S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Author: Selena (page 1 of 14)

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!

How catching a mouse taught me a lesson about writing

My wife yelled out “Got’im!” in the middle of the night a few days ago. No, she wasn’t dreaming. I was though, until that moment.

She’d been listening to a mouse run around our bedroom until finally, it found the food we’d left for it in the trap she’d set. She’d heard it go off while I was apparently blissfully unaware until her shouting in her moment of triumph woke me up.

Before I go any further, I should explain we purchased a trap that wouldn’t harm the mouse, so we could release it later, which we did, and that trap forms part of the story below. I just wanted you to know my wife and I are “catch and release” type people as much as we can be. Even with spiders, which I am absolutely afraid of but if we have to have them, I would rather have them outside than in.

Oh, except for flies. We both hate flies.

So how did catching a mouse teach me a lesson about writing?

If you’re part of my Reader Group email list, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with my writing for the last four months. This isn’t unusual for creative people – we can periodically get caught up in depression and depressive episodes, questioning what we’re doing and why, and whether what we do even matters.

Writing is hard when you remind yourself that you’re effectively putting a piece of your heart and soul into each new project and setting if off into the world for people to judge.

It’s easy to lose your self-belief and get stuck in the mire of thinking that what you do doesn’t matter.

Which is part of what I’m going through right now. Among other things, but it’s my mental state that needs some loving right now so that’s what I’m talking about today.

So back to the mouse story.

We’ve known we’ve had a mouse running around our place for at least a few months, but it would disappear for a few days and we’d think it was gone for good, only for it to wake us in the middle of the night rustling through the paperwork in our bedside drawers.

Finally, a few weeks ago, my wife came home from work and informed me she would make a trap to catch the mouse. She’d just need an empty softdrink bottle, some wire, a piece of wood, some books and some food to tempt it with. I wish I’d taken a photo of it, because it was the most un-mousetrappy thing I’ve seen. It would never work.

And then it actually did. The first night we set it, we caught the little sucker.

And then watched as the mouse squeezed through the smallest of gaps to escape.

It then proceeded to spend the night going back and forth, nibbling on the food and then doing whatever the heck it was doing before we provided it with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Then it vanished again.

(That’s not exactly true – I found a dead mouse drowned in the dogs’ water bowl and assumed it was our mouse – so sad, which is why I didn’t want to add it to the story. Ahem).

Then it turned up again. (A different one, I guess). In the middle of the night, it woke us with its shenanigans, going through our bedside tables, and I finally put my foot down. “We’re buying a mouse trap tomorrow,” I said.

So we did.

I do have a picture of this one:

And this one worked too, hence the start of my story above.

My wife duly released the mouse on her way to work. Apparently after it had gorged itself on the food we’d left in the trap. Which I guess you can’t argue about really.

If you’ve read this far, you’re now wondering how on earth this story relates in any way to writing.

One of the things we did with that mouse was reassessing the tools we had at our disposal. We used what we had ourselves first, to see if that would work. We were almost there with that, but we decided we needed the proper tool for the job to get the best result.

We also didn’t give up and let that mouse run around our house like it owned the place. If we did that, who knew how many extra house guests we’d end up having once the word got out we were apparently happy to have them.

And that’s effectively what I’ve been doing with my writing these last few weeks.

I’ve questioned whether it’s what I want to do, and reminded myself that I actually love it when it’s working.

I then questioned why it’s not working right now and came to the conclusion I’ve not been working on myself or my craft as much as I should have been.

So I upgraded my tools.

I’ve been reading and rereading craft books, fiction books for fun, and motivational books to get me back on track mentally. I’ll share those books and my thoughts on them in future posts for anyone interested.

I have a tonne of story ideas I want to get out of my head and into the world so not writing was never going to be an option anyway.

I’ve also reframed my thinking around my writing and story in general, which I’ll write about in another post.

But for now, I’m going to head off and do some free writing to get back into the habit and then finish reading some books that have been on my TBR pile for far too long.

