S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Tag: Selena Silcox (page 2 of 3)

On bad things happening to lesbian characters because they’re lesbians

An interesting thing happened to me last week. I’d finished the first draft of a novella I’d been working on in a new series I’m developing and, as I often do with my finished stories, read it to my wife to see what she thought.

She’s not a big reader, but I love seeing her reactions when I read the stories out loud to her. If I can make her laugh and cry and react in all the right places, I know I’ve done my job.

So, there I was, reading my story out loud, and she was crying and laughing out loud and reacting fantastically – even in places I didn’t realise were emotional. It was great. I also found a LOT of things I need to change in the story (which is why all great writing advice blogs say you should read our stories out loud).

Afterwards though, when we were discussing the story, my wife said to me, “I was waiting for the main character or someone else to die.” I asked why and she said because that’s “what always seems to happen in stories with lesbian characters”.

Now, I’ve read those types of stories so I know that for a long time, those stories were in fact the norm. And we accepted them, because hey, they had main characters we lesbians could relate to. I’ve also read some more recently published stories (not nearly enough, but that’s another blog), where the characters do end up with a happy ending.

But it made me really think about our expectations when we start reading a story, and that maybe my stories can go a little of the way to changing those perceptions and expectations.

Apart from the “lesbians don’t end up happy” stereotype, the other thing she said was that she loved how the main character’s sexual orientation didn’t matter at all to those who know her.

And that’s the thing. To those of us other than heterosexual, we don’t think about our sexuality every day. I can only speak for myself, but my sexuality only comes up whenever anyone else has a problem with it, or is curious about it. It’s one part of who I am that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) affect my day-to-day life.

Which is exactly how I want to portray the characters in my stories. I write the characters as they see themselves, not as others see them. It’s important to me that the characters in this series have bigger problems than their sexuality. I want readers to know that reading about a character they can identify with (with regards to their sexuality) doesn’t mean they have to read an angsty, coming of age story, where the main character is bullied for their sexuality, or bad things happen to them because of their sexuality.

Yes, those things happen in real life, and yes that’s a tragedy.

But reading a book with a lesbian main character and expecting an unhappy ending – that’s also a tragedy.

I’ll go into the series in greater detail in a future post, but the one major thing I want to achieve with the stories in this series is for teen readers to have a light, enjoyable read, where the main character gets the girl in the end. Yes, they’ll have to work for it, but no, it’s not going to be a tragic ending.

The other thing my wife said to me, and the comment that affected me most I think, was that if she’d read a story like mine when she was in high school when she was struggling immensely with her sexuality, it may have gone some way to helping her realise that girls like her can have happy endings.

That one comment was a light bulb moment for me, because one of the other most often-quoted pieces of writing advice is to pick a person, real or imagined, who is your ideal reader, and write for them. Up until this point, I had a vague notion of who I was writing my stories for.

Now I know exactly who I’m writing for – my wife’s 16 year old self. And I would love to think that if that 16 year old redheaded teenager got to read stories like the ones I want to write, then I may have turned her into a reader. But what I hope the most is that 16 year old teenage version of my wife who reads my sweet contemporary romance novellas feels even just a little more comfortable in her own skin.

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.


Diversity in YA and what I’m doing to change it

In sport, particularly when playing finals, we have a saying:

“Leave nothing in the tank”

In other words, play your absolute best today. Leave nothing for tomorrow. Today, it counts. In writing terms, it would be “Do your best work now.” Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week or next year to work on projects that are close to your heart.

I think it’s entirely appropriate for the way I’m feeling about my writing at this point in time. Why? Because I’ve just completed my half-yearly review of my business plan and writing goals and, among other things, I’ve decided to ditch some projects I’ve been working on (for now), and bring forward some other projects I was going to get to “at some point in the future.”

I’ll write more about my business and writing plan update in another post, but today I wanted to explain why I’ve changed direction so dramatically.

A few months ago, I had a short story accepted for inclusion in an LGBT+ YA anthology from Harmony Ink Press that’s slated for release in September. (Again, more on this next month).

Since then, I’ve read posts and tweets and articles on various blogs around the place about the lack of diversity in YA fiction. Not just with regards to sexuality, but with regards to other cultures, disabilities and other “differences” people have to deal with that are under-represented in the YA fiction currently being published.

