improving that.

A coach I had back in my junior days (when I was an attacking mid-fielder) said to me that football is like a game of chess, and I never really understood that until I pulled on the gloves and started playing in goal.

That was when it occurred to me that as the only one on the field who could see everything, I could move my players around as I needed, which, if we were good enough and trusted each other enough, would make our opposition play their game the way we wanted them to.

Simple things like knowing an opposition striker only kicked with their right foot meant the defender only needed to turn them onto their left to make them less potent.

Or seeing a runner positioning themselves wide to make a run in on a free kick and alerting a defender to mark them and blunt the attack.

It was fascinating to be able to dictate play from the back, and when you watch professional games from a high enough vantage point you can see where runs are going to come from. You can see patterns forming, movement happening, spaces opening up.

Someone on the field needs to take charge of that sort of vision, and that someone is normally the goalkeeper.

I don’t know what sort of set-up the Matildas have with their defence, and while I think Kerr makes a good captain of the side in general, someone needs to take charge at the back. Polkinghorne has always done such a good job for the Roar, and is most comfortable playing a bit of a sweeper-ish role at the back when it’s needed, and sneaking up the field when the play allows.

The way we’re playing in defence at the moment pulls her away from that natural game.

Playing high in the backline works when the opposition aren’t making runs in behind, and when we have enough speed at the back to cover counter attacks.

Put simply, we just don’t have the types of players required in defence to play a high defensive line, so we need to change, and play to the strengths we have instead of trying to make players adapt and play roles that are unnatural for them.

Now look, I’ve never played at an elite level. The extent of my experience is in over 20 years (almost 30) in local amateur leagues, most of that time spent between the sticks. I also did some time as a senior women’s coach (again, local league) and as a kids’ coach.

And though I know a local league is far from the heights and complications of international football, there are some things that are universal.

A coach’s job is to bring disparate individuals, with different strengths, weaknesses and superpowers, together into one cohesive unit.

To look at the players they have and mould the strategy around them, not the other way around.

Coaches will always have preferred methods of play, preferred set plays, preferred shapes and formations.

But there’s no point in sticking blindly to those preferences if you don’t have the players to fit them.

We have some truly great players in the Matildas set up, and some fantastic players knocking on the door of selection.

As an outsider looking in, it just seems that players are being asked to play outside of their natural abilities.

That does nothing for the player or the team.

Let’s hope that at the very least, we plug our gaps in defence before the Brazil match rolls around. Because it only takes one goal to win a football match – but a whole bloody lot of effort to defend it.

James Faulkner’s ‘unintentional coming out’ was no laughing matter

For those of you who are new around here, I’ll provide some background context on why I felt the need to write a post about the so-called ‘misunderstanding’ about Australian Men’s cricketer, James Faulkner’s instagram post.
I write romance books for lesbian tweens and teens that portray positive representation and supportive environments – being gay in my books is not the story.
I am also #ownvoices, identifying as female and lesbian (though I prefer the term gay). (If you’re so inclined, you can find out more about me here).
As an author, words matter to me.
Getting words right in my books matters to my readers.
Being out and proud as much as I can, (even as an adult I still struggle daily), and a positive and affirming role model in the LGBTQI+ space is important to me.
Which is why posts like James Faulkner’s make me frustrated and angry.
Last night, for those who haven’t been following along, James Faulker posted this to his instagram account (sorry I only have the tweet view, as this is the only one that I have that shows the original wording of his instagram post – he later amended it to add ‘(best mate!!!)’):

James Faulkner Original Post

For all of five minutes, people like me got extremely excited. Here, all of a sudden, was a male athlete, still playing, apparently coming out in a matter-of-fact way.
My immediate thought was “Wow, this is huge. How great is this?” Especially when I saw the supportive and affirming comments from team-mates and other superstar male cricketers.
That euphoric feeling quickly turned to disappointment, and then to anger and frustration when it was revealed that it was, in fact, a mistake.
James then posted this by way of explanation:

Jame’s Faulkner’s explanation of his previous post that was apparently taken out of context.

