S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated every Sunday - more often than not.

Tag: YA fiction (page 1 of 2)

Crush paperback unboxing and pre-order

When I was just starting out on my self-publishing and writing journey, I discovered an author who has become one of my all time favourites. When I was feeling down about my writing, watching his first unboxing video used to give me a great pick-me-up. I still watch every now and then to remind me how exciting this big adventure can be, and how far I have yet to go.

(You can see Hugh Howey’s unboxing of Molly Fyde on youtube here.)

Since Crush is my very first novel, I wanted to share the excitement of opening the box and seeing it in print for the first time. You can see that video below. You can also scroll down to the video below that to hear the details of when the paperback copy will be available and where.

For the initial launch through until the end of July, you’ll be able to get Crush for $12 plus postage. After that, the price will go up to $15 (plus postage).


See the video below for details on when the paperback will be released.

Don’t forget, the pre-order page will go up on Monday the 25th May.

Release Day is here!

CrushIt’s release day for Crush, and I thought I’d share some cool facts about the story to celebrate. These are a little spoilerish, but they’re mostly about settings, so no real plot spoilers.

If you don’t like spoilers full stop, then stop reading this post now and go read the book. You can get it here. I’ll wait.

Still here? Fantastic! Here, then, are five cool facts about Crush:

1. Chesterfield is based on the small town I was born in. (Bonus points if you don’t know me personally and can work out where that is – there are clues in the book!)
2. Piggies was a real cafe in that small town.
3. Pop and Gran’s farm is based on the farm my grandparents owned when I was younger. It’s still in my family, though I don’t get to visit it anymore.
4. There really is a Crush Festival, but I didn’t know that until after I started writing the book and was doing some research. It’s nothing like the festival in the book though.
5. And finally, ‘Chitty’ the old VW beetle really exists. In fact, here’s a picture:

Chitty on the farm

Chitty on the farm

You can find out where to buy Crush from here.

Introducing The Girls of Summer series

So, remember those sweet romances we read as teenagers in the 1980s an 1990s? The ones with lesbian main characters who fell for other girls and had fun adventures and happily-ever-after endings? No? Me neither.

I do, however, remember those sweet teen romances from Silhouette First Love, Dolly Fiction, Sweet Valley High… The list goes on. I remember hiding in the stacks in the library at high school reading those books, never checking them out lest they appear on my borrowing record. Though I loved sci-fi and fantasy (Day of the Triffids and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are still two of my all-time favourite books), when I hit 14 or 15, I started being very interested in the way relationships worked. Because I was a voracious reader, the way I discovered those things was mostly via fiction.

I’ll go into my personal story in a future post, but as I read those short romance books, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the female main characters I identified with the most. It was the male characters that the girls lusted after. I wanted to be those boys that the girls chased after, had fun adventures with and fell in love with by the end of the book.

I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant I was different.

I’m not sure whether reading a book with a girl who fell in love with another girl and nothing bad happened and they got to be together in the end would have made me realise back then that I was lesbian, but who knows?

What I do know is that we’re in an exciting time in the publishing industry, when there are more and more books with diverse main characters making their way into the world. A good number of them, however, deal with the ‘bad’ side of being different – the bullying, homophopbia, unhappy endings, coming out etc. While those stories are needed and valid, we also need stories where sexuality isn’t the main plot point.

I think we need more happy endings, more sweet romances, more girls-who-love-girls and that’s okay stories.

And that’s why I’ve been working on a series of sweet teen romances that will feature lesbian main characters, whose problems are just like any other teen, and whose sexuality is not a major plot point.

I touched on the series in this post back in August last year, but since then, I’ve refined the series idea and decided on a direction for it.

The books in The Girls of Summer series, beginning with Crush, are intended to be short and fun reads. Lighthearted sweet teen romances where the girl might struggle to get the girl sometimes, but she’ll never be dealing with bullying or homophobia as the major plot point.

