S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated every Sunday - more often than not.

Tag: Christmas

The year that’s been and the year ahead

(The requisite end of year post).

I meant to post this yesterday (31st December 2015) but there was cricket on the telly and then we caught up with a friend for lunch and then we had to prepare for New Year’s celebrations, and so I’m doing it now, on the 1st of January 2016. I don’t do resolutions, so this is meant to be a quick look back at 2015 and a look ahead to what I want to achieve in 2016.

In general, 2015 was the kind of year that cemented in my mind why I want to write and what I want to focus on. There was a LOT of discussion generally in the publishing and blogging world around diversity in fiction, which is fantastic, though it still hasn’t translated into a marked uptick in diverse fiction being published yet. Though that could change over the next few years as the cogs in traditional publishing are slow to turn, so we may see more diverse offerings in the future. I’m excited to think that I could be part of that.

So. My 2015.


Crush was published in April, after I spent almost 6 months on it from starting the story in late 2014, to submitting it to a small LGBTQ+ press, and then subsequently having the revised manuscript rejected by that press in March after doing a shit tonne of work to it to double the word count from the original short novella. (You can read more about that here). After a couple of weeks of soul-searching and a good pep talk from my wife, I put Crush out myself, and I’m extremely happy I did. While I know it’s going to be hard to gain traction with what I write (YA contemporary romance on the younger end of the scale) by publishing myself, I also know that I’m the one person who is most passionate about those stories.

I also put Crush up on Wattpad in order to gain some readers for it, and it was featured in the Teen Fiction section in October, which really boosted it up the charts. It reached #54 overall in the Teen Fiction Category, which is spectacular, and although it’s dropped off the charts now, it’s still being read regularly and commented on. The comments are the best part about having Crush up on a site like Wattpad – the readers get to interact with the story as well as other readers (and me), and it’s great seeing what readers think in real time as they read each chapter. It will come off the featured list in April, at which point I’ll decide whether to keep it up there or not.

I made a few contacts at Brisbane Pride in October, and sent down some paperback copies to the Newfarm Library as well as to QSpace at the Gold Coast to add to their LGBTQ+ libraries. I’ve also been asked to donate to a local library on the coast, and though I haven’t had the opportunity to get that done yet, I’ll certainly organise that early this year. I also gave away a few paperback copies to some excited Wattpad readers, and will do another giveaway a month or two before Crush is due to be taken off the featured list.

Also late in 2015, I decided to publish two short stories under a pen name to test an idea I’ve been mulling over for a few years that falls into the adult crime fiction category. I stuck them both in KDP Select, which means that Amazon readers who subscribe to Select can borrow them for free as part of their subscription. I’ve not done any advertising or publicity for them, and they’re both being borrowed regularly, which is cool. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do with them as yet, but I will decide in the second half of 2016.


I’ve learned a lot more about my process over 2015. Firstly, mornings are my most productive time for writing, because it’s the quietest time in the neighbourhood and the least likely time I’ll get distracted or interrupted. In light of this, I’m working on changing my daily routine to take advantage of this, which includes waking up earlier (which I seem to be doing naturally anyway) and getting in an hour of writing before I do anything else.

I’ve also learned (or reinforced my belief really) that I write much faster with a solid plot summary and chapter outlines. I’ve also worked out what’s most important in those plot summaries – characters and setting. If I know those two well enough, the story will come naturally. I’m working on ways to get better at getting the summaries done more effectively before I start the actual writing process.

I’ve also learned that the longer I take to write a book, the worse I feel about it over time, so I think it’s important I get the outlining process sorted so I can become more efficient all round and stop my brutal inner critic from lording it over my creative process. The fastest book I’ve written (Three Wishes, which was written in under a month from idea to published) is still the one that needed the least amount of final editing. I think that says something.


Writing Goals

I missed last year’s writing goals due to a bit of upheaval in my personal life in the second half of the year. We moved twice in a month – the first move in the same town, and the second to another town 6 hours away. It’s likely we’ll have another big move one way of the other in the next month or so, so I’m keeping my goals modest for the first half of the year.

In light of that, my most basic goal is to hit 1,000 words minimum per working day, which in my instance is weekdays only since I don’t work weekends (and going by an online counter gives me 250 working days, excluding public holidays). That will give me 250,000 words for the year, which is more than double of anything I’ve written previously. Because I write shorter novels (or novellas) of around an average of 35,000 words, this means I should get 7 and a bit books finished – though that also depends on editing and the creative process.

Which brings me to my only other work-related goal for the year, which is to get a better handle on my process. I’ve struggled with it over the last few years, so this year I’m determined to get myself into a more solid routine and put my writing time ahead of everything and everyone else. I tested a routine for the last couple of weeks last year and I got more work done in 2 weeks than I did in 2 months previous, so I think that’s really telling me something.

Personal Goals

One of the things I’ve struggled with is the distinction between personal time and writing/publishing time, and I guess a lot of people who work for themselves and/or from their home office go through the same thing. So this year, I’m going to schedule in personal time so I don’t feel like I’m goofing off too much, or working too much and not having enough ‘me’ time.

Also, one of the things I decided late last year was to pick one new skill or thing I want to learn and do that for a year. 2016 will see me learning to play the ukulele, which is so far proving to be great fun. My wife bought me a cool little uke for Christmas which I’ve already started strumming and getting the hang of. Youtube and the internet certainly make it much easier to learn, though I have to make sure I don’t get too distracted by all the videos and methods and just choose one or two sites to concentrate on. So far, I know four of the most basic chords and can play (almost through from start to finish) I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin and Riptide by Vance Joy. It’s a cool little instrument to play and having played the guitar previously has made it easy to pick up. I’m planning on having a good repertoire to play by the end of the year and the confidence to play them in front of family and friends.