There’s already been a lot said about things being taken out of context. There’s a fantastic twitter thread I encourage you to read here.

My concern with the original post and the commentary that follows falls into three categories.
One, representation matters; two, not understanding the effects your words can have, regardless of the intentions; and three, not understanding the gravity of joking about coming out (intentional or not).

I’ll tackle representation first.

You can’t be what you can’t see.
Representation matters to those of us who don’t get to see it very often. White, straight and male is so often the norm that if you fall into that category yourself, you’re lucky enough to see yourself everywhere. This is particularly true in professional sport.
Any deviation from that norm though? People like you are much harder to find.
That’s why when someone comes out, those of us in the LGBTQI+ community rally behind them and get excited. We’ve finally found someone in the spotlight willing to be open about who they are – it’s inspirational and it’s rare.
And when we get excited about someone coming out only to have the rug pulled from under us, telling us that we misunderstood?
That hurts.
I am actually lucky that I get to see myself represented in international sport. This is one space women are miles ahead in. We have quite a number of women who are out and proud in almost every sport you can think of.
I can speak from experience, having played soccer for over 20 years, that sport is a welcoming place for non-straight women, and I wish it were so for men too.
‘Misunderstandings’ like James Faulkner’s post, and the comments that go along with it, certainly don’t help engender confidence in any gay male player that them being out publicly would be taken seriously and respected.

Words matter
When a male uses a word like ‘boyfriend’ when they talk about one of their friends, it does not have the same connotation as the word ‘girlfriend’ does when women use it when referring to their friends.
It’s as simple as that.
And let’s be clear, he was referring to one male friend, his best friend, not a group of male friends. If that was the case, that he used ‘boyfriends’ when referring to a group of male friends, the context would have been easy to establish.
Plus he used the hashtag #togetherfor5years. That in itself hints at a relationship beyond friendship.
When gay men and women see terms like that used in contexts like these, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions, because we are crying out to see ourselves represented in the mainstream. We’re constantly looking for the hidden meanings in how people we admire talk about themselves because we’re hungry for representation.
We sometimes project our hopes that someone we admire is gay or lesbian onto them because that would mean we’re just like them and they’re just like us.
Every well-known sports player who comes out pulls down a brick from the wall those of us in the LGBTQI+ community spent years building around ourselves. Every brick knocked down means we can be a little more confident in who we are ourselves. If someone so famous and well-known can be out and proud, then we can too.
Whether James meant to or not, he misused a word that allowed his comment to be taken out of context.
I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that unlike me, he doesn’t think as much about what words mean as I do. But this is his chance to realise that words and context matter – what he thinks he means may not actually be what others think he means.

Which brings me to my final point and that is

Coming out is no joke
If this was just a simple mistake, a simple misunderstanding about how James sees and refers to his best mate (which is entirely plausible), then I want to make sure he and everyone else who commented that his post was no big deal realises that it actually is.
For a lot of people, the decision to come out is dangerous. It’s not an easy decision for anyone, no matter how supportive they think their friends and family are.
Self-acceptance is a long road, and I’m extremely lucky that my family and friends were (and still are) so supportive. Not everyone is so lucky.
I first came out in my mid-twenties, and I say first because coming out never stops, and being on your guard about who you come out to and how is exhausting.
You don’t just come out once. It’s a constant, often daily decision we make.
Every person you come into contact with, from the checkout operator at your grocery store to your doctor to your hairdresser to your taxi driver, is someone you have to decide whether or not to come out to, either subtly and sometimes accidentally in conversation (in the case of hairdressers for example), or openly and deliberately (in the case of medical professionals).
These decisions to come out on an almost daily basis are fraught with danger.
Will the hairdresser refuse to cut your hair? Will the doctor not understand your unique concerns or refuse to treat you?
Will you be rejected? Is not coming out easier than coming out? Do you correct the person on the phone at work when they refer to your partner as he instead of she? Will it matter? Will this work colleague or boss think of or treat me differently when they discover I’m gay? Will the parents of the kids I coach let me coach them if they find out I’m gay?
Those are the questions people like me ask ourselves every day.
Not because we want to but because sometimes, our safety depends on it.

