About Sarah Dixon
Posts by Sarah Dixon:
I love World Book Day (even if I’m not doing a school visit), in the same
It’s like oxygen, to an author. Seeing how people love your ideas, how they want to share that with other people. I think cosplaying is perhaps the sincerest form of flattery; move over, sarcasm.
This year, my eldest (year 7) didn’t want to dress up. At my littlest’s school, their theme was detective stories. I was thrilled when she asked if she could dress up as Sherlock Holmes, one of my
Conan Doyle created a wonderful legacy with his novellas, and it’s humbling to know that reference copies of my stories are sat in the British Library alongside his, and J.K. Rowlings, Neil Gaiman and my many other influences.
I hope you all have a wonderful World Book Day, and make time to crack open a book today or read a bedtime story.
I haven’t really done much in the way of workshops and school visits in the last year. I’ve been focusing on my freelance business and finishing up my MA in Creative Fiction. But last Thursday was submission day for the MA (results in December), and after a wonderful weekend letting off steam with great friends, I got back on it this week.
This morning started in the most perfect way – going into a local primary school to do an assembly for around 300 children. I talked to them about what it’s like to be a writer, going through all the questions I’ve been asked before like; How long does it take to write a book? Where do you get your ideas from? Are you rich?
I also read them a few things. The poem I had published when I was 9 as part of a local arts centre project, the letter to Piggle who was becoming discouraged with all the requirements of modern education, and of course, I shared a chapter of Frozen Prince with them too.
And I made a public promise that I would be working on Alfie Slider 3. It’s mentally titled, ‘Alfie Slider and the Flux Capacitor’ but that is a reference to Back to the Future and will have to change. That’s all the spoilers you’re getting for now!
All in all, starting the day like that was a better shot in the arm than a freshly ground espresso. I left smiling, feeling energised and enthusiastic about the day ahead. If I could write fiction and visit schools all day? I’d be a very happy lady indeed.
The official launch date for Frozen Prince is the 12th of August 2018 – the day I’ll have physical copies to sign and sell at York Unleashed. The Kindle edition of the book will be available then, too.
I’m sorry that I can’t offer signed copies before Unleashed – but if you want to bring your copy of either book along on the day, I’ll scribble in it for you then.
You know that phrase, ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry?’ Well, that’s been my mantra for 2017.
January got off to a great start with Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter being published, and I had intended to spend the rest of the year promoting that book and getting Alfie Slider and the Frozen Prince ready to publish.
Then things went awry.
Rather than having a year to establish myself as an author, I’ve had a year where I’ve been setting up a freelance writing business and adjusting to some pretty major life changes. It’s been tough.
The good news in that last sentence? The past tense. I now have a thriving freelance business that supports me and my kids. Life is no longer quite so tough. And I’m now able to take some deep breaths, look at where I am and think about what I want to achieve; not what I need to.
What I want to achieve? Continuing my work as an author alongside being a kick-ass mother and an incredible freelancer. So, today I opened the Scrivener file that holds the manuscript for Frozen Prince and I started editing.
I’ve gotta say, that first chapter is pretty exciting!
I’m aiming to get Frozen Prince published on January 20th, 2018 – 1 year after Shape Shifter became a real thing. Watch this space for more news (or sign up for my newsletter to get a chance to be a beta-reader!)
And Shape Shifter? Well, in spite of being largely neglected it is selling well and has had some wonderful reviews. If you haven’t already snagged yourself a copy then grab one now. You won’t have long to wait for a sequel 🙂
I’m absolutely delighted to announce that Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter is a Red Ribbon Winner in this year’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards!
‘Fast-paced and exciting. A Red Ribbon Winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
For these awards the book is read and reviewed by a qualified panel and the reason I love it? Qualified in this case means children. Here’s the feedback that I got…
Title: Alfie Slider vs The Shape Shifter
Author: Sarah Dixon
Star Rating: 4 Stars
Number of Readers: 16
Writing Style: 9/10
Of the 16 readers:
14 would read another book by this author.
5 thought the covers were good or excellent.
15 felt it was easy to follow.
12 would recommend them to another reader to try.
16 thought the opening chapter was very exciting.
14 felt this author understands what children enjoy reading.
‘The opening chapter on the spaceship is sooooo exciting.’ Boy, aged 11
‘I didn’t like the cover or the blurb. But I read the story anyway and I liked it a lot. The first chapter is exciting. Then it drops off a bit. Then it is exciting all the way to the end. The writing style is easy to follow, and this author is very good at making the adventure really exciting. I will read other books by her.’ Boy, aged 12
‘I like sci-fi so this a perfect for me. And it was!!!!! Loved the story, loved the characters and I loved the ending. Not too long, not too short. Also, not too descriptive with plenty of speech. Boring cover though.’ Boy, aged 12
‘This is a gem of a book. Ignore the poor cover and badly-written blurb and delve in. This author can write. Her descriptive work is excellent, and she can balance speech and pacey adventure well. Tons of imagination too. Repackage it and this will do well.’ Publisher, aged 53
‘I liked many things. The chapters are not too long so I can read it before I go to sleep. Also, there’s so much happening on every page. I never get bored.’ Girl, aged 12
I was 1 point away from being a finalist, and all I can think is that by sending the PDF ‘Advanced Review Copy’ rather than a physical book or finished eBook, the cover didn’t look as amazing as I know it is. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t love the cover!