Though they will be linked by taking place in summer (my favourite season of the year), they will be stand-alones that can be read in any order.

And most importantly, the girl will get the girl in the end.


Wattpad Edition

Wattpad Edition

Crush is due for release on the 1st May 2015. You can get it for free before it’s released to the general public by signing up to the mailing list here. You can read the first five chapters and synopsis here.




On ‘Saving Francesca’ by Melina Marchetta and the Aussie voice

After finishing a massive rewrite of a manuscript, I wanted to crawl up in a hole and not do too much at all. The experience of having to more than double the word count of a finished story, while exhilarating when I was done, was also exhausting. I felt like I was out of words. And a writer needs words in order to be able to fashion them into coherent sentences. Which I couldn’t even do while talking out loud for awhile.

During the couple of months I was outlining and rewriting and throwing wads of crap ideas in the bin, I neglected my reading. That was a conscious decision for two reasons. The first is because when I read, I like to be able to devote hours and hours to a book without having my own unfinished work churning in the back of my mind interrupting my reading flow. The second is because I can’t focus on both reading fiction and writing fiction at the same time, and I didn’t want my choices of reading material to sneak into the re-planning of the novel I was working on.

So I neglected my reading.

My reward after finishing that manuscript was to spend a voucher I got for Christmas on books. Real paper books, rather than ebooks, which was also a conscious decision. I love ebooks. I love the immediacy of buying them and having them appear on my kindle to devour instantly, but there’s still something for me about holding a paper book in my hand and turning each page as I read. I also love having those books on my shelves in my study/office, and being able to look at them and try to remember if I liked them, or what they were about. There’s something tangible there, and when I’m recommending a book to friends or my niece, if I can see one on my shelf, it’s easier to remember than looking through my kindle. And it’s easier to pick a book off the shelf and just give it away, which I love to do.

2015-01-10 10.22.48

The books I bought as a reward for finishing my manuscript: Tomorrow, When the Ware Began, Eleanor & Park, Paper Towns and Saving Francesca.

Anyway, I wanted to try a mix of books  and read for both research and enjoyment, and I made a long list of the ones I wanted to read from a few online recommendations lists and then whittled it down to these four. I deliberately made sure to have two Aussie books on there, because I’ve been reading a lot of American authors lately, and while that’s perfectly fine, my own works have very Australian characters in them and I wanted to see how other authors dealt with our unique Aussie language and settings. I haven’t read a lot of Aussie books since I was at high school, which is something I am now in the process of rectifying.

I read Paper Towns first, because I hadn’t read anything by John Green (I know. A YA author not having read John Green. Shock! Horror!) and he’s on everyone’s lips right now. Paper Towns had been recommended to me by a teacher I met awhile ago as the John Green book I should read first, and I loved it. Having watched John and Hank Green on youtube, I could hear John’s voice telling me the story of Q and his quest to solve the mystery of the disappearing Margo Roth Spiegelman. I read it in three sittings, and that was only because I had other stuff to do in between (like spend time with my wife, eating and sleeping). I’ve seen The Fault in Our Stars, but not yet read the book, and I’m looking forward to reading Looking for Alaska.

Today, though, I finished Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta, who is a popular YA author here in Australia. I have to say that in the beginning, the book frustrated the hell out of me, and though I’m still not entirely sure why that is, I have a theory. I almost made the decision to just put it down and go onto the next one. I’m one of those people who hates not finishing a book though, so I put it down for a couple of weeks and came back to it when I had more time to focus on reading without interruption. I finished it over the course of three days. I loved the book, and while the story seemed simple enough – teenager in her second last year of high school, navigating her way through an all-boy school that has just started accepting girls, a depressed mother and everything that comes with it – it was the characters who enthralled me the most. By the end I, along with Frankie, the viewpoint character, was surprised at how she’d ended up with so many good friends after resisting so early on. We definitely have a very unique way of writing coming-of-age stories here in Australia.