So if you think that James Faulkner’s mistaken coming out is a joke and not a big deal, I hope you truly think about that for a moment and be grateful that your privilege, your place in the world, allows you to think that and not be bothered by it.

Because there are a whole lot of us for whom it’s not a joke.

It never was, never is, and never will be.

Author Blog Hop – Writing My First Novel

I am excited to be participating in a new blog hop initiated by author A.E. Radley, along with a host of other lesfic authors. I can’t wait to see what topics this blog hop throws up.

The first one is Writing my first novel

A great first topic to break the ice with. Plus, it really made me go back and think about what it was like writing my first novel, which one it actually was and how it all came about.

My very first novel, written and published, was Crush, which became the first book in the Girls of Summer series.

It didn’t start out as a novel though. It actually started out as a novella, written only from Tess’s point of view.

My intention with the Girls of Summer books was to make them short and sweet, and in print, on the smaller size. Something you could put in your back pocket and carry with you.

A couple of my Dolly and First Love books – I read these when I was 12-14.

The Dolly romances and Silhouette First Loves books I read in my youth (now I’m showing my age) were small books that were easy to read. I ploughed through them while sitting in the stacks in my school library (I never actually borrowed them – I guess I didn’t want them on my library record for some reason).

I wanted to emulate those books from my youth, but where girls fall for girls.

So, the first iteration of Crush was a 21,000-word novella about Tess meeting and falling for the enigmatic Maddie.

I loved that book so much, and so did my first readers.

I sent it off to a publisher, who got back to me within a few weeks (totally unexpected as they normally take a few months) and said they loved the book and the concept of the Girls of Summer series.

They then dangled the carrot for getting the book into print – if I wanted my book to become a real, live paperback instead of just an ebook, I’d have to increase the word count to their minimum print requirement, which at the time was 40,000 words.

As you can imagine, that was a HUGE ask. It meant doubling the word count and reworking the story entirely.

After long discussions with my first readers, editor and wife, I decided to at least attempt to increase the word count and see what happened. After all, a lot of young adult readers still buy their books in print format, rather than ebooks, so I’d be missing a big chunk of readers if I didn’t get it into print.

And what was the absolute easiest way to double the word count?

To tell the other side of the story, of course.

So I set about writing Maddie’s side of the story and alternated it with Tess’s, which gave me some great new fun scenes and a better insight into the story overall.

There were a LOT of changes (some of the early scenes ended up closer to the end of the book, and some of the later scenes were brought forward, and some scenes I changed from Tess telling them to Maddie), but in the end, I have to say that adding Maddie’s side of the story, while it proved to be a lot of hard work, made it so much better.

After some editing passes to check for continuity (always a major problem with such a huge rewrite), I sent it back off to the publisher with high hopes and waited for them to reply.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And in the end, a couple of days before Christmas, I got the rejection I expected when I first submitted it.

As you can imagine, after getting such great comments the first time around, I was totally unprepared for them to reject the second iteration.

I have no idea why that happened, but it totally shook me.

I spent a few weeks recovering from it and trying to work out what I wanted to do. I knew the story was a lot stronger for the new edits and editions and I struggled with that rejection after putting in so much hard work (at the publisher’s request).

In the end, my wife sat me down and made me realise that my intention was to self-publish my books in the first place and that that was still an option.

So that’s what I did.

I picked myself up off the floor, went through another round of edits, organised the first cover, and learned how to format ebooks and print books and published Crush myself.

And although I sometimes wonder what would have happened had that book been either accepted as it was in its novella form, or picked up after doubling the word count, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I still get to hear from readers of that book (and the others in the series), regardless of how the book made it into the world. And I still get to write what I love.