Rather than dwelling on that, though, I am just delighted with how the readers responded to the story. It’s a real boost now we’re approaching six months of publication to get such great feedback and to win this accolade. A boost to my confidence just as I needed one!
We’ve been going to York Unleashed since it started in 2014, but it was special last year. It was special because I’d just signed the contract to get Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter published and I realised that I could attend next year (now this year!) as a trader. Even a year out I was getting excited at the idea of being part of something that had come to be one of the highlights of our family year, so when I saw that there was a new comic-con event planned for York I got in touch straight away.
Paul and Bethany, the organisers, were very friendly and asked if I would be a bigger part of the event. I offered to do a reading and Q&A, and gave some thought about how best to display the stall. Then time went into fast forward and before I knew it, it was the day itself!
So there we are! As you can see I had the full support of the kids, my eldest tried to wear his Alfie cosplay but it was too hot insde so that ended up being part of the stall instead 🙂 They love comic-cons, but this one had a game area with a great group of people who taught them both how to play the Pokemon card game which kept them busy.
When the time came for my reading, I got up to the stage and introduced myself to two rows of empty chairs. As the con was pretty quiet I’d prepared myself for that. I’d made some notes so that I had things to say, even if noone asked questions. It wasn’t going to bother me!
And then I started speaking, and the PA sounded ridiculously loud. It started fine, people stopped what they were doing and turned to listen. I spoke and then started reading…and slowly the noise of the con re-asserted itself over the PA. I finished the first reading, asked if there were any questions – there weren’t. I babbled something about where the stall was and disappeared from the stage. Blergh!
So, that part didn’t really go how I had intended but the rest of the day was great fun. I got to enjoy all the other speakers and performers, and chat to some lovely people who came by the stall. I was helped by being next to Martin Ballantyne, an actor who had been in both Harry Potter and Batman. I learned from listening to how he interacted with people, and from the time people spent waiting to talk to him, looking at my stall!
I’m hoping that Yor-Kon comes back next year, I’d love to do it again.
Last year, back when I was just approving the internal proofs and finalising the cover design, I messaged the two local independent bookshops to see if they’d be interested in me coming in for a book signing. One of them replied to say they didn’t have space for author events, the other asked me to pop down to talk it over.
That was the first time I set foot in Readwell and Wright, a gem of a bookstore in the bustling market town of Pocklington. Nic was welcoming and enthusiastic, we had a cuppa together and made plans for me to do a book signing in the Easter holidays. Back then, that seemed like such a long time away!
That day arrived last week. The weather forecast threatened rain and it was certainly blustery enough, but I packed my trolley with books, bookmarks and that all-important signing pen and hopped on the first of two buses that took me from home to Pocklington.
I made it to York station with plenty of time to space at which point EYMS tested my nerves to breaking point; the bus to Pocklington was over 10 minutes late and the driver took a break. I’d planned the journey to give me an hour to grab some lunch before the signing but in the end I stepped over the threshold and into Readwell & Wright a perfect (for me) half an hour early.
Nic had set me up a lovely little signing station, we set out some books and made a cuppa then sat back to chat while we waited for people to come. I then whiled away a lovely two hours; customers came and went, I met some great children and their parents and we talked about Sci Fi, books, writing and more. I read a couple of chapters and, most importantly for me, sold a book to every family I spoke to.
It was a slightly surreal experience, to suddenly be (in a very small way) a celebrity. I felt that I was representing not just myself, and Alfie, but the joy of reading in general. A few people asked to take pictures of me with their kids, meeting me has become part of their holiday snaps! I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.
I think perhaps my favourite moment was when a young lad called Jonah started reading; he was sat with nose firmly in book and had to be told to put it down while he was walking along the street. Although perhaps it was when Nic’s son came and said, ‘I’ve just seen someone with one of your books in the bank!’ Or the way the kids eyes lit up when I added a special space doodle, or…yes, lots of lovely moments to choose from.
I really loved being in the shop, even when customers hadn’t come in to see me. Spending time in bookshops is a favourite thing, anyway, and Readwell and Wright is a lovely example. Nic has a real passion for books, and reading, and that came over in her customer care. It’s something you just don’t get online or from the big, chain retailers. The very personal touch.
And then, (another cup of tea later!) it was all over. I packed my trolled (thankfully much lighter on the way home!) and wandered down to the bus stop to go back home. The sun was shining, and I’d just fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition. Days don’t get much better than that, really.