Friday, November 27, 2009

Special Offer From Now Until Xmas

For every copy of my book, "Jack's Dreams Come To Life" sold, I will donate $1 to my local Humane Society and mail you a free bookmarker.  

You can buy my book on Amazon.com

There is a link to the book on my website - www.sarajacksonwriter.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

On Writing For Magazines

I recently picked up an issue of a magazine that just came out - brand new.  I read and loved it and quickly emailed the editor with a query, which he accepted.  And, in a matter of days I had an assignment, well two actually, I was to do a book review also, along with a 2500 word article.  I was then told that they couldn't pay me, but in copies.  At first I thought nothing of it, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "I can't keep writing for publications that don't pay." So I emailed the editor and very politely told them that I couldn't do the articles without compensation.  

I don't know if this was right or not, but I know that I can't keep writing for no money.  It's hard enough getting paid as a writer as it is, and nowadays nobody works for FREE!  

Did I do the right thing?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Peddling Your Books At Independent Bookstores

I'm a recent self-published author of a picture book titled "Jack's Dreams Come To Life."  And while it is on sale on Amazon.com, I've been trying to get it into local independent bookstores and have succeeded with two so far.  

Working two jobs until November doesn't give me much time to go around to the other bookstores I want to go to and peddle it.  So, my question is, what do I send to these bookstores to try and sell my book to them?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Never Enough Time...

I think this is the universal complaint among everybody, doesn't matter what age, sex, race, or what business you're in.  Nobody has enough time to do what they want.  Including me!!

I have a list of bookstores I want to sell my book to and that means driving.  I have a list of nursery schools and daycare centers in which to mail press releases and a copy of my book to for my picture book, "Jack's Dreams Come To Life."

I have four articles due to two different magazines.  (Yay me).  

Plus, I'm filling in for my dad at his dental office.  His office manager fell and broke her tibia and heel.

I've also taken on the job as a web designer and have the unpleasant task of knocking on doors asking small businesses if they want to set up a website.

I'm also working on writing a collection of short horror stories for a book I'm hoping to get published within the next year or two.

Not to mention rewriting another picture book manuscript waiting to be read by a potential publisher.

And rewriting short stories for contests and writing new ones.

Does anybody else ever feel like this!  Panicked?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jack's Dreams Come To Life

I thought I'd put a synopsis of my picture book here:  So here it is.

A dog named Jack, lives with his other animal friends on a ranch. After seeing what mischief he can get himself into, and not finding any, he falls asleep. He dreams of being chased by a giant squirrel. When he falls down a hole, he lands in his toy box, on top of his favorite squeak toys. While playing with the cow, the others (horses, pigs, and ducks) start to grow and move around. Soon all the squeak toys circle Jack and he must find a way out. When he sees an opening, a large duck blocks his path. Jack and the duck try to out bark and out quack each other. Pretty soon Jack sees an opening and makes a run for it. As he does, all the squeak toys vanish in a puff of smoke and a cow sneezing on him awakens Jack. Thinking the cow is his squeak toy, Jack runs inside the house and looks inside his toy box to see if all the squeak toys are there.

Jack's Dreams Come To Life is available on Amazon.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

A New And Exciting Venture!

I had my meeting tonight at Barnes & Noble with a book publisher.  She was very nice and very informative.  She assured me that my self-publishing venture really was a bust, but to look at it as a learning experience.  She told me to stick with them for another six months and that I was doing everything right.  She was very interested in looking at my new manuscript.  I will sending it to her very soon!

I know this sounds silly, but I felt very important sitting in the bookstore cafe', drinking coffee and having a meeting with a publisher.  I guess I am a "real" writer!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moving On (and hopefully up!)

This Friday I have a meeting with a publisher at my Barnes & Nobles.  Over coffee we'll discuss my possibility of her publishing my already self-published picture book - "Jack's Dreams Come To Life."

I've been accused of not doing any research before diving into self-publishing.  Well, I did do my homework.  But, you never know if you're happy with something unless you try it, right?  I'm not happy and that's why I'm excited about my new venture with this publisher.  