It’s bloody hard work doing most of it yourself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 


** This post is part of the WLW Author Blog Hop, which includes authors from across the lesfic spectrum.  Each post will link to the next author in the series, so you can discover more about them and their books.**

Read how Barbara Winkes’ first NaNoWriMo project became a published novel, and a standalone story turned into seasons of love. Barbara Winkes is the author of 20+ lesfic titles, including the Carpenter/Harding thriller series. She lives in Québec, Canada, with her wife. You can read about her first novel here.

 

Want to be proud to be an Aussie cricket fan? Start watching the women.

After reading about the recent review into Australian cricket, I wanted to write a post about how short-sighted Cricket Australia has been in their follow-up statements, and how I think they can start to ‘fix’ the culture around the Australian men’s cricket team.

When CA make comments about changing the culture of cricket, they’re referring to the men’s team. The men have always been, and apparently still are, the centre of CA’s universe. And although the language says ‘we’, what they’re really referring to is the men.

They seem to forget that as an association, they actually encompass much more than just the elite Australian men in these statements, and really, they need look no further than our Australia women’s cricket team, the Southern Stars, for shining examples of what a cricket team should look like and play like.

While we seem to be unable to find a winning mix of players in the men’s team in all forms of the game, we have an abundance of talent in the women’s competition.

This is despite the fact that a majority of female players aren’t full-time professionals. Some of them are barely part-time semi-pros, but they’re toiling away for their clubs and state sides, hoping for a chance to get an Australian cap or a call-up for a WBBL team each summer.

The Aussie women are playing good, solid cricket, and are winning games and series overseas.

And not a scandal among them.

Imagine that.

What’s the difference?

Well, apart from the massive gap in pay, since the women have just recently been given enough funding for our top players to go full-time, there’s one massive difference I think the review has missed the mark on.

Our women’s players do a lot of work in their communities. They visit their old clubs (and play for them while they’re not on rep duties) and they visit schools and junior clubs to run training clinics. They stick around for hours after matches to sign autographs and talk to fans.

The majority of them also study part-time or hold down second jobs that they go back to in their off-season.

That’s another huge difference.

The women have an off-season.

Though some of our best players had a stint in the Kia Super League in England this year, most of our players came home or travelled for some much-needed time off away from the game.

How do I know? I follow a lot of them on social media and love seeing what they get up to in their downtime. (If you don’t already, you should seriously seek out some of the Aussie women’s cricketers and give them a follow – they’ll brighten up your social media timelines).

Off-seasons are few and far between for the men now, with overseas tours and stints in T20 leagues all around the world eating up more and more time. Off-seasons help with rest and recovery and provide time for players to ground themselves in other pursuits. It also helps with mental health, which is so important in elite sport.

So having said all of that, here are my top 3 things I think CA can do to improve the men’s team and make them more like the women’s team:

  1. Enforced off-seasons – CA already have the option to disallow players from playing in T20 leagues if they think it will interfere with their representative duties. I think CA (and player managers) can go further and require all players to have time off between tours and seasons. They should also look at how many games they’re trying to cram in each year and reduce them so that players are physically and mentally fit. I love my cricket but I’ve switched off from the men’s game because there are way too many games and series to try to keep up with now.
  2. Community work and charity work – Rather than just making players available for state and club duty each summer, they should be required to be available for much more charity and community work. This could be done during their off-season. Plugging things for sponsors is all well and good, but it’s the grassroots that matter most for a sustainable future in cricket, and CA could do well to get our top players to spend more time with those toiling away each week for the fun of it to keep them grounded. And finally,
  3. Semi-professionalism until players reach their mid-20s – Holding down other jobs and/or study early in their careers means players don’t get caught up in a cricket bubble so early. Steve Smith and many other young players who were pipped early for elite sides have suffered from this problem. When all you know is cricket, you don’t have any other context outside of sport for moral and ethical dilemmas, or for success and failure. Also, when you have a second career/job option to fall back on, it means the decision to train and play hard to reach the top levels of cricket is much more worth it.

So before you switch off from Australian cricket because you think the men aren’t redeemable (we disagree on that point if that’s what you think), start watching the women’s game. I will absolutely guarantee they’ll restore your faith in cricket in this country.