And hoping that another mouse doesn’t decide to move into our place…

 

‘Girls’ or ‘Women’? What’s the big deal??

On Friday night, I got to watch the inaugural Women’s State of Origin footy match on national TV. It was a historic moment, as it was the first time in the rebranded format after almost two decades of being played in relative obscurity as the Interstate Challenge.

And although the women aren’t yet fully professional (heck, they’re barely even semi-professional) and the Origin is contested over a single match instead of like the men’s three-game series, it was a joy to watch a women’s rugby league match on a Friday night in prime time.

NSW won the match which, as a maroon-blooded Queenslander I’m still raw about, but it was bigger than the women who actually played the game, so I’m prepared to overlook the result – for now.

It was about all the players and coaches and administrators who came before, setting the stage for a cracker match. It was about all the girls and boys in the crowd and watching on their TVs at home having new role models to look up to and to sign their jerseys and caps and footballs.

All-in-all, it was a great advertisement for rugby league, especially seeing the crowd swamp the field and the players after the game, getting up close to their new heroes, who seemed to be just so stoked and honoured to be there.

I say all this as a rugby league agnostic. I’m not a fan of any single team, and I pay attention to rugby league only during Origin, sometimes during Tests and World Cups, and if a Queensland team (including the Storm) makes the final 8. Other than that? I don’t go out of my way to watch it during the season.

But I also say this as a woman who played soccer for over two decades back in the 80s and 90s and into the 00s when we had to use the men’s hand-me-down jerseys every season and be thankful to get an hours training run before the youth and men’s teams took over the fields. We got to use the dressing sheds only when the men or youth weren’t playing, or when we made finals. Other than that, we changed in the toilets or on the sideline.

Back then, we had to be grateful to even be playing in our own competition. We never aspired to be more because we never knew we could.

Watching that game Friday night was less about the game itself, and more about seeing women elevated to the same stage as men. We’re not fully there yet, but we’re on our way.

The one single thing that grated on me just a bit was the use of the word ‘girls’ when commentators were talking about the players.

I know, I know, it’s such a small, seemingly insignificant thing in an otherwise amazingly magical moment in time. But it’s something that once you become aware of how often the word ‘girls’ is used in relation to adult women, it’s not something you can unhear.

So why does it annoy me?

As an author, I know how important word choice is. My editor asks me to ‘be specific’ when choosing words and conveying my ideas because the wrong word can totally change the meaning I’m trying to get across. Even unintentionally.

That’s why I think the connotation of the word ‘girl’ is important in the commentating context.

A girl is a female child – not an adult. Not someone with their own agency. Not someone who can make their own decisions yet. Not someone who is ready to go out into the world and make their own mark.

I know that’s not what was meant with its usage Friday night, but I really wanted to make a point about why it’s problematic, and how easy it is to fix.

When I made this comment on Twitter:

it was quickly pointed out to me that Ruan Sims, (the injured NSW player who did a great job on sideline commentary), as well as Karina Brown (QLD captain) and Maddie Studdon (NSW captain) all referred to their players as ‘girls’.

That was right, of course, but this is down to context.

For the record, I don’t think women should refer to other women as ‘girls’, and we shouldn’t refer to grown men as ‘boys’, but that’s just my opinion, and each to their own.

I do, however, think there are certain circumstances where calling women ‘girls’ and men ‘boys’ is acceptable. We see it all the time in team environments and amongst friends and family. Familiarity, and being part of the team is the key.

Karina Brown referred to the QLD team after the game as ‘my girls’, and that’s because she’s part of the group. Maddie Studdon did the same thing when referring to her team for the same reason.

But you wouldn’t have heard Karina refer to the NSW team as ‘girls’ because she’s not part of that team.

To make things a little clearer, because I know that explanation isn’t the best, consider when men use the word ‘boys’. Listen to any football coverage, and a player in a team will refer to his own teammates as ‘the boys’, but wouldn’t refer to opposition players as ‘boys’.

