S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Tag: lesbian author

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 you should review your writing plans regularly

Accountants everywhere are celebrating the new tax year, and since I still have accounting in my blood, I used the new year as an excuse to review and revise my business and writing plans. Business plans (and writing plans) should be organic documents. They should change and grow as your business does, so a six-monthly revision is a good way to see how you’re travelling with regards to the business side of things, as well as the writing side.

The business part of my plan didn’t need too much tinkering, since the main goal for the next few years is to write as much as I can and publish as much as I can. I changed a few minor things, such as pricing strategies and marketing schedules, but apart from that, everything business is the same as it was at the start of the year.

The big changes to the plan were made on the writing side. I started off this year wanting to get an adult near-future crime series started (Division 10), re-focus my urban fantasy story (Eli Crane), and look into other genres that I’m interested in.

What I actually did was re-purposed two stories and got them published or gave them away for free through the newsletter (The Break Up and the still untitled Division 10 short story). I also had a short story selected for inclusion into a YA anthology by an emerging publisher that specialises in publishing LGBT YA stories. I’ll post about that when it gets closer to release time, because it’s an exciting story that warrants a post of its own.

I also published a short story, Sunday -fish, that I had earmarked for a competition, but just couldn’t bring myself to enter.

I didn’t track my words, which was something I wanted to do, and until I reviewed my achievements for the first half of the year, I was a little disappointed with what I had managed to accomplish.

That’s another reason to review your business/writing plans regularly – to help you realise that you’ve achieved a lot more than you first thought. I’ve dragged my feet on a lot of projects, partly because of struggling with a few personal issues, but also because I’ve been riddled with self-doubt. The absolute best thing that came from the publication of Sunday – fish and the acceptance of my YA short story (and the process that has followed with the publisher) has really given me a shot in the arm.

The biggest change to the writing plan is that I’ve changed my focus for the next half-year. I blogged about it here, but briefly, I wanted to see if I could take advantage of the publication of the anthology, and to do that, I needed to have some stories out in the YA genre.

After reading a series of posts and tweets about the lack of diversity in YA fiction, it made me realise that my decision was timely. Knowing that readers are asking for fiction that includes characters that represent them (diverse characters including disability, sexuality and culture) makes me extremely happy that I’ve made the decision to change direction, at least for now.

Moving forward, I now have a To Do List for the next two months to keep me on track, that will get updated at the end of August for the following two months.

I feel great having a firm direction to travel in, after feeling a little disorientated for the last few months. And in another six months, I’ll be doing it all over again.

 

Get to know you – part 3

Part three in the getting to know you series. If you missed them, check out part one and part two.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Gloriana and Colbie Caillat – get’s me ready for writing YA.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
Red. It writes faster.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Baking – chocolate cake, banana bread, fresh bread, you name it. If it’s sweet and it’s baking in the oven, I like it.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My wife.

25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Beach house.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Anything with a ball. If you can hit it, catch it, throw it or kick it, I like watching it. If I had to pick though, I’d miss my own wedding for cricket…

27. HAIR COLOR?
I’d have to ask my hairdresser. I DO know that I have blonde foils though.

28. EYE COLOR?
Brown

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
No.

30. FAVORITE FOOD?
Dessert of any kind, unless it contains fruit. And spaghetti bolognese. Oh, and chocolate cake.

Stuff I Found Interesting On the Web

I read a lot. Books, blogs, facebook, news articles, tweets, the backs of toilet cleaner bottles. And I thought, hey, maybe the few people who stop by here occasionally might be interested in what I found interesting around the place. I’ll post this stuff monthly, and sometimes more than that, depending on what floats my boat.

It’ll mostly be random stuff, so expect sport, publishing/self-publishing news, blogs I liked, sport, stuff I procrastinated with, sport.

JA Konrath
Joe Konrath has a lot of publishing greatness on his blog. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend reading it. This post is timely I think, because the publishing industry is going through some big changes, and Joe wants you to think about how  you define yourself, and whether you let others do it for you instead. Unusually introspective from Joe, but a great post.

Joanna Penn – The Creative Penn
Hot on the heels of Joe’s post is an earlier post from Joanna Penn at the fantastic Creative Penn website. She asks what your definition of success is. It’s important to understand this concept if you’re a self-published author. I have a list of income amounts I want to hit. For example, $5/week buys me my weekly coffee at my local cafe; $10/week gets a slice of cake with my coffee; $20/week gets me my coffee, pays my monthly mobile bill AND I get to eat my cake too. You get the picture. Having concrete income goals allows me to work backwards and calculate how many books I’ll need to sell and at what prices to allow me to make that consistent income. It also gives me to something to aim for so I keep my eye on the coffee and cake prize.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has great advice on her website for writers, and she currently writing a Discoverability Series that centres on how writers can find their audience. You can read the first of the series here, but she’s now up to part 11.