And if you have kids who love cricket, you need look no further for role models than our women’s cricketers.

They’ve played in obscurity for so long that it’s now their time to be elevated to our country’s favourite sporting team. (Along with the Matilda’s – but I’ll leave that for another post).

By the way, I reckon Meg Lanning’s got the best job in Australia.


Want to support the Aussie women’s cricket team? You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And look up your favourite players on your preferred social media platform. They’re fantastic value.

My new library card

I’ve been meaning to get one for years, but today I finally relented and applied for a library card.

A few reasons, I suppose.

Firstly, libraries are such great resources, and as an author, I should be supporting them much more than I have been.

Secondly, I’ve started to sell a few of my ebooks to libraries via Overdrive, so I wanted to check out how it all works. (BTW, my books are available via Overdrive, but it depends on your local library’s catalogue, so you may need to ask your local libary to stock them).

The kicker for me, though, was a conversation I had with my wife last week about the cost of entertainment. While we’re not huge spenders, up until the weekend, we had both Netflix and Stan, and I’ve just signed up for a Kindle Unlimited account, because it was cheaper than buying the number of books I was every month.

And while I’m a fan of the subscription model (mostly – though I do wish the amount authors get paid per borrow was more, which is why I don’t have my books in KU at the moment), I realised how differently I tend to seek out the books I want to read since I started using my KU subscription.

The choice is limited, as more and more authors go ‘wide’ and publish on other platforms (Amazon requires exclusivity in order to utilise the KU system).

And a lot of the big-name authors don’t have their books in KU because, I’m assuming, their publishers want sales and not borrows.

Plus, we’re trying to save some money, and although it’s not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, eveery little bit does count.

So I’m going to read what I’ve borrowed on KU this month and then cancel my subscription.

And then I’m going to start borrowing my ebooks from the library.

I’ve had a quick look at the apps I can access with my new library card, but have to wait until my card arrives to use most of them.

I am a little disappointed to not be able to find an LGBTIQ+ category in the apps  I can access so far, and will be interested to see if that’s the case for all of them.

I have some further thoughts on that subject that I think I’ll look at next week, hopefully after I’ve been able to get stuck in to using the apps and borrowing books.

I am curious though as to how many of you have library cards and actively use them? And do you use them for physical books or ebooks? (Did you even know you could access ebooks with your local library card??)

Hit me up in the comments – I’d love to know your thoughts.

Brisbane Pride 2018 is almost here!

Brisbane Pride is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s loud, it’s proud and it’s wonderfully colourful.

2017 Brisbane Pride – My wife and I waiting to march to Newfarm Park.

Usually, my wife and I travel down for the weekend, walk in the march to Newfarm Park and then spend the day wandering around eating, checking out stalls, catching up with our city friends, eating, listening to music and watching the drag queens, eating … you get the picture.

 

2018 Sunny Coast Pride Fair Author Booth

At last year’s Fair Day, I met a wonderful author, Lesley Dimmock, who had a stall at Fair Day selling her books. Since then, we’ve become firm friends and had a stall together at the Sunshine Coast Pride Fair where we had a lot of fun meeting people who had no idea lesbian authors even existed in Australia(I know, right! Turns out, there are HEAPS of us).

It’s no surprise, then, that Lesley and I decided to team up again and have another Author Booth stall at Brisbane Pride Fair Day this year, which is happening at Newfarm Park on Saturday the 22nd September, from 11.00am-6.00pm.

Lesley and I have been working away on some cool things for the stall this year, and we’ve called on some other Aussie lesfic authors to help us out.

What can you expect?

  • Freebies! We’ve curated a freebie bag that contains free ebooks from some fantastic Aussie lesfic authors as well as stickers, bookmarks and other cool stuff.
  • Books! Lesley and I will, of course, be selling our own books.
  • Giveaway! We have a brand-spanking-new  Aussie and Kiwi Lesfic Reader and Author group we’d love you to check out, and if you sign up for the mailing list during Pride, you go into the draw to win some really cool prizes.
  • Red Frogs! Seriously, Lesley can’t get through the day without at least 20 of them, so there will be a HUGE bowl of red frogs to lure you in for you to eat for some extra sustenance. It’s a huge day – trust me, you’ll need them.
  • Authors! Last but not least, Lesley and I will be there and would love to chat to you about books (ours and in general) and about lesbian fiction and what we’re doing to promote it.