Finally, 2016 is the year I want to get healthier and fitter. Writing is such a sedentary occupation and sitting for long hours in front of a laptop can cause havoc with your health. Last year, my wife completed the Michelle Bridges 12WBT for the second time, and as I’m the main cook in the house, I did it with her. I lost around 6kgs, which is great, and now I want to tone up and keep the weight constant.

I started doing Five Tibetans last year as well, as a way to get myself out of my chair for 20 minutes or so to get my body moving and that’s really helped to maintain my weight. I got some resistance bands for Christmas, so I’ll be adding a morning resistance routine to my fitness regimen as well. I’ve only been doing that for a few days, but I can already feel the difference, especially in my mental capacity. Getting the blood pumping in the morning is very conducive to opening up the mind and getting my creative juices flowing.


Coming up in 2016

Okay, so what to expect from me in 2016?

Firstly, I’m working on the second book in the Girls of Summer series, called After Summer. I’m about half-way through the first draft at the moment and after I spend the first week in January adjusting the plot for some changes I’ve decided on over the Christmas/New Year break, I’ll get stuck back into it with the intention of getting it to first readers by the end of January. I’d love to have it ready to release in May.

I have a 3-book project I was going to get done last year, but Crush and After Summer took up the majority of my time, so it was held over until this year. I’ve gone backwards and forwards on plots for the stories, going from three to five and back to three again. I’ve got the main plot points down for all three books, and want to spend February (while my first readers mull over After Summer) completing the book summaries and chapter beats. Because it’s to do with cricket, I want to get at least the first two books complete so I can get the first one out in November 2016.

With a goal of 250,000 words for the year, completing those four books leaves me with a lot of wiggle room to write some short stories and work on a few other projects I’ve had in mind for the last few years, as well as make a start in the last half of the year on the third book in the Girls of Summer series (which I haven’t decided on yet).

I also want to get Three Wishes out into print, and though I have the files ready to go for that, finances prevented me from getting covers completed. I also have a follow-up book mapped out for Sophie, Kate and Mac which I’d love to get done in time for Christmas, so all things going well, that one will be out as well.


Have a fantastic 2016!


My favourite Christmas books

One of my favourite things to do this time of year (apart from having a quiet beer in front of the TV while watching the cricket) is to revisit some of my favourite books. There’s nothing quite like cracking open the cover of an old favourite to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
And since Christmas is the time for giving and sharing, I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ll be reading again this year. Not all of them are related to Christmas, but they’re all on my list of favourite books. (Links to the amazon store in the titles).

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Okay, I’ll probably be watching whatever version of this comes on TV this year, but I do love this Charles Dickens classic about Scrooge and the ghosts and Tiny Tim. It’s Dickens at his finest and a true Christmas classic. And I do have a paperback copy of the book on my shelf just waiting to be read.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
I love the humour of Roald Dahl and grew up sneaking his books out of the library when I was a kid. I’m lucky enough to have a niece who finds his humour funny as well, so she’ll be getting this one and a few others in her stocking this year, so we can read them over Christmas and laugh at the absurdity of Dahl’s stories.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
I discovered Harry Potter after they became the huge phenomenon they are now and thought they’d be perfect for one of my nephews. As is my usual practice, I try to read the books I buy for the children in my life, and I fell in love with this series myself. I was one of those mad people who stayed up all night to read the last three books from start to finish on the day they were released.
There’s something about this series that has stuck with me, and this first book is my favourite of all of them. I think it’s because of the wonder Harry experiences in his first year at Hogwarts that reminds me of the wonder children feel when they experience Christmas as they get older and know what it’s about. And you can’t go past Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts, which I think is one of the most amazing and coolest parts of the book (and the movie).

Four Fires – Bryce Courtenay
Every Christmas, if you’re a booklover in Australia, you were almost guaranteed to get at least one copy of Bryce Courtenay’s latest book, because that’s when his hardbacks were traditionally released. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2012, just before his final book was released. Four Fires, for me, was one of the greatest books he ever wrote. The line that stuck with me out of the whole huge 800 page tome was “Don’t leave the spoon in the sink, Mole.” (And you’ll just have to read it to find out what it means!)

Hogfather – Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett is another author with an absurdly insane sense of humour. I haven’t yet read all of his Discworld books, but out of the ones I’ve read, this is my favourite. What could be more ridiculous than Death impersonating the Hogfather on Hogswatch? And the movie that was made based on the book isn’t half-bad either.

Well, that’s it from me until the New Year. Have a wonderful Christmas, and feel free to let me know what your favourite books for Christmas are in the comments.



A Christmas Special

Three Wishes - Low res (2)

(If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll already know this).

In the spirit of Christmas, I’ve discounted my Christmas-themed novella, Three Wishes, down to 99c for the entire month of December. If you haven’t got yourself a copy yet, now’s the time to get one cheap.

It’s for sale at all the usual online stores, but some of them (B&N, Apple etc) may be a bit slow on the price adjustment as I distribute to those stores via Smashwords.

It’s on sale at the following stores now:


I’ll be sending out an email next week to subscribers with my favourite Christmas reads, as well as some other recommendations, so if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up on the Newsletter page.


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

Three Wishes - Low res (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky for us both, she liked it.

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

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

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

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

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

‘Tis the season…to go a little bit crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free shipping in Australia! Due to the cost of overseas shipping, all orders outside of Australia will incur a $15AU shipping fee per item. All prices in Australian dollars. Dismiss