Lesfic Downunder
Some new sites for Lesbian Fiction have popped up. Lesfic Downunder aims to bring Aussie and Kiwi lesfic authors together under one roof. And Indie Lesfic is showcasing hybrid, indie and self-published lesbian fiction authors from around the world. Check them out for your next great read, and to learn more about some of your favourite authors.

New Books Out
In new book news, Layce Gardner and Saxon Bennett have released a new book. More Than a Kiss is out at all good online bookstores. From the product description:
“One minute Jordan March was falling out a window and the next she was falling in love – with the emergency room doctor! It looked as if nothing could stand in the way of Jordan and Dr. Amy Stewart finding true love together… except a banana peel, a psycho stalker, a lesbian poetess, an extreme chef, a KGB spy, and a sex toy inventor.
Join Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner as they combine their creative *genius to bring you the romantic comedy of the century.
** Guaranteed money back if you don’t laugh out loud.
* Geniuses in their own mind.
** This is a lie. The authors are broke.”

Publication of my short story “The Break Up”
In case you missed it, my short story The Break Up was published online at narratorPride. Head on over to check it out along with other GLBT(xyz) writings.

And don’t forget, if you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to get a sneak peek into my upcoming series Division 10.

 

Introducing… Layce Gardner

I’m not big on the lesbian romance genre. (I can’t believe I can say that with a straight face, considering I am currently dabbling in that genre, but anyway.)

I guess it’s because my early forays into it were a little sub-par. The characters were all a little too beat up, and some of the plot points bordered too far on the unbelievable side of the fence for me.

I get it. We’ve all been through our Coming Out period, our Lusting After our Straight Best Friend period and our U-Haul Lesbian period (in Australia we call it the Budget Lesbian period) among others. Most of us want to read about that stuff to make us feel better about bad decisions, bad romances, and to escape from our bad, sad lives.

Here’s the thing. I’m more than the sum of my bad and sad parts. I have lots of happy times. “Why doesn’t anyone write about the happy times?” I lamented. “Why doesn’t anyone write something fun?”

Then I found Layce Gardner. I am proud to be able to call her my Facebook Friend. (Which means that she stupidly accepted my friend request even though she didn’t know me from a bar of soap, and now I can stalk her interact with her whenever I want.)

I can’t remember exactly how I discovered her novel Tats, but I devoured it in two sittings. I would have devoured it in one, but a pesky little thing called my day job came between us.

I passed my paperback copy on to a great friend of mine, along with rave reviews. (Lisa, I still want it back!)
 
I loved the book so much, in fact, that as soon as the next book Tats Too came out, I downloaded it onto my kindle as soon as it was available. This time, I got to read it while I was on holiday in Fiji – I wasn’t going to let a little thing like a friend’s wedding get in the way of me and that book.

I read parts of it out to my wife, giggling like an idiot, while my wife just looked at me knowing full well I AM an idiot. “I guess you have to read what happened before” was my answer to her blank looks. 

Anyway, to the point. 

I downloaded and read Penny Nickels and Wild at Heart as soon as they came out too, and was itching for more.

That was a few months ago now, and I had decided that I wasn’t going to go out of my way to buy any new books until I had finished some of my own. 

Then, I saw this pop up on my facebook feed:

I was so excited that the new book was available, but you know, my no-book-buying thing.

I held off for exactly three days. 

I bought it, promising that I would only read the first chapter after I had at least completed my word-count quota for the day. 

I only lasted a couple of hours before I thought “I’ll just read the first paragraph and see if it grabs me.” 


A couple of hours of reading and laughing out loud later, I realised that it was past midnight, and that I had wanted to get to bed early, so I could get up early and get in some pre-caffeinated writing time. (For non-writers, that’s the best time to trick my muse into giving up some of her secrets – before she wakes up and goes MIA).

I don’t really have the whole “do something good, reward yourself” thing down very well.

So the truth of it is, I don’t think I can hold out on reading the rest of the book. I think I might just take an early weekend and go ahead and get it over and done with.
If you’re curious, my favourite part of the book so far is when the girls (Dana and Trudy) are sharing an unlit cigarette. They both take pretend puffs and then Trudy takes the cigarette back and “ashes” on the floor.

No wait. It’s when Dana meets Ellen. “She had brown-almost-black eyes like melted chocolate and a smile that reminded Dana of strawberry cheesecake. Her smile itself didn’t exactly remind Dana of cheesecake; it’s that the smile gave her the same feeling as looking at a slice of strawberry cheesecake.”

No, it’s the conversation about Dana’s need to fill a hole in a conversation. “See, when there’s a hole in the conversation I feel this urge to stick something in the hole. In fact, there’s very few people in this world I’m comfortable being around and not sticking something in their hole.”

Layce, you had me at “‘My girlfriend is a slut,’ Dana Dooley said.” It’s going to be another late night.

You can find Layce’s books on Amazon here
Check out her blog here

Flat rate shipping on all books: $3/book for Australian purchases, and $5/book for anywhere else in the world. Dismiss