As an added bonus this year, Rainbow Families Qld has asked me to do a reading at their Young, Out and Proud event being held at the Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop at West End on Friday 21st September, 4.00pm-6.00pm. Rainbow Families Qld provides some wonderful advocacy and support services for LGBTIQ+ families and since I know some fantastic rainbow families myself, I want to support them as much as I can.

Which is why $5 from each of my novels ordered directly from my site before the 14th September (excluding Written in the Stars) will be donated to Rainbow Families Qld when you use the magic word in your checkout.

As an added bonus, everyone who purchases any of the Girls of Summer books (Crush, After Summer and Written in the Stars) or the Alice Henderson books (Alice Henderson On Debut and Alice Henderson Makes the Grade) will get a bonus swag pack containing:

  • book series stickers
  • bookmarks, including one handmade by me!
  • codes to download the ebook copies of the book(s) for you to keep or give to a friend

Want to find out more about that offer? Head over to the Rainbow Families Pride Special Page for more info. Hint: that’s also where you’ll find the magic word to get your swag.

And if you haven’t already, now would be a great time to give me a follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be posting pics and updates from Pride weekend and those are the places you’ll find them.

The Invisibility Cloak of an LGBTIQ YA Author

I’m preparing to give my very first author reading in a few weeks, which means I’ve been spitballing ideas on what to talk about that won’t bore the pants off people and maybe, hopefully, even convince them to buy a book or two.

After asking for advice from friends, thinking about the books I write, and reading a good friends brand new blog, I settled on my theme for my pre-reading talk.

Invisibility.

Invisibility is a superpower for those of us who are introverts. It comes in particularly handy for those of us who write in tiny niches, which LGBTIQ YA stories certainly are.

On the one hand, we wish our stories would get much more attention, if not because it would be good to actually make a living wage off our writing, then to be able to reach readers much more easily.

On the other hand, being invisible as an author writing in a tiny niche means almost never having to explain what you write. It means never feeling judged when you get pressed to answer the question ‘what type of YA do you write?’.

Sometimes, when you mention the word ‘lesbian’ in conjuction with being an author, the person you’re talking to jumps right over that assumption barrel and lands on ‘erotica’ – or at the very least, sex scenes.

It can be exhausting explaining that writing lesbian characters, particularly in the young adult genre, does not necessarily equal sex.

So anyway, thinking about this reading, and what I wanted to talk about, I had decided to explain why I choose to write happy lesbian YA fiction.

I’ve been taken to task by some people – not often but often enough – for not writing realistic characters, which essentially means that because my characters suffer no homophobia, have happy endings and have supportive family and friends around them, that I may as well call my books fantasies.

Apart from the fact that I have been lucky enough myself to have a happy ending, have suffered no outwardly bad homophobia that I can think of, and have loving and supportive friends and family, I just think there are other writers out there better positioned to write those darker stories than me.

And that led me to thinking about how authors like me stumble around on the fringes of the publishing industry.

I’m a niche within a niche – a self-published author writing in LGBTIQ YA/children’s fiction, but I don’t write coming out or angsty stories, which is what seems to be currently expected when you add the ‘LGBTIQ’ tag.

While the big publishers are starting to release more fiction in that niche, the authors of those stories still don’t get the huge backing that other authors of more mainstream genres (ie contemporary romance, fantasy, urban fantasy etc) do.

We’re in effect invisible.

Now, being invisible means we get to toil away, writing the stories we want to write without too much pressure being placed on us by publishers to go bigger and better than last time. (Although I do feel a pressure to write the best I possibly can for the readers I have and give them the stories they want to read, but that pressure is internal).