This one in particular really made me question my priorities.

It made me revisit the reasons I started writing in the first place, back when I was at uni and was writing as a way to clear my mind from marketing and accounting and law. The reason I started writing was because there was a serious lack of stories with characters I could relate to. And being before the internet, there was no real way of finding any books that may have existed.

Hell, I didn’t even realise I was gay at that point. I just knew I was different – I knew that what my friends said they felt about their boyfriends, I didn’t feel about mine. I also didn’t know anyone who was gay or lesbian, and those words (gay and lesbian) were words that were whispered by adults, out of earshot of children and teenagers.

Back to my short story for a moment – before I submitted it, I did a bit of googling to see what I could find out about the publisher. That was more a business decision at the time, because I wanted to make sure it lined up with my long-term goals as a writer.

What I discovered is that Harmony Ink’s philosophy lined up with my own initial reasons for writing – to write the stories I wish were around when I was a teenager.

It’s a pretty simple concept really, and in my haste to get stories out, I’d actually forgotten why I write in the first place.

So what do I wish I’d read way back then, when I was struggling to put a name to how I was feeling?

I wish I’d read stories where the girl got the girl in the end. I wanted stories that when I’d turned the last page and read the last word, made me feel good about myself. Stories that gave me a sense of hope that I could fall for someone who would fall for me too.

Here’s the thing though – I used to write those stories. I used to write about girls like me, whose friends didn’t think she was strange for liking other girls.

When I started to take my writing seriously though, I stopped writing those stories. Why? Because I knew, deep down, that if I wanted to get published, I wouldn’t get there by writing about girls who like other girls.

Books like that are getting published now, yes, but not  often enough. And they’re certainly not being publicised enough or given a chance to reach their audience. An audience which is obviously hungry for those books.

Publishing is changing though, and publishers like Harmony Ink Press, who specialise in LGBT+ YA fiction are leading the charge. But a big influence on my decision to go back to writing those YA stories is the advent of self-publishing, and the ability to reach readers more directly.

There are a lot of new ways for authors to write and publish more diverse books, and for readers to find them.

It’s an exciting time.

And from now on, I’m leaving nothing in the tank. I’m not letting these stories languish in the back of my mind to get to “some time in the future.”

Because the stories I want to write aren’t needed tomorrow, or next week or next year – they’re needed now, yesterday, today.

The girls I’ve been waiting so long to write about are shy, strong, tough, sensitive, flawed, and lesbian. And finally, after waiting all these years, they’re coming out to play.


How Hugh Howey changed my mind

Sunday - fish


A few weeks ago, I wrote a short story in less than a day. I had a title in mind, and was mulling over what sort of story would go with it. I’d used the same title quite a few years ago with a short story I wrote for a competition that will never again see the light of day, but I really loved the title and wanted to use it again with a new story.

So, I discovered a new writer’s festival was coming up, and they had a short story competition. I vaguely thought I should write a story for it, if I found the time.

That same week, I was heading to bed late one night after a long day of writing and plotting when the title popped into my head again. Maybe it was my sleep-deprived brain doing the talking, but I let my mind wander and within an hour of going to bed, I had come up with a character and a setting I thought I could work with.

Instead of getting out of bed to write down those first thoughts and ideas, I slept on it. Lo and behold, the next morning when I sat down with my coffee and began to write, the words flowed. It was a fantastic feeling, and the fact that I actually liked what I was writing made it all the better.

I got to around 2,500 words and still hadn’t finished the story when I decided to stop and take a break, because the competition had a 2,000 word limit. I re-read it that afternoon, wrote it until the end, and then cut mercilessly at anything that didn’t belong until finally, exhausted, I got it down to 1,997 words.

As soon as I finished it, I wanted people to read it, but I knew I had written it with the competition in mind, so I sent it to my beta readers for feedback. I filled out the entry form, printed out the story, and then….

And then I didn’t post it. I’m not sure what stopped me, but something did, and I’m glad. Because then I read this facebook post by Hugh Howey –


Hugh Howey - Facebook

That post made me reassess what I want from my career as a writer. I asked myself what I wanted most from my writing. The answer?

I want people to read my stories.