Used in this way, it’s a term of endearment and familiarity.

The word ‘girls’ as used by male commentators, (or just one, actually) as it was on Friday night,  is something else entirely.

However, I’m prepared to give that commentator the benefit of the doubt, because I really think the use of ‘girl’ when he was calling the game was more about not really knowing what he should call the players. That’s understandable with him not having had the opportunity to call women’s matches much (if at all).

I mean, every summer we hear male commentators fumbling over the word ‘batsman’ during the WBBL and women’s internationals when it’s simply just ‘batter’. Fieldsmen long ago became fielders, and bowlers, well, they’re still bowlers.

The only exception in cricket, of course, is 12th man and third man, which are fielding positions and it would be pretty silly to change them to 12th woman or third woman. Although I do recall a commentator asking the question as to whether he should be referring to those fielding positions with ‘woman’ instead of ‘man’. I distinctly remember the female commentator at the time assuring her colleague that ‘man’ was fine in that regard.

So what could the commentators have used instead of the word ‘girls’ on Friday night? ‘Women’, ‘team’ or ‘players’ would have been perfectly fine.

But in reality, they could’ve called on anything they would have used when calling a men’s game. There are plenty to choose from – ‘backs’, ‘forwards’, ‘pack’, ‘wingers’, ‘halves’, ‘centres’… You get the idea.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that language matters and having commentators, particularly male commentators, refer to women as ‘girls’ instead of ‘women’ or any other term they could have used, perpetuates the stereotype that the games aren’t as serious as the men’s competitions.

That’s definitely not the intention – I know that.

I guess the key is to just treat a football player, or a cricket player or a soccer player or [insert sport here] player, whether male or female, as a player. Use the same words when referring to women when commentating on a game as you would the men. They do, after all, play in the same positions and play under the same rules (mostly – I’m looking at you AFLW).

It’s not that hard really.

 

** NOTE: I’ve left the comments open on this one because if you’re reading this, I know you probably have an opinion on this subject, as I do. I’d love to hear it because I enjoy intelligent and reasoned debate. Be aware though, that if you play the player and not the ball, you’ll get a quick send-off and suspension. Cool? Cool. Drop your thoughts in the comments below. **

 

 

 

Queer fairytales to celebrate a fairytale wedding

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Hollywood royalty married into British royalty over the weekend, and yes, although I am in favour of Australia becoming a republic, I stayed up to watch it.

I do love a good wedding, to be totally honest, and who hasn’t ever dreamed of being swept off their feet by royalty?

If that’s totally your bag, then I’ve got some books that might see you through to the next royal wedding, whenever that may be (and who knows, maybe we just may see one of the future royals making a huge break with tradition and marry someone of the same gender).

Fairytales aren’t my cup of tea, but if they’re yours, here are three books you might like to read.

Ash by Malinda Lo

The only book I’ve read with a fairytale theme is Ash by Malinda Lo. It’s a retelling of Cinderella with a love triangle between real life and fae thrown in. I listened to this on audiobook, which Malinda Lo read herself, which was totally amazing.

From the back cover:

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

If you’re into Cinderella retellings with a queer twist, then this one’s for you. There’s also a follow-up book, Huntress, which is the prequel to Ash.

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

This one’s been around awhile, having first been published back in 2013. It’s the first in the Mangoverse series of fantasy/fairytale stories full of dragons and adventures with queer main characters. I haven’t read these myself, but they’ve been highly recommended and have great reviews.

From the blurb:

Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

This one is relatively new, having been first published in 2016. It’s another Princess falling for a Princess story, but it’s not as simple as that. (Or there wouldn’t be a cool story!)

From the blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

I wish I could find more, but as I said in an earlier post, it’s extremely hard to find books with queer content with simple google searches.