Being invisible also means there’s less chance of copping criticism. Less chance of someone dragging your hard work through the mud, just to take you down a peg or two because you haven’t managed to be inclusive enough.

Seriously. The LGBTIQ fanverse can be brutal – just ask Ruby Rose about what fans thought of her being cast as Batwoman in the upcoming TV series.

So invisibility affords us a get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts. It affords us a fall-back so that we don’t have to step outside of our comfort zone. We don’t have to stick our head above the parapet lest it get bruised or worse, taken clean off.

But invisibility also means that we feel isolated.

Invisibility means we feel like the only gay in the village, when in reality, that’s so often not true.

Invisibility stops us from living our best selves, and from connecting to others like us who will validate us and make us strong enough and confident enough to claim our own unique place in the world.

And so that’s what I’m going to talk about if I get the chance to do my reading next month.

I’m going to talk about how, even though it takes me weeks of mental preparation to talk to a group of people I don’t know, and then days to recover from the stress of it, that it’s important I stick my head up every now and then.

I’m going to talk about the fact that though some people don’t think my stories or my books are realistic, or even any good (which is entirely subjective anyway), that it’s important that I still write them because of those emails and social media messages I get from readers who are just discovering who they are; those who are living in families that aren’t accepting of their sexuality; those readers who have lost friends from coming out; they need my stories.

I know because they’ve told me.

Those readers need something light-hearted and fun, where the characters are accepted for exactly who they are. Where they’re surrounded by supportive friends and family. Where they get a happily ever after.

Those are the books I write. I’m not going to shy away from that anymore.

And I am going to do my damndest to get past my own awkwardness and my own tendency to hide away in order to get those stories to the kids who need them the most.

Why, as a Queenslander, I’m fine with NSW winning Origin this year

Queensland scarf at the ready for the final game of 2018

I’m not as disappointed as I probably should be that Queensland lost this year’s State of Origin series.

Why?

Because I played and coached sport for over 20 years myself. I understand the ebb and flow of team success. I know that just one retiring champion player can change the entire dynamic and mental fitness of a team.

Those players are irreplaceable.

We saw what happened to the Australian Test Cricket team when we had Gilchrest, Langer, Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Symonds all retire over the course of three years. Losing that sort of talent in such short order can rip the guts out of a team, especially if plans haven’t been put in place to bring in younger talent to replace them.

In the Queensland Origin side, we’ve been lucky enough to have several once-in-a-generation players in our team for nearly two decades. Players who can change the game in a second are rare, but we’ve been blessed by some of the greatest names in the game: Lockyer, Thurston, Smith, Inglis, Slater, Boyd, Cronk…

We’re sure as hell going to miss those retiring players not just because of their talent, but because they’re playmakers. They’ve always been the first ones picked. They’re the players coaches can build a team around.

But when I look at the players coming through for Queensland in Holmes, Munster, Hess, Kaufusi, McCullough, I see the next generation of a Queensland team that can build towards success.

And rather than trying to be the next Thurston or Smith, they get the chance to redefine the game in their own images. That’s the power of Origin.

I don’t like it when my team loses. But it’s always been bittersweet to win against a side that sometimes lacked competitiveness.

NSW seems to have finally discovered that the secret sauce to winning isn’t just great players with amazing talent, but team players who’ll do what’s needed to pick each other up and do their job. Games are won and lost on the workload of everyone, not just the one or two stars in a team.

I love that NSW are more competitive. It means Queensland need to work harder to get on top again. Origin can make a good player great, and I’m looking forward to seeing our younger players grow over the next few years in one of the toughest series on the sporting calendar.

And besides, some of the Queensland players coming through now haven’t really experienced the sort of losses the older players have gone through prior to their dominance from 2006 to 2017. Always winning can breed apathy, which is a hard mental block to get past. It won’t do Queensland any harm to have lost this series to a better NSW side.

Having said all of that though, I’d hate for us to be Blue-washed so for the last time in 2018, [Billy Moore voice] QUEENSLANDER!

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