I want to write stories and I want people to read them. It made me think about whether that competition would help me move forward with that one goal. It wouldn’t. Entering that competition would lock that story up until November, when the winner would be announced. If I were lucky enough to win or get selected for inclusion into the anthology, it still wouldn’t allow people to read my story. Why? Because that anthology most likely wouldn’t be available to people outside the festival or the organisation that was printing it. It certainly wouldn’t be available on amazon, where people who bought the anthology to read other authors could discover me.

That one post by Hugh Howey made me remember why I do what I do, and what I love most about writing. It’s the sharing of stories that I love. The sharing of characters and thoughts and ideas with people who might enjoy them and connect with them.

Last night I commissioned an ebook cover and started getting the file ready to compile and upload. This morning, after some final checks, it’s ready to go.

You can buy my new story, Sunday – fish, from amazon. The other stores will follow on the weekend.

And by the way, I bought and read that short story Hugh was referring to in his facebook post, Promises of London, and highly recommend it. You can buy it from amazon for 99c here.


And the winner is….

Thanks to everyone who voted on the poll to name my stable of horses for an upcoming book. We had over 2,600 votes over 7 days, and the lead changed 9 times.

Here’s how the race played out –

It’s Taxman out in front by half a length in front of Cruise Junkie. Notadonkey is managing to keep pace with Nekminit and Pushing Daisies close behind. Sotally Tober is looking a bit confused and is caught in the middle a short head in front of Belle’s Magic, Helen’s Courage and Dream Date. Bringing up the rear is Giddyup, Elay Princess, Indienile and the as yet unfired Rocket.

We’ve rounded the final turn and it’s Taxman holding steady, but she’s lost ground to Sotally Tober who’s come screaming up the inside, jumping to second ahead of Notadonkey and Cruise Junkie. A half-length behind is Nekminit and Pushing Daisies, who have fallen off the pace and are followed closely by a late-running Indienile. Helen’s Courage is having a good go at it, neck and neck with Dream Date and Belle’s Magic. Rocket seems to have misfired completely this time out and brings up the rear with Giddyup and Elay Princess.

We’re in the home stretch now and Notadonkey is really showing his credentials, edging ahead of Taxman and Sotally Tober. Nekminit, Cruise Junkie and Pushing Daisies are fighting it out for the final spot while Indienile is pushing hard. Helen’s Courage is showing some ticker, but Giddyup might have left its run too late. Belle’s Magic might still have something up her sleeve, and Rocket seems to have finally lit its fuse, nudging ahead of Elay Princess and Dream Date.

Aaand it’s Belle’s magic defying a slow start to storm home on the outside right at the death ahead of Taxman, with Notadonkey rounding out the top three.
Sotally Tober kept his feet running on into 4th despite a stumble on the first turn, nudging ahead of Nekminit who galloped into 5th.
Cruise Junkie faded late into the middle of the pack along with Pushing Daisies and Indienile. Helen’s Courage ran on late but finished out of the placings.
Closing out the field are Giddyup, Rocket, Elay Princess and Dream date, who all suffered from poor barriers and bad starts and never recovered.


Final Placings

Belle’s Magic
Sotally Tober
Cruise Junkie
Pushing Daisies
Helen’s Courage
Elay Princess
Dream Date


I’m still working on the first draft of this one and I can’t wait to get it finished. In the meantime, I’ll have another short story coming out in the next week or so.


Name That Horse

I’m terrible at naming things. All my books have working titles like “The Space One” and “The Cosy Murder #1”, and my character names look like the unnamed extras in a movie (policeman #1, Guy at the Bar, Stripper #4, Main Character etc)

So when I needed some names for some racehorses for a story I’m working on, I thought I’d hit up facebook and see what my friends and family could come up with. Turns out, it was more successful than I imagined and I ended up with around 50 potential names.

My problem now is that’s there’s too many to choose from. So again, I’m calling on the assistance of anyone who wants to have a say in naming my racehorses what I should call them.

You’ll notice a poll has popped up on the right side with my top choices. You can choose up to 5, since that’s how many horses I have in my stable, with the winners getting a shout-out in the book when it comes out.

Want your name in the book? Feel free to share this post and the poll with your friends and family and get them to nudge your name to the top.