Having said that, if you’re after more queer books with fairytale or fantasy themes, check out these blogs and links for lists:

List of Lesbian Fairytale books on Goodreads

Lee Wind’s blog is always a fantastic place to go to find books and posts about queer books. As a bonus, Lee is an author himself.

Niamh Murphy, also an author, has a great post called “11 Gorgeous Adaptations for Lesbians and Queer Girls who Love Fairy Tales! (Including 2 FREE books!)”

If you have any other books with queer fairytale themes, please drop a line in the comments. I’m sure there are plenty more out there just waiting to be discovered.

Here’s how you can help people find queer fiction

I was procrastinating  catching up on twitter news when I saw this tweet by Malinda Lo:

There’s a whole thread and conversation going on over on twitter so if you’re so inclined, head over and check it out.

It got me thinking, though, about how hard it still is to find teen fiction with queer main characters. It certainly doesn’t help when authors miss-categorise and miss-tag (deliberately or otherwise) their erotica books so that when you search for things like “lesbian teen sweet romances” what you get in the search result is anything but what you’re looking for.

If you go via the category links to the LGBT YA category (kindle store>kindle ebooks>teen & young adult>lgbt>fiction), the list is dominated by male authors and male main characters.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that we’re seeing an increase in queer fiction across the spectrum being published, but it seems like gay main characters are getting a lot more visibility than female (and other queer categories) at the moment.

Malinda Lo’s thread goes on to detail her ideas on how publishers, readers and authors can help to make books about queer female teens more visible, but her advice (as she indicates in qualifying tweets) mainly relates to traditionally published books.

So I thought I’d do a quick post with a few ideas on how you can help get the word out about queer books, regardless on how they’re published, but particularly if they’re self- or independently published.

  1. If you’re on Goodreads, shelve the queer books you read into queer-related categories and lists.
  2. Review and rate the books you buy wherever you buy them from and mention in your reviews when there’s queer content. More reviews and ratings help with visibility, especially on Amazon, but mentioning the queer content in reviews helps other readers who are looking for those books to find them. Review the books on your vlog/blog if you have one.
  3. Request them at your school and local libraries. Quite often, librarians aren’t sure where to look to add queer books to their collections, primarily because publishers and some major reviewers don’t go out of their way to talk about the queer content. This may be because they’re afraid it might limit the readership, but also because for self-published and independent authors, our books are often not in the release catalogues librarians get, so they don’t even know they exist. As a reader, you can help libraries get more queer books on their shelves for readers just like you to discover.
  4. Tell your friends about your favourite queer authors and books. As a self-published author, it’s extremely hard, especially early on, to find my audience. We don’t have the marketing budgets that are given to traditionally published authors and we don’t have the industry contacts to get our books into the hands of major reviewers. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways for books to find their readers as one reader urges another reader to take a look at their favourite books.
  5. Order your books from your local bookstore when you can. If they get enough orders of an author’s books, they’ll consider stocking them on the shelves.

Finally – and this is less to do with getting the word out and more to do with getting more books written – if you love a book, don’t be afraid to let the author know. Writing in a genre like queer fiction means that authors are often writing into a void, hoping that their books reach readers who need them the most once they’re published. Most of us started off as readers, unable to find the books and stories that spoke to us, that told our stories, that reflected our lives, and so we write them. We write them to fill the libraries of our youth with the stories we wished we’d had.

For my part, I’m going to try to recommend books to you when I can, and even get some lesfic ya authors on the blog for guest posts and interviews.

In the meantime, feel free to jump into the comments here or on Facebook and let me know what queer books you’ve read and recommend. We can always use more books in our TBR pile.

Sunshine Coast Pride Festival Wrap-up

Boxed up and ready for the Sunshine Coast Pride Festival.

 

Sunshine Coast Pride Festival was a blast! 

I just had to get that out of the way first up because it was an amazing day and I am SO exhausted because of it. In a good way, of course!

It was my first time out and about in public meeting people and talking about my writing, so it was hard to know what to expect.