Saving Francesca is definitely a book I’ll be rereading in the future, and it’ll be one I’ll be giving to my niece to read.

And after thinking on it this morning, I realised that the reason I struggled with the book in the beginning is because I’ve not been reading enough Australian books, and I’ve grown unaccustomed to our unique voice. It was almost like I’d been overseas for a long time and came home to our laconic Australian accent and cringed at it. Which, incidentally, actually happened to me a few years ago when I was in Europe for two months with my wife.

I think that’s also why I’ve struggled with voice in my own writing as well lately, and I’m determined to fix that by trying to focus on more Australian books and authors than I have in the past.

My next read will be Tomorrow, When the War Began, by John Marsden which has been on my radar for a long time.

If you have any recommendations on Australian authors and books I should read, particularly in the YA genre, let me know and I’d be happy to add them to my To Be Read list.


Five things I learned from the publication of the First Time for Everything Anthology

I posted pre-order links to the First Time for Everything anthology a few weeks before it was released. I also posted buy links to facebook for the ebook and paperback versions when it released in September, but it wasn’t until I posted photos of me opening the box of author copy paperbacks I received that I got any type of response.

Me with my shiny new paperback copy of the First Time for Everything anthology

Me with my shiny new paperback copy of the First Time for Everything anthology

I think that’s because most people “get” paper books and once they saw me holding it, it became as real for them as it was for me to have a story published. Apart from realising that paper still means “real book” to some people, here are five other things I learned from the publishing experience.

  1. Don’t discourage anyone from supporting you, even if you don’t think your book is to their taste. Friends and family will be excited for you (at least in the beginning) so if they want to buy your book, don’t discourage them.
  2. On the other hand, sometimes, people don’t give a shit. Yes, it’s exciting to publish a book, but not everyone will care. Don’t fret if people don’t share the same enthusiasm as you do and share your news (and links to your book) with everyone they know like you’d hoped.
  3. Take the compliments on board, and then get back to writing. It’s great to get praise for something you’ve laboured over for what seems like months (or sometimes years). The biggest compliment anyone can give you is to buy your next book and they can’t do that if you’re still fawning over the last one.
  4. Share links to your work often (but don’t spam). People miss them on facebook and twitter and tumblr because of the churn of the timeline and other people’s posts. Give a direct link so people can buy in the easiest way possible.
  5. Non-writers are fascinated by writers. Yes, it can get annoying answering the same questions over and over again (“So, do you write, like, Twilight/50 Shades/Game of Thrones/[insert hot new release here]?”) but at least they’re trying to relate to you. Have patience and answer their questions – they wouldn’t ask if they weren’t interested. Plus, you never know when you might gain a new fan.


Take some time to bask in the glory of what you have produced. I know I said get straight back into it and write the next book, but you should take a few days to ride the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with writing and publishing. Not everyone gets to experience the feeling of seeing other people read their words, so enjoy it for a little while and then get back into it.

With all of that said, my time for basking is over so I’m off to write the next one.

On writing short

It’s taken me a long time to get into a sort of groove with my writing. I’ve learned to plot just enough to keep me going on the story without getting stale or losing my way (thanks largely to the “Beats” chapters in Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant – highly recommended for writers everywhere).

Apart from the plotting side of things, it was always hard for me to work out a word count to aim for. Years ago when I first started writing, I’d done my research into manuscript lengths accepted by various publishers, depending on the genre etc. The general rule of thumb back then, as I think it still is now, is that for a new writer, a length of around 75,000 words is a good length to aim for.

75,000 words is a daunting number, especially when you’re just starting out.

The advent of the kindle and KDP have disproved the theory that word counts matter largely, I guess, because digital books don’t have an actual size. Unlike paper books, which we can hold and weigh in our hands and compare to the one beside it for perceived value ($ per page I suppose), digital books don’t seem to get that same treatment.

It’s true that some reviewers have given books fewer stars in reviews because the story wasn’t long enough compared to the price paid (sometimes as little as 99c!), but for the most part, I think those reviewers were just unsatisfied with the endings.