The poll closes in a week, so get to it. And don’t forget to check back to see how you’re doing.


Getting to know you – part 5

The final part of the Getting to Know You Quiz. Start with part one here.

Depends on the day. When I discover a new artist/band, I mainline their backlist for months until I can’t stand to listen to them anymore. At the moment, it’s Gloriana and Colbie Callait in equal measure. Before that it was Keith Urban.

My wife’s car in the drive-way after she’s been away.

Europe. I guess the west of Ireland is the furthest point.

Not that I’d want to divulge 😉

Childers, Queensland, Australia.

Out west, Queensland.

Blue. It’s a rental, so not the colour I would have chosen.


Love them! Send me more!
That’s it for this quiz. There may be others in the future – I’m one of those people who are suckers for those Buzzfeed quizzes when they pop up on facebook. If you’ve got anything you want to know about me, hit up the contact form to send me an email or ask away in the comments.
If you missed the other parts of this series, you can check out the rest here:

The World According to Ruby

A long time ago, on a blog far, far away, I wrote about one of our RSPCA Rescue dogs, Daisy, and what she taught me about life and writing. I’ve been meaning to write a post about our other rescue dog Ruby, but just haven’t gotten there.

Rubes has just had an operation on one of her knees, and since she had to go to a specialist vet 5 hours away (along with my wife), I’ve been missing her crazy-excited greetings first thing in the morning. By the time this post goes up, Rubes will be home and recovering and hopefully back to her normal excitable old self, but I thought I’d share my take on the World According to Ruby and why she brings so much colour and love to our lives.

Rubes - blog2

Our Lab x Ruby

The World According to Ruby

Assume everything is food until proven otherwise. Poo is an acceptable form of nutrition, as long as you show your humans that you’re eating it.

Celebrate everything. Going for a drive; going for a walk; getting a new toy; your human comes home from work/a 5 minute walk to the shops. These all call for jumping around madly and tail wagging. Your human mentions “dinner”, “breakfast”, “treat” or any other food-related word? Run around in circles and wag your tail like a helicopter. Wagging your whole body is also acceptable.

Pooing is an art. It’s important to pick the right time as well as the right spot. For example, in front of the mower, while your human is mowing the lawn is perfect. Be sure to face away from the mower and pretend you didn’t see it.
Another perfect time is directly after your human has completed poo patrol and cleared the yard from old poo. There’ll be plenty of clean places to choose from, and be sure to show your appreciation for your human’s cleaning efforts by pooing where she can see you.

No matter what you’re told, bath time is not fun. At the mention of the B word, lay on the ground like dead wood and make your human carry you to the hose. If they want to wash off your rolled-in-something-dead smell, make them work for it.
Drying off is fun though, so make the most of that. The after bath treat is also something to look forward to.

When in trouble, use Puppy Dog Eyes. If that fails, use in conjunction with rolling onto your back. Humans can’t resist giving belly rubs. It calms them down and makes them forget why they were angry in the first place.

Most of all, love everyone. Any human who loves animals, and dogs in particular, is worth your time.



Get to know you – part 4

Part 4 of the Getting to know you series. Check out part one, part two and part three if you haven’t already.
Definitely happy endings.

The Hunger Games – Catching Fire – A-ma-zing!

Blue. They’re always blue.

Summer, especially western summers.

Both. At the same time is best.

Oooh, tough one. Home-made chocolate self-saucing pudding with my wife’s home-made custard.

Strength training.

Both – I can multi-task.

Save the Cat Goes to the Movies is my writing-related reading material at the moment. On the fiction side, I only have time at the moment for short stories and novellas, so I’m getting stuck into some anthologies. I’m currently reading The End Is Nigh, which is the first anthology in an Apocalypse Tryptich (edited by John Joseph Adams, and featuring stories by Hugh Howey,Scott Sigler and Seanan McGuire among many others).

“Bremer’s Herberge”. We got it from the youth hostel we stayed at in Interlaken, Switzerland.


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.

Gloriana and Colbie Caillat – get’s me ready for writing YA.

Red. It writes faster.

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

My wife.

Beach house.

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…

I’d have to ask my hairdresser. I DO know that I have blonde foils though.



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

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