It was also the first time the Festival had gone out on its own away from an established market day so it was a big unknown as to how that would translate into crowd numbers. There was no need to worry though because people poured in all day and the atmosphere was electric.

Author Lesley Dimmock and I got to chat with a LOT of people, which as an introvert, made me exhausted by the end of the day.

But!

I had SO much fun talking to people about Aussie lesfic that Lesley and I (and hopefully a few other Aussie lesfic authors, if we can rope them in) are planning on doing the Author Booth at Brisbane Pride Fair Day in September.

The big takeaway for us from yesterday was that people didn’t know Aussie lesfic authors existed, which is such a shame because I know we’re out there writing some wonderful, home-grown stories. I know quite a few of those authors, in fact.

So, Lesley and I are going to work towards ways we can make our Aussie lesfic authors more visible, so Aussie lesfic readers can get to know us and show us some love by reading our eclectic and unique books that are set in some wonderful places on our big island.

The thing about Pride events that I love, too, is being able to network with people in the community. We spoke to a number of young authors- and poets-in-the-making who we hope we see in our Author Booth in the future.

We also spoke to teachers and people working in service areas that were very interested in adding lesfic books to their libraries and resources for their students and clients. I love that part the most – connecting with people who can get my books into the hands of readers who need and want them the most.

One of the highlights of the day was meeting local lesfic music legend Kristy Apps.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that one of your author mates knows one of the biggest names in the local lesbian music scene.

If you haven’t heard the amazing Kristy Apps, you most definitely have to check her out.

Kristy kicked off the Festival with a rocking set that dialled the mood up to ‘party time’.

I also heard a wonderful story about a young man who had just recently come out to his dad, and he and his dad had attended the festival so Dad could learn more about the community. I also heard that young man went home with some rainbow merchandise purchased for him by his dad. How cool is that?

Sometimes those of us who have been out for a long time forget how many kids are still struggling, and sometimes we question the need for Pride events, but stories like that one make you realise why these events are still needed.

So if you haven’t been to one yet, and you get the chance, I highly recommend you go. There’s a good chance you’ll ‘find your tribe’ and have a fantastically fun and gay time to boot.

I will definitely be attending a few more events as an author in the future if I get the chance.

And if you’re an Aussie lesfic author or you know one, or you’re an avid Aussie reader of lesfic, and love the idea of meeting the authors that write our stories, please do get in touch. We’re hoping to get a dedicated Australian lesfic author event (like GCLS and the DIVA Literary Festival) up and running here down under, and we’re happy to take expressions of interest to help us come up with ideas to get started.

See you next week!

 

Sunny days are made for beach driving

Coloured sands on the western side of the beach.

The great thing about living where I do is that it’s got some beautiful places to visit. And since those places are prone to the elements, (changing tides, storm surges, erosion etc), the landscape is constantly changing.

Take the coloured sands, for example. Erosion along the western side of the beach causes the cliff faces to drop away, sometimes in quite dramatic fashion, making the colours of the sands exposed change. Sometimes the colours will be lighter, as you can see in my photo taken on the weekend, but sometimes that sand is a deep orange, almost red.

On the eastern side of the beach, king tides and storm surges wash away sand dunes creating drop-offs. Then just a few weeks later, the tides will drop sand back onto the beach, allowing the dunes to reform as if nothing ever happened.

A few weeks ago, due to some storms and high king tides, the remains of a container shipwreck were exposed for the first time in over a decade. The Cherry Venture became stuck on the beach in 1973 after a huge storm and remained there for decades until safety concerns saw it removed and buried.

We didn’t stop to get photos of it but we did drive through it and I managed to grab a quick video, which I’ve posted up on my facebook page. You can check it out here.

Looking back to Double Island Point.

It’s quiet at the moment, due to school holidays being finished, but we’ve got some public holidays coming up, which means the population will increase by a few hundred to a few thousand people, depending on the weather. (People love camping in my neck of the woods).