So there it is.  And I'll keep you all updated.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Random Musings

I'm a bit frustrated with my job as a freelance writer right now, but on the other hand, I really can't complain.  I've got four articles going at the same time.  Two are with the magazine Gorezone (of which I am a regular writer for) and I'm getting to interview the likes of Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, and Brad Dourif.  Sorry, I think name dropping is rude. But since these magazine don't pay on acceptance, they pay on publication, which means I'm not getting my paychecks for a very long time!!  I'm lucky to have such amazing parents, who support me financially and in every other way.  I'm eternally thankful to them.  They even funded my first book - a picture book titled Jack's Dreams Come To Life, which is available on Amazon.com.  This self-publishing endeavor was a gift for graduating from the Academy Of Arts University in December of '09.  I knew going in how hard it would be to market the book, but I never really understood how hard.  I've done everything I can think of including promoting it weekly on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, this blog and on my website (www.sarajacksonwriter.c0m).  I even got it into a couple of independent bookstores on consignment.  A good friend of mine is helping me get the book into Barnes & Nobles. A rare feat for a self-published author.  Later this week, I'm sending out the postcards I was given with my marketing package to preschools, and daycare centers.  I'll be setting my sights on the libraries next.  

I enjoy my life as a writer.  It's everything I love - creativity, my own boss, and being by myself.
I guess the money will come eventually.  I don't want to or expect to be rich, but I would like to be able to support myself financially.  

Does anyone have any advice for me?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review

The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane
                            By
                Katherine Howe

I just finished reading this wonderful book by a first time author earlier this evening.  I loved it!

     The story follows Connie, a graduate student from Harvard University, researching Colonial history.  A dilapidated home, once owned by her grandmother in Marblehead, Massachusetts falls into her custody.  While there, she stumbles across an old Bible with a key that holds a small scroll with the name Deliverance Dane printed on it.
     So begins Connie's quest to find who this Deliverance Dane is and why her name was found in her grandmother's house.  She soon discovers that Deliverance Dane was one of the witches tried and hanged in Salem two hundred years ago for witchcraft.  Embarking on this journey into finding out more about the mystery woman, Connie soon begins to learn about herself.  When her boyfriend, Sam is suddenly overcome by seizures and forced to stay in a hospital bed, the hunt for Deliverance Dane's spell book becomes even more time sensitive.  

This is a great read if you love the conspiracy surrounding the women accused of witchcraft in Salem in the 1600's.   The book goes back and forth between Connie's life in the present and the unfolding events of Deliverance Dane's life in the 1600's.  And soon, you see how their lives start to parallel.

The Not So Creative Side Of Writing...

I'm learning that writing for a living doesn't always mean creating vivid characters and mind blowing plots and such, but it means hustling yourself as a one man business to get yourself noticed.  I'm not complaining about the success I've experienced in my two short years as a freelance writer.  I'm working for my favorite horror magazine and recently was published in a very prestigious horror magazine - Fangoria.  I'm also a writer for Animal Wellness magazine.  I've made amazing contacts through my horror writing at the magazine with my favorite actors and directors in the horror business.  But as I'm slowly starting to learn, sometimes the creative part of writing takes a backseat, to the search for a steady income - which allows us to support our habit of writing creatively.

Does anybody else share this grievance?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Barnes And Noble

I have a friend who works in Barnes and Noble, who I've known for 7 years.  At 80 years old, she's like another grandmother to me.  When she heard about my picture book "Jack's Dreams Come To Life" being published, she was ecstatic.  One day I asked her how I would go about trying to get it stocked in the store.  A few days later, she emailed me and said that she had already sold 5 books and that the distribution manager said that if she sold 12, he would buy 25 books from my publisher.  Well, she's now sold 15 and Barnes and Noble is buying 25 books to stock in the store. As some of you know, this is unheard of for self-publishers.  I may even be able to do a book signing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Haunted By Your Own Stories and/or Characters

Does this ever happen to you?  I would love to dive into another short story, but I have one that is almost done, but I'm pushing myself to finish.  Not because I dislike, but because I need to MOVE ON!  

Does this ever happen to you?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Share your experiences

Writing is unlike most other professions, in that those who enter it, often have very different experiences rising to the top.  Some get there faster than others.

I've shared some of my experiences and grievances as a new writer just starting out in previous blogs.  Take a look at them and share your experiences on my blog.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interview With Author Steve Alten

     I recently had the privilege of interviewing author Steve Alten, whose latest book Meg: Hell's Aquarium hit bookstore shelves a few months ago.  Steve is a science fiction author best known for his Meg series, which revolves around the survival of the Carcharadon Megalodon, an 18 million year old prehistoric shark that became extinct in the Pleistocene era.

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.  How did you get into writing?

        I hated my job and needed a new career. I always felt I could write. 

  1. How did the idea come about to write a series based on Carcharodon Megalodon?

      In the summer of 1995, I read a TIME magazine article on the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, and hydrothermal vents, which support an entire eco-system. I married that info to Megalodon, which I read about as a teen. 

  1. How much research goes into writing for the Meg series and how much do you leave to your imagination?

     Lots of research. The MEG info is all factual; the imagination uses these visuals to scare the reader.