I digress.

A lot of new advice I’ve been reading lately, when newer writers ask about lengths for manuscripts, has been “write to the story’s natural length.” I think the “natural length” theory also applies to writers.

For example, in my first (and only) attempt at completing Nanowrimo, I topped out at around 25,000 words.

Before I started the book I just finished, I gave myself a target of 15,000 words and ended up at just over 21,000 words. It’s yet to be edited, so that word count will change, though probably not markedly.

During the course of writing that book, and plotting out others I’m working on, I’ve realised that novellas between 15,000 words and 35,000 words seem to be my sweet spot. I think the reason for that is that I tend to be a “sparse” writer – just enough detail on characters and scenes to set the reader up, but I leave most of the description to the reader’s imagination. Whether readers will like that or not remains to be seen, but the fact remains that I write better short.

If I don’t give myself a smaller target to hit, I tend to waffle on (as can be seen by some of my earlier blog posts). It’s also a great motivator seeing the word counter tick closer to the target and then surpassing it with plenty more to write when I have smaller limits.

Shorter books seem to be doing well on kindle now too, though it does depend on the genre I think. Hugh Howey’s Wool started with a 12,000 word novella which turned into a 3-book series of novellas, and there are very few people who complained about the length. Incidentally, he also serialised his books, preferring to publish each part as it was finished, rather than wait until he’d completed the entire books.

Romance novellas are going great guns as well, with authors able to churn out more books more quickly in series that fans devour, because they’re shorter reads.

So, whether my books stay around that 25,000 word length or not, only time will tell. For the moment though, that’s what I’m concentrating on, because the best thing about aiming for a 25,000 word book as opposed to a 75,000 word book is that I get them finished sooner.

And nothing motivates me to continue on to the next book like finishing the last one.

“First Time for Everything” Anthology Release Day is here!

It’s release day for the “First Time for Everything” YA anthology! Woohoo!

I’ve enjoyed the last few months of working with Harmony Ink Press on moulding my short story “Summer Crush” into it’s much prettier self and can’t wait for you to read it.

You can get it direct from Harmony Ink here.

The Amazon link is here.

And if you like the anthology, please remember to leave a review on whichever site you purchased it from.

And I’d love to hear what you think of “Summer Crush”, so feel free to comment here or email me, tweet me or ask me anything on tumblr.

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.

Pre-order the “First Time for Everything” Anthology here!

FirstTimeForEverythingHARMONYLGThe “First Time for Everything” anthology, which features my short story “Summer Crush”, is being released in just under a month. You can pre-order your ebook here or the paperback here.

From the Dreamspinner website:

“There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rests of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget.”

Midnight in the Maze by J. Leigh Bailey
A Warrior from a Different Tribe by S.A. Garcia
His World by Eric Gober
Just Right by John Goode
It’s In Their Kiss by Kevay Gray
It’s Not Our Fault by Charli Green
Courting Billy Roth by Nick Hasse
Dressed to Swim by Renee Hirsch
Beautiful by Ella Lyons
First Date by Nicole McCormick
Step by Step by Emily Moreton
Kissing Scars by Jo Ramsey
Dear Cody by Eric Renner
Dating My Best Friend by Caitlin Ricci
Summer Crush by SR Silcox (That’s me!)
When Wolverine Met Taylor by Andrea Speed
Me and My Friend by Emery C. Walters
Kiss and Makeup by Allison Wonderland

The blurb for my short story, Summer Crush:

“The onset of the Australian summer means the last days of high school for Jess and her best friend Ben. It’s also Jess’s last chance to have her first kiss before school ends. Though Jess is a proud lesbian, she’s afraid to confess her longtime crush to her childhood friend, Ellie Preston, especially now that Ellie’s dating Zac. At the last class bonfire on the beach, Jess must tell Ellie how she feels or lose the opportunity forever.”

The anthology is out on September 4th 2014.



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.


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