We stopped off on the eastern side of the beach for a bit of a sit session and snacks, watching the world (and very few cars) pass us by, before heading off back to the western side, back down the beach and then stopping in to find a geocache on our way home.

 

Cool little discovery in a geocache we found on our travels.

After a relaxing morning watching the world go by, we indulged in our geocaching hobby and stopped in to find one on our way home. It was a cool little find, though we did overthink where it could be hidden and missed the absolutely obvious.

We still have a few caches to find around where we live, so more adventures to come, I’m sure.

This next week will see me getting stuck into the next Girls of Summer novel, which has been plotted to within an inch of its life. I did more pre-writing work on this story than I’ve done before, so I’m pretty sure where things are going. I’m a little unsure of where to start it though, so I’m just going to pick a scene as a jumping off point and get writing.

Once I’m into the story more, I’m sure the beginning will come to me. Stay tuned for the working title reveal, as well as the cover. If I can get my butt into gear, this one should be ready to go by some time in June, just in time for the northern summer.

Next week will be the first Reader Spotlight post on the blog, showcasing one of my readers. I’m planning on highlighting one of my readers each month, so if you want to be involved, you’ll need to sign up for my Reader Newsletter. Click here to head over to the sign-up page.

See you next week!

 

Crush made a list!

I won’t lie. It’s awesome seeing my books out in the wild and I love nothing more than getting tagged in pics of readers reading my books, or blogs that feature them.

That’s why it was so cool to see that Crush made a list of YA FF/ romance books to read for people who love the movie Love, Simon.

I wasn’t tagged in this one, but I followed a link on a twitter post by Malinda Lo and was pleasantly surprised to see Crush featured. I may have sighed and swooned just a little that readers are still loving Tess and Maddie three years after the book was published.

You can check out all the suggested books on the Bibliosapphic website here.

I’ve read and loved only one of the books on this list – Dating Sarah Cooper – but I will definitely be adding the rest of the books to my TBR list.

As for Love, Simon, I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I’ve just finished reading the book it’s based on, Simon vs the Homosapien’s Agenda, and it makes me look forward to seeing the movie even more.

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS** for those of you who haven’t yet seen the movie or read the book. You have been warned! 🙂

 

Simon is a brilliantly funny, sweet and romantic read, and like a lot of other readers, I loved guessing who Blue was and chopping and changing throughout. (FYI – I did manage to pick it before the big reveal!)

I loved the quirkiness of Simon’s family and the push and pull of his friendships as he navigated school and trying to work out who Blue was himself.

I particularly loved the revelation Simon had while quietly falling for Blue and then acting on it. The apparent ‘newness’ of everything normal in the glow of first love and happiness. Something I remember clearly when I fell in love the first time, and then again later when I fell in love with my wife.

One thing I have seen mentioned on my social media though is how apparently easy Simon and Blue have it on their coming out. How apparently little homophobia they grapple with compared to what can sometimes occur in real life. I’ve heard a few people I know mention this fact, mostly from people in the LGBT+ community who are older and who suffered terribly in their teens and early life. For them, Simon’s story doesn’t ring true, and I get that. They grew up in vastly different times.

But we’re moving on and times are certainly changing for the better.  It’s a great lesson that while some of the stories you read might not be your truth, they’re someone’s truth, whether that’s good or bad, sweetly romantic or littered with stigma and homophobia.

The former is certainly my story and I’m eternally grateful for such wonderfully accepting and loving family and friends who made my story a happy one. It doesn’t erase the bad but it tells both sides. And in a time where more and more countries are changing laws to allow recognition and protection of LGBT+ citizens, I think it’s fantastic that we now get to have our own happy endings.

So many romantic movies have been made about heterosexual teens getting their happy endings, I love how we’re starting to finally see movies where boys can love boys, and girls can love girls, and they get to live happily ever after.

I’m definitely going to have to up my game for the next Girls of Summer book, that’s for sure!

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