  1. You've done four books in the Meg series so far, with Hell's Aquarium being the latest.  How many more books will be in the series or do you know ahead of time?

      One more: MEG: Night Stalkers

  1. In Hell's Aquarium you introduced a new ancient species of sea predator - the Liopleurodon.  Do you plan on branching the series off with this new creature, continuing the adventures of Jonas Taylor and his son David?

      Not branching off, but MEG 5 will be a hunt for the escaped Liopleurodon.

        I've read there are plans to bring Meg to the big screen.  How far away are fans from seeing their favorite killer shark in theaters?  And will you be writing the screenplay?

      I wrote a new script, and we are finalizing financing for $150 million budget. Once we select a director, there will be an announcement.

 What is your writing process like?  How long does it take to finish a novel

      MEG novels take 6-8 months; the DOMAIN novels take 12-18 months.

            Check out Steve Alten's writing tips at http://www.stevealten.com/writing_tips_intro.htm 

Books in the Meg series include:

Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (1997)

The Trench  (1999)

Meg: Primal Waters (2004)

Meg: Hell's Aquarium (2009) 

 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Romero's Ranch Excerpt

     Running from the living room to the bedroom, I glance out the dirt-encrusted window and see ten of the living dead crossing the two-lane road.  An SUV cruises down the road, then, in a sudden movement, swerves to the left, hitting a zombie in the knees.  It flips up like a rag doll, hitting the windshield, before shattering its skull on the pavement.  The SUV careens out of control and rolls down the short embankment before landing on its hood in our field.

     As I stand with the palms of my hands pressed against the window, I witness two horrific events.  One the road crawls the zombie, whose legs have been ripped off; leaving a blood trail like a snail leaves a trail of slime.  The small group of zombies that I spotted earlier has now descended on the upturned vehicle.  Movement from inside the car tells me that the driver is still alive and trapped half in and half out of the car.  I turn away just those things start to claw and bite at the man's arms and face.

     Just as I talk myself into taking another look, a gangly kid's face slams against the window.  I scream and jump back, nearly dropping the gun in the process.  Even though his face is battered, I recognize him as Bobby Jones from my English Lit class.  He presses his face against the glass, weakly beating his fists against the window.  His sister Kristen, my best friend, shuffles up behind him.  Blood seeps from a ragged hole in her neck, staining her clothes red.  Her white, eyes meet mine and I swear I see a flicker of recognition cross her face, before she and Bobby move off in another direction.

     A sudden wave of panic grips me, as I remember the back door that doesn't close all the way anymore by the back bedroom.  I run as fast as I can, but realize I'm too late, when Bobby's outline can be seen behind the door.  His outstretched arms push against the rotted wood.

     I try shouldering the door against Bobby's body, but it's impossible because Kristen has added to the weight.  Starting to tire, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and count to three.  On three, I throw open the door, hop back and take aim.  I fire off one shot, hitting Bobby in the chest, but he doesn't go down.  Aiming a little higher, I nail him the head and he crumples to his knees.

     Kristen stumbles over her brother's body, whose blood covers her snarling face.  She manages to grab hold of my arm and I jerk it away, causing her to fall forward onto her elbows.  She doesn't even bother to try to stand up, but starts crawling towards me.  Feeling fresh tears brimming in my eyes, I start screaming out of fear and frustration.  Feeling my friend's cold hand wrap around my ankle, I lower the gun, resting the barrel against her tangled, blood-soaked mess of hair.

     Whispering, "I'm sorry, Kristen" I pull the trigger.

     Her head jolts back, taking her body with it.  I drop to my knees and let huge racking sobs overcome my body.  I stay like that for I don't know how long, crying into the palms of my hands.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Slave To The Money

I have to admit that I love my job as a writer and have made great advances in my short two years as a freelance writer and now picture book author.  But I am also very frustrated with my lack of funds which is very very little.  Though I have made some money, it's not enough for me to support myself on my own.  I have a great family behind me, I am very appreciative.  I've heard it takes a long time to start making money as a writer.  But I guess in the end, my advances in the industry in such a short time have far outweighed any monetary compensation.  I am honored and grateful to have worked with so many great editors and writers.

Share with me some of your struggles with writing when first starting out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Update On Picture Book

I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday and found out that I might be able to join their book fair and be one of the authors doing book signings.  If I'm too late for that, then they might be able to set me up for a book signing in the store itself.  My friend Pat Sellers has sold 6 copies already.  One while I was still in the store.

I have a bookstore in Truckee, Lake Tahoe that might want to stock my book and I'll my local bookstores around Napa, Vallejo and Benicia.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The next phase

I just decided to get started on another picture book manuscript.  This time I won't self-publish and I'll try to find an agent.  But the good news is that I might have the opportunity to do a book signing at my local Barnes & Nobles.  I have a great friend and supporter - Pat Sellers, who I've known for years.  I owe a lot to her.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Promotion's A Bitch

Like all first time authors, I'm beginning to learn that getting the word out there that I have book for sale is harder than I thought.  Even thought it's for sale on both Amazon.com and Alibris.com, it's selling the copies that I thought it would.

My next goal is to target small bookstores and beg them to stock my book.  I could be a little cynical, since I NEED MONEY!  I'm not expecting to make thousands or millions, but I would like enough to feel I accomplished something.

Oh well, keep writing I guess.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Series That I've Read and Loved

I was thinking the other day about all the books I've read in the past 29 years of my life and I realized that most of them happened to be series of books, rather than individual novels.

Series I've Read:
The Clan Of The Cave Bear series
The Vampire Chronicles
The Meg series by Steve Alten (currently reading the fourth installment - Hell's Aquarium)
Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series
Twilight series


Some individual books that I'm obsessed with are:
Ride The Wind
On The Road

And anything by Stephen King.  I love his short story collections.

I once read in his book On Writing that he reads 80 books a year, so that's what I've done is set that goal for myself.

My Guide To Outlining A Story

I learned how to outline stories in my screenwriting classes at the Academy Of Arts University in San Francisco.

First I start with a CHARACTER LIST - which lists every conceivable description about them: physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I write down every last detail that I can think of whether it's pertinent to the story or not.

Next I add my PLOT DESCRIPTIONS - which lists every known feature about the locations geographically.  

Then I write a PLOT SYNOPSIS (1-3 pages) detailing everything thing that happens in a nutshell.

And then comes my SCENE LISTS - where I list every single thing that happens in the story.  I have headers for ACTS 1,2,3.  

I can get a bit anal when it comes to plotting out stories before I write them, but that's because I need a specific guidelines before writing.  Otherwise I feel I'm writing blind.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My book is out!

Hi

My picture book "Jack's Dreams Come To Life" is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.

If you are a parent or know any parents, then this book is the perfect book to read to your toddler.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Musings of a new writer

Four years ago, I started attending classes at the Academy Of Arts University in San Francisco.  A year and a half ago, I changed my major from directing to screenwriting.  Since last October, I have set up my freelance writing business.  Busting my hump six days a week has paid off - I know write for several magazines and am a soon-to-be author of a picture book later this summer.  I often think how I went from writing horror scripts and learning the ins and outs of Hollywood, to writing for my favorite magazines?  I'm an educated screenwriter and a self-taught freelance writer.  Weird huh?  I often wonder if the education I got at the Academy was better than the educating I did myself.  But I don't think my career as a screenwriter is awash yet, because Rob Schmidt director of Wrong Turn and the Alphabet Killer has my first horror script.  My life as a freelance writer may take a turn into writing for a studio.  Who knows?  In fact, I like not knowing.  But what I do know is that, whatever I wrote and whoever I write for, I'm satisfied and happy being a writer.  I wouldn't want to be anything else in the world.  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Children's Book

I just got the proofs back for my children's book "Jack's Dreams Come To Life" for the entire interior and front and back covers.  Everything looks great.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Articles

I'm busy working on two articles - one that is due next week.  That one is for Animal Wellness magazine and it's on Cremains.   The other is for Gorezone magazine on Rob Zombie's The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Official Website

I just logged onto my first website to help promote myself and my writings.  It looks awesome.

Check it out at www.sarajacksonwriter.com

Tell me what you think.

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Editing Job

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a fellow member of my online writer's group.  He liked the way that I critiqued his short story and contacted me about doing a paying editing job for him.  Of course I accepted right away.  There's even talk about co-writing a script with him.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Picture Book update

I just got the proofs back for my picture book for the front cover and some of the inside images with the text.  It looks really great!

Any advice from self-published authors?

Monday, July 6, 2009

A writer's fears

What scares you most as a writer?

For me it's unemployment and a blank page.

Let me know what yours are.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fango Article Done

I just turned in the second rewrite for my Fangoria magazine article.  Very excited.  I'm a huge fan of the magazine.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Short Story Finished

Last night I finished writing and typing my second horror story, "Stranger In This Town."  I'll post an excerpt after I've rewritten it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Published Book

Later this summer or early fall, I will be having my first published book hit Amazon.com!  It's a children's picture book title, "Jack's Dreams Come To Life."